Tense vowels

Tense vowels can sound slightly different depending on whether or not they are accented. Most of the following examples are divided into accented and unaccented sounds for this reason. Notice in many of the words that end in a vowel, the final sound is a glottal stop [ ʔ ].

Tense II

II can be longer or shorter in duration. Longer [ iː ] sounds like the first vowel in eat. Shorter [ i ] sounds like the first vowel in eaten.

Accented

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒌᔑᒄ Click here to hear this word chiishikw chii – shikw [ ˈtʃi – ʃʊkʷ ]
ᒋᓵᐲᓯᒻ Click here to hear this word chisaapiisim chisaa – pii – sim [ tsa – ˈpi – sʊm ]
ᒌᔥᐴ Click here to hear this word chiishpuu chiish – puu [ ˈtʃiʃ – puː ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒦᑐᔅ Click here to hear this word miitus mii – tus  [ˈmi: – tʊ̥s ]
ᐊᓄᐦᒌᔥ Click here to hear this word anuhchiish anuh – chiish
ᐊᑯᐦᐄ Click here to hear this word akuhii aku – hii

Unaccented

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒌᐙᑎᓐ Click here to hear this word chiiwaatin chii – waa – tin [ tʃ – waː – tɪn ]
ᐄᔮᐦᑎᒄ Click here to hear this word iiyaahtikw ii – yaah – tikw [ – ˈjaːʰ – tʊkʷ ]
ᒫᔅᒌᔅᒃ Click here to hear this word maaschiisk maas – chiisk [ ˈmas – tʃskʰ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒌᔥᒀ Click here to hear this word chiishkwaa chiish – kwaa
ᑳᓐᒌ Click here to hear this word kaanchii kaan – chii
ᒋᒥᐦᐄᔅᑳᓐ Click here to hear this word chimihiiskaan chimi – hiis – kaan

Tense UU

UU can sound intermediate between [ o ] and [ u ]. (It is often pronounced like a lowered [ u ̞] sound.) It can be long or short in duration.

Accented

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒨᔅ Click here to hear this word muus muus [ ˈms ]
ᐴᔑ Click here to hear this word puushi puu – shi [ ˈp– ʃiʔ ]
ᓲᑉ Click here to hear this word suup suup [ ˈsu̞ːpʰ ]
ᑰᒃ Click here to hear this word kuuk kuuk [ ˈkkʰ ]
ᔫᑎᓐ Click here to hear this word yuutin yuu – tin [ ˈj – tɪn ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒥᐦᑑᑲᐃᐦ Click here to hear this word mihtuukaih mih – tuu – kaih
ᒋᒨᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word chimuuwin chi – muu – win
ᔔᐦᐊᒻ Click here to hear this word shuuham shuu – ham

Unaccented

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒌᔥᐴ Click here to hear this word chiishpuu chiish – puu [ ˈtʃiʃ – p ]
ᓅᑎᒦᐙᓯᐤ Click here to hear this word nuutimiiwaasiu nuuti – mii – waa – siu [ nu̞ːt – miː – ˈwaː – suʔ ]
ᑆᔥᑑ Click here to hear this word pwaashtuu pwaash – tuu [ ˈpɔːʃ – tu̞ʔ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒦᓅᔥ Click here to hear this word miinuush mii – nuush
ᐅᔅᑲᓈᓅ Click here to hear this word uskanaanuu us – ka – naa – nuu
ᐹᐦᐴ Click here to hear this word paahpuu paah – puu

Tense AA

AA has a range of pronunciations. In most cases, it sounds more like [ a ] — the vowel in the French pronunciation of papa. To an English speaker, this vowel might sound a bit more like [ æ ] (the sound in ash). In most of the following examples, it is difficult to tell if the AA is long or short in duration.

