Welcome to Aboriginal Access to Engineering, Queen's University

Native Languages Online

Type of Engineering involved: Computer

In the past, Aboriginal peoples came from an oral tradition, which means nothing was written down. The knowledge came from Elders. Elders still carry much wisdom and knowledge, but Aboriginal peoples these days also write things down. Certain nations, such as the Mohawk and Ojibway, base their written language on the Roman alphabet, like in the English language. The Cree and Inuit use systems of symbols called syllabics.

With syllabics, one-syllable sounds such as ee, oo, a, and see, soo, sa, are shown by symbols. This reduces word length, and better represents sounds in languages like Inuktitut. Developed in the late 1800s for translation of the Bible, syllabics have been adopted for everyday use in Cree and Inuit communities in the eastern Arctic (in the western Arctic, speakers of the same language groups use the Roman alphabet).

As you may have guessed, computers are now able to represent syllabics in word processors and other applications. If you speak Cree or Inuktitut, or even if you do not, it is possible to download the fonts through the Internet and start writing in it!

Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

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