Non-neutral statements

The rules for non-final accent placement only apply to the way Cayuga speakers talk when they are making neutral statements. Accent patterns can change if the speaker is being emphatic, asking a question, performing a ceremonial speech, etc.

  • The non-neutral patterns include
    • accenting the final vowel instead of a non-final one;
    • not accenting any vowel;
    • accenting all the vowels in the word; and
    • accenting both a final and a non-final vowel; the non-final vowel in this case is still determined by the rules for non-final accent placement.

Examples of some of the patterns are provided below.



One type of exception has to do with emphasized words. For example, speakers often say do:gáˀ with a final accent, instead of the expected non-final accent, when the word is pronounced solo.

Do:gáˀ I don’t know 


Similarly, speakers might accent í:ˀ in the phrase Do: í:ˀ

Do: í:ˀ Let me (do it)! 




Another type of accent pattern occurs with who, what, when, where, or why questions. The following examples illustrate that the pitch is level after the first word (the question word) - all of the accentable vowels in the second word have the same high pitch as the last vowel of the question word. 

Gaęnhǫ́: dísáhdę́gyǫ́:? Where do you come from? 

Dęˀhoˀdę́ˀ syá:sǫ́h? What is your name? 

Dęˀ hoˀdę́ˀ ę́hsnége̲háˀ? What will you drink? 



In contrast, for questions that require 'yes' or 'no' answers, the final word is accented:

Sadá:tehs gę́h? Are you thirsty?