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Seneca Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Seneca alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Seneca 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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Seneca Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Seneca pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
a:  a·, á, aa  a Like the a in father, only held longer.
ä  æ, ae  æ Like the a in cat.
ä:  ä·, æ:  æ Like the a in cat, only held longer.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.
e:  e·, é, ee  e Like the a in gate, only held longer.
i    i Like the i in police.
i:  i·, í, ii  i Like the i in police, only held longer.
o  u  o ~ u Like the o in note or the u in flute.
o:  o·, ú, oo  o ~ u Like the o in note or the u in flute, only held longer.

Seneca Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't really 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."

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
ë  ę, enh  
ë:  ë·, ę:, ęę, eenh  
ö  , ų, onh  õ ~ ũ
ö:  ö·, :, oonh  õ ~ ũ

Seneca Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Seneca pronunciation:
d  t  d Like d in day.
g  k  g Like g in good.
h    h Like h in English hay.
j    d ~ t Like j in jar or ch in char.
k  g  k ~ kh Like the soft k in ski or the hard k in key.
n    n Like n in night.
s    s Like s in sing.
 sh, š, c   Like sh in show.
t  d  t ~ th Like the soft t in sty or the hard t in tie.
ts    dz ~ ts Like ds in Edsel or ts in Patsy.
w   w Like w in way.
y    j Like y in yes.
 , ?   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Note that in this spelling system, h is always pronounced-- the Seneca pronouncion of th sounds like the th in "outhouse," never the th in "think", and the Seneca pronunciation of sh sounds like the sh in "mishap," not the sh in "shell."

Seneca Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Seneca words
   Seneca picture dictionary
   Iroquois family
   Eastern Woodlands tribes
   Languages of New York
   Seneca mythology

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