Some Linguist think that things should always be spelled the same way. Amy Miller spells Kumeyaay using the following. The good this is that it doesn't use all those linguist hieroglyphics that no one can read. Maybe I will try using this some day. 

ch      like the ch in church.  For Southern speakers,
        when ch appears at the end of a word, it sounds
        like t followed by y (y as in yes, that is).

h       like Spanish j, as in frijoles.

hw      same as h but with your lips rounded.  It sounds
        like Spanish ju, as in Tijuana

k       like k in skip

kw      same as k, but with your lips rounded.  It sounds
        like the qu in squid.

l       like the l in light

ll      keep your teeth and tongue in the same position,
        and but DON'T vibrate your vocal cords as you
        do for l; instead make the noise by blowing air
        out hard.  There will be some turbulence as the
        air moves across your tongue and teeth.

ly      like l, except that the tip of your tongue is on
        your lower teeth.  Sounds sort of like the lli in
        the word million.

lly     keep your teeth and tongue in the same position as
        for ly, but once again, DON'T vibrate your vocal cords;
        instead make the noise by blowing air out hard.  
        The sound is the result of turbulence as the
        air moves across your tongue and teeth.

m       like the m in mother

n       like Spanish n, as in Tijuana

ny      like the ny in canyon.

p       like the p in spin

q       this sound is kind of like k, but it is pronounced
        further back in the throat

r       like the r in true

rr      a rolled r, as in Spanish rojo.

s       like the s in sip

sh      this is not like English sh; it's more of a whistling
        sound.  Most people have their tongue touching the roots
        of their teeth when they make it.

t       like Spanish t, as in bonito.  The tip of your tongue
        touches your teeth.

tt      like English t, as in stick.  The tip of your tongue
        touches the roots of your teeth.

w       like English w, as in wind.

x       like the j in frijoles.  The same as "h", but used in
        Jamul words.  Jamul speakers have told me they like this
        spelling as it keeps their language visually distinct
        from the Northern varieties.

y       like English y, as in yes.


a       like the a in about

aa      a longer sound, like the a in father

i       like the i in bit

ii      like the i in petite

u       like the u in put

uu      like the u in amuse

e       this is "schwa", a vowel that is special because
        (i) its pronunciation depends on the consonants
        that surround it (it may sound like u when it's near
        a w, like i when it's near y or ny, etc.), and
        (ii) it tends to disappear when the word is modified
        (for instance, if you add a prefix, make a plural form,


ay      For northern speakers this sound is a composite of
        the sounds a + y.  It's like the i in fight.
        For southern speakers there is a pronunciation rule
        which changes it:  when it follows certain consonants
        it's pronounced like the ay in play.  I think your
        dad uses the southern pronunciation in words like
        weshay 'he is fat' and mesheyayk 'he is awe-inspiring'.

aay     aa + y.  Rhymes with die.

aw      like the ow in show (I use this spelling in words
        from Jamul speakers, for tribal identity purposes)

aaw     aa + w.  Rhymes with now (provided you drawl out the ow in cow).

uy      u + y.  Nothing like it that I can think of in English.

uuy     uu + y.  Have you heard people say 'buoy' as a one-syllable
        word?  It's something like that.

uw      like the ow in show (following Margaret's example
        I use this spelling in words from Northern speakers)

uuw     uu + w

Here is a series of correspondence between Amy Miller and myself. She is helping Barona put together a dictionary. I just hang around the dictionary meetings and pick up some words. She said I could put her e-mails on my website and I found them very helpful.

I know, my side is not included but I hope you find it useful anyway.

So maybe you'll appreciate this.  You had a sentence Asow QuaHaun TaYukUm Asow "That was good food".  I'd
spell it differently, of course, but the point is that it's a really interesting sentence:

'aasuw "food (that which someone eats)" comes from the word wesaaw "he eats".  The first syllable (the 'aa- part)
is one of the things that turns the verb "he eats" into a noun.  Another symptom of being a noun is that there's a vowel change (the saaw part becomes suw).

kwa'han "that which is good" comes from the verb 'ehan "to be good".  The kwa- part means "the one that is".
teyak means "there it is (lying down)".  So you're exactly right.  

'esuw "we ate it" has two parts.  The first part ('e-) means either "I" or "we".  The second part (-suw) means
two things together: "eat" and "plural".  The fact that it means "plural" tells us that the first syllable must mean "we" instead of "I".

