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Chilotin's Mapudungun Lessons: 1

Marimari kom pu che! / Hi everyone!

I posted about a Mapudungun course some months ago. Here we go!

This is the first lesson of Mapudungun, a language spoken in Chile and Argentina by Mapuche people.
Please, correct my mistakes, English is not my native language.

Pronunciation and orthography

There are three main orthographies. I will use the "Mapuche Unified Alphabet", created in 1987 and used in many works. I'll use examples from English and Spanish.

a /ɐ/: It is like u in "nut" in Received Pronunciation. Similar to a in "hat" or Spanish a.
e /e/: Like Spanish e. Similar to e in "bed".
i /ɪ/: Like i in "ship". Similar to Spanish i, but shorter.
o /o/: Like Spanish o. Similar to o in "not".
u /ʊ/: Like oo in "hook". Similar to Spanish u, but more closed.
ü /ɘ/: Like u in "nut" in Southern American. A mid-central vowel. There is no similar sound in Spanish.
p /p/: Like p in "pot". Similar to Spanish p, but it can be aspirated.
t /t/: Like t in tick. Similar to Spanish t, but it is more "alveolar" (it doesn't touch teeth) and it can be aspirated.
k /k/: Like k in keep. Similar to Spanish c in casa, but it can be aspirated. Example: ka (and).
ch /tʃ/: Like ch in "church" or "chileno". Example: che (human being).
tr /ʈʂ/: Similar to tr in train. Similar to tr in Chilean Spanish (it is suspected a borrowing from Mapudungun). Example: ketre (chin)

(Note 1: The five consonants explained above are never in end of a syllable. You'll never hear words like "chic", "pot" or "match", excepting Spanish borrowings, like "doktor".)

f /f/: Like f in "five" (or Spanish f "faro") or v in "vine". It depends on the dialect, but most extant dialects use f. Example: foro (bone).
d /θ/: Like th in "thanks" (or Spanish z in "cazar" in Castile dialect) or th in "then" (or Spanish d in "codo", not in "andar"). It depends on the dialect and, again, most dialects use the unvoiced version. Example: domo (woman).

(Note 2: It is a pair. f goes with unvoiced th and v goes with voiced th.)

s /s/: Like s in "sand", never voiced like in "rose". Like s or z in Spanish from Latin America. Example: kuse (old woman).
sh [ʃ]: Like sh in "shine". It is only a variant of s in some dialects and an independent consonant in others.
g /ɰ/: Like g in Spanish "lago" (never like g in "tango"). There is no similar sound in English, but is similar to a g (the difference between English g and mapuche g is similar to difference between English d in "den" and English th in "then").
r /ɻ/: Similar to r in "red", but without rounding. Similar to "r rehilada" of Andean Spanish. Example: rere (black woodpecker).
w /w/: Like w in wow. Similar to Spanish gu in "agua" or Spanish u in "causa". Example: wew (victory).
y /j/: Like y in "yes". Similar to Spanish y in "yo" or Spanish i in "reinar". Example: yay (hail).
l /l/: Like l in "let", not dark l. Like Spanish l in "loco". Example: lig (white).
ḻ /l̪/: Like l, but tongue tip is placed between teeth. Example: peḻ (neck).

(Note 3: I'll use lh for this consonant, because it is clearer in text and easier to write.).

ll /ʎ/: Like lli in "million". Like Spanish ll in dialects without "yeísmo" (where "valla" sounds diferent to "vaya"), similar to l + i. Example: llalla (a man's mother-in-law, a woman's son-in-law).
m /m/: Like m in "man" or "mano". Example: mi (your).
n /n/: Like n in "no". Example: nag (below).
ṉ /n̪/: Like n before th: "month". Like n before t in Spanish: "cantar". Example: aṉtü (sun).

(Note 4: I'll use nh for this consonant. Same reasons of lh.)

ñ /ɲ/: Similar to ny in "canyon". Like Spanish ñ in "caña". Example: ñuke (mother).
ng /ŋ/: Like ng in "sing". Like Spanish n before k, as in "anca". Example: nge (eye).

Practice those sounds and comment or question about pronunciation.

May 3, 2017



Awesome, Chilotin! Your English is superb. I have just a few edits :)

There are three main orthgraphies." - just a typo - should be "orthographies."

Sounds more natural to me to say 'I will use THE "Mapuche Unified Alphabet"/ "are never AT THE end of A syllable" / "It depends on THE dialect" (don't use caps, I just don't know how to bold here).

What is "RP"? Received pronunciation? It would be great if you could spell it out, at least for us Americans ;)

I'm excited to continue! Thanks for this course.


Chaeltu may! / Thank you!


Mari mari Chilotin. Kim mapudünguken; dewmapayayiw kiñe kursu!


Me encanta!! muchas gracias!! estoy empezando a aprender y esto me ayudo mucho. Gracias por tu dedicacion!


Mari mari kom pu che Mapudungukelu! ka pu chillkatufe ka fey. Iñche Patricio Pignen, mapuchengen. Iñche ta rulpadungufe ka ngiyuchefe. Duamyiñ kiñe mapudungun kurso, duolingo mew. Müley fentren pu wechekeche küpa kim taiñ kewün. kiñe panko pu wenhüy!

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