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Tzotzil Maya Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

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

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Tzotzil pronunciation:
a  aa  a Like the a in father.
e  ee  e Like the Spanish e, similar to the a in English gate.
i  ii  i Like the i in police.
o  oo  o Like the o in note.
u  uu u Like the u in flute.

Tzotzil Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Tzotzil pronunciation:
ay ai  aj Like English eye.
ey ei  ej Like ey in English they.
oy oi  oj Like oy in English boy.

Tzotzil Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Tzotzil pronunciation:
b    b ~ б ~ m Like b in boy. Many Maya speakers pronounce this sound implosively, as if they were 'swallowing' the b sound, similar to the way b is pronounced in Vietnamese. At the end of a word this sound is pronounced like an m.
c  qu, k  kh Like k in key.
c'  qu', q'u, k',   Like c, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
ch  č  t Like ch in chair.
ch'  č', chh, 'ch  t Like ch, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
j  h  h ~ x Like h in hay. Sometimes the Tzotzil pronunciation is more raspy, like the j in Spanish jalapeño
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
p    ph Like the p in pie.
p'  pp   Like p, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
qu  c, k  kh Like k in key.
q'u  c', qu', k',   Like qu, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
r     Like Spanish r, somewhat like the tt in English butter.
s  z  s Like the s in sun.
t    th Like the t in tell.
t'  tt   Like t, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
tz  ts, ¢  ts Like ts in cats.
tz'  ts', , ¢'  t Like tz, only glottalized (pronounced with a pop of air.)
v  w, gu, vu, hu  v ~ w Like v in vine. Sometimes it is pronounced more like the w in wine.
x  š, sh   Like sh in shell.
y  ll  j Like y in yes.
 7   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

Tzotzil Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Tzotzil vocabulary
   Tzotzil picture dictionary
   Tzotzil alphabet and phonology
   Mayan linguistics
   Central Mexico languages

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