The -m that follows tuuyak is there because the first part of the sentence, "the good food was there", has a different subject from the second part, "we ate it".

The whole thing means "there was good food there and we ate it," but that sounds awkward in English, so we say
"that was good food."


I can't be sure without hearing them, but I think what you have is "we all" and "they all" without the word for "go".  

I would write them like this: 'enyaamat (where the 'e- means "I/we" and the nyaamat is "all") and 'iipay llyuw (where 'iipay means "person/people" and "llyuw" means "many").  

If I'm on the right track, then you'd have to add words for "go" to get the sentences you want.
Ask your dad, but I would guess you can add 'enaa (composed of  'e- "I/we" and naa "go, plural") to the first one to get 'enyaamátech 'enaa "we all go".  Oh yeah, the -ech that's at the end of 'enyaamátech is the subject case marker; it means that "we all" is the subject of the sentence. For the second one, tack on the subject case marker and add
naa "go, plural" to get get 'iipay llyúwech naa "many people go".  Maybe you'd want to substitute naam, which means "go away, plural" for naa.


You're right, aa means "mouth", but I think that's a coincidence.  The 'aa- in 'aasuw (sometimes changed around
to a'-) is found in lots of nouns that come from verbs.  Here are some examples.  Only the first two are from your
dad; the others are from other people and I will have to ask your dad if he says them too.

'aasuw or a'suw "food" (from wesaaw "he eats")
'aattim or a'ttim "gun" (from wettim "he shoots")
'aanaak or a'naak "chair" (from wenak "he sits")
'aayaak or a'yaak "bed" (from weyak "he lies down")

If the word is long, the 'aa- or a'- gets put in the middle of the word.  Here are some examples of that.  These
are not from your dad either; I'll have to ask him if he says them the same way.

sha'puuk "pillow" (from shepuk "he lays his head on pillow") cha'yuw "song" (from cheyuw "he sings")
tehaapiill "glue" (from tehpill "he sticks things together").

Nouns that are made by adding 'aa- all name things that are used in the activity named by the verb.  (Food is used in eating, gun is used in shooting, bed is used to lie down on, etc.)   If you want a noun that means "the one who does it", you form it in a different way:  by adding kw-.  But that's another story.


The whole point of the writing system is to spell words consistently.

English has CRAZY spelling conventions.  There are at least 8 different ways to spell the "ee" sound,
as you can see in words like me, tree, wheat, field, receive, petite, concrete, happy.
There are at least 6 ways to spell the "oo" sound: roof, glue, crew, dupe, soup, through.  And so on.

In the Kumeyaay writing system, the idea is to spell things consistently.  The only way to do this is by throwing
the English system and its crazy conventions out the window.  Yeah, you have to adjust to some new conventions, but they are simple and consistent.  If you put your mind to it you can master the whole thing in a couple of hours.  
Then you can spell any word.  No need for years of spelling tests like we have in English.

The vowel conventions you have to get used to are:

1.  There is a long sound "ii" (as in shawii "acorn mush") and a short sound "i" (as in wettim "he shoots"),
2.  There's a long sound "aa" (as in kaa! "go!") and a short sound "a" (as in ak "bone")
3.  There's a long sound "uu" (as in huu "nose") and a short sound "u" (as in hetup "he jumps").


At our last meeting I offered to divide some sentences into their parts for you, and finally I've done that.  
The sentences are from your dad, on August 1.  I picked out some complicated ones because they're the most fun.

#1 is the hardest, so start with #6.

1.  Peyii kaa-aap, 'enyaach 'emaayk 'amph.  "Put it down here and I'll walk on top of it."

        peyii  means "here"

        kaa-aap  has two parts:  k- "do it!" and aa-aap "put
        it down"

        'enyaach  means "I"

        'emaayk has two parts:  'emaay "top" and -k "on"

        'amph has three parts:  ' (glottal stop, which is a
        short period of silence), which means "I", amp which
        means "walk, and -h which means the action hasn't taken
        place yet.

2.  Nye'aapeyar may yákchu?  "Where is my hat?"

        nye'aapeyar has three parts:  nye- means we're talking about a possession, ' (that's glottal stop again) means
        "my" or "our" when it's attached to a noun, as it is here, and aapeyar is "hat".

        may has two parts:  ma (which is a shortened form of me'a) means "where", and -y means "at".

        yak means "is lying down", and -chu means the sentence is a question.  Note:  -chu is pronounced really funny, almost like "joe" but not accented.

