That’s Raven Talk

21 December 2011

That’s Raven Talk
by Mareike Neuhaus
Published by Canadian Plains Research Centre
Review by William Wardill
$34.95 ISBN 978 -0-88977-233-5

The title of this book attracts readers who know about the place of Raven in Native spirituality. This book is identified on its cover as literary criticism. It was written primarily for those who understand the terminology of linguistics and for whom the study of languages is both a science and a passion. That’s Raven Talk began as a dissertation and, through the editorial judgement of Canadian Plains Research, became a book which expands on the use of the holophrase (one-word sentence) in the translation of Indigenous languages into English.

Neuhaus examines carefully and at length excerpts from works by a bevy of writers who are familiar with Indigenous languages and culture. These are Ishmael Alunik ( Call Me Israel), Alootook Ipellie (Artic Dreams and Nightmares), Richard Van Camp (The Lesser Blessed), Thomas King (Green Grass, Running Water), and Louise Bernice Halfe (Blue Marrow.) In company with these authors, Neuhaus takes her readers into a half-lit world where everything familiar is subtly different. Although she writes for scientists, any word-lover can journey through her book to a deeper understanding of how Canadians are united in their diversity and how the questions and concerns of the human family, although expressed in different ways, are ageless and universal. If learning for learning’s sake means anything to you, buy this book, read it carefully, and pause to digest what you read. That’s Raven Talk could be an experience which will change the way you think.


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