Wendat kwawennontahkwih « We all speak wendat, we have the voice of the wendat nation »

The Wendat Alphabet and Pronunciation Guide

The Wendat alphabet consists of seventeen letters: twelve consonants (in blue) and five vowels (in red).

AC D E G H I K N O R S T U W Y

Traditionally, Wendat was an oral language. Therefore, the alphabet we present to you here is the result of years of discussion concerning the best way to represent the language through written symbols. After a previous preliminary standardization, the Wendat Language Committee, in 2010, decided upon the orthography and pronunciation that we use today. The Committee made these decisions on the basis of several factors, including: the first language of the majority of Wendat people being French, the ways in which missionaries transcribed the language over time, the spelling systems used by other Iroquoian communities, the combatibility and adaptability of this orthography with new and emerging technologies, as well as others.

Given that the transmission of the Wendat language was interrupted for a period of more than 150 years, the re-establishment of the pronunciation of this language required a great deal of linguistic research. In light of analyses of the archival data of Wendat and Wyandot and comparative research about the sound systems of other Iroquoian langauges, the Committee discussed and decided upon the pronunciation for each letter, and combination of letters, in the standardized alphabet.

The information found below provides the sound that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet and all frequent combinations of these letters. For each sound, there is an example in Wendat with audio, as well as similar examples in English and French when relevant.

The Sounds of Wendat

A

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « a » in the word ahsonta‘night’ 
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « a » in the word father
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « â » in the word pâte

Listen A
AN

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « an » in the word stan ‘no’ 
Example of its pronunciation in French :      « en » in the word  enfant

Listen AN
ÄN

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « än » in the word orända’ ‘maple sap’
Example of its pronunciation in English :        « on » in the word bond

Listen ÄN
CH

*The letter c in Wendat is always followed by the letter h.

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « ch » in the word yarich ‘leggings’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :        « sh » in the word shoe 
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « ch » in the word chien

Listen CH
HCH

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « hch » in the word ohcha’  ‘winter’


Listen HCH
D

*The letter d in Wendat is almost always preceded by the letter n.

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « d » in the word decha « chat » 
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « d » in the word dog
Example of its pronunciation in French :      « d » in the word  danse

Listen D
ND

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « nd » in the word ndih « deux » 
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « nd » in the word end

 

Listen ND
E

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « e » in the word ehta’  ‘field’
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « e » in the word egg 
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « e » in the word  bec

Listen E
EN

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « en » in the word enta’  ‘day’
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « en » in the word bien

Listen EN
ËN

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « ën » in the word yarënda’  ‘rock’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « en » in the word send 

Listen ËN
G

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « g » in the word yängwahi’tsa’ ‘doll’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « g » in the word gum 
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « g » in the word gardien

Listen G
H

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « h » in the word yahonwa’ « canoe »
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « h » in the word  help

Listen H
I

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « i » in the word yatsihsta’  ‘fire’ 
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « ea » dans le mot tea
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « i » in the word riz
 

Listen I
K

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « k » in the word skat ‘one’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « c » in the word scale
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « c » in the word cou

Listen K
HK

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « hk » in the word ndahk ‘four’  

Listen HK
KH

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « kh » in the word yen’khara’  ‘skirt’ 
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « c » in the word cat

Listen KH
HKW

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « hkw » in the word yarahkwa’  ‘ray of sunlight’

Listen HKW
KHW

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « khw » in the word yakhwa’ ‘meal’

Listen KHW
KW

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « kw » in the word yenkwara’ ‘blanket’

Listen KW
N

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « n » in the word nariskwa’ ‘wolf’
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « n » in the word no
Example of its pronunciation in French :      « n » in the word  nation

Listen N
O

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « o » in the word otsi’tsa’ ‘flower’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « o » in the word old
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « eau » in the word beau

Listen O
ON

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « on » in the word yänonhchia’   ‘house’
Example of its pronunciation in French :      « on » in the word  pont

Listen ON
ÖN

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « ön » in the word önda’wënda’  ‘potato’
Example of its pronunciation in English :       « one » in the word bone

Listen ÖN
OU

*Le u en wendat est toujours précédé par la lettre o.

