Oct 21, 2008

Third - Writing Mapuche

In my previous entry I introduced and described the Raguileo Alphabet properly, I mean, as it should be from a linguist point of view. I think though that I should also give some further pronunciation samples (the not-so-correct but necessary K like in 'key')

Pronunciation samples for the Raguileo Alphabet.

Note: I will mark the stress only in the IPA symbols, as Mapuzugun has no written accent (like á, é, etc in Spanish).[1] I will not use the IPA stress symbol in the word written in Mapuzugun in order to prevent misinterpretations of the existence of schwa or glottal stop.

A: Always like "a" in "stack"(e.g. "amun" /a'mun/ = go)

Note: the "b" sound like "b" in "bank" does not occur in Mapuzugun

C: this Grapheme represents the "ch" sound as "ch" in "such" (e.g. "ce" /tʃe/= people)

Note: the "d" sound, like "d" in "day" does no occur in Mapuzugun.

Z: Always like "th" in "think" /'θiŋk/. E.g "zomo" /θo'mo/ = woman.

E: Always like "e" in "bed" (ej. "amulen" = to be going)

F: Always like "f" in "fall" (ej. "fvca" /fɯ'tʃa/= old)

Note: the "g" sound like in "get" does no occur in Mapuzugun

Q: This sound does not occur in English. It is similar to "g" in "get" but without producing the stop, which means it is produced without obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. It corresponds to the Grapheme "v" in Mapuzugun, when used as a semivowel[1]. E.g. "liq" /liɣ/ = white (color)

I: Always lie "i" in "free" /friː/ (e.g. "iney" /i'nei/ = who)
Note: "who" presents regional variations: "iñi" /i'ɲi/

Note: The "j" sound (like "ch" in Scottish "loch" /lɔx/) does not occur in Mapuzugun

K: Always like "k" in "key" (e.g. "kiñe" /ki'ɲe/= uno)

L: Always like "l" in "let" (ej. "logko" /'loŋko/ )

B: Not to confuse with "b" sound. This sound does not occur in English. It represents an interdental “l” that is pronounced like the regular L but beginning with the tongue between the teeth /ļ/. E.g. in Mapuzugun: "bafken" /ļaf'keņ/ = lake, sea.

J: It is pronounced like the "ll" in Spanish: /ʎ/ or like "lli" in "million". E.g. "kawej" /ka'weʎ/ = horse

M: Always like "m" in "him" ("mari" /ma'ɹi/ = ten)

N: Always like "n" in "nice" (e.g. "antv" /an'tɯ/ = sun, day)

H: This does not occur in English. It is pronouced like a regular N but beginning with the tongue between the teeth. E.g. in Mapuzugun "hamuh" /ņa'muņ/ = foot

Ñ: Always like "ni" in "onion" (E.g. "ñuke" /'ɲuke/ = mother)

G: Always like "ng" in "sing". E.g. in Mapuzugun: "guru" /ŋɯ'ɹɯ/ = fox.

O: Always like "augh" in "caught" /'kot/ (E.g. "zomo" /θo'mo/ = woman)

P: Always like "p" en "port" (ej. "peweh" /pe'weņ/ = edible seeds of the Pehuén)
Note: P in Mapuzugun is not aspirated

R: Always lije "r" in English: like "r" in "red" (ej. "ñarki" /'ɲaɹki/ = cat)
Note: In some regions this sound is replaced by the allophone /ɻ/ (voiced retroflex approximant consonant) that is the retroflex R in some American English dialects [1] E.g. red /ɻʷɛd/

S: This grapheme represents two sounds and the pronunciation varies due to regional variations and/or to denote affection.
1. It is pronounced like "sh" in "sheep"
2. Like "s" in "sand".
The word for "elderly woman" is "kuse". Its pronunciation will be related to the affection shown to the person.
Neutral: "kuse" /'kuse/ = "elderly person"
Affective: "kuse" /'kuʃe/ = "elderly person" (affective)
Despiteful: the "s" sound is replaced by "z" /θ/: "kuze" /kuθe/ = "elderly woman" (despiteful)
According to Prof. Cañumil, in the Province of Chubut the "s" is pronounced always like "sh" in "sheep".

T: Always like "t" after "s" in English, like "t" in "sty" (e.g. "¡tutelu!" = great!)

X: It is similar to "tr" in "train". E.g. in Mapuzugun: "xapial" /tɹa'pial/ = puma (puma concolor)
Note: other words to name a "puma". E.g. "pagi" /'paŋi/ - "pagkej" /paŋ'keʎ/

U: always like "oo" in "boot" (ej. "akun" /a'kun" = come)

V: this represents the so-called "6th vowel" and does not occur in English. It sounds like the "ao" in Scottish Gaelic's word for "strait" caol /kɯːl/ when the syllable is stressed. When unstressed,
it sounds like "a" in English "about"/ə'baut/.
Mapuzugun examples: "antv" /an'tɯ/ = sun, day

W: Always line "w" in "water". E.g. in Mapuzugun: "wigka" /'wiŋka/ = this word identifies all that is not Mapuche.

Y: always like "y" in "you" /juː/.

Vovels in Mapuzugun are 6: A E I O U V
Vowels are classified in open (or high): e, a, o and closed: i, u.
The 6th vowel should be placed between "i" and "u". Semivowels are 3: Y Q W, that correspond to the closed vowels: i, v, u. If placed before another vocal, they act as semiconsonants.
Consonants are Las are 17: C Z F K L B J M N H G Ñ P R S T X that could be classified in two groups: obstructives and non obstructives.
Obstructives are: C K P T X
Non obstructives are: Z F L B J M N H G Ñ R S

Pronunciation of the Raguileo Alphabet:
a /a/, cv /tʃɯ/, zv /θɯ/, e /e/, fv /fɯ/, qv /ɣɯ/, i /i/, kv /kɯ/, lv /lɯ/, bv /ļɯ/, jv /ʎɯ/, mv /mɯ/, nv /nɯ/, hv /ņɯ/, ñv /ɲɯ/, gv /ŋɯ/, o /o/, pv /pɯ/, rv /ɹɯ/, sv /sɯ/ o /ʃɯ/, tv /tɯ/, xv /tɹɯ/, u /u/, v /ɯ/, wv /wɯ/, yv /jɯ/.

[1] Stress: "intensity of utterance given to a speech sound, syllable, or word producing relative loudness" (Source:

This entry summarizes the information contained in the books previously quoted and [1] "Gramática del idioma Mapuche del profesor Raguileo Lincopil", Agrupación Mapuche “Wixaleyiñ” by: Marta Berretta- Dario Cañumil- Tulio Cañumil. Electronic Version.

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