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Piipaash Orthography

The Xalychidom Alphabet

The alphabet we are using is one that has been developed by a group of tribal members from the Community. We use Roman symbols as the English alphabet does, but they do not necessarily represent the same sounds as English letters. So, if you go about trying to read Piipaash as if it were English, you will likely pronounce the words wrong. You will have to learn this writing system letter by letter, and leave English rules aside

Some Maricopa sounds do not exist in English (and vice-versa), so it can be difficult to describe them to English speakers. In the second column below, an approximate English equivalent is provided.

Stress

Stress falls on the final syllable of the root word (e.g., pii-paash΄ not pii΄-paash)

Pluralization

In Piipaash, most nouns do not have plural forms. The same noun form is used in reference to one or many (a few nouns that reference people do have plurals). Verbs, however, have forms that indicate the subject is either singular (1), dual (2) or plural (3+).

Vowels

The Piipaash alphabet contains five (5) short vowels and five (5) long vowels. The principal difference between long and short vowels is the duration for which they are held. They are as follows:

Short Vowels

Letter Sound Piipaash English
a like the /a/ in father 'a saguaro cactus
e usually like the /e/ in pet 'ave snake
i usually like the /i/ in sit dish seed
o like the /o/ in go iitho stomach
​u like the /u/ in flute kuchar spoon

Long Vowels

Letter Sound Piipaash English
​aa like the /a/ in father paap potato
ee usually like the /a/ in play 'avee mouse
​ii usually like the /ee/ in cheek mariik bean
​oo like the /o/ in go iidoo tooth/teeth
uu like the /u/ in flute 'uuvs grape

Consonants

The Piipaash alphabet contains twenty five (25) consonant sounds.

Letter Sound Piipaash English
​ch like the /ch/ in chair chii fish
d like the /th/ in there thadish corn
f like the /f/ in fish kafee coffee
k like the /k/ in kiss kosh pig
kw like the /qu/ in queen kwnxo basket
ky like the /cu/ in cute mathkyaaly ramada
l like the /l/ in land lames table
ly like the /ll/ in million kalyaap prickly pear
m like the /m/ in man maa milk
n like the /n/ in name npee wheat
ng like the /ng/ in song narangk orange
ny like the /ny/ in canyon nyaa I/sun/east/day
p like the /p/ in spin paan bread
q like /k/ but pronounced further back in the throat vqor fruit
qw like /kw/ but pronounced further back in the throat qwaaq deer
r rolled like Spanish /rr/ in perro rav chili
s like the /s/ in salt sny'ak woman
sh like the /sh/ in share shiyal money
t like the /t/ in talk mat dirt/earth
th like the /th/ in thousand tha'ur chair
v like the /v/ in victory va house
w like the /w/ in win iiwaa heart
x like the German /ch/ in Bach xa water
xw like the /x/ but with rounded lips milxwee skunk
y like the /y/ in yes iiyaa mouth

Diphthongs

Diphthongs are most easily explained as instances where one vowel glides into a different vowel. Below are some common diphthongs found in Piipaash.

Letter Sound Piipaash English
oy like the /oy/ in boy 'akooy older woman
aw like the /ow/ in cow xaly'aw rabbit / cottontail
​ew no similar sound in English chew pottery
​ay like the /ay/ in cayenne 'iikway cow
uy like the /uey/ in 'chop suey' kwiduy watermelon

Glottal Stop

This little mark that looks like a comma signifies that the glottis (throat) is closed on this part of the word. When it occurs in the middle of a word, it is a quick catch or pause, as in the expression ‘uh-oh.’

salt - s​​​​΄ii

Glottal stops are barely perceptible at the beginning of many words. They are most perceptible on words that begin with a vowel. Vowel initial words without a glottal stop in front will sound similar to English words beginning with the letter h. In other words, air is flowing freely through the glottis (throat). If the vowel is preceded by a glottal stop, that means no air is passing through the closed throat, therefore, no English /h/ sound.

iiwaa (heewaa) - his/her/its heart

​​​​​΄iiwaa (eewaa) – my heart

Stress

The main stress is always on the last syllable of the root word.