3.  Peyaa ketelkul 'emaayk kaa-aap.  "Put this on top of the stack!"

        peyaa means "this"

        ketelkul means "stack"

        'emaayk has two parts:  'emaay (this word also can mean a high place or the sky, but here it means
        "top"), and -k "on"

        kaa-aap has two parts:  k- which means "do it!" (makes the verb a command), and aa-aap, which means "put it down".

4.  'Ewaally 'aanmákko.  "I must have left it in the house."

        'ewaally is composed of 'ewaa "house" and -lly (that sideways sound) which means "in".

        'aanmákko is composed of ' (glottal stop) "I", aanmak which means "leave it", and -ko which means "must have".

5.  Kwellyapch ellyuw.  "There are a lot of stars."

        kwellyap-ch has two parts:  kwellyap means "star" and -ch means that "star" is the subject of the sentence.

        ellyuw means "are many".  So the sentence literally means "The stars are many." but in English it is more
        natural to say "There are a lot of stars."

6.  'Aarruu menyewícha?  "Have you got money?"

        'aarruu is "money".  ("rr" is a rolled r)

        menyewícha has three parts:  me- which means "you",  nyewich which means "have", and -a, which means the
        sentence is a question.

If the writing is hard to read, just remember that the vowels are more like Spanish than English, and pronounce
the parts of vowel combinations as if they were in a sequence, so that "ay" is short "ah" followed by the "y" sound, and "aay" is long "ah" followed by "y".  Oh yeah, "lly" is the slurpy sound.

Maayiich nye'iny 'epensim.  She gave me something and I lost it.

   maayiich means "something".

   nye'iny has two parts:  nye'- means "she (or he) did
        it to me", and -iny means "give".

   'epensim has two parts:  'e- means "I" (actually, it's
        more complicated than that; the glottal stop alone
        means "I", and the "e" is added to make the glottal
        stop audible), and pensim "lose".

Kiihally, Arlette mepshúwa.  Hurry up, Arlette is waiting for you!

    kiihally has two parts:  k- means "do it!" and iihally means

    Arlette is Arlette, of course.

    mepshúwa (6th letter is supposed to be accented "u")
        has three parts:
        me- means "she does it to you", pshuw means "wait for",  and the -a at the end adds a little emphasis.
        To pronounce this word, think of the "uw" combination as a sequence of "uh" and "w", with a result that's almost like English "oh".

Myrna meshmay meyúwa?  Myrna, did you find it?

     meshmay has 2 parts:  me- "you" and shmay "find"

     meyúwa has 3 parts:  me- "you", yuw "get, pick up", and -a, which makes it a question.

May 'ehanh maaw.  It's no good. (said of something that doesn't work)

     may (first word) and  maaw (last word) are a two-part negative; together they mean "not".  To pronounce
         maaw, think of long "aa" followed by "w".  Like English "ow!".

     'ehan means "to be good".  The -h suffix attached to it is automatically put into all negative statements;
         it means that we're talking about a situation (in this case, being good) that is not taking place.  

'Enyaach may waa?  What time is it (where is the sun sitting)?

     'enyaach has two parts:  'enyaa means "sun", and -ch means that "sun" is the subject of the sentence.

     may means "where?".  You can learn this word as a chunk, or you can look at its internal structure:  
         ma is the short form of ma'a "what?" and -y means "at", so the whole word literally means "at what (place or time)?"

     waa means "is sitting".


Peyii weyak yak.  'He's lying right here.'
        First word:  peyii means 'here'.
        Second word has two parts:  we- is the prefix that means
          'he/she/it/they', and yak means 'lie down, or be lying down'.
        Third word is the same (yak) but here it's used as an
          auxiliary verb and means two things at once:  (i) lying
          down, and (ii) the action is ongoing.  

Nyepily kepháallpech llyuw.  'There are a lot of acorns now.'
        First word:  nyepily means 'now'.
        Second word has three parts:  kephaall is 'black oak (tree
          and/or acorns, in this case acorns), -pe means 'the', and -ch
          means that kephaall is the subject of the sentence.
        Third word:  llyuw is a verb which means 'to be many'.  
        This sentence literally means 'Now the acorns are many'; a
        more idiomatic translation is 'There are a lot of acorns now.'

