Meskwaki Language - Alphabet

MESKWAKI

~ ATOWETAKANI ~

a

e

i

o

(au)

(eh)

(ee)

(oo)

ba

be

bi

bo

ka

ke

ki

ko

ma

me

mi

mo

na

ne

ni

no

sa

se

si

so

ta

te

ti

to

ya

ye

yi

yo

wa

we

wi

wo

da (sha)

de (she)

di (shi)

do (sho)

ga (kwa)

ge (kwe)

gi (kwi)

go (kwo)

bwa

bwe

bwi

bwo

mwa

mwe

mwi

mwo

nwa

nwe

nwi

nwo

twa

twe

twi

two

dwa (shwa)

dwe (shwe)

dwi (shwi)

dwo (shwoo)

swa

swe

swi

swo

tta (ja)

tte (je)

tti (ji)

tto (jo)

ttwa (jwa)

ttwe (jwe)

ttwi (jwi)

ttwo (jwo)

bya

bye

byi

byo

kya

kye

kyi

kyo

mya

mye

myi

myo

nya

nye

nyi

nyo

ska

ske

ski

sko

skya

skye

skyi

skyo

skwa (sga)

skwe (sge)

skwi (sgi)

skwo (sgo)

LEARNING TO READ AND WRITE THE MESKWAKI ALPHABET

Click here to listen to the alphabet. Follow along with the chart above. (Audio will open in new window. Minimize window to read text. Close when done.)

Have you ever wanted to learn how to read and write the Meskwaki language?

If you have, this is your chance to learn. For those of you who have often wanted to learn to speak a little of the Meskwaki language, this is an opportunity for you also.

First, you need to understand how the Meskwaki Alphabet works.

It all starts with these 4 vowel sounds:

* a (au) which sounds like the a in Art

* e (eh) which sounds like the e in Net

* i (ee) which sounds like the i in Toni

* o (oo) which sounds like the o in Two

Are you still with us? Very good!

Now moving along, we add different consonants and place them in front of the vowels and simply blend the sounds of the letters to form a syllable. The alphabet chart shows all the syllables that are used when speaking Meskwaki.

Lets try a few examples:

* b+a becomes ba (bau)

* b+e becomes be (beh)

* b+i becomes bi (bee)

* b+o becomes bo (boo)

* n+a becomes na (nau)

* n+e becomes ne (neh)

* n+i becomes ni (nee)

* n+o becomes no (noo)

Get the idea?

There is one thing we have to remember when we work with the alphabet. Our alphabet uses 10 consonant letters:

b d g k m n s t w y

Some of the letter sounds are the same as in English except for a few. The single t sounds somewhat like the English t but closer to the English d as in dog. These special consonants have their own Meskwaki sounds: d g tt (double t)

* d has the sh sound

da = (shau) de = (sheh)

* g has the kw sound

ga = (kwau) ge = (kweh)

* tt has the j sound

tta = (jau) tte = (jeh)

Are you still with us? Good!

Lets combine a few syllables and see what we come up with.

Tip: The vowel at the end is very short and is like a whisper.

ni + na = (nee nau)

ni na means ME

ki + na = (kee nau)

ki na means YOU

wi + na = (wee nau)

wi na means HIM or HER

i + ni = (ee nee)

i ni means THAT

ma + ni = (mau nee)

ma ni means THIS

ta + na + i = (dau nau ee)

ta na i means WHERE?

ta + ni + na + i = (dau nee nau ee)

ta ni na i means WHEN?

ta + ni + di = (dau nee shee)

ta ni di means HOW?

we + ne + a = (weh neh au)

we ne a means WHO?

 

You have learned the basic formula for reading and writing in Meskwaki!

You may have even learned some new words.

Study the alphabet chart and practice saying the syllables over and over (ask someone who speaks the language to help you). With a little practice, picking up new words should become easier.

Think of how many people would be happy to know that you can speak the language!

Remember: There is nothing embarrassing about speaking Meskwaki. It is more embarrassing to be Meskwaki and not be able to speak your own language.

 


Published by The Sac & Fox Settlement School Culture Program, December 1998
Meskwaki Youth Newsletter #4, December 18, 1998

The State Historical Society of Iowa gratefully acknowledges the Sac & Fox Settlement School Culture Program for permission to use this material. Copyright © 1998 All Rights Reserved The Sac & Fox Settlement School Culture Program.