Selish and Chinook dialects will not be transcribed with ease by means of Morice’s syllabary


(Image credit: Wikipedia)

The Chinuk pipa “Chinook shorthand” is the “Chinook shorthand” because of this…

I mention this same concept in my dissertation: the Oblate missionaries first tried writing Chinuk Wawa in Dakelh syllabics (dulkw’ahke). They quickly found it didn’t work. That’s when Father Le Jeune was given the order to start using a shorthand alphabet instead.

It’s nice to find a respected 1890s linguist publicly expressing the same insight — Chinook Jargon (and the Salish languages around Kamloops, BC) may have similar sounds to the Dene/Athabaskan languages, but arranged in syllables that are far more complex and unpredictable.

That makes writing with one unique symbol per syllable a nearly ridiculous proposition…

american antiquarian


By Albert S. Gatschet, Washington.

Father A.G. Morice, of the Order of Mary Immaculate, is the author of a Carrier Reading Book, published at Stuarts’ Lake Mission, British Columbia. The second edition has appeared in 1894, in the syllabic characters invented by Morice in the latter part of 1885, and holds 192 duedecimo pages. The contents are chiefly devotional. The introduction of the Cree or Knistino syllabic characters had proved a failure in transcribing Carrier on account of the great difference of sounds in both languages, the Carrier or Taculli being of the Tinne family of languages. But the syllabary of Morice, being richer in signs, proved to be adequate to all the needs of missionaries or translators in rendering the language phonetically as faithfully as possible. Individuals of any of the Déné tribes will learn with great facility to read Déné or Tinné texts when printed or even written with this syllabary, but Selish and Chinook dialects will not be transcribed with ease by means of Morice’s system.

— from the American Antiquarian XVIII(1) of January 1896, page 190

What do you think?