Pitch pairs

Cheyenne has two distinctive (phonemic) pitches:

1. high (marked with the acute accent, as in )
2. low (unmarked)

It also has three variations of these two pitches, which can be accounted for by the pitch rules described in my IJAL article of 1981 (see my bibliography at the main Cheyenne page):

3. raised high (which I usually now simply mark with the regular high pitch mark)
4. mid pitch, marked here with umlauts (double dots over vowels, as in ), because they are available in many computer fonts, although which we prefer to mark these vowels with the macron
5. lowered high (marked with the grave accent, as in )

Here are pairs of Cheyenne words which differ only in the pitch (tone) on their vowels:

h'e woman
he'e liver

homa mosquito, blanket
homa on the other side

ho'ta It is closed.
h'ta It is exposed.

hosttse dress
hosttse Read it!

taa'e night
ta'e Beat your (pl.) wives!
ta'e in a pile (taa'e?)

'eehe he was hung
e'eehe he moved camp up (e.g. into the hills)

'eotse it has dried out
o'eotse it has been defecated upon (?)

hstna he acquired it from there
hestna he took it

sahshane it's not from there
saheshane it's not that way

nhetomo he is related to him so
nhetoemho he counted him (obv.) so

nohta he left it
nhta he drank it from a vessel

nhsho I fought him over it
nhesho I blamed him

heshhtse he inhaled it
hshahtse he fought over it (hshhtse?)

hehoo'o(??) Restrain him from leaving (at some time in the future)!
hohoo'o Stay on (here) in the future!

nv'hoto I reprimanded him
nv'hoto I wrapped him up

o'eoestsho he scalped him (obv.)
'eoestsho he dried him (obv.) out with rapid motion

nnha I chased it
nneha she breastfed/nursed me

ho'tahe Is it here?
h'tahe he was defeated

nhhtanaa'e it (for example, a car) ran over me
nhhtan'e they (an.) ran over me

nmotme I am breathing
namotme my breath

hhpeotse it melted (inchoative)
hohpotse he is sweating

ne two of
ne grandchild (vocative; for addressing your grandchild)

ma'e blood
m'e Be careful!/Don't touch it (e.g. a hot stove)!

sanmenhe he isn't singing
sanmnhe he doesn't have a crooked face

xa'e weasel
xaa'e Urinate (plural addressee)!

na'e otter
naa'e Die (plural addressee)!

navntse my marrow bones
navntse at/to my dwelling/home/tepee (locative)

'he'e river
o'h'e at/in the river (locative)

naa'e he died
na'e he doctored (these are near minimal pairs since -ae here sounds identical (or nearly so) to the vowel sequence -aa)

h'sta Whoop (plural addressee)!
ho'sta fire

ahanhta he bit it
hanhta it froze to death

nstna he opened it (e.g. door or gate)
onstna he tested it by feeling

navamoo'o my bed partner
nvamoo'o I slept with them (an.)

namhne my older sister
nmhne I gathered firewood (mha- and mha- are both pronounced \mha\)

o'eoestsho he scalped him (obv.)
'eoestsho he dried him (obv.) with rapid motion (e.g. flapping in air)

heke his mother
hke male exclamation

asenoota Start to leave him (plural addressee)!
asnota Sing an honor song to him (plural addressee)!

'seotse It's the wrong way.
'sotse It/He burst open.

ne'ha He is afraid of me.
nae'ha my son

A number of nouns are differentiated in number (singular vs. plural) by a pitch contrast, for example:

v'ho'e whiteman/spider
v'h'e whitemen/spiders

hta'e gland
het'e glands

hma'e beaver
hom'e beavers

hexva'e bedbug
hexov'e bedbugs

htame dog
hotme dogs

koohkva'e quail/bobwhite
koohkov'e quails/bobwhites

ma'hhko'e badger
ma'hahk'e badgers

onhe'e frog
oonh'e frogs

stsema'e mole
stsm'e moles

hna'e goose
hen'e geese

stt'e pine tree
stot'e pine trees

hko'e leech
hek'e leeches

hoxe'e lodgepole/tepee pole
hox'e lodgepoles/tepee poles

hetan'hame male horse
hetan'hme male horses

nanse'hame cougar/mountain lion
nans'hme cougars/mountain lions

Some conjunct order (subordinate) verbs have person-marking suffixes differing only in pitch, for example:

tshmaneto when you (sg.) drank
tshmanto when I drank

tsmanese those who drink
tsmanse you (plural) who drink

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