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Munsee Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Munsee alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Munsee orthography we have used on our site, as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites. You may also like to visit our Algonkian homepage to see how Munsee relates to other languages from the Algonkian family.

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Munsee Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Munsee pronunciation:
a  u, à   Like the a in what.
aa  a   Like the a in father.
e  è  ε Like the e in net.
ee  e  e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in Kate.
i  ì  I Like the i in hit.
ii  i  i Like the i in police.
o  u, ù   Like the u in put.
oo  o  o Like the o in note.
u  ', ə, ŭ, ë  ə ~ I Schwa sound like the e in roses. Sometimes when it is stressed it sounds more like the i in hit.

Munsee Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Munsee pronunciation:
aw au  aw Like ow in English cow.
ay ai  aj Like English eye.
eew ew  ew This sound doesn't exist in English. It sounds a little like saying the "AO" from "AOL" quickly.
iiw iw  iw Like a child saying ew!
uw   əw~ow This sound doesn't exist in English. It sounds like the English word "owe," only pronounced further front in the mouth. In recent years, surviving Munsee speakers have been shifting this sound backwards so that it sounds like the English word "owe."
uy    ij ~ ij This sound doesn't exist in English; it is the same "dark i" sound that is written "ый" in Russian. In recent years, surviving Munsee speakers have been shifting this sound forwards so that it sounds like the long "ee" sound in "see."

Munsee Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Munsee pronunciation:
b  p  b Like b in bar.
ch  č, c, j  t Like ch in chair.
d  t  d Like d in dog.
g  k  g Like g in gate.
gw  kw gw~gw Usually it is pronounced like gw in Gwen, but at the end of a word, it is pronounced more like a g with a puff of air after it.
h    h Like h in English hay.
j  ch, č, c  td Like j in jar.
k  g  k Like k in skate.
kw  gw 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.
l    l Like l in English light.
m    m Like m in English moon.
n    n Like n in English night.
p  b  p Like p in spill.
s  z  s Like s in sing.
sh  š, zh, ž   Like sh in shy.
t  d  t Like t in star.
w   w Like w in English way.
x  ch, kh, gh  x ~  Guttural sound that doesn't exist in English. Usually it sounds like ch in German ach. After an n, it sounds like g in Spanish saguaro.
y    j Like y in English yes.
z  s  z Like z in zoo.
zh  ž, sh, š   Like the ge sound at the end of mirage.

Stress

Munsee has less pronounced word stress than English does. In English, unstressed vowels are often weakened to schwas, which makes the stress sound very strong. (An example of this is the word "rebel." When "rebel" is a noun, the stress is on the first syllable and the word is pronounced REH-bəl. When "rebel" is a verb, the stress is on the second syllable and the word is pronounced rə-BELL.) But in Munsee, all vowels are pronounced fully regardless of stress. If you weaken an unstressed vowel to a schwa you will often change the meaning of the word, so be careful not to do this!

Although stress is less pronounced than it is in English, it is still present. A stressed syllable is usually pronounced with slightly higher pitch in Munsee. Generally speaking, the stress is on the second to last syllable of an Munsee word. However, there are many exceptions, and some modern Munsee orthographies mark a word's stress with an acute accent, like á, or by underlining the stressed vowel, like a.

Munsee Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Munsee Indian words
   Munsee picture dictionary
   Munsee alphabet
   Algonkian history
   Eastern Woodlands Native Americans
   Wisconsin tribes

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