Doubled Vowels & Diphthongs
aa, ii, uu, ai, au, ia, iu, ua, ui
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.
|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”
au - sounds like the ou in “out” or the ow in “grow”
ia - sounds like ya in “yacht”
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.