Resources- Dane-zaa Záágéʔ (Beaver Language) Pronunciation Guide

Resources | DANE-ZAA ZÁÁGÉʔ (BEAVER LANGUAGE) PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

 

This guide is based on the Doig River Dictionary by Marshall and Jean Holdstock. It is intended as an introduction to pronouncing and writing the sounds used in Dane-zaa Záágéʔ (the Beaver language).

To write our language, we use the sounds represented by the Latin alphabet (used also for the English and French languages) in combination with additional symbols for the sounds we use that are not part of the Latin alphabet. Please refer to the Symbols chart for the list of phonetic and tonal characters which we use in addition to Latin letters.

To begin learning our language, listen carefully to Billy Attachie pronouncing the sounds found in our alphabet, and then practice them yourself.

AUDIO BEAVER LETTER BEAVER WORD ENGLISH MEANING ENGLISH EQUIVALENT (OR NEAR EQUIVALENT) OF THE SOUND
a gat 'tree' Sounds like the vowel in the English word cut.
aasaa 'sun'Sounds like the sound at the beginning of the English word ah.
ąąahą́ą'yes'Sounds like Beaver aa, but pronounced through the nose.
aeegae'spoon'Sounds like the two vowels a and e pronounced as a single vowel, with the a brief and the e longer.
aihak'ai'cow'Sounds like the two vowels a and ii pronounced as a single vowel.
bbes'knife'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of ball.
chachéʔ'tail'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of chain.
ch'ch'ǫnê 'coyote' Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of chain, except the sound is glottalized so there is a "popping" sound.
ddane'person' Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of dog.
dldlezhe'grizzly' Sounds like a sequence of d followed by l as in toddler.
dzadzěʔ'heart'Sounds like a sequence of d followed by z as in the English word lids.
zḏ̱zeníi'calendar'Sounds like a sequence of d followed by z as at the English word lids, except with the tongue just behind or between the teeth.
es̱e'belt'Sounds like the vowel in face but without the glide to i at the end of the vowel.
ęębaa'weasel'Sounds like the Beaver vowel e said through the nose.
eadabea'sheep'Sounds like the vowel in the English word hat.
ęąkulęą'old man'Sounds like the Beaver vowel ea said through the nose.
ggaah'rabbit' Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of the English word goat.
ghghaje'goose'This sound is different that any English sound, although in rapid speech many English speakers change the g sound of ragged to a sound that is close to the gh sound of Beaver.
hahą́ą 'yes'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of hen.
hhadaa'moose'In many words /h/ has a stronger sound at the beginning of syllables
ishin'song'Sounds like the vowel in stick.
iijiih'grouse'Sounds like the vowel in seat.
jjéyǫʔ'bull moose'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of job.
kke'shoes'Sounds like the sound at the beginning of kite.
k'k'at'willow'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of kite, except the sound is glottalized so there is a "popping" sound.
lalááʔ'boat'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of leaf.
lhlhuuge'fish'This sound is different than any English sound. It has the sibilant quality of s, but the air comes around the sides of the tongue.
mmęlh 'snare' Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of me.
nnódaa'lynx'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of net.
ogogosh'pig'Sounds like the vowel at the beginning of open.
ǫat'ǫ́ʔ'leaf'Sounds like the vowel at the beginning of only.
ssas'bear'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of son.
s̱án'star'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of son, except with the tongue just behind or between the teeth.
shshin'song'Sounds like the sound at the beginning of she.
ttís'crutch'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of tea.
t'at'ǫ́ʔ'leaf'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of tea, except the sound is glottalized so there is a "popping" sound.
tltlęzaa'dog'Sounds like a sequence of t followed by Beaver lh. There is no similar sound in English.
tl'tl'uulh'rope'Sounds like a sequence of t followed by Beaver lh, except the sound is glottalized so there is a "popping" sound. There is no similar sound in English.
tstsááʔ'beaver' Sounds like a sequence of t followed by s as at the end of lets.
tṯs̱e'pipe' Sounds like a sequence of t followed by s as at the end of lets, except with the tongue just behind or between the teeth.
ts'ts'ádéʔ'blanket'Sounds like a sequence of t followed by s as at the end of lets, except the sound is glottalized so there is a "popping" sound.
tts̱'iih'mosquito'Sounds like a sequence of t followed by s as at the end of lets, except the sound is glottalized so there is a "popping" sound and the tongue is just behind or between the teeth.
uchush'down feather'Sounds like the vowel in book.
uuchuu'water' Sounds like the vowel in food.
wwąlále'butterfly'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of worm.
yyas̱'snow'Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of yes.
zmazííʔ'his/her body' Sounds like the consonant at the beginning of zigzag.
zhdézhaa'she/he has started to go'Sounds like the second consonant in measure.


PHONETIC AND TONAL SYMBOLS USED IN DANE-ZAA ZÁÁGÉʔ (THE BEAVER LANGUAGE)

Dane-zaa Záágéʔ (the Beaver language) uses the Latin alphabet (also used by the English and French languages) in combination with the following symbols which indicate sounds that are not found in the Latin alphabet.

AUDIO SYMBOL EXAMPLE IN BEAVER WORD ENGLISH MEANING EXPLANATION OF SYMBOL & SOUND
ʔma'aahéʔ'his/her snowshoes'This indicates a glottal stop; a break in sound between vowels. It sounds like the consonant sound that comes between the two parts of Oh-Oh! This sound is made when the vocal cords are pressed together to stop the flow of air and then released.
'k'at'willow'The apostrophe associated with a consonant means that the sound is "glottalized;" with glottalization, the consonant has a popping sound.
The popping sound is made by combining a glottal stop (made when the vocal cords are pressed together to stop the flow of air and then released) simultaneously with another consonant.
This example, k'at, sounds like the consonant at the beginning of kite, with an extra "popping" sound.
΄táádézhaa'he is going up'The acute accent (high tone) indicates that the vowel has a relatively higher pitch than the unmarked vowels.
 _s̱án'star'The underlined letters indicate dental sounds. Dental sounds are made by saying the sound of a letter with the tongue just behind or between the teeth (not on the ridge behind the teeth).
This example, s̱án, sounds like the consonant at the beginning of son, except with the tongue just behind or between the teeth.
˛at'ǫ́ʔ 'leaf'The hook under a vowel means that it is nasalized, and pronounced through the nose. This example sounds like the vowel at the beginning of only.
ˇ maděʔ 'his/her eye'The hachek over a vowel indicates a rising pitch.
ˆch'ǫnê 'coyote'The circumflex over a vowel indicates a falling pitch.


Download: Dane-zaa Záágéʔ (Beaver Language) - Pronunciation Guide [PDF]

PREPARED BY: Billy Attachie, Dr. Patrick Moore, Julia Miller, July 2006.

Funded in part by a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation entitled: "Beaver Knowledge Systems: Documentation of a Canadian First Nation Language from a Place Name Perspective."