The Process of Spelling Standardization of Innu-Aimun Montagnais.Report as inadecuate

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It took 25 years to develop and arrive at a consensus for a standard orthography for the language of the Innu, or Montagnais, who live in Quebec and Labrador. The principal obstacle to standardization came from dialect diversity. An effort at standardizing the spelling system in the 1970s failed because speakers were not ready to let go of the writing system for their particular dialect, and they rejected a system that did not match their pronunciation. Another initiative in the 1980s made clear that speakers were to keep their accent, even when the spelling was standardized. A recognized authority for standardization of the spelling system was formed in the mid-1980s. At workshops attended by teachers and translators from all Innu communities, the orthography was largely standardized, although not all dialect variations were settled. A permanent committee formed in 1990 was charged with making decisions pertaining to standardization of spelling. Another series of workshops in 1997 tackled the problem of verb conjugations, and a consensus was reached on principles and rules for a common writing system. The work of promoting the spelling norm needs to be carried out for the whole population. Targeting young children is important because they have not yet acquired spelling habits and are not attached to any particular tradition. If the teaching of the Innu language were given more room in the school curriculum, the dissemination of the common spelling system could move forward. (Contains 18 references.) (TD)

Descriptors: American Indian History, American Indian Languages, Canada Natives, Community Cooperation, Educational Needs, Foreign Countries, Language Maintenance, Language Standardization, Literacy, Oral Tradition, Spelling, Written Language

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Author: Baraby, Anne-Marie



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