Cree: Words
Canadian Plains Research Center / 29 February 2012

“Cree: Words” / “nēhiýawēwin: itwēwina Compiled by Arok Wolvengrey Published by Canadian Plains Research Center Reviewed by Chris Ewing-Weisz $49.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-127-7 Words tell how people see the world. Not just by the things they’re used to say: words themselves, their history, the way they’re formed, the rules governing their use, speak volumes about the culture in which they originate. That’s one of the things that makes Arok Wolvengrey’s Cree: Words so worthwhile. Its two volumes document the Cree language (primarily Plains Cree) as used by fluent speakers across Western Canada. Although its main function, as a bilingual dictionary, is to help speakers of English and Cree find the right word in each other’s language, it also provides a window into the strikingly different cultural assumptions that first met on this continent several hundred years ago. The idea that the world is a web of relationships is embedded in every word a Cree speaker utters. To choose the right word you must think about whether your subject is animate (alive) or not. Some words, like those for family members, do not stand alone, but must be described in relation to someone else. You also have to consider whether the object…

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