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Ahwahnee Village


Southern Sierra Miwok Sounds

Sierra Miwok is not a written language. The written alphabets used are phonetic and non-standard. The alphabet used on the interpretative signs is the same as in The Miwok in Yosemite: Southern Miwok Life, History, and Language in the Yosemite Region (Yosemite: Yosemite Association, 1996), by Craig D. Bates. To aid in approximate pronunciation, here are the Sierra Miwok vowels and constants.

Vowels

alike the a in father
aalike the a in father, but dragged out
elike the e in met
eelike the e in met, but dragged out
ilike the i in it
iilike the ee in see
olike the o in go
oolike the o in cold, but dragged out
ulike the u in June
uulike the u in June, but dragged out
ᵊ (inverted e)like the e in places
ᵊᵊ (inverted ee)like the e in places, but dragged out

Consonants

'(glottal stop) a clipped passage of air before a vowel and a catch at the end of a vowel
chlike the ch in church, however, between vowels, ch sometimes sounds just like the j in just
hlike the h in house
klike the k in keep, however, it may sound somewhat like a g when surrounded by vowels
llike the l in leaf
mlike the m in man
ᵡ (ng)like the ng in sing
plike the p in pool
slike the z in zebra between or after l, m, n, ᵡ (n dropped), w, or y. Elsewhere like the s in see.
šlike the sh in she
tformed by pressing the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth without a puff of air
t.formed by curling the tip of the tongue behind the alvelor ridge (behind the front teeth).
Between vowels and after n, it will sound like the d in dog.
wlike the w in way
ylike the y in yellow

———
From Craig D. Bates, The Miwok in Yosemite: Southern Miwok Life, History, and Language in the Yosemite Region (Yosemite: Yosemite Association, 1996), p. 3.

Linguists may want to compare these sounds and alphabet with alphabet in Sylvia M. Broadbent’s The Southern Sierra Miwok Language (1964) and the alphabet in L. S. Freeland and Sylvia M. Broadbent’s Central Sierra Miwok Dictionary (1960). Words used on some exhibit signs uses Freeland & Broadbent’s alphabet instead of the alphabet defined above.



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