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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.
1.1 Why this orthography book?
1.2 The papers
2.2 Governmental policies and restrictions
2.3 Sociolinguistic factors: “All orthographies are political”
2.4 Educational and psycholinguistic factors
2.5 Practical production factors (fonts)
2.6 Further discussion
3.2 Why native speakers are aware of the output of lexical processes
3.3 Orthographic representation of morphophonemic alternations
4.2 Tone languages
4.3 Tone orthography
4.4 A typology of African tone systems
4.5 Consequences for tone orthography and teaching methodology
5.2 Word boundaries
5.3 Criteria for writing grammatical morphemes
5.4 Morphosyntactic topics
5.5 Steps in establishing word boundaries: a summary
6.2 The “normative” expectation
6.3 Conditions which justify slowing down or delaying standardization
6.4 Standardization and the implementation of a reform take time
6.5 Additional case studies
7.1 Orthography and politics
7.2 Five criteria for an adequate new writing system
7.3 The bias of familiarity
7.4 Case studies
7.5 Some compromises to consider
8.2 Orthographies and orthographic rules
8.3 Case study 1: Tlacolula Valley Zapotec
8.4 Case study 2: Gabrielino/Tongva/Fernandeño
9.2 Summary of Yanesha’ phonology
9.3 History of Yanesha’ alphabets and literacy
9.4 The change process and the official alphabet
10.2 Linguistic factors
10.3 Non-linguistic factors
10.4 Application to Kurtöp
10.5 Summary and conclusions
11.1 Linguists as activists
11.2 Case Study I: E and H
11.3 Case Study II: Lisu and Lahu
11.4 Case Study III: LR
11.5 Concluding notes