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Biloxi Pronunciation and Spelling Guide

Welcome to our Biloxi alphabet page! Few records remain of the Biloxi Indian language. The vocabulary on our website is taken from John Swanton's 1912 publication Dictionary of the Biloxi and Ofo Languages and uses the spelling system that is used in that book. Because the source is so old, the orthography is old-fashioned and somewhat irregular. For example, it is never explained in the key what sound "sh" is supposed to represent-- whether it is an inconsistent way of spelling sh as in shell (spelled elsewhere as c), or whether it is meant to sound like the ss h sound in kiss her. At the request of a Biloxi descendant we have done the best with this that we can for these vocabulary pages, but a full-scale language reconstruction project by the tribe would be needed to truly ensure that these words are being pronounced as they were originally.

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Biloxi Vowels

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Biloxi pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
 ă  ə Like the a in above.
â     Like the aw in law.
ă  ä  æ Like the a in cat.
e    e Like the e sound in Spanish, similar to the a in English gate.
ĕ    ε Like the e in get.
ê    ε This sound is described as sounding like the ê in French tête; since that is pronounced the same as e in get in standard French, it is probably a different spelling of the same sound spelled ê above.
ē    e Like the a in gate, only held longer.
i    i Like the i in machine.
ĭ    I Like the i in it.
ī    i Like the i in machine, only held longer.
o    o Like the o in no.
ō   o Like the o in no, only held longer.
u    u Like the u in rule.
û  ŭ   Like the oo in foot.
ŭ  û   Like the u in but.
ü    y Like the ü in German müller. This sounds like the u in flute only pronounced in the front of the mouth instead of the back. Since we know of no other Siouan language that contains this sound, it may have actually been the same sound as the regular u sound.
   ? This sound is described as being "between o in no and u in rule." There is no such sound in other Siouan languages and we don't know what it could be. It may have just been a normal Biloxi pronunciation variant of u. It seems to have been recorded extremely rarely.
ū   u Like the u in rule, only held longer.

Biloxi Nasal Vowels

Nasal vowels don't 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."

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol:
an    ã
in    ĩ
on    õ
un    ũ

Biloxi Consonants

We Use:
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Biloxi pronunciation:
c  sh   Like sh in she.
d    d Like d in day.
   d Like the d th in had these.
dj    d Like j in judge.
g    g Like g in go.
h    h Like h in he.
j     Like a French j. In English, you can hear this sound at the end of words like garage.
k    kh Like the k in kick.
m    m Like m in English me.
n    n Like n in English no.
ñ    ŋ Like ng in English sing.
p    ph Like the p in pen.
   p Probably like the unaspirated p in spin.
s    s Like s in so.
sh    ? Occurs in the vocabulary, but not listed in the key. Maybe like sh in show or ss h in kiss her.
t    th Like the t in to.
   t Probably like the unaspirated t in star.
tc    t Like ch in chair.
   tθ Like the t th in it thought.
w    w Like w in English we.
x  q  x Guttural sound that doesn't exist in English. Like ch in German ach.
    Probably a glottal stop, like the pause sound in the middle of the word "uh-oh."
y    y Like y in English you.

Four other consonants, b, f, l, and r, are identified in the dictionary as occuring only in proper nouns and borrowed words.

Biloxi Stress

Stress in Biloxi words is marked by a quotation mark following the stressed syllable. So for example, in the Biloxi word da'ni, the stress is on the first syllable.

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Biloxi Indian Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Dictionary Of The Biloxi And Ofo Languages (Amazon affiliate link)
   Biloxi vocabulary
   Biloxi animal words
   Biloxi body words
   Ohio Valley Siouan languages
   Biloxi legends
   Southeast region culture
   Mississippi Indian tribes map

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