Hellyaaw nyipm chepak.  'A rabbit came out of there.'
        First word:  Some people say that hellyaaw means 'cottontail'.  
          Ed says that for him, hellyaaw is a generic term for any kind
          of rabbit.  
        Second word has two parts:  nyip means 'that', and -m is a suffix
          which (in this context) means 'from'.  So nyipm means 'from that'.
        Third word:  chepak means 'come out'.

'Ekwak kuupalm 'etim.  'I shot a deer with an arrow.'
        First word:  'ekwak means 'deer'.
        Second word has two parts:  kuupal means 'arrow', and -m is the
          same suffix we saw in the last sentence, but here it means 'with'.  
          So kuupalm means 'with an arrow'.
        Third word has two parts:  'e- is the prefix which means 'I, we',
          and tim (some people say ttim, but Ed says tim) means 'shoot'.
Tiipay Kwe'iinaar Nyewaa.  'Crazy People's House'.  
        First word means 'person, people' (once again, Ed's word is
          different from the one in Let's Talk)
        Second word has two parts.  Kwe- is a prefix which means 'The
          one who' or 'the ones who', and 'iinaar means 'to be crazy'.
        Third word has two parts:  nye- means 'his/her/their', and waa
          is a reduced form of 'ewaa 'house'.  So nyewaa means 'their

1.  'Iikuch kwehmii yach siny kwa'stíkpu winy.  A man is giving seeds to the
little girl.  
'iikuch means 'man'
kwehmii has two parts:
        kwe-, a prefix which means 'the one who',
        hemii, which means 'is grown, mature'.  
        The letter "e" represents schwa, a vowel which may disappear in
        certain circumstances. You'll notice that the "e" in hemii
        disappears when hemii takes the prefix kwe-.
yach - seed  
        (Note:  at first your dad said sheyach for 'seed', but
        after that he consistently said yach, so I changed this one to yach.)
siny - female (woman, girl)
kwa'stíkpu has three parts:
        the prefix kwe- 'the one who'
        'estik, which means 'is small'
        -pu, which (very roughly) means 'the'.  
        Note:  kwe- regularly changes to kwa- before a glottal stop.  The
        schwa ("e") in 'estik disappears when 'estik takes a prefix.
winy has two parts:
        w- is a form of the prefix that means 'he, she, it, they'
        -iny means 'give'

2.  Siny kwa'stíkpech yach aamar.  The little girl is planting (burying) the
siny - female (woman, girl)
kwa'stíkpech has four parts:
        see above for kwe- and 'estik.
        -pe- is a form of -pu 'the'
        -ch indicates that the noun phrase (little girl) is the subject of
        the sentence
yach - seed
aamar - she buries it, covers it with dirt, plants it

3.  Yach ellyuwm aamar.  She plants (buries) a lot of seeds.  (EB)
yach - seed
'ellyuwm has two parts:
        'ellyuw means 'are many'
        -m means that this part of the sentence (yach 'ellyuw) has a
        different subject from the next part (aamar).
aamar means 'she buries it, covers it with earth'

4.  Wehwall nyapuum yach aamar.  She digs a hole and plants (buries) seeds.
wehwall has two parts:  
        we- 'he, she, it, they'
        hwall 'dig'
nyapuum means 'then'
yach - seed
aamar - she buries it, covers it with earth, plants it

5.  'Emat wehwall tapaam sally 'iimat.  Tehiilly 'iimat.  She digs in the
ground and her hands get dirty.  Her clothes get dirty.
'emat - earth, ground, dirt
wehwall has two parts (see #4 above)
tapaam has two parts:
        tapaa means 'she is doing it, moving around'
        -m means that the subject of this part of the sentence ('emat
        wehwall tapaa) is different from the subject of the next part
        (sally 'iimat).
sally - hand, hands
'iimat - get dirty
tehiilly - clothes
'iimat - get dirty

6.  Yach aamar nyapuum haa aatuk.  She plants the seeds and then she waters
yach - seed
aamar - she buries it, covers it with earth, plants it
nyapuum - then
haa - water
aatuk - pour

