Canadian Aboriginal syllabics

Canadian syllabics
An unpointed inscription in Plains Cree, using the conventions of Western Cree syllabics. The text transliterates to
Êwako oma asiniwi mênikan kiminawak
ininiwak manitopa kaayacik. Êwakwanik oki
kanocihtacik asiniwiatoskiininiw kakiminihcik
omêniw. Akwani mitahtomitanaw askiy asay
êatoskêcik ota manitopa.
Script typeFeatural
Time period
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
Languagesalg: Cree, Naskapi, Ojibwe/Chippewa, Blackfoot (Siksika)
esx: Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Natsilingmiutut
ath: Dane-zaa, Slavey, Chipewyan (Denesuline)/Sayisi, Carrier (Dakelh), Sekani[1]
Related scripts
Parent systems
Devanagari, Pitman shorthand
  • Canadian syllabics
Child systems
Inuktitut, Cree (Western, Eastern), Ojibwe, Blackfoot, Dakelh
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Cans (440), ​Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics
Unicode alias
Canadian Aboriginal
U+1400–U+167F Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics,
U+18B0–U+18FF Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics Extended
U+11AB0–U+11ABF Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics Extended-A
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

Canadian syllabic writing, or simply syllabics, is a family of writing systems used in a number of Indigenous Canadian languages of the Algonquian, Inuit, and (formerly) Athabaskan language families. These languages had no formal writing system previously.[specify] They are valued for their distinctiveness from the Latin script and for the ease with which literacy can be achieved.[2] For instance, by the late 19th century the Cree had achieved what may have been one of the highest rates of literacy in the world.[3]

Syllabics are abugidas, where glyphs represent consonant-vowel pairs. They derive from the work of James Evans.

Canadian syllabics are currently used to write all of the Cree languages from Naskapi (spoken in Quebec) to the Rocky Mountains, including Eastern Cree, Woods Cree, Swampy Cree and Plains Cree. They are also used to write Inuktitut in the eastern Canadian Arctic; there they are co-official with the Latin script in the territory of Nunavut. They are used regionally for the other large Canadian Algonquian language, Ojibwe, as well as for Blackfoot, where they are obsolete.[clarification needed] Among the Athabaskan languages further to the west, syllabics have been used at one point or another to write Dakelh (Carrier), Chipewyan, Slavey, Tłı̨chǫ (Dogrib) and Dane-zaa (Beaver). Syllabics have occasionally been used in the United States by communities that straddle the border, but are principally a Canadian phenomenon.

  1. ^
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference nichols was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Rogers, Henry (2005). Writing systems: a linguistic approach. Blackwell publishing. p. 249. ISBN 0-631-23463-2. Reports from the late nineteenth century say that virtually every adult Cree speaker was literate; even allowing for some exaggeration, Cree may have had one of the highest literacy rates in the world at the time.

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