Inuit combine nine different scripts for writing Inuktitut into one

first_imgInuit are hoping to use the alphabet to help keep their far-flung people together.Canada’s national Inuit organization recently decided on a standard way to write their language that could be understood from Inuvik in the northern corner of the Northwest Territories to Nain on the east edge of Labrador. The new orthography replaces a patchwork of nine different, often mutually unintelligible scripts.“We’ve never done this before,” said Natan Obed of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. “It’s the first time we’re exercising our own self-determination to implement our own writing system.”Before European contact, Inuktut was an entirely oral language. Nobody needed to read or write anything down until the 1700s, when missionaries, government workers and businessmen started showing up.Those groups all worked out different ways of translating the sounds of spoken Inuktut into symbols on a page, which they then taught to the Inuit.Some methods, known as syllabics, looked like rows of circles, squares and triangles. Some used the letters familiar to European languages, but with a whole battery of accents and diacriticals. From one method to the next, the same letter could represent an entirely different sound.While Inuktut speakers can understand different dialects, they couldn’t necessarily read the different writing. That creates problems, said Obed.“Going in to my children’s elementary school, on a rack of take-home books there are as many as five different writing systems in play for the children. You can imagine how challenging that might be.”The orthographic hodge-podge has not only made it harder for Inuit kids to get educational material in their own language, it makes it harder to communicate between the Inuvialuit in the west, the Nunatsiavut in the east and all the groups in between. “Without a standard writing system, we are always catering to just one portion of Inuktut speakers,” Obed said.The digital age has posed its own challenges. Keyboarding the accent marks required by some orthographies is awkward and typing syllabics requires specialized software.Although the project has been discussed since the 1970s, the real work began in 2011. It wasn’t always easy to get people to agree to changes in long-familiar characters.Inuktut language experts would come up with proposals, then run them by the widely separated communities of the North.“They went back and forth,” said Solomon Awa, who helped develop the new approach. “‘We want this. We want that’ — it takes a while.”The result is called Inuit Qaliujaaqpait, which was officially adopted by the national Inuit organization late last month. The circles and squares are gone, as are the squiggles above and below the letters. Characters are limited to the standard and widely familiar 26-character Roman alphabet.Doubled vowels mean a long sound as in spoon. A “K” is hard, as in key, but a “Q” requires a little drag in the back of the throat.It is intended to be easy to learn and easy to use. Awa expects it to take a couple years before Qaliujaaqpait is fully implemented.It isn’t intended to immediately replace syllabics and all the other forms of writing. Obed said some prefer the familiar scripts and they will continue to be used.Qaliujaaqpait will be used to slowly develop new curriculum materials and in all written material distributed nationally.The move is supported by other Inuit groups such as Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which oversees the Nunavut land claim.“It will take time for Inuit and service providers to grow accustomed to a new, Inuit-developed writing system,” said president Aluki Kotierk. “But we are confident that, alongside other tools and techniques, our newly adopted Inuktut Qaliujaaqpait will enable us to make much needed advances in areas such as the production of formal education resources and materials.”Inuit have decolonized the alphabet, said Obed.“It’s the first time we’re exercising our self-determination to implement our own writing system.“The biggest consideration was self-determination. It’s our right.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7,  2019.— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960Bob Weber, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Is It Finally Time to Cut Cable

first_img Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now About three years ago, my wife and I made one of the most difficult decisions we’ve made in our eight years of marriage. Over the course of a few months we held several debates, penned numerous drafts of a pros and cons list, and scribbled a half-baked Venn diagram in effort to make a decision. Then one morning, we decided to quit giving it so much thought, and we did it, we drove to the local Comcast office and turned in our cable box. We cut the cord.Why all the fuss? We were comfortable with cable. We knew what we wanted to watch, and when to tune in. I had access to my favorite sports channel, the kids had fallen in love with various characters on the Disney Channel, and my wife had The Food Network.Yet we felt like we were being taken advantage of. We paid for 160 channels, but we really only watched shows on 20 of them at most. (Yes, I’m aware of how the cable TV industry’s bundling business model works. Still doesn’t erase the feeling.) By cutting cable out of our monthly bills, we figured we would save roughly $60 per month. Sure, we still pay Comcast for our Internet service, but it’s a service we value and thus don’t mind paying for (when it works, but that’s for another column).We filled the void left by cable with an Apple TV and a subscription to Netflix. We found new shows to watch, and if we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we just didn’t watch TV. Our kids, who are far more adaptable than we give them credit for, learned to love new characters and new cartoons. The first few weeks of transition were a little rough, but quicker than I had expected, we all settled into a new routine.Our setup has evolved over the years; primarily by adding more streaming services to our repertoire. We now subscribe to Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and yes, we use a relative’s HBO Go account to watch Game of Thrones.Unfortunately, there’s still one hiccup in our setup I’ve yet to find a solution for: sports. This single category remains—frustratingly—a giant stop sign for those looking to cancel cable.National Football League games aren’t a huge issue, as most games are televised on major networks over-the-air. Those who subscribe to a variation of NFL Red Zone, the league’s multi-game simulcast, will find cutting cable to be impossible. For my family, we suffer from blackout restrictions when it comes to watching the Colorado Avalanche through the NHL’s Game Center Live streaming service. I’m hopeful the FCC’s elimination of blackout rules will provide some relief in this area of my post-cable life.I talked to Kai Armstrong, a fellow cable refugee, to find out how he and his family get by without a cable subscription. Like myself, Kai uses an Apple TV with a Netflix subscription for the majority of streaming access. Over-the-air programming provides access to college football and Nascar.Unlike me, Kai uses a service called Plex to stream locally stored media from his computer to his TV, tablet or smartphone. Instead of relying solely on the iTunes catalog, Plex accepts content from nearly any source. The core service is free, takes little setup, and can be used with streaming boxes such as Roku, Fire TV, Xbox, and Google’s Chromecast.When I asked him what the biggest challenge was for his family (he’s married with a toddler) to make the switch, he said, “The option of turning on the TV and watching whatever’s on just to occupy time no longer exists.” But when I pressed him if, at the end of the day, this was a challenge or an unexpected benefit, he conceded: “We spend more time as a family now, instead of staring at a screen.”On one hand, it makes sense to find yourself watching less TV once you’ve canceled your cable subscription. On the other, with seemingly endless catalogs of content at your fingertips ready to play on demand, self control is required.The number of subscribers ditching cable service is on the rise—hundreds of thousands ditch it every quarter—and with recent announcements from HBO, CBS, and Lions Gate to offer stand-alone streaming plans, the movement is gaining more momentum. But there’s still work to be done.Kane Hamilton is someone I was positive would be living in a post-cable world, yet when I inquired about his setup, I was surprised to hear he had yet to make the switch. When I asked him why, he said, “[It’s] something we would love to consider but just a battle we have chosen not to fight yet.” And it’s not for lack of trying or a streaming setup, as the Hamilton’s frequently stream Netflix, HBO, ESPN, and another half-dozen services.To him, the “battle” of cutting the cord is attributed to a lack of knowledge surrounding how his family would access content, the quality of streams, and the absence of sporting events. But I can’t help but look at the amount of content he streams and think he already knows the answer to most of his concerns; the comfort level the TV guide provides is just too much to walk away from, no matter the cost. 5 min read Enroll Now for Free This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. October 26, 2014 This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazinelast_img read more