mâmaskâc: Janell Stick Teaches a Magical Feature of itwêwina

In these clever videos, Janell Stick of nêhiyawêwin for the soul demonstrates one of the magical little features of the itwêwina online dictionary that is already available to anyone with the curiosity to point and click: tiny audio recordings gathered from Elders are embedded within many dictionary entries. And the Elders are even acknowledged by name and community. For some word forms, you can find pronunciation help from half-a-dozen named master speakers. How very appropriate that she’s chosen mâmaskâc and wahwâ for her demonstration.

So what’s the secret? It’s all in the speaker icon that looks like this: 

Want to try it? Here’s how it works:

  1. Look up a word; if it’s got a speaker icon, the word form has audio.
  2. If you click the speaker icon at this point, you’ll get a single audio clip.

But wait, there’s more! To find additional audio:

  1. Click on the underlined head word to open the full dictionary entry.
  2. Click on the speaker icon [again], but this time, a menu opens that reads “Choose a name from the dropdown to hear the word said by the speaker.”
  3. Click on the little downward arrow beside the speaker’s name to open a list of all related audio. Each entry in the list represents another audio recording.
  4. After you select a name, click on the blue triangle to hear that particular speaker.
  5. If you click on the link that says “Learn more about the speaker,” yet another menu opens with brief biographical details (in Cree and English – with more audio!)

Although the process demands significant time and effort to unroll completely, our friends at AltLab already have thousands more audio clips just like these ready and waiting to be uploaded into the dictionary. When I wrote about interjections just last month, I was pleased to learn that a significant collection of those forms has already been recorded by our own honorary founder, Jean Okimāsis. Slowly (magically) these too will be added to the dictionary’s growing audio collection.

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