Pronunciation of the fricatives S [ s ], SH [ ʃ ], and H [ h ]

East Cree has three fricatives, which are pronounced as [ s ], [ ʃ ] and [ h ].

S [ s ] and SH [ ʃ ]

S sounds like the S in sun:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᓯᓯᔅ Click here to hear this word sisis si – sis [ ˈsɪ – sɪs ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᓴᑲᑆᓐ Click here to hear this word sakapwaan sa – ka – pwaan [ sa – kə – ˈpʷɔn ]

SH sounds like the SH in she:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᔒᔒᑉ Click here to hear this word shiishiip shii – shiip [ ˈʃi – ʃip ]
ᐊᑆᓂᔥ Click here to hear this word apwaanish a – pwaa – nish [ ɪ – pɔː – ˈnɪʃ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᔒᐹ Click here to hear this word shiipaa shii – paa [ ˈʃiː – paː ]
ᐹᔥᑮᔥ Click here to hear this word paashkiish paash – kiish [ paʃ – ˈkiʃ ]

H

In East Cree, H sounds like [ h ], and also sometimes like [ ç ] or [ ɦ ]. In East Cree, [ h ] can occur immediately before another consonant, and at the end of a word. In contrast, the [ h ] sound never occurs in these positions in English.

H sounds like the H in hold:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒥᐦᐄᐦᑭᓐ Click here to hear this word mihiihkin mi – hiih – kin [ mɪ – ˈhiiʰ – kɪn ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐸᐦᑯᐦᐋᐦ Click here to hear this word pahkuhaah pah – kuhaah [ pah – ˈkʷhah ]

H before another consonant:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒥᐦᑦ Click here to hear this word miht * miht [ ˈmɪhtʰ ] or [ ˈmɪçtʰ ]

* The H might sound a little bit like the [ ç ] sound at the beginning of the word human in this example because it follows an [ i ] sound.

Southern Syllables IPA
ᐊᑯᐹᑎᓈᑲᓈᐦᑎᒄ Click here to hear this word akupaatinaakanaahtikw a – ku – paa – ti – naa – ka – naah – tikw [a – kʊ – paː – tn̩ – naː – kə – ˈnaːʰ – tʊkʷ]

H at the end of a word:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐅᓂᐐᐦ Click here to hear this word uniwiih * u – ni – wiih [ ʊ – nə – wiːʰ ]
ᐋᒸᔮᐦ Click here to hear this word aamwaayaah ** aa – mwaa – yaah [ a – mɔ – jaʰ ] or [ a – mɔ – jaɦ ]

* The first syllable of this word sounds like [ wʊ ] instead of [ ʊ ]; just pay attention to the last syllable, which sounds like [ wiːh ].

** The H at the end of this word might sound a bit more ‘throaty’ — like [ ɦ ] — because it follows an AA sound.

Southern Syllables IPA
ᑳᓰᐦᐋᐦ Click here to hear this word kaasiihaah kaa – sii – haah [ kaː – siː – ˈhah ]
ᑴᐦᑴᑎᐲᐦ Click here to hear this word kwehkwetipiih kweh – kwe – tii – piih [ kweh – kwe – ti – ˈpih ]

H after tense vowels

Sometimes it is hard to hear the [ h ] sound in East Cree, and sometimes it is not pronounced, even though an H appears in the spelling. For example, the letter H can be silent or hard to hear after the tense vowels II, UU, E, and AA.

After tense vowels[ h ] is hard to hear:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐋᐦᑯᓯᐤ Click here to hear this word aahkusiu aah – kusiu [ ˈaː(ʰ) – kʷsɨw ]
ᑖᐦᑎᐱᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word taahtipiwin taah – ti – piwin [ taː(ʰ) – tʰə – puʷən ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᓵᐦᑯᑕᒥᔥ Click here to hear this word saahkutamish saah – ku – tamish [ saʰ – kʊ – ˈtʌmʃ ]
ᐋᐦᒌᑯᔥ Click here to hear this word aahchikush aah – chikush [ a – ˈtʃkʊʃ ]

In contrast, [ h ] is easily heard after some tense vowels:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐄᔮᐦᑎᒄ Click here to hear this word iiyaahtikw ii – yaah – tikw [ iː – ˈjaːʰ – təkʷ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐹᐦᑉ Click here to hear this word paahp paahp [ ˈpahp ]

No H in the spelling

Finally, in Northern East Cree, sometimes you can hear an [ h ] sound where there is no H in the spelling. (In newer spelling this [ h ] sound is sometimes written). For example, there is an [ h ] sound between the first and second words in this example.

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐋ ᐋᔨᒋᐦᐄᐙᓄᐎᒡ Click here to hear this word aa aayichihiiwaanuwich aa aa-yi-chihii-waa-nuwich [ a h aː-jɪ-tʃʰhiː-waː-ˈnʊʷətʃ ]

See the page about H sounds for a more in-depth discussion of the [ h ] sound and the H spelling.

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