They say a good spy’s skills include strong critical thinking and communication skills, logical thinking skills, and a love of codebreaking puzzles. These all sound great Cree language-learning skills to me! Thanks to Cynthia Cook for providing us with audio for this one
ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳ ᑮ ᐊᐚᓯᓰᐏᔮᐣ ᓂᑮ ᒥᐢᑮᐣ ᒐᐦᑭᐲᐦᐃᑲᓂᓴ ᑭᐦᒋᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᓂᕽ᙮ ᐃᔭᑯᓂ ᓂᑮ ᐋᐸᒋᐦᑖᓈᐣ ᑕ ᑳᐦ ᑮᒧᒋ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐊᒫᑐᔮᕽ ᑖᐱᐢᑯᐨ spies! ᒫᑲ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ ᐄ ᑮ ᒦᐢᑯᒋ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐊᒫᕽ᙮ ᐃᑿ ᒦᓇ ᓂᑮ ᑲᑹ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐊᒪᐚᐤ ᓂᑳᐑᐸᐣ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ ᐄ ᒦᐢᑯᒋ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐊᒫᐣ ᐄ ᑮ ᐃᑏᖨᐦᑕᒫᐣ ᑕ ᓃᐦᐃᖪᐑ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑮᔮᐣ᙮ ᐃᐢᐲ ᑳ ᓃᐱᕽ ᓂᑮ ᑮᐚᐣ ᐃᑿ ᓂᑳᐑᐸᐣ ᓂᑮᒦᖨᐠ ᓂᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑮᐏᐣ ᐄ ᑲᑹᒋᒥᐟ “ᑮᒁᐩ ᐆᒪ?”
ispî kâ-kî-awâsisîwiyân nikî-miskîn cahkipîhikanisa kihcimasinahikanihk. iyakoni nikî-âpacihtânân ta-kâh-kîmoci-masinahamâtoyâhk tâpiskoc spies! mâka âkathâsîmowin î-kî-mîskoci-masinahamâhk. ikwa mîna nikî-kakwî-masinahamawâw nikâwîpan âkathâsîmowin î-mîskoci-masinahamân î-kî-itîthihtamân ta-nîhithowî-masinahikîyân. ispî kâ-nîpihk nikî-kîwân ikwa nikâwîpan nikîmîthik nimasinahikîwin î-kakwîcimit “kîkwây ôma?”
When I was a child I found a syllabics chart written in The Bible. We used those syllabics to send each other secret messages, just like spies! But we used the syllabics to transliterate the English. And I tried to write to my late mother transliterating English words to syllabics thinking this would automatically translate the English to Cree. When summer came and I went home my late mother gave me my writing asking ‘What is this?’
This little memory of Solomon’s illustrates exactly what many beginners do in trying to write in syllabics for the first time. But replacing English letters with syllabic characters can’t give us Cree, unless the English is translated into Cree first. In fact, it requires quite a bit of understanding to convert even Cree in SRO to syllabics (and back again). Using computers to do the conversion can be a case of “garbage in, garbage out” that is, if the roman spelling (or SRO) is bad, the resulting syllabics may be even worse.
We’re wrestling with that problem less and less these days, thanks to the amazingly reliable and accurate, open source, online conversion tool developed by Eddie Santos. You can find it at syllabics.app. Eddie’s converter has become an indispensible tool for us. If you’d like to learn more about what makes it work (and why!) you might enjoy this post from Eddie’s own blog: https://eddieantonio.ca/blog/2018/07/30/why-i-made-yet-another-cree-syllabics-converter/