Wampanoag/Alphabet

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The Wampanoag alphabet has 27 letters

  • a
  • b
  • c
  • ch
  • d
  • e
  • f
  • g (as in geese)
  • h
  • i
  • j (as in giant)
  • k
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • o
  • p
  • q
  • r
  • s
  • t
  • u
  • v
  • w
  • x
  • y
  • z


The Wampanoag alphabet is the same as the English alphabet, with the following exceptions:

1. The difficulty of the Rule about the Letter [|c|], by reason of the change of its sound in the five sounds, |ca| |ce| |ci| |co| |cu|; being sufficiently helped by the Letters [|k| and |s|]: We therefore lay by the Letter [c], saving in [|ch|]; of which there is frequent use in the Language. Yet I do not put it out of the Alphabet, for the use of it in other Languages, but the character [|ch|] next to it, and call it [|chee|].

2. I put [|i|] Consonant into our Alphabet, and give it this Character [|j|], and call it |ji| or [|gi|], as this Syllable soundeth in the English word [{giant}]; and I place it next after [|i| vocal]. And I have done thus, because it is a regular sound in the third person singular in the Imperative Mode of Verbs, which cannot well be distinguished without it: though I have sometimes used [|gh|] instead of it, but it is harder and more inconvenient. The proper sound of it is, as the English word [{age}] soundeth. See it used Genes.1.3,6,9,11.

3. We give (|v|) Consonant a distinct name, by putting together (|ú| |f|) or (|uph|), and we never use it, save when it soundeth as it doth in the word ({save}, {have}), and place it next after (|u| vocal.) Both these Letters (|u| Vocal, and |v| Consonant) are together in their proper sounds in the Latine word ({uva} a Vine.)

These Consonants (|l|. |n|. |r|.) have such a natural coincidence, that it is an eminent variation of their dialects.

The Massachusetts pronounce the |n|. The Nipmuk Indians pronounce |l|. And the Northern Indians pronounce |r|. As instance:

We say |Anúm| (|um| produced) } Nipmuk, |Alúm| } A Dog. Northern, |Arúm| } So in most words.

Our Vocals are five: |a| |e| |i| |o| |u|.

Dipthongs, or double sounds, are many, and of much use.: |ai| |au| |ei| |ee| |eu| |eau| |oo| |∞|.

Especially we have more frequent use of [|o| and |∞|] than other Languages have: and our [|∞|] doth alwayes sound as it doth in these English words ({moody}, {book}.)

We use only two Accents, and but sometime.

The Acute (|´|) to show which Syllable is first produced in pronouncing of the word.

|ó| produced with the accent, is a regular distinction betwixt the first and second persons plural of the Suppositive Mode; as

{ |Naumog|, {If we see}: (as in {Log}.) { |Naumóg|, {If ye see}: (as in {Vogue}.)


The other accent is (ˆ), which I call nasal and is used only upon (|ô|) when it is sounded in the Nose, as oft it is; or upon (|â|) for the like cause.

This is a general Rule, When two (o o) come together, ordinarily the first is produced; and so when two (|∞|) are together.

Note: Experience Mayhew in "Observations on the Indian language", claims that the only consonants necessary to write the language were b, d, f, g, l, r, and x. Also that the vowels were the same as English, save that y is never used as a vowel, and that o is frequently pronounced through the nose, much as one would pronounce it with the mouth closed shut. (example: ôtômuk, the womb).

Nux (yes) he mentions is pronounced with two syllables, like nukkies. This gives an idea how the x is pronounced.