SJQ orthography

The text is transcribed using a practical orthography that follows many of the conventions common in Mesoamerican linguistics, as well as specific adaptations made to these conventions to accommodate the SJQ sound system.


The SJQ sound system has 22 consonants (E. Cruz 2011). The IPA values for these consonants are given below, followed by the symbol used in the practical orthography in parentheses.

p (p) t (t), d (d) t̻ (ty), d̻ (dy) k (k) kʷ (kw) ʔ (q)
ts (ts), dz (dz) tʃ (ch)
ʃ (x) h (j)
m (m) n (n) n̻ (ny)
l (l) l̻ (ly)
ɾ (r) j (y) w (w)


SJQ has five oral vowels /a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/ and four contrasting nasalized vowels /ã/ /ẽ/ /ĩ/ /õ/. Nasalization is indicated by a tilde over the vowel in phonemic transcriptions and by n following the vowel in the practical orthography.


SJQ has one of the richest tonal systems in the world, with 13 different tonal contrasts. Tones are associated with syllables and are expressed using numbers:

0 = floating, super high tone 04 = Super high to low 40 = Low to super high
1 = High 14 = High to low 20 = Mid to super high
2 = Mid high 24 = Mid to low 10 = High to super high
3 = Low mid 42 = Low to high 140 = High to low to super high
4 = Low 32 = Mid to high

Representation of tones on stems with double mora

Verb stems containing tones (1, 2, 3, 4, 20, 32, 42, and 40) inflected for the first-person singular (1SG) and first-person plural inclusive (1INCL) have a double mora. For instance, kwi1 ‘CPL:hang:(3SG)’ has a double mora when inflected for first-person singular: ntkwen20en32 ‘PROG:hang:1SG’ and the first-person inclusive (1INCL): ndywen20en32 ‘HAB:hang:1INCL.’ In the practical orthography each mora bears its own tone such as yan42an32 ‘CPL:go.away:1INCL.’ The verbal paradigm in Table 3 in the Notes on SQJ grammar section shows another example of this. For further information on SJQ tones, see E. Cruz and Woodbury (2014) and E. Cruz and Woodbury (2006).