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Mohawk language

Mohawk is a Native American language spoken in the United States. It is part of the Iroquoian family spoken in the Western U.S.


Based on sound files available at, the phoneme inventory appears to be as follows (using SAMPA notation):


  1. There are no bilabials (unless one counts /w/ as labial rather than velar).
  2. It's unclear if aspiration is phonemic or a realization of C + /h/; probably the latter as ‘nh’ is /n/ + /h/, and ‘sh’ is /s/ + /h/ (not SAMPA /S/).
  3. From listening to the syllabification of careful speech, I also assume that orthographic 'ts' is indeed an affricate, since 'tsh' corresponds to SAMPA /tS/ - though it begs the question of why not use a single symbol for each of these? (After all, with such a small inventory, there are lots of Latin letters available!)

  Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop t   k ?
Affricate ts tS    
Fricative s     h
Nasal n      
Liquids l   w  


  1. Length is contrastive.
  2. Nasalization is contrastive.
  3. There appear to be a high and low tone. (See tonal language.)

  Front Central Back
High i    
Mid   E o
Low     a