Mi'kmaq language/Phonology

Chapter 4
Lesson : Mi'kmaq language
Previous chapter:Orthographies
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The Mi'kmaq language's phonology consists of 6 short vowels and 5 long vowels as well as 11 consonants. In Mi'kmaq, each letter represents a sound.

Listen to the word sa'qitie'j (dragonfly) recorded by a Mi'kmaq elder

The tables below show the Mi'kmaq characters in Francis-Smith and Listuguj orthographies (see Chapter 3 for more details) and their pronunciation using the symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).


Francis-Smith Listuguj IPA
a a ɑ
a' a' ɑː
e e e
e' e'
i i i
i' i'
ɨ ' ə
o o o
o' o'
u u u
u' u'


Francis-Smith Listuguj IPA
aw aw au
ay ay aj
ew ew eu
ey ey ej
iw iw iu


Francis-Smith Listuguj IPA
j j tʃ or dʒ
k g k or g
kw gw kw or kʷ
l l l
m m m
n n n
p p p or b
q q x or ɣ
qw qw xw or xʷ
s s s or z
t t t or d
w w w
y y j

When consonants are doubled, they must be pronounced with double length, as if there were a word break between the two consonants. Also note that in Mi'kmaq, the consonants l, m and n can also form syllabic peaks like vowels. As such, words don't need to have a vowel, as it is the case with "kmtm" (or "gmtm" depending on the orthography) meaning "mountain" for example.

External resources