Latin glottal stop in ID in NWT, Canada

Peter Constable petercon at
Fri Oct 30 10:56:30 CDT 2015

> If you look at a "common" map centered on the equatorial line,

Philippe, I have personal ties to northern Canada. I’m aware of the distances. Alaska is comparable to the combination of France, Germany, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. The distances involved are comparable to migrating from the Ural Mountains to France.

>"North-West Territories" is only today's name of an organized Canadian province.

You said you’re earlier reference was with a more generic meaning. But now you clearly misspell when referring to the administrative entity, even after I gave you the correct spelling. Also, in Canada, territories are not considered provinces: these different types of administrative unit have distinct statuses in relation to the constitution and the federal government.

Russian migrants going to wherever doesn’t seem relevant to me. Yes, potentially they can influence other peoples, but the only kinds of migrants that tend to influence literacy among other people groups are missionaries, and I’m not aware of Russian missionaries having worked in the Northwest Territories.

The languages in question are spoken in coastal regions of Alaska. You either have to cross the width of Alaska or else cross the tall coastal mountains before you reach northwestern territories of Canada. It seems very unlikely to me, given that you’re dealing with very, very different ecological and climactic zones.

> there could remain old books

I could just as readily speculate that early Gauls in Normandy wrote with early ideographic writing. After all, it is far easier to migrate across Eurasia, with much less variation in climactic zones, than to go from the Alaskan coast to the Canadian interior.

Rather than speculate, can we just stick to documented attestations we can point to? Hypothetical possibilities about Cyrillic don’t seem too relevant to the topic of actual glottal stop usage in Canada, which is fairly well documented.


From: verdyp at [mailto:verdyp at] On Behalf Of Philippe Verdy
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 6:00 AM
To: Peter Constable <petercon at>
Cc: Marcel Schneider <charupdate at>; Unicode Discussion <unicode at>; Leo Broukhis <leob at>
Subject: Re: Latin glottal stop in ID in NWT, Canada

Borders around Alaska were very fuzzy and native Americans were mobile in the region. It seems unaoidable that at some time some of their languages have been written by some missionaries and books/religious texts exhanged around.

As well, even before Alaska was sold by the Russian Empire to USA, there were also many Russian migrants going to Canada and USA via Alaska,; and meeting also native Americans. The US and British Canadian authorities were not as active as they are today in those areas, and aboriginal populations (as well as many mùigrants) were certainly more autonomous and more mobile than they are today, and had more cultural exchanges. At that time they were still not small minorities as they are today, and the usage of English nad French by them was much less common.

PS: Note that I used the term "probably". "North-West Territories" is only today's name of an organized Canadian province. For long, this area was not incorporated, so I used a *generic* term (with "territories" in lowercase (and the term I used was probably referring to the whole Arctic region, where native Americans were travelling for long distances across seasons for their traditional fishery and hunting).

If you look at a "common" map centered on the equatorial line, the artic region seems enormous, but look at a map centered on the pole, and consider what were the limits of the iceshelfs in past centuries and how those populations were living in the area, independantly of the European/American and Asian countries established to the south. The arctic Ocean was an essential resource and people lived all around it on a quite thin border of land and on iceshelfs with very scarce resources. They had to be mobile and received little help from the south. But the area was also regularly visited by European and Asian fishers or explorers, and notably from Russia looking for routes to the Atlantic or Pacific and selling products to local native populations or trying to fix them under some imperial rule.

There were also a many more active native languages than those that remain today, many of them are now extinct or persist only in some old transcriptions written in the Latin or Cyrillic alphabets (possibly in sinograms or Mongolian scripts too, with Chinese or Japanese explorers, fishers and merchants from their former empirial regimes: there could remain old books transcribing some of those old arctic native languages), but these old transiptions may have been preciously kept by today's native peoples in their local communities, or they could remain in some museum or public library all around the Northern hemisphere.

2015-10-30 7:07 GMT+01:00 Peter Constable <petercon at<mailto:petercon at>>:
From: Unicode [mailto:unicode-bounces at<mailto:unicode-bounces at>] On Behalf Of Philippe Verdy
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2015 6:26 AM
> On the opposite, Native Americans HAVE used the Cyrillic script in Alaska
> and probably as well in North-Western territories in Canada…

In Alaska, yes, because the languages in question are, in fact, Siberian languages.

But where have you gotten the idea that Cyrillic script has been used in orthographies for languages spoken in Northwest Territories? I’ve never seen any indication of that, and I am very doubtful.

(Btw, it’s “the Northwest Territories”, not “North-Western territories”.)


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