|mikuau||it is red||emikuan||spoon|
|takushinu||s/he arrives||takuatshin||it is autumn|
|takuan||it exists, there is some|
|apakuai||web||pakuniu||s/he has a blister on his/her hand|
|natamiku||anything||uapamiku||the other sees him/her|
|nuapamiku||s/he sees me||ashukan||bridge|
Short vowels a and i are sometimes pronounced [u] (“oo”).
|Spelling short vowels correctly is difficult because they vary according to dialect and between words. It is therefore important to pay attention to [u] vowels that are pronounced and followed by a syllable containing a u or a u.|
Description of the Spelling Issue
Short a and i vowels tend to be pronounced [u] when followed by a syllable containing the sequence ku or ku, mu or mu, and in the case of pu (pipun, pronounced [pupun])This case, which affects pipun and its derivations, is an exception as other such forms like -apu- and -ipu- are not pronounced [upu], but rather [-ǝpu-].. In fact, when preceded by k or m, the sound u influences the preceding short vowel, as if it was leaving an imprint on it. This natural phonetic phenomenon is called vowel harmonizationLINGUISTICS: Vowel harmonization (or vowel assimilation) is a “modification caused by a phoneme in contact with a neighbouring phoneme”.
Dubois et al. Dubois et al. 2012. Le dictionnaire de linguistique et des sciences du langage. Larousse, p. 55. (passage translated into English) In Innu, the pronunciation of short vowels is more unstable than that of long vowels, and short vowels are therefore more susceptible to changes.
The change in the pronunciation of a short vowel that occurs before a syllable containing a u is not the same in every dialect:
- In the eastern dialects, we sometimes find long vowels in places we would find short vowels in the western dialects. Since vowel harmonization only affects short vowels, words containing a long vowel are easy for speakers of the eastern dialects to spell. The following examples include a long vowel for the eastern dialects, and a short vowel (which can be pronounced [u]) in the western dialects, followed by ku or ku.
|takusseu||s/he takes a step||umiku||his/her blood|
|apakuai||web||pakueshamu||s/he cuts a piece of it|
The eastern dialects’ pronunciation is a useful indication of the historical vowel of certain words.
- However, in words where the vowel is short in all dialects, it is necessary to identify cases of vowel harmonization and to write the historical vowel (of ancient Innu).
Caution: It cannot be taken for granted that there are never cases of u followed by a syllable Cu or Cu; in certain cases, a real u exists, as in the following:
|shuku||so much||kukuetapuat||they have no place to sit|
|mukuman||knife||kukuetshimeu||s/he asks him/her something|
|mukutakan||bent knife||tshitapuku||s/he is taken by the current|
|pakumu||s/he vomits||atapuku||s/he moves by the current|
|ańuku||thrush||mukutui||bear paw snowshoe|
|natukuieu||s/he heals someone||natukun||remedy|
The spelling solution for this issue comes from the history of the Innu language. Short Innu vowels were once pronounced as true [a], [i] or [u] sounds, and still are in certain dialects, especially those of Mamit, where they are sometimes even pronounced as long vowels. There is a long tradition of writing these short vowels as they were in ancient Innu.
|RULE FOR SHORT VOWELS – To write short vowels, use the letters a, i and u, based on their historical presence. In the specific context of a short vowel followed by ku or ku, and mu or mu, verify whether the vowel is a a, a i or if it’s really a u.|
The Innu Dictionary is the best tool for checking how to spell words with short vowels pronounced as [u] before Cu or Cu; the conjugation guide is also useful for learning how to spell conjugated forms.
Learning Strategy for Short Vowels
The correct spelling of short vowels is part of the use-based spelling, or lexical spellingLEXICAL SPELLING: Spelling not based on the application of grammatical rules (GRAMMATICAL SPELLING). Lexical spelling can be based on the pronunciation of a word, but that’s not always the case: it can be partly abstract for historical reasons, among others. This is what has happened with the spelling of short vowels in Innu, which isn’t always based on the actual pronunciation of a word but on an older, historical form. which must be learned when learning to write. In cases of doubt, consult the dictionary.
