“It’s written niisto but it sounds like knee stew.”
Handling multiple orthographies in Blackfoot language web resources
This paper argues for pragmatism rather than linguistic purity in orthography design for endangered Indigenous languages such as Blackfoot, emphasizing the need to see orthography standardization as a dynamic process rather than a static result. It explores the ongoing lack of community agreement about the best way to write the Blackfoot language and lack of widespread proficiency in the use of its standard orthography, and then describes ways in which this is mitigated in the Blackfoot Language Resources and Digital Dictionary project, a suite of web resources created to support language maintenance and revitalization work. The website uses a combination of relaxed searches, alternative spelling fields, and multimedia content to increase accessibility of the resources for users lacking proficiency in the standard orthography.
Keywords: endangered languages, Indigenous languages, Blackfoot language, Blackfoot writing, Blackfoot literacy, vernacular literacy, orthography design, orthography standardization
Published online: 19 October 2020
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