For contemporary Lakota notation please refer to the New Lakota Dictionary (Ullrich 2008).

Guide to pronunciation

Character Sound as In English In Lakota (Buechel)
a a father até
an, an'
fa'ther (the a is stopped short)
blanc (French)
ánpo or tan'ín
b b boy buyá
c ch chair séca
ch'air (ch alone is sounded)
e e they cépa
e' e- re' ške'
g g big ogná
máchen (German)
h   h hat hánpa
  ḣ, ḣ', h' h (gutturalized) ȟog, ḣ', or h' stops ȟe ská, nah'on
i   i machine ilé
  in, in' in ink kin or can'icoga
j   s fusion ceji
k   kill kínja
  ǩ, ǩ, k' g, ǩ, k' give (ǩ gutturalized, k' stop) ǩin, ǩáta, k'in (*)
l   l love ilála
  l' l' sol'stice lol'
m   m man máni
n   n nose na
  n, n', ŋ (nasal indicator) blanc (French) can'ípame, caŋípame
o   o oak hoǧán
on   oo (nasal) soon ónšila
p   p pink pa (head)
  ṗ, ṗ, p' b, ṗ, p' bill ( gutturalized, p' stop) ṗahá, ṗejí, p'o
s   s say sintè
  s' s- s-ay s'e
š   sh show ša
  š' sh- sh-ow waš'aka
t   t take tápa
  ṫ, ṫ, t' d, ṫ, t' day ( gutturalized, t' stop) wašté, ṫanní, t'a
u   oo boot úta
un   oo (nasal) soon únpi
w   w way wakán
y   y yonder yanká
z   z zero wazíyata
  z' z- z-ink maz'ípame

Note: Vowels when terminating a statement or fact may accept a stop: thus han', keyapí, ška', ške', and so forth.
(After Buechel & Manhart 2002: xiv)

(*) The ǩ is marked by a top point in Buechel, but there appears to be no according Unicode symbol.

Rules for Reading and Writing Lakota

"Pertaining to the guttural h, ȟ:

ȟ need not be given a diacritical mark. It is assumed when

  • h is the first consonant forming a cluster of consonants.
  • h is the last character in a word
  • h is also a consonant stop, h'.

but it must be given one when ȟ is preceded by a space or vowel and followed by a vowel.

Pertaining to the nasal n and nasal s top, n':

n is pronounced as in the word 'name' and is also commonly used in Lakota as it is in English, but it is also used as a nasal indicator when

  • followed by a consonant or terminating a word.
  • preceded by a nasal vowel and followed by a vowel, but then the nasal vowel must be stopped, thus n'.

Note 4: Vowels and nasal vowels — that is, a, e, i, o, u, and an, in, on, and un — are sounded much the same as they are in Latin. The short and the long vowel are marked thus ă (the short a) and ā (the long a). The short vowel is briefly sounded; the long is dwelt upon. On the other hand, mediate consonants are sounded much like the English consonants that Lakota employs." [Buechel and Manhart 2002: xiii]