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « ou » in the word ou’nda’  ‘arrow’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :        « oo » in the word moose
Example of its pronunciation in French :      « ou » in the word hibou

Listen OU
R

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « r » in the word ontara’   ‘lake’  

Listen R
HR

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « hr » in the word o’yenhra’  ‘ash(es)’

Listen HR
RH

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « rh » in the word yarha’  ‘forest’ 

Listen RH
S

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « s » in the word Satia’tataseh ! ‘Turn (sg)!’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « s » in the word sun
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « s » in the word sel

Listen S
HS

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « hs » in the word ahsohkwa’  ‘colour’  

Listen HS
SH

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « sh » in the word shöndahkwa’  ‘eagle’

Listen SH
T

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « t » in the word a’tere’  ‘eight’ 
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « t » in the word stand
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « t » in the word table

Listen T
HT

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « ht » in the word ya’ndiyahta’  ‘mortar’  

Listen HT
TH

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « th » dans l’expression yatsen’ de ayihra’tha’  ‘drinking glass’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « t » in the word tap

Listen TH
TR

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       « tr » in the word oskwe’tra’  ‘headdress’  

Listen TR
TS

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « ts » in the word yatsenha’  ‘hearth’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « ts » in the word pets
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « ts » in the Quebec French expression tsé

Listen TS
W

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « w » in the word yänhowa’  ‘door’  
Example of its pronunciation in English :         « w » in the word water
Example of its pronunciation in French :       « w » in the word wapiti

Listen W
HW

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « hw » in the word onhwentsa’  ‘land, world’  

Listen HW
Y

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « y » in the phrase yatoyenh ‘it’s true’  

Listen Y
YI

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :        « yi » in the phrase asteh yiayen’s ‘I go outside’  

Listen YI
’ 

*This consonant is called a glottal stop. It sounds almost like a stop in the word.

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat :       ’ in the word oyaresa‘bean’
Example of its pronunciation in English :        the stop in the expression uh-oh
Example of its pronunciation in French :       the stop in the expression oh oh

Listen ’ 

Other points:

 

The diaeresis

This symbol (¨) is found on the following letters in Wendat: ä, ë, ö, and ï. It indicates that that particular vowel must be pronounced separately from the sound that follows it.

For example, the word änen’enh ‘my mother’ is pronounced [a-nen’-enh].

Listen

The vowel ä is pronounced on its own, and it does not combine with the following n to form the nasal vowel an.

Another example of the diaeresis in use is in the word önonta’ ‘mountain’, which is pronounced [o-non-ta’]. The vowel ö is pronounced separately from the following n.

Listen

 

Long vowels

When two identical vowels are next to each other (with no diaeresis on the first vowel), that means that we need to draw out this vowel to make it longer, and not simply pronounce the same vowel twice.

For example, the word yändaata’‘bed’ is pronounced [ya-ndaa-ta’] with a long vowel in the middle.

Listen

Word accent or stress

In general, the primary stress or accent in a Wendat word falls on the second to last syllable.

For example, the word a’tatonhcha’‘basket’ is pronounced [a’-ta-TONH-cha’], with the accent or stress on the second to last syllable (in capital letters).

Listen

 

One last note about the Wendat spelling system:

The letter j is part of the official Wendat orthography, as decided by the Wendat Language Committee in 2010. Although j doesn’t appear in Wendat words, this letter (and the sound which it represents) appears in a different dialect, called Wyandot or Wandat, which belongs to Wyandot(te) communities. This sound also appears in several personal names of individuals in the Wendat community. For these reasons, the Wendat Language Committee decided to include the letter j in the Wendat alphabet.