SIMPLIFIED APACHE DESCRIPTION

The vowels of Apache are the same as those commonly known as "continental." That is, they are quite similar to those of Spanish and other continental European languages. They are pronounced approximately as follows:

a -- ah
e -- eh
i -- ee
o -- oh
u -- oo

Examples:

gah -- rabbit
beso -- coin
bigan -- his hand
cho -- large
hay -- where

The vowels are also often nasalized. Nasalization is indicated by a "hook" under the vowel. This is called an ogonek:

ą -- somewhat like on, without completing the n
ę -- like en, without completing the n
į -- like een, without completing the n
ǫ -- like own, without completing the n
ų -- like oon, without completing the n

Examples:

bighą -- because
nkęęz -- time
kįh -- building
nzhǫǫ -- good
hat'ųgha -- why

Vowels can also be pronounced using high or low tones (lowering or raising of the pitch of the voice). Low tones are assumed if the vowel is not marked by the high tone symbol. The acute accent mark is used for the mark of the high tone.

 



Examples:

isdzn -- woman
bsh -- metal
gd -- cat
gosdn -- ribbon
t -- water

Vowels are also often prolonged, indicated by doubling.

Examples:
chaa -- beaver
izee -- medicine
piishii -- nighthawk
shiwoo -- my teeth
dąą -- spring

The combination of a high tone and nasalization is marked by simultaneous appearance of the acute accent and the ogonek on the vowel.

Examples:

nad̨' -- corn
dl̨' -- bird

All consonants and consonant clusters are pronounced approximately as in English, but the following:

gh -- somewhat like a gargling sound; does not occur in English

Examples:

ighaa -- fur
tghaa -- length

n -- can occur as a single syllable, as in Nnee. Both "n's" are distinctly pronounced. In some dialects (notably White Mountain and Bylas dialects) the second "n" is pronounced like a "d". Some Apache documents underline the n to indicate the possibility of pronouncing the n as d. Some orthography also use a high-tone n. It is marked with the normal high-tone mark.

nn̲ee -- people
Bikehgoihin̲ań God (It actually means In charge of life)

Other distinctive Apache sounds are the following:

' -- glottal stop. If one were saying "oh-oh" to a baby, this sounds very similar as an Apache saying o'o. The ' symbol indicates the "catch" in breath between the two o's.

Examples:

ch'ah -- hat
dit'ood -- wet
ni' -- ground, earth
ha'ndh -- come in (to one)

"Voiceless l." Sounds rather like thl, as if one were lisping thlip, instead of slip.

Examples:

łog -- fish
diłhił -- black
ł̨̨' -- horse

The Apache is language is still spoken today. On San Carlos Reservation there are about 4,000 speakers, and on the White Mountain Reservation there are probably 5,000 speakers. These are considered "Western Apache." The Mescalero Reservation has several thousand Mescalero and Chiricahua speakers. They are related Eastern Apache dialects. A small group of Chiricahuas in Oklahoma also speak the Chiricahua dialect. Still another dialect, that has only a few speakers (maybe 3 or 4) now, is Kiowa Apache. They live in Oklahoma near the Kiowa proper. Kiowa and Kiowa Apache are entirely unrelated.

It should also be noted that Navajo, the most-widely spoken Native American language in North America today, is closely related to Western Apache. After some familiarization, native speakers of either language can often "get the gist" of the other language.

FINALLY -- A REAL TREAT!


I am including in this introduction a tale from the San Carlos Apache--in the original Apache and an English translation.

I HAVE ALSO NOW ADDED A VERSION OF THIS TALE IN THE PROPER ORTHOGRAPHY (USING OGONEKS, ETC.)

(If you are seeing this page with the proper characters you have probably already downloaded and installed the TITUS Cyberbit Basic font. If not, you should do so first!)

Enjoy it!

LEADER OF THE BIRDS-- An original Apache tale


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