Long and Short Vowels
Long vowels take about twice as long to pronounce as short vowels. Vowel length is spelled with a pronunciation marker called a lengthener (colon).
In Cayuga the difference between long and short vowels is very important; in fact, sometimes length alone makes a difference in the meaning of a word, as shown below.
Vowel length can make a difference in meaning
<a> oyęˀgwaˀ tobacco
<a:> oyęˀgwa:ˀ smoke
After long < ę: > and < ǫ: >, you can sometimes hear an [ n ]-like sound; it is especially obvious when the nasal vowels are before < t, d, k, g, ts, j >. For example, the word < nę́:dah > can sound a little bit like [ nę́:ndah ].
nę́:dah here, take it!
Cayuga speakers also like to write a lengthener after vowel combinations, such as after < ae > in the following example. This makes sense, since vowel combinations are twice as long as a single vowel.
satgǫhsóhae: wash your face!
Finally, long vowels are often accented. (Of course, some of the words presented above are exceptions to this statement!) See [web page link] for a description of accent.