This site is about the East Cree language, spoken in Northern Quebec, Canada, in the James Bay area. The East Cree language is a Native American language of North America and belongs to the Algonquian language family. This site is intended as a resource for Cree language teachers, literacy instructors, translators, linguists, and anyone who has an interest in the nuts and bolts of the East Cree language. We hope that the live possibilities of the internet will encourage participation. We are seeking support form all who value linguistic diversity and want the Cree language to be alive and well in the 21st century and after. Started in 2000, the site has been growing ever since.
There are two major dialects of East Cree: the Southern and the Northern dialects, with their own standardized orthography. Some, but not all pages are available in both dialects, depending on whether its author is a Southern or a Northern speaker. There is room in the databases to also include Inland and Coastal variations. Know that our intend is to find a balance between standardization and respect of speech diversity.
In the stories section, you can hear the language and in the texts subsection you can also read it in syllabics. We are restoring old tapes of Cree stories as well as collecting new ones. The stories database contains hundreds of stories and other oral material. Some of these are being transcribed and used for literacy training, others are also translated and made available for language documentation, dictionary examples and teaching Cree.
The reference grammar focuses on the way the East Cree language has organized itself. Much like each biological species has its own genetic encoding, each language has its own way of realizing the creative possibilities of the human mind. A particular understanding of the world is encoded or grammaticalised in each language. For example, Cree divides most of its words into animate (living) things and inanimate things. While you often worry in English or French about speaking in a sexist way, by saying he or she, in Cree you do not have that problem, since there is only a s/he. Members of a community are perceived as very important in Cree, so there are two ways of translating we, one meaning you and us, (chiiyaanuu) and another meaning us only, but not you (niiyaan). Often where in English you would have a noun, Cree will have a verb instead, indicating that the world is perceived more as made up of processes, than of static things. You will learn much more about these things in this site, and hopefully, if you are a Cree speaker, you will contribute more examples to our understanding and appreciation of the Cree language. The reference grammar contains a database for the many Cree verb forms. There is a prototype of the Linguistic Atlas, later developed at www.atlas-ling.ca, as well as a section devoted to the Sounds of East Cree.
In the future, we plan to also include an online spelling guide, and include sounds for the verb conjugation tables.
The Terminology Forum is for creating new Cree words. Editors are Cree language specialists, teachers, linguists, translators. Areas of word creation include medical terminology, justice, information technology.
A list of over 2000 first names in usage in James Bay are given with their spelling in Cree syllabics.
The lessons offer hundreds of on-line exercises for learning syllabics orthography for the two dialects. Using image and sound, lessons and game-like exercises allow a playful and progressive approach to mastering the basics of Cree syllabic orthography.
The Eastern James Bay Cree dictionary is available as a downloadable electronic version (Northern and Southern dialects) for PC-compatible computers. The web dictionary, first published in the Fall of 2004, is compatible with all platforms. It is being constantly updated by the editorial team. Look for the new thematic dictionary component published in the Fall of 2013! Missing words or errors can be reported to the editorial team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The resource section contains many goodies developed within this project: check the Cree conversation manual, the talking syllabic chart, training videos on how to install and type syllabic fonts on your computer, and many downloadable documents. There is also a catalogue of all Cree Programs/Cree School Board publications, as well as technical information about Cree and Information Technology. There is a regularly updated bibliography of academic publications related to the East Cree language. There are also many links to other web, radio and printed resources