Orthographies

TheáDene Speech Atlas usesátwo writing systems, 1) the orthography used in writing down a language (there may be more than one), and 2) the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). These two writing systems may use different symbols to represent the same phoneme. á No orthography is perfect; after all, othographies are only written representations of the sounds of the language. áDifferences between the two systems are listed in Table 1 which includesáthe general symbols used in the Dene languages and the IPA symbols for those sounds when the two systems are different.

Table 1

The DSA does not intend to promote any orthography as the best or even the standard version of a writing system for a Dene language. áThe standard orthography can be determined only by the community itself. Moreover, orthographies may change over time. áIn some Dene communities, more than one orthography is in use, other communities are in the process of developing a written system or changing the orthography they are using.á

The IPAáis a type of orthography developedáby linguists for a special use: to provide a single symbol for each of the sounds that occur in human languages. áThe IPA is helpful in representing the sounds of a language more accurately than a spelling orthography and can be used to represent more closely to the way a word actually sounds. á

Many IPA symbols are the same as the symbols that are used in English. Differences occur mainly when an orthography uses two symbols for a sound (th or sh, for instance), the IPA will use a single symbol (th = θ, sh = ʃ). áInformation about the IPA may be found at the website of the International Phonetic Association.

A third type of writing system is the syllabic system. Some of the Dene language communities have developed syllabics for thier language. áCurrently, theáDSA does not use the syllabics.áInformation on Dene Syllabics can be accessed at:


The languagegeek.com site has a very good information on orthographies, fonts and keyboards for the Dene languages, inlcuding information about syllabics.



á
denespeechatlas@rochester.edu áę Joyce McDonough 2012