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Mohican Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Mohican alphabet page! Unlike most of the languages we have online worksheets for, Mohican is not an actively spoken language today. There have not been fluent speakers of Mohican since the 1930's. That means our Mohican language materials do not come from native speakers of the language--they come from old dictionaries. To be precise, they come from Carl Masthay's revised edition of Schmick's 18th-century Mahican Dictionary. If you'd like to know more about the Mahican language, that is probably the best place to start. However, Schmick was a German speaker and his spelling system is largely German-based, which causes a lot of confusion for English speakers ("z" in these words is pronounced like the "z" in German, for example, which sounds like "ts" in English; pronouncing it like the "z" in "zoo" would be incorrect.) So here is a rough pronunciation guide to Schmick's orthography for readers who aren't familiar with the German language. Vowels are more complicated (Schmick did not always recognize nasalization or the difference between Algonquian long and short vowels) and I recommend Masthay's book to anyone interested in the specific pronunciation of Mohican vowels, since he reconstructs Mohican phonology very concisely in the beginning of the volume.

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Mohican Consonants

Character
Schmick Used:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Mohican pronunciation:
b  p  p Like the soft p in spill. The same sound is also written p in this text.
ch  x  x Like ch in German ach.
ck  k, g  k Like the soft k in skate. The same sound is also written k and g in this text.
d  t  t Like the soft t in stay. The same sound is also written t in this text.
g  k, ck  k Like the soft k in skate. The same sound is also written k and ck in this text.
h    h Like h in English hay.
j  y  j Like y in English yes.
k  g, ck  k Like the soft k in skate. The same sound is also written g and ck in this text.
kw or kq  qu  kw~kw Usually it is pronounced like qu in English queen, but at the end of a word, it is pronounced more like a k with a puff of air after it. The same sound is also written qu in this text.
m    m Like m in English moon.
n    n Like n in English night.
p  b  p Like the soft p in spill. The same sound is also written b in this text.
qu kw, kq  kw~kw Usually it is pronounced like qu in English queen, but at the end of a word, it is pronounced more like a k with a puff of air after it. The same sound is also written kw and kq in this text.
s    s Like s in Sue.
sch  š, sh   Like sh in shy.
t  d  t Like the soft t in stay. The same sound is also written d in this text.
tsch  č, ch  t Like ch in char.
w   w Like w in English way.
x  ks  ks Like the x in axe.
z  ts, c  ts Like ts in tsunami or cats.

Mohican Vowels and Diphthongs

Character
Schmick Used:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Mohican pronunciation:
a  ã  a ~ ã Like the a in father. There is also a nasalized a in Mohican (spoken with a half-pronounced "n" sound, like the an in Français), but Schmick didn't usually distinguish between them in his vocabulary.
aa or ah  ā, a:  a Like the a in father, only held longer.
ai ay, ei  aj Like English eye. Schmick also spelled the same sound ei.
au aw, ow  aw Like ow in English cow.
e or i    e~ε~ə Like the a in gate, e in get, or e in nugget.
e, ee or eh  ii, ī, i:  i Like the i in police.
ei   aj or ej Schmick sometimes uses ei for the sound in English eye (which is what it represents in German,) and other times for the ei in English weigh.
eu iw, ew  iw Like a child saying ew!
o, oo or oh  ō, o:  o Like the o in go.
o or u ew  ew A little like the "AO" from "AOL" spoken quickly.

Mohican Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Mahican words
   Mohican picture dictionary
   Algonquian pictures
   Northeast Woodland
   Wisconsin Indians
   Mahican legends

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