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Gailland's Orthography

Adapted from the preface of Gailland's Potawatomi dictionary

Potawatomi headband

The letters used in writing Potawatomie words are chiefly the following: a, b, c, d, e, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y. The other letters of the alphabet are not used, except in words derived from other languages.

SymbolSounds like
a a in father
a as in fat
the french in tte
e as in the french word net
the french in et, approximating to the sound of the in the french word irrsolu.
e the french e in Maitre; or i in the english word pin.
- e in the english word meet, or as i in the french te.
i e above, i.e. like i in pin.
- the long english o in hope
au in cause.
o in olive.
o o in opposite.
u in flute; or the french ou in voute.
u the english u in nut.
g always hard, as in the english word go.
h is never used, except after c, and it has the sound of sh.
j j in the english word just
s has the sharp, hissing sound of the S in the english word sound; except perhaps in words in which it is either preceded or followed by the syllable ni; then it has the sound of z in the french word zte.

The Potawatomi, in pronouncing foreign words, mostly substitute, for the letters f & v, b & p, and for l & r, n.

The same word has, sometimes, several accents; and it may be taken for a general rule, that in the Potovatomie language every other syllable is accented. But, in the same word there is only one principal accent, formed by the rising of the voice; the others, called secondary accents, are expressed, as it were in the falling of the voice, and cause the vowel they affect, to be pronounced with a more open sound. The principal accent is marked by the sign: (), and the secondary, by this: (`).

Vowels marked on the top with this mark are short, and generally, scarcely, or not pronounced at all. [Note: Gailland's symbol was an upward turned semi-circle, the grammatical symbol for the "short" vowel. However, this symbol is not available in the html font, so we have chosen to use the small full circle in its place. Ed.]

Vowels marked with the treona() are pronounced with a slight guttural sound aspirated.

You will not find all of the diacritical marks explained here used throughout the translation of the gospels, which were read by priests who were, we presume, reasonably familiar with the Potawatomi language. However, most of them show up from time to time. You will also note some marks that do not fit into the system explained here. We have done our best to record what we found in the manuscript, whether or not we could explain it. Ed.

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List of Gospels
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