The Cree syllabary
was developed as a writing system
for the Cree language
in the mid-1800s
by James Evans. Originally, he had tried to develop a writing system for the Cree language based on the Roman alphabet, but found this to be unsatisfactory. He then created a syllabary based on his earlier syllabary developed for the Ojibwe language
, which was, in part, based on Pitman's shorthand
. The new syllabary was quite simple; it consists of just 12 basic shapes representing syllables, which can be rotated to distinguish between the different vowels and adorned with a diacritic dot to distinguish vowel lengths. This was so easy to learn that it caught on quickly, leading to an incredibly high literacy rate among the Cree and adaptations of the script to be used to write native languages all over Canada
, including Athabaskan
, and others. Some of these languages have changed to a Roman orthography, but many still use the syllabary today.
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