Accented

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐋᐦᑯᓯᐤ Click here to hear this word aahkusiu aahku – siu [ ˈakʷ – su̝ ʔ]
ᐊᓵᒥᒡ Click here to hear this word asaamich a – saa – mich [ ɪ – ˈs – mɪtʃ ]
ᒌᐙᑎᓐ Click here to hear this word chiiwaatin chi – waa – tin [ tʃi – ˈw – tɪn ]
ᑳᒄ Click here to hear this word kaakw kaakw [ ˈkakʷ ]
ᑯᐃᐦᑯᐦᐋᒑᐤ Click here to hear this word kuihkuhaachaau kuihku – haa – chaau [ kuikʰ – ˈha – tʃaw ]
ᓂᔅᑳᐳᐃ Click here to hear this word niskaapui nis – kaa – pui [ nəs – ˈk – bʊj ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒋᔅᑎᑯᐦᐋᐦ Click here to hear this word chistikuhaah chistiku – haah
ᐋᓂᔅᑰᔥᑯᔥ Click here to hear this word aaniskuushkush aanis – kuush – kush
ᐊᔅᒌᒥᓈᐦᑎᒄ Click here to hear this word aschiiminaahtikw as – chii – min – aah – tikw

Unaccented

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒋᓵᐲᓯᒻ Click here to hear this word chisaapiisim chisaa – pii – sim [ tsa – ˈpi – sʊm ]
ᑖᐦᑎᐱᐎᓐ Click here to hear this word taahtipiwin taah – ti – piwin [ taʰ – tɪ – ˈpuʷən ]
ᐙᐱᑭᔨᐤ Click here to hear this word waapikiyiu waa – pi – ki – yiu [ wa – ˈpɪ – ki – juʔ ]
ᔮᓈᓇᐤ Click here to hear this word yaanaanau yaa – naa – nau [ ja – ˈna – naw ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᒋᔐᐋᓂᔅᑯᑖᐹᓐ Click here to hear this word chisheaaniskutaapaan chishe – aanis – ku – taa – paan
ᑳᐦᑳᐦᒌᔥ Click here to hear this word kaahkaahchiish kaah – kaah – chiish
ᒋᒥᐦᐄᔅᑳᓐ Click here to hear this word chimihiiskaan chimi – hiis – kaan

Tense WAA

After a consonant, WAA sounds like [ ɔ ] or [ ɒ ]. Because of the way it is pronounced, you can sometimes hear a short [ ʷ ] sound right before the vowel. The vowel WAA can be long or short in duration.

  • The sounds [ ɔ ] and [ ɒ ] are similar to the O in a New Yorker’s pronunciation of coffee, or similar to the Received (Queen’s English) Pronunciation of words like raw and law. To make this sound, make an ‘aaaaah’ [ ɑ ] sound and simultaneously round your lips (as you would do in order to say an ‘oo’ [ u ] sound.) Do not move your tongue from the [ ɑ ] position when you round your lips.

Examples of WAA after a consonant include:

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐊᒥᔅᒀᐹᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word amiskwaapaawaau amis – kwaa – paa – waau [ ɨms – kɔ – ˈpa – wɔw ]
ᐊᒥᔅᒀᔪᐃ Click here to hear this word amiskwaayui amis – kwaa – yui [ ɨms – ˈkɔ – jʊj ]
ᐊᑆᓂᔥ Click here to hear this word apwaanish a – pwaa – nish [ ɨ – pɔː – ˈnɪʃ ]
ᒸᒄ Click here to hear this word mwaakw mwaakw [ ˈmɔːkʰ ]
ᓃᔂᓱᒥᑎᓂᐤ Click here to hear this word niiswaasumitiniu nii – swaa – sumi – ti – niu [ ni – sɔː – sʊm – ˈtɪ – nu̞ʔ ]
ᒋᔣᑖᓐ Click here to hear this word chishwaataan chishwaa – taan [ tʃ(ʷ)ɔː – tan ]
ᑳᒋᓍᒡ Click here to hear this word kaachinwaach kaa – chi – nwaach [ ˈka – tsɨ – nɔːtʃ ]
ᑯᑣᔥᒡ Click here to hear this word kutwaashch ku – twaashch [kʊ – ˈtɔʃtʃ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐃᔥᒀᐦᑌᒻ Click here to hear this word ishkwaahtem ish – kwaah – tem
ᐊᒀᐃᐌᐤ Click here to hear this word akwaaiweu a – kwaai – weu
ᐊᑆᓐ Click here to hear this word apwaan a – pwaan

In contrast, after another vowel, WAA sounds like [ wa ] or [ waː ]. (To an English speaker, it sounds more like [ wæ ] or [ wæː ].)

