Helpful Hints for Students

APWAD uses a Simplified Orthography for writing Potawatomi words.  Remember that what you see is English letters trying very hard to approximate Potawatomi sounds.

Vowel sounds:

A       ah       as in father

É       eh       as in bet

I        ee       as in peel

O      oh       as in go

E       uh       as in put or could


Consonant Hints:

The sounds represented by L, R, F, V, and TH are not used in Potawatomi.

Older writings often used TTH or TTHE to represent a CH or J sound.  In this orthography, we use CH or J instead of the older form.

Older writings often used L to represent a B or P sound.  In this orthography, we use B or P.

G is always a “hard” g, and is often used interchangeably with the K sound.  Be careful, as this is not always the case.  For example, ézhi-kwé would refer to a woman over there, while jigwé refers to thunder.  

D and T are often, but not always, interchangeable, as well as B and P.

Many consonants are used in combinations that seem unfamiliar to first speakers of English.  Take your time with them.

Some consonants may sound “silent” to an untrained ear.  The sounds are there in the speech of fluent speakers, but an English-speaking ear is trained to pick out English sounds, and may miss some of the more subtle tones of the language.

Bodewadmimwen, like all Neshnabek languages, is a vast and very descriptive language, and there are more than several ways to say the same thing.

Nouns are not divided by gender, but by whether they are “alive” or “not alive.”  This is the concept of Animacy and Inanimacy. Simply put, animate objects are alive while inanimate objects are not.  However, what is considered alive to a Potawatomi thinker is not necessarily considered alive by an English thinker.  The whole sentence, including the verb, any demonstratives, and the noun endings all agree with the animacy/inanimacy of the subject and object.  We highly recommend working with a Fluent Speaker to develop listening skills and learn to construct sentences.

Our main site is at .

Leave a Reply