A transliteration key from Solomon Ratt

Transliteration is the systematic replacement of one writing system with another, as, for example, when we convert SRO to syllabics (or vice versa). Transliteration is also what readers of SRO need to do (at least mentally) in order to read the spelling system used in the Watkins (1865) and Watkins-Faries (1938) dictionaries that were presented earlier this week.

Solomon Ratt has come through for us once again, this time with a transliteration key that covers the correspondence between a variety of Cree spelling systems (including between SRO and Watkins-Faries). He first published the key in a 2000 edition of the Newsletter of the Cree Language Retention Committee, and has been using it to help teach the corresponding writing systems ever since.

For the purposes of this post, we present only SRO and Watkins-Faries spelling values that appear Solomon’s chart. Note that it focuses on interpretations of vowels and diphthongs (that is, vowel, and vowel-glide combinations), since the correspondence of consonants remains identical. It’s also interesting to note that the Watkins-Faries vowels were chosen not with reference to particular English words, and not with reference to Cree itself. This creates an extra challenge for sounds like the êw in nâpêw that doesn’t occur in English.

For SRO: as in:(English)Watkins-Faries uses:
hmahihkan“wolf”' (over preceding vowel)
îsîsîp“duck”e or ē
iwapiw“he/she sits”ew
iynipiy“water”e or ē
ootin“take it”o
smasân“nettle”s or ss

For those who are curious, here is a pdf of the original article (presented in Cree only). It shows correspondence between a number of standard spelling systems:

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