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Developing Orthographies for Unwritten Languages

Developing Orthographies for Unwritten Languages

by Professor of Biblical Studies Michael Cahill and Keren Rice
Publication Date: 03/01/2014
RRP  $57.75 $51.75
While investigating endangered languages, many researchers become interested in developing literacy for these languages. However, often their linguistic training has not provided practical guidance in this area. This book, with contributions by experienced practitioners, helps fill this gap. Both foundational theory and specific case studies are addressed in this work. Non-linguistic factors are described, particularly sociolinguistic issues that determine acceptability of orthographies. A principled approach to the level of phonological representation for orthographies is proposed, applying recent phonological theory. The thorny issues of how to determine word breaks and how to mark tone in an orthography are explored. "Overly hasty orthographies" and the benefits of allowing time for an orthography to settle are discussed. Principles of the foundational chapters are further exemplified by detailed case studies from Mexico, Peru, California, Nepal, and Southeast Asia, which vividly illustrate the variety of local conditions that must be taken into account. The combination of theoretical and practical makes this book unique. It will benefit those involved in helping establish orthographies for hitherto-unwritten languages, and provide concrete guidance through crucial issues. Michael Cahill (Ph.D. 1999, Ohio State University) developed the Konni orthography in Ghana. He was SIL's International Linguistics Coordinator for eleven years, and is on the LSA's Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation. Keren Rice (Ph.D. 1976, University of Toronto) helped standardize the orthography of Slavey, and has taught on orthography development at InField/CoLang. She was LSA President in 2012 and is currently University Professor at the University of Toronto.
Writing systems
Publication Date:
Sil International, Global Publishing
Country of origin:
United States
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