Pronunciation of the glides Y and W

Y

Y sounds like the Y [ j ] sound at the beginning of the word yes. (Note: the IPA symbol for this sound is [ j ], not [ y ].)

Northern Syllables IPA
ᔫᔅᑳᔮᐤ Click here to hear this word yuuskaayaau yuus – kaa – yaau [ juːs – ˈka – jaːʷ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᔫᑎᓂᐸᔫ Click here to hear this word yuutinipayuu yuu – tini – pa – yuu  [  ju – tn̘ɪ – pa – ˈjuʔ ]

However, it can be hard to hear any Y sound in spellings like AYI

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐹᔨᒄ Click here to hear this word paayikw paa – yikw [ ˈpaː – (j)ɪkʷ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐊᔨᒥᐦᐁᐅᒋᒫᐤ Click here to hear this word ayimiheuchimaau a – yimi – heu – chi – maau  [ a – (ʲ)ɪmʰ – hɛw – tʃɪ – ˈmaw ]
ᐄᔨᐦᒄ Click here to hear this word iiyihkw ii – yihkw [i – jɪhkʷ]

W

W sounds like the [ w ] in English we.

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐐᐱᑦ Click here to hear this word wiipit wii – pit [ ˈwiː – pɪtʰ ]
ᐐᐐᑎᒫ Click here to hear this word wiiwiitimaa wii – wiiti – maa [ wiː – ˈwit – maʰ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐐᐹᐤ Click here to hear this word wiipaau wii – paau  [ ˈwiː – paw ]
ᒥᐦᒌᐌᓲ Click here to hear this word mihchiiwesuu mih – chii – we – suu  [ mɪh – tʃi – wɛː – ˈsuʔ ]

You can also hear a [ w ] sound, spelled as U, at the end of the spellings WAAU and AAU.

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐙᐦᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word waahwaau waah – waau [ ˈwɔh – wɔw ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒥᔥᑯᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word mishkuwaau mishku – waau  [ mɪʃ – ˈkwaw ]
ᐱᐦᑖᐤ Click here to hear this word pihtaau pihtaau   [ ˈpʰtaw]

In the spellings WAA and WAAU, the ‘spelled’ W can be silent, but only when it occurs after a consonant:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᑯᑣᔥᒡ Click here to hear this word kutwaashch * ku – twaashch [ kʊ – ˈtɔːʃtʃ ]
ᓂᑐᐦᑎᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word nituhtiwaau ** ni – tuh – tiwaau [ ɨn – tʰ – ˈtɪ – wɔw ]

* The letter W is silent after the T.
** The letter W is pronounced after the vowel I.

Southern Syllables IPA
ᐹᓵᔪᐙᓐ Click here to hear this word paasaayuwaan paa – saa – yu – waan  [ pa – sa – ju – ˈwan ]
ᒥᐦᒀᐤ Click here to hear this word mihkwaau mih – kwaau  [ mɪh – ˈkɔw ]

Finally, the W can be silent in the spelling UWI:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐋᐱᐦᑐᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word aapihtuwin * aa – pihtuwin [ aːpʰ – tʰuʷən ]
ᒋᒧᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word chimuwin ** chi – muwin [ tsɪ – ˈmu(ʷ)ən ]

* The [ w ] sound can be heard.
** It is hard to hear any [ w ] sound.

Southern Syllables IPA
ᒥᔅᐳᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word mispuwin mis – puwin  [ mɪs – ˈpuʷɪn]
ᐲᐅᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word piiuwin pii – uwin  [ pi – ˈju – (ʷ)ɪn ]

More [ w ] sounds are discussed in the page describing consonants followed by W and in the page on diphthongs.

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