Pronunciation Guide | VIP Resource

The Chronicles of Hawthorn Pronunciation Guide

I’ve put together a guide for readers who want to learn how to pronounce the place names, character names, and magickal words in The Chronicles of Hawthorn. This guide will help you find out how to pronounce Māori vowels, consonants, and digraphs—using words from the series and example words from the English language that have the nearest equivalent sound.

I’m not a linguist and I don’t pretend to be an expert in Te Reo Māori pronunciation. I respectfully borrowed from their melodic and beautiful language to build Flynn’s world and the suggestions I’ve included in this guide are merely my best effort at passing along my understanding, based on my research. I gladly welcome corrective input.

There are 15 distinct sounds within the Māori alphabet:
5 vowels: a, e, i, o, u
8 consonants: h, k, m, n, p, r, t, w
2 digraphs (two letters that combine to form one sound): wh, ng

Let’s Start with Vowels
Similar to many Polynesian languages, all vowels are pronounced—except in the case of diphthongs—and are held for either a long or short sound. In other words the vowel sound may be the same, but a “long” vowel is actually spoken for a bit longer. A long sound can be denoted by a macron (a bar placed above a vowel which indicates it is lengthened during pronunciation) eg. ā as in tauā.
There are only five vowels, but combinations of vowels (diphthongs) are quite common eg. au, ao, ea, oi, ua, and have their own sounds.

Short Vowels are pronounced as follows, with only a quick emphasis:
A as in “apple”; tapu (sacred, forbidden)
E as in “say”; rewa (to melt)
I as in “see”; ihi (power)
O as in “toe”; rotu (to put to sleep)
U as in “tune”; utu (consequences)

Long Vowels* are pronounced as follows, but held for a bit longer than a short vowel:
A as in “claaaw”; āka (clean off, scrape away)
E as in “plaaay”; kēhua (to haunt)
I as in “feeet” (it’s the equivalent of the long “e” sound in English); kī (to say, speak)
O as in “flooow”; tōmiti (to dry up, evaporate)
U as in “tuuune”; toitū (to be sustainable)

*The purpose of long vowels is to differentiate between words that have the same spelling, yet have different meanings. For example, tāruru (to entice) or tārūrū (to be painful).

Diphthongs are pronounced as follows:
AU as in “cow”; raupeti (black nightshade)
AO as in “oh”; Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud)
AI as in “tie”; waipuna (make water)
EA as in “say”; hea (any place, everywhere)
IA with a LONG “i” and a SHORT “a”; whāia (to be followed)
OU as in “toe”; rourou (small plaited food basket)
OA with a LONG “o” and a SHORT “a”; puta noa (unlimited)

Pronounce consonants the same as you would in English, with two key exceptions (T & R):
T– The “t” sound depends on which vowel follows it. When it precedes an “a,” “e,” or “o,” pronounce it with as little plosive sound as possible (almost like a soft “d”). When it precedes an “i” or “u”, it includes a slightly more plosive sound, but not nearly as much as an English “t.”
R – The “r” is pronounced as a short, soft “rolled” r.

H – harakeke (flax)
K – kahu (harrier hawk)
M – mana (spiritual power)
N – nau (Cook’s scurvy grass)
P – pounamu (greenstone, nephrite)
R – rakaina (to lock a door);  – uruhi (to compel)
T – tere (float/to travel);  – tauraki (to dry)
W – waka (canoe, means of transport)

The “ng” digraph is pronounced the way it sounds in the English word “ringer” not as in “linger.”
ng, ngahuru (autumn)

The “wh” digraph has changed over time to sound more like the English “f” sound in “fall.”
wh, whakaweto (to extinguish)

There are a number of dialects that I did not attempt to cover in this guide. These variations are regional, throughout New Zealand, but will not prevent an understanding or use of this guide.



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