7.  Nyapuum hemii chepaa.  Then it (the corn) comes up.
nyapuum - then
hemii - it grows
chepaa - it comes out

8.  Hemii 'emaay nyawaach chewuw.  It grows, and when it gets tall (high) it
produces fruit.
hemii - it grows
'emaay - high
nyawaach has four parts:
        nya- 'when, as'
        w- 'he, she, it, they'
        aa 'go'
        -ch means that this part of the sentence has the SAME subject
        as the next part
chewuw - it produces fruit

9.  Siny kwa'stíkpech 'emaaym uwuuw.  The little girl looks up at it.
siny - female (girl, woman)
kwa'stíkpech  has four parts (see #2 above)
'emaaym has two parts:
        'emaay - high place
        -m means 'at, to'
uwuuw has two parts:
        u- is a form of the prefix that means 'he, she, it, they'
        wuuw means 'look at, see'
10.  Paataly kenaam chewúwpu uwuuwh.  She calls her mother to see the fruit.
paataly means 'her (or his) mother'
kenaam has two parts:
        kenaa 'she calls'
        -m means that this part of the sentence (paataly kenaa) has a
        different subject from the next part (chewúwpu uwuuwh).
chewúwpu has two parts
        chewuw - fruit
        -pu means (roughly) 'the'
uwuuwh has three parts:
        u- is a form of the prefix that means 'he, she, it, they'
        wuuw 'see'
        -h means that the action (in this case, the mother seeing the
        fruit) hasn't happened yet

11.  Paatálypech chewúwpu uukatt.  Her mother picks the fruit.  
paatálypech has three parts:
        paataly 'her mother'
        -pe 'the'
        -ch means that this noun phrase is the subject of the sentence
chewúwpu has two parts (see #11 above)
uukatt means 'she picked it'

12.  Weyaawch sa'wily aa-ap.  She picks them and puts them in her basket.
weyaaw has two parts:
        we 'he, she, it, they'
        yaaw 'pick things that come in clusters, like berries or grapes'
sa'wily - flat basket
aa-ap - put

13.  Temuurm waam wellyully.  When it's full she goes off and cooks it.
temuurm has two parts:
        temuur - it is full
        -m means that this part of the sentence (temuur) has a different
        subject from the next part (waam wellyully).
waam has two parts:
        w- 'he, she, it, they'
        aam 'go (away from reference point)
wellyully has two parts:
        we- 'he, she, it, they'
        llyully - cook by boiling

14.  Ma'riik meyallym maayaayp wesaaws.  She ate (the corn) with beans and
ma'riik - beans.  Some people say marik instead.
meyallym has two parts:
        meyally - tortillas
        -m means 'with'
maayaayp - they are together
wesaaws has three parts:
        we- 'he, she, it, they'
        saaw - eat food that requires chewing
        -s adds emphasis to the sentence

15.  Siny kwa'stíkpech kurm uu-um.  The little girl looks off in the distance.  
siny - female (girl, woman)
kwa'stíkpech has four parts (see #2 above)
kurm has two parts:
        kur - distant place
        -m 'to'
uu-um means 'she looks at something in the distance'.

16.  'Iipay kwa'llyuw tuuyak, maayiich ma'wii tenam, uu-um tuuyuwches.  Siny
kwa'stíkpech uu-um tuuyúwches.  There are a lot of people there, they are
doing something, and she stands there watching them.  The little girl stands
there watching them.
'iipay - person, people
kwa'llyuw has two parts:
        kwe-, a prefix meaning 'the one who'
        'ellyuw 'they are many'.  Just as in #1 above, kwe-
        regularly changes to kwa- before a glottal stop.  The schwa
        ("e") in 'ellyuw disappears when 'ellyuw takes a prefix (see #1).
tuuyak - they are there.  This word is actually complex.  The initial t
        is part of the verb, the uu that follows is a form of the prefix
        that means 'he, she, it, they', and then yak is the rest of the verb.
maayiich means 'something'.  (It can also mean 'what'.)
ma'wii means 'do something, do whatever'
tenam means 'they are doing it, moving around'
uu-um means 'she looks at something in the distance'
tuuyúwches is complex:
        tuuyuw is composed of an initial t which is part of the verb,
        then uu-, which is a form of the prefix meaning 'he, she, it, they',
        then yuw, which is the rest of the verb.  These three pieces
        combined mean 'she is standing there'.
        -ches adds emphasis to the sentence.