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐊᐙᓐ ᐋ ᑎᐱᔥᑭᐦᒃ Click here to hear this word awaan aa tipishkihk a – waan aa tipish – kihk [ a – ˈwan aː ˈtɪpʃ – kiʰkʰ ]
ᒌᐙᑎᓐ Click here to hear this word chiiwaatin chii – waa – tin [ tʃiː – waː – tɪn ]
ᒋᔥᑖᐹᐐᐙᑭᓐ Click here to hear this word chishtaapaawiiwaakin chishtaa – paa – wii – waa – kin [ tʃtaː – paː – wiː – ˈwaː – kɪn ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐱᒥᓄᐙᑲᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word piminuwaakanh pi – mi – nu – waa – kanh
ᐊᐙᔥ Click here to hear this word awaash a – waash

If a [ w ] sound comes after this vowel, the vowel is pronounced as [ ɔːw ] or [ ʷɔːw ], except before [ m ], where it sounds like [ ɔ ] or [ ɔː ]. (To an English speaker, the vowel would sound a lot like [ ow ] or [ ʷow ].)

Northern Syllables IPA
ᒥᐦᒀᐤ Click here to hear this word mihkwaau mih – kwaau [ ˈməh – kʷɔːw ]
ᓂᔥᑣᐅᒥᑖᐦᑐᒥᑎᓂᐤ Click here to hear this word nishtwaaumitaahtumitiniu nish – twaaumi – taah – tumi – ti – niu [ nɪʃ – tɔːm – taʰ – tʊm – ˈtɪ – nu̞ʔ ]
ᐹᔂᐤ Click here to hear this word paaswaau paa – swaau [ ˈpa-sɔʷ]
ᓂᔮᔻᐅᒥᑖᐦᑐᒥᑎᓂᐤ Click here to hear this word niyaaywaaumitaahtumitiniu ni – yaa – waaumi – taah – tumi – ti – niu [ ni – ja – jɔm – taʰ – tʊm – ˈtɪ – nu̞ʔ ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐱᔑᒀᐤ Click here to hear this word pishikwaau pi – shi – kwaau
ᒋᔥᑖᑆᐅᔮᑲᓐ Click here to hear this word chishtaapwaauyaakan chishtaa – pwaau – yaa – kan

In contrast, at the end of the word, this vowel sounds similar to English wow [ waw ] or woah [ wow ]! (Also [ wɒw ].)

Northern Syllables IPA
ᐊᒥᔅᒀᐹᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word amiskwaapaawaau amis – kwaa – paa – waau [ ɨms – kɔ – ˈpa – wɔw ]
ᒥᒫᓃᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word mimaaniiwaau mi – maa – nii – waau [ mɪ – maː – ˈniː – wɔw ]
ᓂᑐᐦᑎᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word nituhtiwaau ni – tuh – ti – waau [ ɨn – tu̥ʰ – ˈtɪ – wɔw ]
Southern Syllables IPA
ᐙᐱᑌᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word waapitewaau waa – pi – te – waau
ᒥᔥᑯᐙᐤ Click here to hear this word mishkuwaau mishku – waau

Summary

The tense vowels of East Cree have the following range of pronunciations.

  • II [ i, iː ]
  • UU [ u, u̞, uː, u̞ː ]
  • AA [ a, aː, æ, æː ]
  • WAA [ ʷɑ, ʷɔ, ɑ, ɔ, ʷɑː, ʷɔː, wa, waː ]
  • WAAU [ wɔw ]

For more on what East Cree vowels sound like, see the vowel listening practice page.

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