Several different alphabets have represented Nimipuutimt. The Advisory Board of Elders decided to use the writing system shown here.

Nimipuutimt never uses capitals, not at the beginning of any sentence or for any words except English personal names. The Nimipuutimt language has several sounds that aren’t used in English. Try practicing with the lessons below to say the words correctly.

Vowels

Nimipuutimt has five vowels that can be short or long: a, e, i, o, u or aa, ee, ii, oo, uu.

Whether vowels are short or long, each vowel stands for essentially the same sound, but the sound is more drawn out for the long vowels.

Stress

Each word has one vowel that has the most emphasis. Vowels with stress are pronounced a little stronger and higher than other vowels.

It is important to say words with the stress on the right vowel or the word will sound wrong. For example, try saying potato and tomato with the stress on the first or last vowel. See how funny it sounds? Now, consider the two English words cónvict and convíct. The first one is a noun and the second one is a verb. The only difference between these two words is which vowel has the stress.

We indicate which vowel is emphasized by putting a stress mark over it: á, é, í, ó, ú. For the long vowels, we only put the mark over the first part of the vowel: áa, ée, íi, óo, úu. Normally, we don’t need a stress mark for a word with only one vowel because we know that vowel is emphasized.

Pronunciation

a

To make this sound, open your mouth wide (like when the doctor looks at your throat).

When you say aa, it will be about twice as long as a. The short a sounds like the first two letters in the English word automatic. The long aa sounds like the vowel sounds in hall and lost.

Practice:

Nimipuutímt word

Meaning

Háham

Men

Lamáta

Whitebird, Idaho

pátan

Bushes, brush

háama

Man

páaps

Red fir

táamsas

Wild rose

 

o

This vowel is much like the o vowel in English. However, while the English vowel ō “glides” into a w at the end, the proper Nimipuutimt pronunciation keeps the sound pure.

When you pronounce this vowel, make your lips round. The first vowel sound in potato and the last in Arapaho sound like short o. The oo has the vowel sound heard in tone and load.

Practice:

Nimipuutímt word

Meaning

koná

There

póhol

Ravine, side canyon

tóhon

Pants, underwear

hóopop

Edible pine moss

sooyáapoo

Non-Indian

 

u

This vowel sound is also round like o, but it is made with the tongue a little higher and the mouth a little tighter. The English words put and look have the short u sound, and the word through has the long uu sound.

Like the o, the Nimipuutímt u is pure. It does not include a w sound at the end, as the English sound does.

Practice:

Nimipuutímt word

Meaning

Húhuy

Shoulder

Sílu

Eye

Núusnu

Nose

Húusus

Head

Kuus

Water

 

i

This vowel sound is made with the tongue high and close to your teeth and the mouth tight.

Short i can differ a little depending on the word, sounding either like the vowel in tick or the last vowel in crazy. The ii sound is like that in piece and see. When we pronounce long i in English, we have a y sound at the end of it. In Nimipuutimt, the long i should be kept pure.

Practice:

Nimipuutímt word

Meaning

Sis

Bellybutton

Tit

Tooth

Siis

Gravy, stew

Piips

Bones

Kii

This

 

e

This sound is made with the mouth well open like a, but with the tongue farther forward. This sound is very common in English, although it is usually spelled with the letter a (as in cat).

Like the other short vowels, e can sound a little different depending on the word. With practice, these differences will become natural. The short e sound can sound like the vowel in canon, central, set, and laugh. The long ee pronunciation does not vary as much. It sounds like the vowels in lamb and whack.

Practice:

Nimipuutímt word

Meaning

Héhen

Vine

Tílel

Bluff, hill

Síwe

Forehead

Wéeptes

Golden eagle

Keléemet

Pipe

Héesu

Eel

Wéetes

Earth, Land

 

Words and Phrases

Commands

Nimipuutímt

English Translation

wix̣sil’íix

Sit down

wix̣sil’íikitx

You all sit down

wiséekey’x

Stand up

wiséekey’kitx

You all stand up

mic’yóox̣om

Listen to me

mic’yóox̣omtx

You all listen to me

‘amc’yóox̣oy miyóox̣atna

Listen to the leader

‘amc’yóox̣otx miyóox̣atna

You all listen to the leader

‘amc’yóox̣oy ‘im’íisep

Listen to your mother

‘amc’yóox̣otx ‘im’tóotap

You all listen to your father

‘imóotalx

Be still!

‘imamóotalkitx

Be still! (pl.)

 

Hunting

Adding ne/na to the end of a word referring to an animal or an object means you see it.

Nimipuutímt

English Translation

’e’ewíi

Shooting

tim’úuni

Bow (and now, gun)

céep

Arrow (and now, bullet)

’ímes,’ime”esne

Deer

qoq’áalx̣, qoq’áalx!na

Buffalo

múuh, múuhne

Cow

waswásno, waswasnóona

Chicken

sáaslaqs, sáaslaqsna

Moose

’itúune ’eekíce?

What do you see?

’íin ’eekíce múuhne

I see a cow

’íin ’eekíce poxpok’láana

I see a ball

’imím ‘ee wees ‘oyláaqc céep

You have six bullets

’e’wíi! 

Shoot it!

’e’wíi ‘iméesne!

Shoot the deer!

’e’wíis 

You have shot it

’úupteyn

You have missed

 

Colors

Nimipuutímt

English Translation

yoosyóos

Blue

cíicyele

Purple

’ilp’ílp

Red

maqsmáqs

Yellow

mímqas

Orange

x̣éx̣us

Green

cimúuxcimux

Black

x̣ayx̣ạyx!

White

 

Nez Perce Culture

Nimipuutímt

English Translation

táyam

The time of hot, humid weather/time of food preparation

waw’ama’ayq’áal

Nacó’x̣ reach the upper tributary streams to spawn

timíipn’it’es núunim ‘anoqonmáana

Remembering our ancestors

hinmatóoyalahtq’it

’álok’at

Thunder traveling to higher areas

Ollikut

’elelímyeté’qenin’/ háatyata’qanin’

Wrapped in the wind

Cúuɫim maqsmáqs

Yellow Bull

piyóopiyo x̣ayx̣áyx̣

Whitebird

lamtáama

White Bird Band – ‘area with little snow’

piyopyóot’alikt

Bird Alighting

himíin maqsmáqs

Yellow Wolf