Re: Amerindian Characters

From: Alain LaBont\i\ (
Date: Wed Jun 16 1999 - 19:29:09 EDT

A 13:56 99-06-16 -0700, Eric Brunner a écrit :
>Two of my own languages, Siksika and Abenaki have acquired a new
>writing form, which I personally find more aesthetically pleasing
>and diacritically simplified. We still have the "8" in Abenaki, a
>conscious choice of linkage to 17th century French, but the rest
>of the repetoires are no longer scarred by 19th century Americanist
>Anthropologists enthralled by speed writing systems.

[Alain] Michael Everson and I (I provided photographic evidence) have
pushed for the inclusion of this character in the UCS and I think it will
be. Actually this character is probably a vertically stacked digraph "ou"
(so it is an open "8" on top rather than the digit 8, in the original
writings of the French missionaries, at a time where "w" was a letter
unknown in French. Of course traditional Algonquin now uses the digit "8"
instead but it is odd and is rejected by, say, COBOL's "is-alphabetic" test
(I signaled that the Ann Wallace, convenor of the ISO/IEC COBOL standard's
working group, joking in writing her name "Ann 8allace" (; ).

This character has been used in Huron (Wendat, or 8endat [in English
"Wyandot", I believe]), is used on the name of a school near my home in the
Huron reservation of Wendake (8endake), is used on road signs on the
highway leading to the reservation, and is still used in traditional
Algonquin (see: Les langues autochtones du Québec, published by Conseil de
la langue française, Québec).

One can see actual handritings of this character in the "Treasure" of the
cathedral of Chartres in France where Hurons from "Lorette" ("Ancienne
Lorette", Huron site now relocated in Loretteville, not very far away, near
the city of Québec, where the Huron reservation is located in a de jure
enclave [it is in fact a relatively wealthy quarter of the town difficult
to distinguish from others!]) left traces of an important pilgrimage in the
XVIIth Century.

Other "hard-to-construct" (Amerindian terms) characters not including
diacritics include a Latin theta in Huron and an ending u in Montagnais
(Innu) which has the shape of a superscript u.

Alain LaBonté

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