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Lower Tanana (Menhti Kenaga) Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Tanana pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
e    ε Like the e in get.
i  ee  i Like the ee in see.
o   o Like the o in note.
u  oo u Like the u in flute.
w  u Like the u in but.

Tanana Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Tanana pronunciation:
b    b ~ p Like b in bill or the soft p in spill.
ch  č  t Like ch in chair.
ch'    t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
d    d ~ t Like d in dill or the soft t in still.
ddh     Like d only pronounced with the tongue pressed against the back of the teeth.
dh     Like th in then.
dl    dł Somewhat like the dle in ladle.
dr  dd   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.
dz  ds, j  dz Like ds in Edsel.
g    k Like the soft k in skill.
gh    γ Like the g in the Spanish word saguaro. It sounds like the "ch" sound in German words like "ach," only voiced.
h    h Like h in English hay.
j    d Like j in jar.
k  k  kh Like k in kill.
k'     Like k, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
l    l Like l in light.
ł  hl, lh, /  ł This sound is a lateral fricative that doesn't really exist in English. The Tanana pronunciation sounds like the "ll" in the Welsh name "Llewellyn." Some English speakers can pronounce it well if they try to pronounce the "breathy l" in the word clue without the c in front of it.
m    m Like m in moon. This sound doesn't exist in most Lower Tanana dialects.
n    n Like n in night.
n'     Like n only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ng    ng Like ng in sing.
p    ph Like p in pill.
s    s Like s in sing.
sr     No equivalent in American English. This is a retroflex s, pronounced with the tongue touching the back of the palate. You may recognize this sound if you've heard people from India speaking English.
t    th Like t in till.
t'     Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
th    θ Like th in thin.
tl    tł~kł Somewhat like the tle in bottle. Sometimes it is pronounced more like the kle in ankle.
tl'  t  t Like tl only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tr     No equivalent in American English. This is a retroflex t, pronounced with the tongue touching the back of the palate. You may recognize this sound if you've heard people from India speaking English.
tr'    ' Like tr only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ts  c  ts Like ts in tsunami.
ts'  t  t Like ts, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tth     Like t only pronounced with the tongue pressed against the back of the teeth.
tth'    ' Like tth, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
w   w Like w in way.
x  kh  x Like ch in German ach.
y    j Like y in yes.
z  zh  z~ Like z in zoo.
zr     No equivalent in American English. This is a retroflex z, pronounced with the tongue touching the back of the palate. You may recognize this sound if you've heard people from India speaking English.
 ?, h   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Tanana Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Tanana words
   Tanana picture dictionary
   Lower Tanana alphabet and pronunciation
   Alaskan Athabascan
   Subarctic Native Americans
   Native Americans of Alaska
   Tanana mythology

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