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Fricative Consonants

l, y, w, ll, s, g, gw, r, f, R

Fricative consonants are produced by narrowing the flow of air that comes out of the mouth, but not completely stopping it as with a stop consonant. There are two types of fricative consonants - voiced, where the vocal cords are vibrating, and unvoiced, where the vocal cords do not vibrate.

It is easy to tell if the letter is voiced by simply feeling one’s vocal cords when saying the letter. For example, try pronouncing the English letter r, noticing how the voicebox in your neck vibrates. Next try pronouncing the English letter f, which does not cause vibration. Alutiiq letters f and “Russian R” are pronounced the same way as the English, so you already know these two letters!

Voiced Fricatives

L in Alutiiq is equivalent to the English l sound as in “low.”

laampaaq lamp

Y in Alutiiq is equivalent to English y as in “yes.”

yaamaq rock

W in Alutiiq is equivalent to English w as in wow.

wiinaq sea lion

Voiceless Fricatives

Ll is one of the most daunting letters for new speakers of Alutiiq, but it is not too difficult, with practice. To make this sound, hold your tongue against the front roof of your mouth as with an English l. Then force air out so that it escapes out from the sides of your tongue through your teeth. This hissing-like sound is ll. Your voicebox should not vibrate.

Another way to think of it: ll is similar to the sh sound in English, except that it comes out from the sides of your tongue instead of the front, and the teeth are not completely closed. So, place your tongue against the entire front roof of your mouth and try to make the sh sound. You'll be comfortable with this letter in no time!

llami outside
ellpet you

S in Alutiiq sounds like English sh  in “show” in the Northern Kodiak style, and like s as in English “sit” in the Southern Kodiak style. When s falls between two single vowels a, i, or u in a word, it sounds more like English z or zh.

saqul'aq duck
isumaq raisin
isuwiq seal

G is produced in the mouth in the area where you produce an English g (as in the word “good”) but it has a softer sound. Practice by making an English g a few times, then, holding your mouth in the same position, produce an h sound with a slight constriction in the airflow.

giinaruaq mask

When the g appears between two single vowels a, i, or u, its sound changes slightly. In these cases, the mouth opening is more constricted, creating friction as the air flows out, and it becomes slightly voiced. This sound is sort of half way between an English g and an h sound.

agi go

The letter gw is similar to g, but with the addition of the w sound.

gwani here
uqgwik alder

The letter r (not to be confused with “Russian r”) is pronounced in the back of the mouth in the area where the uvula hangs down (in the same place as the q). Unlike the q, which is produced by briefly stopping the airflow, the r is a drawn out sound. To produce this sound simply make a gravelly h sound out of your throat.

ruuwaq arrow

 Russian Borrowed Fricatives

The Alutiiq letter f is equivalent to the English f, as in “food.” It appears in words borrowed from Russian and English. F is unvoiced.

faRanaq lantern

“Russian R” sounds like English r as in “run” but for some speakers it may be “rolled” in a more Russian-sounding style. It only appears in words borrowed from Russian and English. Alutiiq letter “Russian R” is written as a small caps R, or as a capital R when small caps are not available (such as via email). The reason the r is written in small caps is to distinguish it from the regular Alutiiq r. The capital Russian R is written identical to the capital Alutiiq R, so on the rare occasion where a word begins with Russian R and starts a sentence, the speaker has to be familiar with the proper sound for that word. The r is a voiced fricative.

wiRuuq bucket: pail