Indian language * Native American nations * Native American Indian websites

Mam Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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


Sponsored Links

Mam Vowels

Vowel length is distinctive in Mam-- whether a vowel is short or long can sometimes change the meaning of a word. Despite this, most Mam people do not note the length of a vowel when they are writing their language. The ambiguity is not troubling to readers who know Mam well, just as letter combinations that can be pronounced more than one way do not normally confuse English speakers. But we have included vowel length information on our own Mam pages, using a doubled vowel for a long vowel as other Mayan orthographies of Guatemala do.

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Mam pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
aa  a·, a:  a Like a only held longer.
e    e Like the Spanish e, similar to the a in English gate.
ee  e·, e:  e Like e only held longer.
i    i Like the i in police.
ii  i·, i:  i Like i only held longer.
o    o Like the o in note.
oo  o·, o:  o Like o only held longer.
u  v u Like the u in flute.
uu  u·, u:  u Like u only held longer.

Mam Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: How To Pronounce It:
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.

Mam Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Mam pronunciation:
b'  b  б ~ b ~ p 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. In some Mam dialects, this sound is pronounced more like an English b or an unaspirated p as in spin.
ch  č, tc  t Like ch in chair.
ch'  č', tc'  t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
j  h, x   x ~ h Like the raspy j in Spanish jalapeño. In some dialects it is often pronounced more like the h in hay.
k  c, qu  k Like k in key.
k'  k, c', q'u, qu', , 'c   Like k, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ky  cy  kj Like c in cute.
ky'  cy', ky  kj' Like ky, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n  nh, ng  n ~ ŋ Like n in night. In some dialects it is pronounced like the ng in sing at the end of a word.
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", 'k,  ʛ ~ This sound is unique to Mam and has no equivalent in English. It sounds a little bit like the "gl-gl-gl" sound that Americans make to imitate someone drinking quickly, only less prominent and further back in the throat. In some dialects, it is instead pronounced like a clicking version of q.
r     Like Spanish r, somewhat like the tt in English butter.
s  z  s Like the s in sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
t'     Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tx  č, c  tʂ A retroflex sound ch sound like the cz of Polish. To English speakers, it sometimes sounds a little like "chr."
tx'  č', c'  tʂ' Like tx, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tz  ts, ¢  ts Like ts in cats.
tz'  ts', , ¢', 'tz  t Like tz, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
w  hu, gu, v, vu  w Like w in way.
x  š, s,  ʂ A retroflex s sound like the sz of Polish. To English speakers, it sometimes sounds a little like "shr."
 xh, x, š, sh, c   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."

Mam Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Mam words
   Mam animals
   Mam colors
   The Mam alphabet
   The Mayan language
   Maya stories

Sponsored Links



Back to American Indian Cultures
Back to Native American Words
Back to Guatemala Languages Information



Native American artists * Native American family * Extinct Algonquian * Ataniel fiction * Indian tattoos

Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered American Indian languages?



Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2016 * Contacts and FAQ page