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U'wa Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our U'wa alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the U'wa 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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U'wa Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: U'wa pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in gate.
i    i Like the i in police.
o    o Like the o in note.
u    u Like the u in flute.

U'wa Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Uwa pronunciation:
b    b Like b in boy.
d    d Like the d in day.
j  h  h Like h in hay.
k  c, qu  k Like the k in kiss.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
r     Like the r in Spanish pero, somewhat like the tt in American English butter.
s    s Like s in sun.
sh  x, š   Like sh in shell.
t    t Like the t in tell.
w    w Like w in way.
    Like w, only pronounced nasally.
y    j Like y in yes.
 , ?   A pause sound, like the one in the middle of the word "uh-oh."

U'wa Tones

U'wa is a tone language. Some syllables are pronounced with higher pitch than others. In English, the last syllable of a question is pronounced with high pitch, so you can hear the difference between sentences like "You see a man." and "You see a man?" In U'wa pronunciation, such high and low tones are used in nearly every word, giving the language a lively sound.

There are two tones in U'wa, high tone and low tone. Tones are not always indicated in written U'wa, but some writers, especially linguists, mark high tones in U'wa with an acute accent, like this:

a low tone
á high tone

U'wa/Tunebo Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Uwa words
   U'wa animals
   Central Tunebo alphabet
   Chibchan tribes

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