From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Tue Dec 03 1996 - 16:29:00 EST

Olle Jarnefors <> continued
this winding conversation:

> 0138 LATIN SMALL LETTER KRA (Greenlandic) is very similar
> to a small capital "K". It is used in the older
> orthography for Greenlandic. A new orthography, where it
> is replaced by "q", was introduced in the 70's. The kra
> is said to still be used in person names. I have never
> heard of it being used in any other language.

The kra (basically a squat small-caps k) had a certain
cachet among linguists at the very end of the 19th century
and early in the 20th century, largely as a result of the
very fine linguistic work done by German and Danish Eskimaulogists
in producing definitive studies of the Eskimo languages.
It was used to represent the uvular stop, now generally
transcribed [q], as distinct from the velar stop [k].

In particular, John Peabody Harrington, arguably the
most prolific (and obsessive) field linguist of all time,
used the kra in his transcription of many North American and
Mesoamerican languages, mostly in the period from
about 1906 to the 1950's. There is a massive collection
of Harrington fieldnotes in the Smithsonian Institution,
and I can personally attest that all 6 Chumashan
languages and Wintu, at least, are transcribed in that
collection using the kra. I suspect dozens of others
are as well.

--Ken Whistler

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