I have heard comments, in the past, about the correct spelling of
Lenape words. I have even been told by a couple of people that I do not take spelling seriously enough. This
all confuses me for the following reasons:
1. Lenape has a unique alphabet. We now view the words in an alphabet other than
2. Rather than transliteration (exchanging letter by letter from one alphabet to the other), phonetic spellings
are most commonly used in order to get good speach.
3. There are two (2) or three (3) different phonetic systems commonly used for Lenape, which yields different spellings.
(these are all the same word: mochamsa, muchamsa, mohchamsa, muhchamsa, moxamsa, muxamsa (I prefer the "x" for the hard
4. There are three major dialects of Lenape (Unami, Munsee, Utilatico). We are users of the Unami. The
amount of interaction between the dialects in a particular geographic area has an influence on phonetic spelling.
5. Geographic distance, time of separation, difference in experiences and history all cause a shift in phonetic
speach (Lenape who were forced by the Trail of Tears to move to Ok. speak differently than those who ended up staying on the
east coast). A friend once asked me if I meant that some Lenape speak with a southern drawl...I guess that
comes close to the point.