Lesson 1 – Sounds and Spelling
The Tanganekald alphabet has 28 letters and is quite different to the English alphabet, so you’ll need to learn the sound that each letter stands for in order to accurately pronounce the language. This spelling system is drawn from the 2019 Ngarrindjeri dictionary (Mary-Anne Gale & Phyllis Williams; 2nd Edition) as this is a familiar resource to many in the community.
Here is the Tanganekald alphabet:
a b d dh dj e g i k l ly m n ng ny o p r rr rl rn rt t th tj u w y
Tanganekald has five vowels (a, e, i, o, u). Here are the vowels:
sounds like the ‘a’ in English father.
sounds like the ‘e’ in English pet.
sounds like the ‘i’ in English bit. It can also sound like the ‘ee’ in beep when it is at the end of a word.
sounds like the ‘o’ in English pot.
sounds like the ‘u’ in English put.
However, if this letter comes before the letters ‘rl, rn, rt, r’ then it sounds like the ‘ur’ sound in English ‘turn’.
Two vowel sounds can be combined to make a new sound.
These combinations are:
ai sounds like ‘pie‘
au sounds like ‘now‘
ei sounds like ‘hey‘
oi sounds like ‘boil’
sounds like the ‘b’ in English ‘bit’.
sounds like the ‘d’ in English ‘dog’.
sounds like the ‘g’ in English ‘gum’.
sounds like the ‘k’ in English ‘kite’, but without a puff of air when you say it.
sounds like the ‘l’ in English ‘love’.
sounds like the ‘m’ in English ‘mob’.
sounds like the ‘n’ in English ‘nail’.
sounds like the ‘p’ in English ‘open’, but without a puff of air when you say it.
sounds like the ‘r’ in English ‘parachute’.
sounds like the ‘t’ in English ‘touch’, but without the puff of air when you say it.
this sounds like ‘y’ in English ‘yellow’.
this sounds like ‘w’ in English ‘wing’.
Two consonants can be combined to make a new sound.
sounds like the ‘d’ in English ‘dog’, but with the tongue pushed into the back of the front teeth as you say it.
sounds like the ‘dg’ in English ‘judge’.
sounds like the ‘ll’ in English ‘million’.
sounds like the ‘ng’ in English ‘sing‘.
sounds like the ‘ni’ in English ‘onion’.
this is a rolled ‘r’. This sound does not exist in English. This sound is made by vibrating the tip of your tongue behind the front teeth. Try saying ‘ladder’ really quickly. The sound that the ‘dd’ makes is similar to the rolled ‘r’ in Tanganekald.
sounds like the ‘rl’ in English ‘curl‘, but with the tongue curled further back in the mouth as you say it.
sounds like the ‘rn’ in English ‘barn‘, but with the tongue curled further back in the mouth as you say it.
sounds like the ‘rt’ in English ‘heart‘, but with the tongue curled further back in the mouth as you say it.
sounds like the ‘t’ in English ‘touch’, but with the tongue pushed into the back of the front teeth as you say it.
these two letters sound like the ‘tch’ in English match.
Other tips on pronunciation
Most Tanganekald words carry the stress or emphasis on the first syllable of the word. The ‘stressed’ part of the word is in bold in these examples: