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Akimel and Tohono O'odham Pronunciation and Spelling Guide (Pima and Papago)

Welcome to our Akimel and Tohono O'odham alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the O'odham 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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O'odham Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: O'odham pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
ah  a:, aa  a Like a only held longer.
e    i ~ Somewhat like the e in roses. Pima speakers pronounce it more like the u in cut.
eh  e:, ee  i ~ Like e only held longer.
i    i Like the i in police.
ih  i:, ii  i Like i only held longer.
o    o ~ Like the o in note or the au in caught.
oh  o:, oo  o ~ Like o only held longer.
u   u Like the u in flute.
uh  u:, uu  u Like u only held longer.

O'odham Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: O'odham pronunciation:
ai ay  aj Like English eye.
oi  oy  oj Like the oy in boy.
ui  uy  uj similar to the uoy in buoy.

O'odham Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: O'odham pronunciation:
b    b Like b in big.
ch  c, č  t Like ch in chair.
d  d, d   No equivalent in American English. This is a retroflex d, pronounced with the tongue touching the back of the palate. You may recognize this sound if you've heard people from India speaking English.
g    g Like g in good.
h    h Like h in hay.
j    d Like j in jar.
k    k Like the soft k in skate.
l    l~ɭ Like l in light. Some speakers pronounce it as a retroflex l instead, with the tongue curled back in the mouth as the l sound is pronounced.
m    m Like m in moon.
n  ñ  n ~ nj Like n in night. Before an i or u, it is pronounced like the ny in canyon instead.
p    p Like the soft p in spy.
s    s Like s in see.
sh  s, š   ~ Traditionally this is a retroflex sound, pronounced far back in the mouth and sounding somewhat like the sh sound in harsh. Younger speakers often pronounce it like the sh in shell.
t    t Like the soft t in star.
th  d   ~ Like the d in day, only pronounced with the tongue against the teeth, as it is in Spanish. Also like Spanish, this sound is sometimes pronounced more like the th in then.
w   w ~ β Like w in way. Between vowels it is often pronounced like the v in Spanish navidad.
v   v Like v in vine. This sound only exists in Akimel O'odham (Pima) pronunciation.
y    j Like y in yes.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Pima-Papago Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   O'odham words
   Papago animals
   Papago body parts
   Papago colors
   O'odham numbers
   Tohono O'odham alphabet
   Pima/Papago alphabet and phonology
   Southern Uto Aztecan
   Southwest Native Americans
   Arizona Indians
   Pima legends

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