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Osage Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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



Important orthography note: Three years ago, the Osage Nation began using a new official orthography (writing system) for their language. You can see their explanation of the new system here. They believe this new writing system will be easier for children to learn since each character makes only one sound. Therefore, we have updated our website to use the new orthography. However, since this writing system is brand new and the characters are not traditional in any way, many older Osage people who are already used to some of the language-- like our Osage volunteer-- find the new system extremely hard to use. It also requires a special font and keyboard map (which you can download here) that some people have a hard time installing on their computers. As a solution, we have included a simple romanized spelling which our speaker feels comfortable with alongside the official spelling using the new characters. Hopefully this will help everyone both younger and older to read the words more easily. Many world languages, such as Japanese, are commonly written both with their own alphabet and with European letters. We hope that this compromise doesn't cause anyone any offense.

Osage Vowels

Osage
Character:
Romanization
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Osage pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
e    e ~ ε Like the a in gate or the e in get.
i  iu  i Like the i in police.
o    o Like the o in note.
u  iu  u Like the u in flute.

Osage 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."

Osage
Character:
Romanization
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
an  an, ą, aN  ã
in  in, į, iN  ĩ
on  on, , oN  õ

Osage Consonants

Osage
Character:
Romanization
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Osage pronunciation:
br  bth, bl  b Like br in brass.
ch  č, c, t, ds  t Like the ch in chair.
h    h Like h in hay.
k  g  k Like the unaspirated k in skin. To English speakers, the Osage pronunciation sounds midway between a k and a g.
k'  k’  k' Like k in key, but with a catch after it (like k'ey). In the new Osage orthography, this sound and k are spelled the same.
kk  , hk  hk ~ k A preaspirated k, pronounced with a breath of air before it and sometimes held longer than a regular k. In the new Osage orthography, this sound and k are spelled the same.
l  gth, xth  l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
p  b  p Like the unaspirated p in spin. To English speakers, the Osage pronunciation sounds midway between a p and a b.
p'  p’  p' Like p in pin, but with a catch after it (like p'in). In the new Osage orthography, this sound and p are spelled the same.
pp  , hp  hp ~ p A preaspirated p, pronounced with a breath of air before it and sometimes held longer than a regular p. In the new Osage orthography, this sound and p are spelled the same.
s  ç  s Like s in sun.
sh  š   Like sh in shell.
sk  çk, sg  sk Like sk in skin.
st  çd, sd  st Like st in star.
t  d  t Like the unaspirated t in star. To English speakers, the Osage pronunciation sounds midway between a t and a d.
tt  , ht  ht ~ t A preaspirated t, pronounced with a breath of air before it and sometimes held longer than a regular t. In the new Osage orthography, this sound and t are spelled the same.
ts  c, ds  ts Like the soft ts in lists.
ts'  c', c, ds  ts' Like ts in tsunami, but with a catch after it (like ts'unami). In the new Osage orthography, this sound and ts are spelled the same.
th     Like th in then.
w    w Like w in way.
x  ,  x ~ Guttural sound that doesn't exist in English. Like ch in German ach or g in Spanish saguaro.
z  ç  z Like z in zoo.
zh  ž, j   Like a French j. In English, you can hear this sound at the end of words like garage.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Osage Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Osage words
   Osage picture dictionary
   Osage alphabet
   The Siouan Indians
   Plains tribes
   Missouri Native Americans
   Osage mythology



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