(Note: Northern East Cree examples are used on this page.)
CONSONANT CLUSTERS consist of more than one consonant in a row. When talking about consonant clusters, we need to distinguish between consonant sounds and consonant letters.
- Sometimes an audible consonant cluster is also spelled like a cluster. For example, the cluster [ sk ] is spelled with two consonant letters, SK, as in ᒋᓵᔮᔅᑯᓂbᐃᓯᒻ chisaayaaskunibisim.
- Sometimes an audible consonant cluster is not spelled like a cluster. For example, in the word ᑎᐦᑳᐤ tihkaau, the cluster [ tʰk ] is spelled as TIHK.
- Sometimes a single consonant sound is spelled with two consonant letters. For example, [ ʃ ] is spelled with two letters, SH, even though it is one sound, as in ᔒᔒᑉ shiishiip.
All three cases are described below.
Consonant clusters that are audible, and also spelled as clusters
Consonant clusters that you can both hear and see in the spelling include:
- Clusters beginning with S or SH , such as SP, ST, SCH, SK, SHP, SHT, SHCH, SHSH, SHK, SKW, SHTW, and SHKW.
- Clusters beginning with H, such as HP, HT, HCH, HK, HY, and HW .
Consonant clusters that are audible, but not spelled as clusters
Some consonant clusters are not spelled like clusters, even though you can hear a cluster.
- For example, although there are no consonant clusters in the spelling of the word ᒫᒫᐱᓱᓐ maamaapisun, the word is pronounced as [ ma – ‘map – sʊn ]; the [ ps ] cluster is spelled as PIS.
Single consonants which are spelled with two consonant letters
Finally, sometimes you will see clusters in the spelling of a word, but you will not hear a consonant cluster.
- For example, although there is a spelled consonant cluster, PW, at the beginning of the word ᑆᓂᔥ pwaanish, you can only hear a single [ p ], not a [ pw ] cluster. The letter W is silent in many clusters spelled with W, including KW, TW, SHW, etc.
- Similarly SH is spelled like a consonant cluster, but it stands for a single [ ʃ ] sound, as in ᔒᔒᑉ shiishiip.
- Finally, CH is spelled like a consonant cluster, but it most often stands for a single sound, either [ tʃ ] or [ dʒ ], as in ᒑᑭᑦ chaakit.
Actual (audible) clusters are described on the next few pages. The relevant pages are: