How to hear accent in East Cree

You will normally hear one accent per word in East Cree. In order to hear accent in East Cree, you should be listening for a combination of pitch and loudness, but not length.

  • An example of pitch is the difference between [ do ] and [ re ] in the song “Doe, a deer, a female deer; Ray, a drop of golden sun…” or the difference between all the ‘words’ in the song [ do re mi fa so la ti do ].
  • An example of loudness is the difference between pronouncing a vowel so quietly that only the person next to you can hear it, and pronouncing it so loudly that someone across the street can hear it.

When East Cree vowels are accented, they sound higher-pitched than any other vowel in the word. They can also sound louder, although they don’t have to. Listen carefully to the following words; the only reliable difference between each pair of words is which vowel has higher pitch:

Northern
Non-final accent (singular) Final accent (plural) Translation
ᐊᓯᓃ Click here to hear this word asinii ᐊᓯᓃᐦ Click here to hear this word asiniih stone, stones
ᒥᔅᒋᓯᓐ Click here to hear this word mischisin ᒥᔅᒋᓯᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word mischisinh shoe, shoes
ᒨᔥᑲᒦ Click here to hear this word muushkamii ᒨᔥᑲᒦᐦ Click here to hear this word muushkamiih broth, broths
ᓃᐱᓰ Click here to hear this word niipisii ᓃᐱᓰᐦ Click here to hear this word niipisiih willow, willows
ᐙᐳᔭᓐ Click here to hear this word waapuyan ᐙᐳᔭᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word waapuyanh blanket, blankets
Southern
Non-final accent (singular) Final accent (plural) Translation
ᑲᐸᑦ Click here to hear this word kapat ᑲᐸᑦᐦ Click here to hear this word kapath cupboard, cupboards
ᒨᐦᑯᒫᓐ Click here to hear this word muuhkumaan ᒨᐦᑯᒫᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word muuhkumaanh knife, knives
ᐎᔮᑲᓐ Click here to hear this word wiyaakan ᐐᔮᑲᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word wiyaakanh plate, plates
ᒥᐦᑑᑲᐃ Click here to hear this word mihtuukai ᒥᐦᑑᑲᐃᐦ Click here to hear this word mihtuukaih ear, ears

Accented vowels in English are different from accented vowels in East Cree in one major respect: English accented vowels are often longer in duration than unaccented ones. For example, the accented [ oʊ ] sound in below is longer than the unaccented [oʊ] sound in billow. The accented [ oʊ ] in below takes up about 6/10 of the duration of the entire word; in contrast, the unaccented [ oʊ ] sound in billow takes up only 4/10 of the duration of the entire word.

  • Click here to hear this word below [ bəˈloʊ ]; word-length: 0.555 seconds; length of accented [oʊ ]: 0.338 seconds
  • Click here to hear this word billow [ ˈbɪloʊ ]; word-length; 0.444 seconds; length of unaccented [oʊ ]: 0.187 seconds

In contrast, length is independent of accent (pitch/loudness) in East Cree. To illustrate, in the following examples, the accent (highest pitch) is on the first vowel, which is lax and short, not on the second vowel, which is tense and longer. For illustration, the pitch of each word has been reproduced in carrier ‘duh’ [ dʌ ] syllables .

Northern Syllables IPA Pitch
Pattern
ᒥᑖᐦᑐ Click here to hear this word mitaahtu mi – taahtu [ ˈmɪ – taːhtʰ ] Click here to hear this word
ᐱᔮᐤ Click here to hear this word piyaau pi – yaau [ ˈpi – jaw ] Click here to hear this word
Southern Syllables IPA Pitch
Pattern
ᐱᔦᐤ Click here to hear this word piyeu pi – yeu
ᒥᑑᓐ Click here to hear this word mituun mi – tuun

Similarly, in the next example, the accent (highest pitch) is on the last vowel, which is lax and short, not on the second-last vowel, which is tense and longer.

Northern Syllables IPA Pitch
Pattern
ᒫᑎᐙᐎᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word maatiwaawinh (maa – ti – waa – winh) [ ma – tə – wɒː – ˈwənʰ ] Click here to hear this word
Southern Syllables IPA Pitch

Pattern

ᑌᐦᑖᐴᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word tehtaapuuwin teh – taa – puu – win

In summary, English speakers have a tendency to hear accent when vowels are longer, since vowel duration is a cue for accent in English. However, the length of East Cree vowels is independent of accent: we cannot say that accented vowels are necessarily longer than unaccented ones in East Cree.

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