I haven't updated in a while so get ready for a wall of text.tl;dr
I made a new QWERTY-based Inuktitut layout so I can type syllabics without having to spend hours learning a completely alien layout. Also, my daughter went back to daycare so I have a commute for the first time in half a year, and since I don't have any audio-only resources for Inuktitut, I decided to start learning Haitian Creole.ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦNew Layout
I can finally type in syllabics on a computer!
The default Inuktitut keyboard layout on Windows seemed a bit more difficult to learn than it needed to be so I never bothered with it. The locations of 64 separate symbols on several different layers would need to be memorized. The approach of the Gboard Inuktitut layout (for mobile devices) is much more elegant. You select a consonant, and you can either select a vowel to make it a syllable, or you leave it as a final. I've wanted to create a keyboard layout with a similar idea, but using deadkeys. I tried to do it with the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator, which is a free tool provided by Microsoft. I finally broke down and bought KBDEdit, a much more powerful keyboard layout editor for Windows, and I was finally able to get it to work.
Usually you can have two alphabets in one layout, and you will toggle between them by pressing capslock. The Hebrew layout can access the latin alphabet this way, for instance. Unfortunately, there's a weird technical constraint with Windows where you can't use deadkeys if you map capslock as a separate layer. I got around this by mapping the syllabics to the Kana layer instead, which is reserved for writing Japanese. This is a common workaround for this issue. That way, I was able to support special characters for the Inuktitut Latin script such as ŋ and ł, as well as the many special characters that are required for French.
My new layout supports all three official languages of Nunavut: English, French, and ᐃᓄᒃᑐᑦ (Inuktut)
. ᐃᓄᒃᑐᑦ is ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ (Inuktitut)
lumped together with Inuinnaqtun. It's one of those ambiguous language/dialect situations. It should also be able to write any Inuit language, including Iñupiaq (spoken in Alaska), ᓄᓇᕕᒻᒥᐅᑎᑐᑦ (Nunavimmiutitut
, which is spoken in ᓄᓇᕕᒃ (Nunavik)
in Northern Québec), and Inuttitut (spoken in Labrador). Greenlandic doesn't use any special characters, but let's mention that too so it sounds more impressive.
Here is what the layout looks like at the moment:
Every ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ letter on this layout is either a vowel or a consonant deadkey. The vowels are the triangle symbols, and the dot above denotes a long vowel. The triangle pointing down is the diphthong "ai", but this symbol is only used in ᓄᓇᕕᒃ (Nunavik)
, not ᓄᓇᕗᑦ (Nunavut)
. Each consonant deadkey is located in the same spot as the QWERTY location for the same consonant as it would be written in the Inuktitut Latin script. I'll get to sounds that don't map directly to QWERTY keys shortly.
So for example, to write the syllable "pi", you would simply type "pi" with the syllabics layer activated and out comes the symbol ᐱ. To type a final (small and superscript), press the consonant and then space.
The sounds that don't map directly to QWERTY keys can each be written two ways. The syllabic symbols corresponding to the Latin letters ł, ŋ (also written 'ng'), and ŋŋ (also written 'nng'), (as well as some others for various dialects) each have their own dedicated keys. However, if you don't want to learn those locations, or you forget where they are, you can just type shift plus a corresponding syllabic consonant. So to type ᐊᖑᑎ (anguti
, meaning "man"), you can either type 'aNuti' or 'acuti' with the syllabics layer activated.
There are two extra sounds for the ᓂᑦᑎᓕᖕᒥᐅᑐᑦ (Nattiliŋmiutut)
dialect and they are written ř and š. There are proposed syllabics for both of these sounds, but unfortunately only one (ᖮ) is supported in Unicode, so I have put in the existing Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics set "sh" (ᔥ) as a placeholder.Scary-looking dialect names
As an aside, the name ᓇᑦᑎᓕᖕᒥᐅᑐᑦ (Nattiliŋmiutut)
seems like a big scary word but it is quite straightforward. It is composed of the root ᓇᑦᑎᖅ (nattiq
, meaning seal, or specifically a ringed seal), and the suffixes ᓕᒃ (lik
, meaning "one with" or "place with"), ᒥᐅᑦ (miut
, I believe this is the plural of ᒥᐅᖅ (miuq)
, and ᑐᑦ (tut)
, which is a case ending meaning "like", but is often used to describe Inuit languages. So in other words, ᓇᑦᑎᓕᒃ (Nattilik)
is "the place with seals", and ᓇᑦᑎᓕᖕᒥᐅᑐᑦ (Nattiliŋmiutut)
is the language of the people of ᓇᑦᑎᓕᒃ (Nattilik)
is another scary-looking long name with a very similar derivation. ᓄᓇᕕᒃ (Nunavik)
means "great land", so ᓄᓇᕕᖕᓂᐅᑐᑦ (Nunavingmiutut)
must be the language of the people of ᓄᓇᕕᒃ (Nunavik)
I finished Phase 1 of Structure of Inuktitut
a few days ago. I'll review it again soon before moving on to phase 2, but first I have a lot of vocabulary to learn. This course is bare-bones and doesn't have built-in spaced repetition, so I had to put the vocabulary words in Anki. But I hate reviewing flashcards. I've been neglecting my Anki deck and haven't made much progress on it over the last few days. I suppose I'll get back to it soon.
I finally wrapped my head around the suffixes that were giving me the most trouble.
