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Kaqchikel Maya Pronunciation and Spelling Guide (Cakchiquel)

Welcome to our Kaqchikel alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Kaqchikel orthography we have used on our site, as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites.

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Kaqchikel Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Kaqchikel pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
ä  a, y, i, ă, a  ə ~ i In some dialects it is pronounced like the a in about. In others, it is pronounced higher in the mouth like the "dark i" sound of Russian or Polish.
e    e Like the Spanish e, similar to the a in English gate.
ë  e, ĕ, e  ε ~ ə ~ e Like e in get. Most Kaqchikel dialects pronounce this sound the same as ä or e, and even Kaqchikel speakers who do pronounce this sound distinctly often spell it as "e."
i    i Like the i in police.
ï  i, ĭ, i  I ~ i Like the i in hit. In some dialects this sound is pronounced the same as the i sound.
o    o Like the o in note.
ö  o, ŏ, o   ~ o Like the au in caught. In some dialects this sound is pronounced the same as the o sound.
u   u Like the u in flute.
ü  ŭ, v, u U Like the u in put.

Kaqchikel Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Kaqchikel pronunciation:
ay ai  aj Like English eye.
ey ei  ej Like ey in English they.
oy oi  oj Like oy in English boy.
uy ui  uj like the uoy in English buoy.

Kaqchikel Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Kaqchikel pronunciation:
b'  b  б Like b in boy, only implosive. To English speakers, it sounds as if Maya speakers are 'swallowing' the b sound, similar to the way b is pronounced in Vietnamese. At the end of a word this sound often is not pronounced at all.
ch  c  t Like ch in chair.
ch'  chh, 'ch, c', 4h  t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
h  j  h ~ x Like h in hay. Some speakers pronounce it more raspily, like the j in Spanish jalapeño.
k  c, qu  k Like k in key.
k'  c', qu', q'u, k, , 'c, 4   Like k, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ky  cy, ky  kj Like c in cute.
ky'  cy', c'y, ky'  kj' Like ky, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
l  ll  l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n  ŋ, nh  n ~ ŋ Like n in night. At the end of a word, sometimes it is pronounced like the ng in sing.
p    p Like the p in pie.
q  k  q Like k only pronounced further back in the throat. This is the same sound as the q in Arabic.
q'  k', , 'k, 3   Like q, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
r     Like Spanish r, somewhat like the tt in English butter.
s  z, ç  s Like the s in sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
t'  tt   Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tz  ts, ¢  ts Like ts in cats.
tz'  ts', dz, , ¢', 'tz, 4,  t Like tz, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
w  b, v, vu, hu  w ~ b ~ β Usually like w in way, but in some dialects it is pronounced like b in boy or the bilabial v in Spanish navidad instead.
x  š, sh, $   Like sh in shell.
y    j Like y in yes.
 7   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Kaqchikel Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Kaqchikel vocabulary
   Kaqchikel picture dictionary
   Kaqchikel body words
   Kaqchikel colors
   Cakchiquel numbers
   Cakchiquel alphabet
   Mayan tribes
   Native Americans in Mexico

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