Lesson 1 Review

Oral Vowel Pronunciation IPA
   a "ah" as in 'fall' /a/
   e "eh" as in 'bed' /e/
   i "ee" as in 'ski' /i/
   o "oh" as in 'low' /o/
   u "oo" as in 'duke' /u/

e is not ey, o is not ow, i is not iy, u is not uw

Nasal Vowel Pronunciation IPA
    similar to the "uh" in 'sung'; but shorter and without the -NG. /ã/ [ə̃]
    nasal "ih" as in 'din'; but without the -N /ĩ/ [ɪ̃]
    "euh" as in 'book', only nasal. /ũ/ [ʊ̃]

Long Vowel Pronunciation IPA
   aa "ah ah" or "ahhh" as in 'father' [aa] or [aː]
   ee "eh eh" or "ehhhh" [ee] or [eː]
   ii "ee ee" or "eeee" [ii] or [iː]
   oo "oh oh" or "ohhh" [oo] or [oː]
   uu "oo oo" or "oooo" [uu] or [uː]
   aŋaŋ nasal "uh uh" or nasal "ahhh" as in 'song'; only longer and without the -NG [ə̃ə̃] or [ãː]
   iŋiŋ nasal "ih ih" or nasal "eeee" as in 'sing'; only longer and without the -NG [ɪ̃ɪ̃] or [ĩː]
   uŋuŋ nasal "euh" "euh" or nasal "oooo" as in 'dune'; only longer and without the -N [ʊ̃ʊ̃] or [ũː]

Consonant Pronunciation IPA
   b, h, l,
   m, n, s,
   w, y, z

Same as English more or less. Between two nasal vowels, h, y and w are nasalized (Rood and Taylor, ).

/b, h, l,
m, n, s,
z, j, w/

Same as English CH as in 'chalk'.


Same as English G as in 'gorilla', but never pronounced as a J (as in 'giant'). G is also never silent (as in 'gnome'), which is important because g only occurs in clusters with n, l and m.


Same as English SH as in 'shell'.


Sounds like English Z only less dental.


(marks the khéze, known to English speakers as the glottal stop). The khéze goes at the end of a word that ends in a vowel, if it is the last word of a sentence.


Aspirated Consonant Pronunciation IPA

Same as English K as in 'kin'.


Same as English P as in 'pill', and never pronounced as F (as in 'telephone').


Same as English T as in 'tin', but never pronounced as English's TH sound (as in 'thorn' or 'bathe').

   thúki (clam)


Unaspirated Consonant Pronunciation IPA
   č Sounds like an English J (as in 'jury'), however, it is unvoiced, and never to pronounced as a K or an S (as in 'corn' or 'cereal'). /tʃ/
   k Sounds more like the K in 'skill' than the one in 'kill'. Whereas kh sounds like the K H sequence in 'ask hall', k sounds like the K in 'ask all'. Remember, the Lakota k is never silent (as in 'knife'). /k/
   p Sounds like the P in 'spill' than the one in 'pll'. Whereas ph sounds like the P H sequence in 'wasp hill', p sounds like the P in 'wasp ill'. /p/
   t Sounds more like the T in 'still' than the one in 'till'. Whereas th sounds like the T H sequence in 'nest hacked', t sounds like the T in 'nest act'. /t/

Guttural Consonant Pronunciation IPA
   ǧ Guttural g. Ǧ is articulated by closing the throat muscles as you would for g, only they don't close all the way.

Before i, ǧ is 'trilled', meaning the uvula taps the back of the throat. Think of a sexy growl.

/ʁ/ [ʁ, ɣ, R]

Guttural h. This raspy sound is somewhere between English K and English H. To produce ȟ, make an h sound as you would normally only you close your velar muscles more. Your velar muscles are the throat muscles that contract when you swallow.

    Guttural k; k pronounced simultaneously with ȟ. /kh/ [kχ]
    Guttural p; p pronounced simultaneously with ȟ. /ph/ [pχ]
    Guttural t; t pronounced simultaneously with ȟ. /th/ [tχ]

Ejective Marker Pronunciation IPA
    (marks ejectives). Ejection cannot be made alone, it can only be produced simultaneously with č, k, p, t. Č’, k’, p’, t’ sound like they have a click after them, and are often described as 'explosive'. /tʃ’, p’,
t’, k’/


   • 2/3rd of the time on the second vowel of a word
   • 1/3rd of the time on the first vowel of the word
   • rarely, on the third vowel of a word
   • the first stress of a word is always the loudest


   • b, ȟ, š, and ž end in -e
   • g ends in -li and ǧ ends in -u
   • unaspirated č, k, p, t and g end in -u
   • aspriated, čh, kh, ph, th end in -i
   • ejective č’, k’, p’, t’ end in -o
   • otherwise, consonants end in -a


Words are alphabetized according to each individual letter, even if a letter is within a digraph

1. V (Vowel): each syllable must contain one, and only one, vowel (oral or nasal).

Long vowels can be put in two separate syllables in slow speech, or in the same syllable in fast speech.

2. CV(C) (Consonant + Vowel) or CCV(C) (Consonant + Consonant + Vowel): Consonants always belong at the beginning of syllables, unless at the end of a word. It doesn't matter whether you treat digraphs the same as single letters or two different letters.

The number of syllables in a word is proportionate to its number of vowels, unless you syllabify long vowels as two separate vowels.

Vowels in clusters never mix in Lakota, especially ae, ai, ao, au (except in háu (hello/yes)), ei, oe, and ou.

The following consonant clusters are pronounced with a mini-vowel between each consonant: bl (except after a nasal vowel, where it is pronounced ml), gl, gm, gn, and mn.

Sound Changes

1. A, i, and u after m/n. , , and are pronounced with exaggerated nasalization after m/n.

2. Aŋbam, iŋbin, and uŋbum

3. Ak/aŋkang/aŋng, ik/iŋking/iŋng, and uk/uŋkung/uŋng in fast speech.

4. Unstressed vowels, glides (y, w and h) and the khéze are likely to be lost in fast speech.

5. Ayaaa, aye → long 'ae' as in 'bat', and awaoo

6. When words are pronounced in isolation or at the end of statements, stressed short vowels are devoiced at the end of words, causing them to sound whispered as if an h follows them.

Sound Symbolism

In some words, s/z, š/ž and ȟ/ǧ represent gradations.

Common Words & Phrases

háu or háo (hello, yes - masculine/formal), (yes - mild assent), háu, kȟolá (hi, male friend), háŋ (yes - feminine or unisex/informal), oh´ŋ (okay, sure), hiyá (no), hóȟ (no!), híhaŋni wašté (good morning), hókahé! (Welcome!), Taŋyáŋ yahí. (It is good that you came.), lililili! (Yelled by women in a high pitched voice to praise warriors for acts of valor.), chaŋtéšičé (I'm sorry), ékičiktunža yo (pardon me - masculine), ékičiktunža wo (pardon me - feminine), akíčiktunža yo (forgive me - masculine), akíčiktunža wo (forgive me - feminine), hahó hahó! (thank you!), hayé hayé (thank you! - spiritual), philámayaye (thanks), philámayaye ló (thanks - masculine), tókša (bye), Tókša akhé waŋčhíyaŋkiŋ kte. (I will see you again eventually)

Háu and háŋ are used in an affirmative reply to negative questions.

Back to Lesson 1

© 2009 SAIVUS. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: 02/21/2009