Welcome to Indigenous Futures in Engineering, Queen's University

Native Languages Online

Type of Engineering involved: Computer

Historically, Indigenous peoples come from an oral tradition, in which there were no written documents. The libraries of the people resided in the heads of community Elders. Elders still carry much wisdom and knowledge, but Indigenous peoples these days also use written language. Certain nations, such as the Mohawk, base their written language on the Roman alphabet used in English, French and most European languages. The Cree and Inuit however, use two different systems of Syllabics.

With Syllabics, one-syllable sounds such as ee, oo, a, and see, soo, sa, are represented by symbols. This reduces word length, and better represents sounds like the Inuktitut "qi," as in "qimmik" which means dog. 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 Syllabics!

To download Syllabics for Cree or Inuktitut visit Universal Syllabic Transcriptor

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Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

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