Lesson 2 – Sounds and Spelling

The Nukunu alphabet has 28 letters. Each letter or pair of letters corresponds to one sound. It is important to learn the Nukunu alphabet so that you can accurately read and write the language.

Here is the Nukunu alphabet:

a aa i ii k l lh ly m n ng nh ny p ṛ r rr rd rt rn rl t th ty u uu w y


Vowels

a

a – as in sofa. Never like hate or hat.

Try saying:

Nukunu
English
yarta
ground, earth

i

i – as in pit or beat. Never like bite.

Try saying:

pirrinya
nail, claw

u

u – as in put. Never like but.

Try saying:

yurlku
heart

Long vowels

aa

aa – like father but longer.

Try saying:

paarla
woman, female

ii

ii – like feel but longer.

Try saying:

miina
eye

uu

uu – like put, only longer. Never like but.

Try saying:

kuulu
leaf, branch

Consonants

k

k – as in skate. This sound is between a ‘k’ (kite) and a ‘g’ (gate) in English.

Try saying:

kanthi
thigh

l

l – as in like.

Try saying:

payala
cold weather

lh

lh – as in little, but with the tip of your tongue sticking out between the teeth.

Try saying:

mutlha
nose

ly

ly – these two letters stand for one sound. As in million. Never like silly.

Try saying:

ngalyara
animal skin, rug

m

m – as in mad.

Try saying:

maṛa
hand

n

n – as in never.

Try saying:

thitna
foot

ng

ng – as in sing.

Try saying:

ngatyu
my, mine

nh

nh – as in nose, but with the tip of your tongue sticking out between the teeth as you say it.

Try saying:

nhakutya
to look

ny

ny – as in onion or canyon. Never like pony.

Try saying:

pitnyu
armpit

p

p – as in park. This sound is between a ‘p’ (pass) and a ‘b’ (but).

Try saying:

piku
forehead

ṛ – as in rich.

Try saying:

miu
man, male

r

r – this is a tapped ‘r’ which is said quick and light, and almost sounds like the ‘tt’ in butter if said quickly.

Try saying:

kari
emu

rr

rr – it is a rolled ‘r’, which can be found in languages like Spanish, but not in English. It sounds like the ‘tt’ in butter if said quickly, but with a longer rolling sound.

Try saying:

wakarra
crow

rd

rd – as in hard when said with an American accent.

Try saying:

kawi-wawarda
rockhole

rt

rt – as in heart when said with an American accent.

Try saying:

kartla
fire

rn

rn – as in barn when said with an American accent.

Try saying:

pirnka
storm

rl

rl – as in curl when said with an American accent.

Try saying:

parlpa
skin

t

t – between the ‘t’ in top and the ‘d’ in dog.

Try saying:

ngarnta
face

th

th – as in top but with the tip of your tongue sticking out between your teeth. Never like the ‘th’ in this.

Try saying:

thaaka
mouth

ty

ty – as in fudge and judge.

Try saying:

wantatya!
stop it!

w

w – as in wing.

Try saying:

wanypatha
good, well

y

y – as in toyou.

Try saying:

yuṛi
ear


Some other tips on pronunciation

Most Nukunu words carry the stress on the first syllable of the word. The ‘stressed’ part of the word is in bold in these examples:

wakarra
back of neck
ngatyu
my
maṛa
hand
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