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Chontal Maya Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Chontal pronunciation:
a  aa, ā  a Like the a in father.
e  ee  e Like the Spanish e, similar to the a in English gate.
i  ii, ĭ  i Like the i in police.
i  ä, ö, y, , E, ĕ  i This sound does not exist in English. It sounds like the i in police only pronounced further back in the mouth. If you've ever heard a Slavic language like Russian or Polish being spoken, it is the same "dark i" sound from those languages.
o  oo  o Like the o in note.
u  uu, ū u Like the u in flute.

Chontal Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Chontal pronunciation:
ay ai  aj Like English eye.
ey ei  ej Like ey in English they.
oy oi  oj Like oy in English boy.
uy ui  uj like the uoy in English buoy.

Chontal Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Chontal pronunciation:
b    b Like b in boy.
ch  č, tc  t Like ch in chair.
ch'  č', tc', 'ch  t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
d    d Like d in dog.
j  h, H, x  h Like h in hay.
k  c, qu  k Like k in key.
k'  c', q'u, qu',   Like k, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
kw  qu  kw Like qu in queen.
l  ll  l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
p    p Like the p in pie.
p'     Like p, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
q  k  q Like k only pronounced further back in the throat. This is the same sound as the q in Arabic.
q'  k',   Like q, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
r     Like Spanish r, somewhat like the tt in English butter.
s    s Like the s in sun.
t    t Like the t in tell.
t'     Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ts  tz, ¢  ts Like ts in cats.
ts'  tz', , ¢', 'tz  t Like ts, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
w  hu, v, vu, gu, gü  w Like w in way.
x  š, sh, c   Like sh in shell.
y    j Like y in yes.
    A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Chontal de Tabasco Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Chontal words
   Chontal picture dictionary
   Chontal numbers
   Mayan languages
   Mexican tribes

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