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Ofo Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Ofo alphabet page! Few records remain of the Ofo language. The vocabulary on our website is taken from John Swanton's 1912 publication Dictionary of the Biloxi and Ofo Languages and uses the spelling system that is used in that book. Because the source is so old, the orthography is old-fashioned and somewhat irregular. For example, it is never explained in the text what sound "sh" is supposed to represent-- whether it is an inconsistent way of spelling sh as in shell (spelled elsewhere as c), or whether it is meant to sound like the ss h sound in kiss her, or whether it is merely an aspirated s sound. We have included an Ofo pronunciation guide anyway-- to the best of our ability to do so-- because some of the spellings that Swanton used are so unfamiliar to modern readers that they might cause too much confusion left unexplained.

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Ofo Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Ofo pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
 ă  ə Like the a in above.
â     Like the aw in law.
ă  ä  æ Like the a in cat.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in English gate.
ĕ    ε Like the e in get.
ê    ε The Ofo pronunciation is described as sounding like the ê in French tête; since that is pronounced the same as e in get in standard French, it is probably a different spelling of the same sound spelled ê above.
i    i Like the i in machine.
ĭ    I Like the i in it.
o    o Like the o in no.
u    u Like the u in rule.
û  ŭ   Like the oo in foot.
ŭ  û   Like the u in but.

Ofo Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't exist in English, but you may be familiar with them from French (or from hearing people speak English with a French accent.) They are pronounced just like oral ("regular") vowels, only using your nose as well as your mouth. To English speakers, a nasal vowel often sounds like a vowel with a half-pronounced "n" at the end of it. You can hear examples of nasal vowels at the end of the French words "bon" and "Jean," or in the middle of the word "Français."

Note: The nasal vowels on and un are pronounced exactly the same in both Dakota and Lakota Sioux.

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
an    ã
in    ĩ
on    õ
un    ũ

Ofo Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Ofo pronunciation:
b    b Like b in boy.
c  sh   Like sh in she.
d    d Like d in day.
f    f Like f in far.
g    g Like g in go.
h    h Like h in he.
j     Like a French j. In English, you can hear this sound at the end of words like garage.
k    k Like the soft k in skin.
k    kh Like the hard k in kick.
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in English me.
n    n Like n in English no.
ñ    ŋ Like ng in English sing.
p    p Like the soft p in spin.
ph    ph Like the hard p in pen.
s    s Like s in so.
sh    ? Occurs in the vocabulary, but not listed in the key. Maybe like sh in show or ss h in kiss her.
t    t Like the soft t in star.
th    th Like the hard t in to.
tc    t Like ch in chair.
   tθ Like the t th in it thought.
w    w Like w in English we.
x  q  x Guttural sound that doesn't exist in English. Like ch in German ach.
y    w Like w in English you.

Ofo Stress

Stress in Ofo words is marked by a quotation mark following the stressed syllable. So for example, in the Ofo word i'la, the stress is on the first syllable.

Ofo Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Ofo words
   Ofo picture dictionary
   Ofo alphabet and phonology
   Siouans
   Southeast tribes
   Native Americans of Arkansas

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