Alphabet and Prononciation

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

AN

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

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

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

HCH

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

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

ND

Example of its pronunciation in Wendat : « nd » dans le mot ndih « two »
Example of its pronunciation in English : « nd » in the word end

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

EN

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

ËN

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

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

H

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

I

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

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

HK

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

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

HKW

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

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

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

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

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

ON

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

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
OU
*The letter u in Wendat is always preceded by the letter 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
R

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

HR

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

RH

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

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

HS

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

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

HT

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

TH

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

TR

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

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

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

HW

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

Y

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

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

*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 uhoh
Example of its pronunciation in French :  the stop in the expression oh oh

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].

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 öis pronounced separately from the following n.

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.

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).

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 in the Wendat alphabet.