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See also: Comcáac


Alternative forms[edit]



  1. plural of cmiique

The pronunciation of the Seri word comcaac (since at least the mid-20th century phonetically [koŋˈkɑːk]) is with a stress on the second syllable (due to the long vowel there). The letter "m" is pronounced like English [ng] when it is in an unstressed syllable preceding a back consonant, like the letter "c", which is phonetically /k/. Since the letter "n" is not pronounced in this way in the Seri language, so-called alternate spellings with "n" are incorrect attempts to write the Seri word like an English or Spanish speaker would pronounce it. So-called alternate spellings with an apostrophe between the vowels are simple misunderstandings of the spelling comcáac which simply makes the stress pattern explicit. Spellings using "u" reflect the fact that to English or Spanish ears the "o" of the language sometimes sounds like a "u". However, there is no letter (nor phoneme) "u" in the language. The spelling comcaac has become the standard spelling in the past thirty years and is used in the 2005 trilingual Seri dictionary and in literature that is currently being produced by proficient writers within the group.

Supposed etymologies or meanings of this word are usually inventions or misapplications of undocumented (and probably spurious) etymologies of the word "Seri". The word comcaac usually refers to the Seri people (in contrast with other ethnic groups), and sometimes to just people (in contrast with non-human animals and objects).

The word was transcribed "komkak" in two of the earliest wordlists collected (by non-linguists who were unaware of each other's work), in 1852 and 1879. This would indicate that the phoneme /m/ was actually still pronounced as [m] at that time and that later the velar allophone [ŋ] developed in this context.

The word comcaac is a noun that refers to plural human beings. Thus a phrase such as "a comcaac man" is odd, as is a phrase such as "the comcaac language". For the former, if one really wants to avoid saying simply "a Seri man", one might use "a cmiique man". For the latter, if one wants to not use "the Seri language", one might use "the language cmiique iitom", since "cmiique iitom" is the general expression for the Seri language. For a phrase such as "the Seri culture", one might use "the culture of the comcaac".