So let's look at one root, ᑎᑭᑦ (tikit
, meaning "enter"). You can't enter without your ticket! Anyway, it is a process verb, so if you add the first person singular verb ending (for instance), you get ᑎᑭᑦᑐᖓ (tikittunga
, meaning "I just arrived"). To make it a present progressive action, you insert the suffix ᓕᖅ (liq)
right after the root and get ᑎᑭᓕᖅᑐᖓ (tikiliqtunga)
, meaning "I am arriving"). Or, instead, you could add ᓯᒪ (sima)
, which would mean I am in the state of having
arrived, or in other words, I'm in town: ᑎᑭᓯᒪᔪᖓ (tikisimajunga)
. To say I was
in town, I would add the past tense marker right before the verb ending, giving us ᑎᑭᓯᒪᓚᐅᖅᑐᖓ tikisimalauqtunga
... this is the part that tripped me up, because you need to be careful about the order, because the distant past tense marker is ᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪ lauqsima
, which looks like the last two suffixes I mentioned but in the reverse order. So if you swap them around, you don't say "I was in town", you say "I arrived a long time ago": ᑎᑭᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᔪᖓ (tikilauqsimajunga)
This wasn't covered in the lesson but I would presume that you can combine these suffixes in unholy ways to yield the word ᑎᑭᓯᒪᓚᐅᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᔪᖓ tikisimalaulauqsimajunga
, meaning "I was in town a long time ago".
So I don't think anyone can blame me for taking it easy after that lesson!Kreòl Ayisyen
As I said in the tl;dr above, my daughter is back it daycare now so I have a commute again for the first time in half a year, and I don't have any audio-only resources for Inuktitut. I thought about starting FSI French, but I would need to memorize dialogues and vocabulary and that would compete with my Inuktitut Anki time. Spanish is out because I've already finished Pimsleur for the dialect I'm focusing on and don't want to switch dialects. I could review Icelandic or Indonesian, but I would probably get sucked into more resources for them.
I decided to start a new Pimsleur course in a new language, and the two candidates were Haitian Creole and Swiss German. They should be very easy for me since I have a decent level of French and Standard German, and Haitian Creole's grammar seems pretty straightforward judging by the Langfocus video, although I can see a few tricky spots.
I decided to start with Haitian Creole since it seemed like the most interesting of the two.First Impressions
I am able to pick up the sounds quite well since all of the sounds in Haitian Creole also exist in French, although there are some differences. The phonetic spelling kind of shocking for something that sounds so much like French. You hear a word and if you're at all familiar with the writing system, you can spell it perfectly. This may ruin French for me forever.
One mistake I keep making is pronouncing the last syllable of konprann
as a nasal vowel. It's in my muscle memory from comprend(s)
jn French. The double 'n' indicates that the 'n' sound is pronounced fully in the Haitian Creole version.
Another thing I had to adjust from French is that I need to tone the aggressive guttural sounds way down. The Germans are soft, almost apologetic, with their guttural sounds because they know their elegant language is "aggressive" (which of course it isn't). But since the French know that they have a beautiful, smooth, sexy language, they spit their guttural sounds as aggressively as possible to assert their dominance. I started my lessons pronouncing my 'r' sounds forcefully like a Frenchman, but by the end I realized that I needed to tone it down.
Another thing I noticed is that they have syllabic nasals, which are awesome. The Kreyòl version of monsieur
is msye, which I was able to look up and spell correctly on my first try because that is what happens when you don't write your language the way it sounded 500 years ago.
Another interesting thing I noticed is that Haitian Creole uses the conservative
French nasal vowels /ɛ̃/, /ã/, and /ɔ̃/. These are the IPA symbols that are usually used for French, but that is not
how they sound in standard French due to the Parisian nasal vowel shift! When you hear Parisian or standard neutral French on the TV or radio you will hear:
- /ɛ̃/ as [æ̃] or [ã]
- /ã/ as /ɒ̃/ – it becomes rounded! It's a nasal version of the vowel you would hear in the English word "cloth". The original version is unrounded, as in "father".
- /ɔ̃/ becomes /õ/
But more conservative dialects preserve the original nasal vowels. Some have a fourth vowel /œ̃/, but I don't think Haitian Creole has that.Plans
It should take me about 6 weeks to get through the course. I also ordered a copy of Assimil's Guide de conversation: Créole Haïtien de poche
, which I should get in a couple of days. I've never used the Guide de conversation
series before so I'll see how I like it.
I remember hearing a Haitian Creole station on the radio in Boston at some point. I looked it up and it was probably Radio Concorde. Unfortunately I'm too far away from the city proper to get the station at home, but I checked and I'm able to stream it! I wonder how much I'll be able to understand after my 6-week dabble.
After Haitian Creole I think I'll go through my Swiss German Pimsleur set that I got at a used bookstore for a crazy low price but then never used. Sadly it's only ten lessons long. I have no idea what I'll do after that.Français
Je suppose qu'il me faut écrire un peux en français pour tester cette disposition des touches (je viens d'apprendre ce terme). Je n'ai écrit rien en français depuis longtemps, mais ce n'est pas difficile pour moi maintenant. Peut-être c'est comme faire du vélo. D'habitude il y a longtemps, je lisais les gros titres du Monde
. J'en dois recommencer. Maintenant, le plupart du français dont je lis consiste de memes sur Reddit. Généralement, je les comprends sans problèmes.