Pronunciation of the affricate CH

East Cree has four AFFRICATE sounds [ tʃ , ts, dʒ, dz ]. They are all spelled with the letters CH (with some minor exceptions described later.)

CH [ tʃ ] and J [ dʒ ] pronunciations

At the beginning of a word and between vowels, CH can sound like the [ tʃ ] in Chuck; it also often sounds like the [ dʒ ] in John.

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒌᐲ Click here to hear this word chiipii chii – pii [ ˈiː – piː ]
ᒋᔥᑖᐹᐐᐙᑭᓐ Click here to hear this word chishtaapaawiiwaakin chishtaa – paa – wii – waa -kin [ ta – pa – wi – ˈwa – kɪn ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒌᒫᓐ Click here to hear this word chiimaan chii – maan [ ˈi – man ]
ᒋᔑᑌᐤ Click here to hear this word chishiteu chishi – teu [ ˈɪ – tew ]

Cree speakers can use the [ tʃ ] and [ dʒ ] sounds interchangeably, without signalling any change in the meaning of a word. For examples, see the page on voicing. In contrast, these sounds are not interchangeable in English; think of ‘chain’ versus ‘Jane’, which have two different meanings.

  • Similarly, the [ p ] sound in pit and the [ b ] sound in bit are both acceptable ways of pronouncing the letter P in East Cree. Similar facts hold for T and K. For more information, see the page about plosives.

At the end of a word, CH usually sounds like the [ tʃ ] in Chuck.

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐊᓵᒥᒡ Click here to hear this word asaamich a – saa – mich [ ɪ – ˈsaː – mɪ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐹᓯᐦᒡ Click here to hear this word paasihch paa – sihch [ paː – ˈsɪ ]

TS [ ts ] and DZ [ dz ] pronunciations

CH can also sound more like the [ dz ] in English adze or like the [ ts ] in cats.

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒋᒧᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word chimuwin * chi – muwin [ dzɪ – ˈmuʷən ]
ᑳᐦᑳᒋᐤ Click here to hear this word kaahkaachiu kaah – kaa – chiu [ kaʰ – ˈ ka – dzɨʷ ]
ᒀᔅᒋᐱᐳᓐ Click here to hear this word kwaaschipipun kwaas – chipi – pun [ kɔs – ˈtsɪp – pʊn ]

* CH sounds like [ dz ] … or maybe like [ ts ]? See the page on plosives for explanation of why it is difficult to tell.

Southern Syllables IPA
ᐊᐦᐄᐱᐦᒉᓲ Click here to hear this word ahiipihchesuu a – hii – pih – che – suu [ a – hi – pɪ – e – ˈsuʔ ]
ᐐᒉᔅᒄ Click here to hear this word wiicheskw wii – cheskw [ wi – ˈeskʷ ]

Dialectal Variations in the pronunciation of CH

CH will often sound like [ ts ] in the Wemindji dialect of Northern East Cree. Many words pronounced [ tʃ ] in Chisasibi will be pronounced [ ts ] in Wemindji.

Wemindji [ ts ] Chisasibi [ tʃ ]
ᒋᓂᔅᑯᒥᑎᓐ chiniskumitin Click here to hear this word Click here to hear this word
ᐊᓵᒥᒡ asaamich Click here to hear this word Click here to hear this word [ ɪ – ˈsaː – mɪ ]

Other ways to spell the affricate.

The letters CHIS sound like [ tʰs ] or [ ts ]:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒋᓵᐲᓯᒻ Click here to hear this word chisaapiisim chisaa – pii – sim [ tʰsa – ˈpi – sʊm ]
ᒋᔅᐱᑳᐤ Click here to hear this word chispikaau chispi – kaau tspɪ – kaːw ]
ᐊᒋᔅᑖᓱᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word achistaasunh a – chistaa – sunh [ ɪ – tstaː – ˈsʊn ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒋᔅᐸᑳᐤ Click here to hear this word chispakaau chispa – kaau [ tspʌ – ˈkaw ]
ᐸᐸᔦᒋᓲ Click here to hear this word papayechisuu pa – pa – ye – chisuu [ pʌ – pə – je – ˈtsuʔ ]
ᒋᓲᐙᓲ Click here to hear this word chisuuwaasuu chisuu – waa – suu [ (t)s(u)waː – ˈsuʔ ]

The letters CHISH sound like [ tʰʃ ] or [ tʃ ]:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒋᔥᑖᐹᐐᐙᑭᓐ Click here to hear this word chishtaapaawiiwaakin chishtaa – paa – wii – waa – kin [ t(ʰtaː – paː – wiː – ˈwaː – kɪn ]
ᒋᔣᑖᓐ Click here to hear this word chishwaataan chishwaa – taan [ ˈʷɔː – taːn ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒋᔥᑑᒡ Click here to hear this word chishtuuch chishtuuch [ ˈtuːtʃ ]
ᑯᒋᔥᑕ Click here to hear this word kuchishta ku – chishta [ kʊ – ˈtɛʰ ]

CHICH sounds like [ ts ] or [ tts ] or [ tʃ ]:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐲᐦᒋᒑᒥᑭᓐ Click here to hear this word piihchichaamikin piih – chichaami – kin [ piː – ˈtsam – kɪn ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᑳᓰᒋᐦᒋᒑᓐ Click here to hear this word kaasiichihchichaan kaa – sii – chih – chichaan  [ ka ̟- siː – tʃɪ̥ – ˈtʃan ]
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