The Innu language is based in large part on morphology – that is, on the construction of words by the use of morphemesA morpheme is a part of a word that holds meaning. For example, mińu- in mińuau it’s good, mińumu it’s well installed, mińuateu s/he appreciates him/her; -pańu in upipańu s/he lifts him/herself up, unipańu s/he sits up, paupańu it spills; -amu in uapatamu s/he sees something, kunamu s/he spills something, naikamu s/he cleans something., it’s useful to base any teachings on these morphemes. In fact, since a single morpheme can appear in many different words, knowing the morpheme’s spelling allows a writer to write a larger number of words more easily. Each time we learn the spelling of a morpheme, a root, a radical, an inflection, we’re learning to write many words. In addition to learning how to spell short vowels, this is also true for other spelling rules.
Forming groupings can also help to learn how to spell short vowels.
To help learn words with a short vowel pronounced [u] before Cu or Cu, here are groups of word listsThese word lists were inspired by Drapeau, L. et J. Mailhot. Guide pratique d’orthographe montagnaise. Québec : Institut éducatif et culturel attikamek-montagnais, 1989, items 6 et 7. organized by short vowel, by the following syllable, or by morphemes with a short vowel followed by Cu or Cu.
|nikamu||s/he sings||tshikamu||it sticks|
|atimu||dog||atimuss||small dog, puppy|
|pishimu||month, moon, sun||pishimuss||December|
|uitimua||his brother-in-law, his sister-in-law||nitimu||my brother-in-law|
|uitimushu||s/he has a romantic relationship|
|mikuau||it’s red||mikushiu||s/he has red blotches|
|kamikuakamit||wine||mikuapu||s/he has red eyes|
|umiku||his/her blood||umikuiapi||his/her vein|
|atiku-pimi||caribou fat||atiku-uiash||caribou meat|
|mishtikushu||a white person||uapikun||flower|
|ushtikuan||his/her head||tshishiku||the day|
|utashtamiku||his/her face||umiku||his/her blood|
|assiku||casserole||assikuashku||pole for hanging things|
|emikuan||spoon||utemikuanu||s/he has a spoon|
|emikuaniss||small spoon||tatuemikuaniss||so many teaspoonfuls|
|utemikuanishu||tadpole||tshishikushu||s/he is sleepy|
|tshipaiatiku||cross||nikun||small, dry snowflakes fall|
|eńiku||spider||ńikushkupańu||the sky is overcast|
|shishtiku||s/he spits||pishikupańu||something pops out|
|tshińiku||mixed||ushiku||s/he is blessed|
|nikuteu||s/he cuts firewood||neshikuau||it’s a point of ice|
|pitikushiu||s/he is stocky||kushikuteu||s/he carries a heavy load|
|natamiku||anything||mishishtikuau||it is a big river|
|kauapikuesht||priest||utshishikumu||s/he celebrates his anniversary|
|kutikuniu||s/he camps||utatshikumu||s/he has a cold|
|nuapamiku||s/he sees me|
|uapamiku||the other one sees him/her|
|itiku||the other one tells him/her|
|nitiku||s/he tells me|
|utitiku||someone comes to him/her|
|nutitikun||someone comes to me|
|takushinu||s/he arrives||takuan||there is…|
|takukuman||pair of scissors|
|takushkateu||s/he places a foot on something||takutitsheueu||s/he crushes his/her hand|
|pakueshikan||bread||pakueshueu||s/he cuts off a piece|
|apu tutamaku||we are not doing anything||eku uapatamaku||so we saw something|
|takut||on top||takutashtau||s/he places something on top|
|takutaut||at the summit||takutapu||s/he is sitting on top|
|takunamu||s/he holds something in his/her hands||takuneu||s/he holds it in his hands|
|takumeu||s/he holds something in his/her mouth||takunaushu||s/he is the godfather|
|pakuenamu||s/he removes a piece||pakuepitamu||s/he tears off a piece|
|pakuemeu||s/he removes something with his/her teeth||pakuekaimu||s/he removes something with an axe|
|nakuashu||s/he gets caught in a snare||nakuakaniapi||snare wire|
|nakuateu||s/he catches it in a snare||nakuanitsheu||s/he sets snares|
|takuatshin||it’s autumn||takuatshineiau||the weather feels like autumn|
|pakuneiau||something has a hole in it||pakunetau||s/he makes a hole in something|
|pakuneneu||s/he makes a hole in something with his hands||pakunetamu||s/he makes a hole in something with his teeth|
|-taku||useful, carved wood|
|ińnashtitaku||cut pine wood||ishpimitaku||upper floor of a house|
|LONG AND SHORT VOWELS||SHORT VOWELS AND SPELLING|
|LABIALIZED CONSONANTS: ku||LABIALIZED CONSONANTS: mu|