Sunday, September 27, 2015

O's with nasal hooks

Q: I found the Apache word "Ts'iłsǫǫsé" which I would like to know how to pronounce. Using your online guide, I can figure out the "ts" and the "ł" but I still am a little confused by the "ǫǫ." Am I correct in interpreting that as two accented "o's"?

AThe marks beneath those vowels are nasal hooks. It means they are pronounced nasally, like the "on" at the end of the French word "bon." The fact that it's a double vowel means that the vowel is held longer than the others.

The accent mark above other vowels, like the é in Ts'iłsǫǫsé, denote high tone.

Hope that is what you were looking for. Have a good day!

Further reading:
Apache language
Apache pronunciation
Apache tribe   

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Black Hawk

Q: An old Sauk woman told us that Black Hawk's name was mistranslated into English and should really be  He-Who-Walks-In-The-Shadow-Of-The-Hawk or Shadow Hawk. My  question is: how do I properly pronounce his correct name in his language. Names are important and should be spoken correctly. Any help you can give us to properly pronouncing Chief Black-Hawk's name in his own language will be much appreciated and gratefully received.

ABlack Hawk's name in Sauk was Mahkateewimešikeehkeehkwa. That is pronounced similar to mah-kah-tay-wih-meh-shih-kay-kay-kwuh. 

I'm not really sure what the lady was trying to say about walking in shadows. There's nothing in this name about walking or shadows, but perhaps something was implied by his name that was only known to people of the older generation. Traditional Algonquian names sometimes had clan implications beyond their literal translations. We can tell you that literally, what this name means is "great black sparrowhawk." Mahkateewi means black, meši means big or great, and keehkeehkwa is the word for a sparrowhawk.

Hope that helps, have a good day!

Further reading:
Sauk language
Sac and Fox people
Hawk mythology   

Friday, September 11, 2015

Hopi congratulations

Q: Can you please tell me how to say "Congratulations!" in the Hopi tongue?

AInterestingly, our Hopi speakers agree that there is no real translation for "congratulations" in Hopi. It just isn't the sort of thing that is traditionally said. Hopi culture tends to be very modest and community based, so perhaps making an announcement like "congratulations" just would not be done ordinarily. One of our Hopi volunteers suggested "Itam ung kyaptsiyungwa" which means "we have respect for you" or "we really think well of you."

Hope that is close enough for your purposes!

Further reading:
Hopi language
Hopi people