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Cabcar Intro
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Nasalized Vowels:

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There are 12 vowels:

  • 5 basic vowels that are similar to the 5 vowels of Spanish (a, e, i, o, u).
  • 5 nasalized versions of the 5 basic vowels, indicated by underscores (a, e, i, o, u).
  • 2 lax vowels indicated by dieresis (, ) (some notations include a third: )

As with Spanish, the vowels are "pure" vowel sounds--there is no "glide" into or away from the vowels.  The following table gives details on the vowel pronunciation using Spanish and English equivalents and descriptions.  Sample words are given in parentheses.

Cabcar Spanish English Description
a "ah" low central vowel, like vowel in "not"
e "eh" mid front vowel, as in "bet", but a little higher
i "ee" high front vowel, like vowel in "meet", but without the glide (like Spanish "si")
o "oh" mid back vowel, like vowel in "no", but without the glide (like Spanish "no")
u "oo" as in boot high back vowel, like vowel in "boot", but without the glide

no clear equivalent Nasalization occurs when the soft palate is down so that air can go through the nose (as well as through the mouth).  English and Spanish use nasalization to distinguish sounds only for consonants m, n, , ng).  (Although some people and dialects routinely pronounce vowels in a nasalized fashion, these are not spoken as distinct and contrasting sounds.)

Practice nasalization in 3 steps, but do not overemphasize nasalization in context!

  1. Put an "n" in front of the vowel (na, ne, ni, no, nu), and prolonging the nasalization of the "n" into the vowel sound.
  2. Put an "n" after the vowel (an, en, in, on, un), and practicing prenasalizing the vowel before the "n".
  3. Practice nasalizing the vowels by themselves (a, e, i, o, u).

Again, note that nasalization is clearly present/audible in Cabcar speech, but it is not obnoxiously overemphasized!





no equivalent lax mid central vowel, between the vowels in the following pairs: "tick" and "took", "kick" and "cook".  The lips should not be rounded, but are relaxed and fairly close together.  The tongue is higher than the lax English vowel "uh" in "but".

This is a very important vowel, because it occurs all over the place!

N/A "oo" as in book lax mid back vowel, , between like vowel in "brook" and "broke"

The "height" and "front/central/back" position descriptions above refer to the highest point of the tongue when making these vowels.  Using these designations, we can put the vowels in a position chart:

Listen to all vowels:
  front central back
high i,i   u,u
mid e,e ,o,o
low   a,a  


Vowels are indicated as long (in duration) when they are written twice: aa, ii, etc.

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