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Doubled Vowels & Diphthongs

aa, ii, uu, ai, au, ia, iu, ua, ui

Doubled Vowels:

A, i, and u can be doubled for emphasis. When an aa,ii, or uu appears in a word, that syllable is stressed. If there is a consonant before a double vowel, there is a slight pause before pronouncing that consonant. The reduced vowel e is never doubled.

tamuuq dried fish
kiimaq whale blubber
wiinaq sea lion
aatunaq wild rhubarb (sourdock)


A, i, and u are called prime vowels in Alutiiq. Pairs of different prime vowels show emphasis on a syllable. The new vowel sounds formed by: ai, au, ia, iu, ua, and ui are called diphthongs. The vowel sounds in these pairs are pronounced in rapid succession to form a new combined sound. The combination sounds are as follows:

ai - sounds like the ay in “bay”

Quyanaituq. You're welcome.

au - sounds like the ou in “out” or the ow in “grow”

taugna that one

ia - sounds like ya in “yacht”

kiak summer

ua - sounds like wa, in “walk”

guangkuta we (3+ people)

iu - sounds like “you”

piugta dog (S. Kodiak)

ui - ounds like “we”

gui I / me

You may have noticed that the greeting cama'i has an apostrophe (') between the ending a and i. This is because it is NOT a diphthong. Without the apostrophe, a reader would assume that the pronunciation is “cha-may” using the ai diphthong, instead of “cha-meye” where the a and i sounds are pronounced separately.