ELL: To M. McDaniel

Peter Constable Peter_Constable at SIL.ORG
Fri Aug 24 13:44:06 UTC 2001

>Both of these addresses come from SIL.

Both of what addresses? I'm not sure what you're talking about.

>"Now that I have a link that works I can see what others were referring
>Can you explain what you mean?

I tried the URL you had sent earlier, but it didn't work for me. Someone
else commented, and you replied with a URL that did work for me.

>The Italian Catholics developed a script around 1917 for the Akha.

Do you mean a new script (i.e. not Roman script), or an orthography?

>Paul Lewis made a different script.

Again, a different script, or a different orthography?

>As a result the Akha asked me if I could help work on a script and help
>Bibles published in this script so that they could have access.

Same question. Since what you have now is Roman script, I take it you mean
a new orthography.

BTW, I'm just curious: the online texts didn't include any Biblical
portions in this orthography. Has there been progress on that during the
seven+ years you mentioned?

>Numerous Akha have complained that the religious proprietary scripts have
>used to divide their people and have not been used for the promotion or
>preservation of their culture.

Which makes me surprised that the group you are working with wanted to
develop yet another orthography.

>NO religious organization has made any attempt to answer their concern
>regarding this matter.

Well, I question whether expat missionaries weren't interested in
promoting unity among the various groups -- my impression is that they
would have, based on what I heard from those that I met when I lived
there, but that the Akha Christians themselves are divided. I recall
hearing of that happening among the Lahu and other groups as well. They
adopt a religion that emphasises mutual love and unity, but they remain
divided or new divisions arise due to rivalries that follow their social
organisation or ethnolinguistic subvarieties. At least, that's the
impression I've gotten.

>The Akha now have numerous prototypes of this book and find that the
>system is very fast and very easy to read and that it also is very useful
>one is trying to learn english.

If so, then it sounds like a very practical and viable orthography. If
there is any way to promote a concensus on orthography among the various
Akha factions, that would be in the long-term interest of their viability
as a distinc culture and language. In fact, I would be inclined to be
willing to make some compromises in orthography if it would achieve
concensus. It is primarily literature that has kept the English world from
becoming fragmented into distinct languages over the past 500 years of
Anglo dispersion. The anglo population is large enough that, if there had
been fragmentation, most of the distinct language varietiew might have
remained viable. The Akha are not so many in number, though. It isn't
necessarily the case that a common literature would be *the* key factor in
cultural survival in their situation, but it can certainly contribute to
cultural survival.

>The Akha who learn english are better able to communicate their human
>needs to outsiders.

Naturally. There's no question that learning an external language can be
important to their economic welfare, and you point out that it can also
contribute to their political welfare and self-preservation. I would think
that keys for minorities to preservation of their language include
positive attitude toward their language, and the ability to be functional
socially with that language. A common literature can be a contributing
factor to the latter.

Keep up the work in literature development. I'd also encourage you to do
what you can to promote orthography standardisation. If they can agree to
differ on other issues (and, hopefully, accept one another in spite of
those differences) but come together on this, that will be of significant
benefit to them, I think.


- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <peter_constable at sil.org>
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