Standard Orthography - a question

Standard Orthography - a question

Postby admin » February 6th, 2012, 5:56 am

Drew wrote:Hello,

Over the years I've collected various Lakota language resources with the intent of learning, and I'm interested in how you would compare yours to those of Eugene Buechel (Dictionary/Grammar book) and Albert White Hat (Reading & Writing the Lakota language). I also have the 2 book set "Lakota Tails and Texts in Translation', and a bilingual reader 'Songs and Dances of the Lakota'. I've noticed a difference in your spelling pattern compared to the others. If I start to learn using your course, will I have a difficult time reading the Lakota in these other books?

Thank you for your assistance,


Dear Drew,

Each of the materials you mention uses a different spelling system, yet they do not even represent all the existing spelling systems that have been used for Lakota. This has been a problem because it inhibits the development of Lakota literacy and the Lakota language revitalization efforts. For these and many other purposes the language needs a standard orthography, one that is consistently based on the sounds of the language, one where the spelling represents one-on-one matches between sounds and symbols. The language needs to be liberated from the influence of English both in terms of spelling and structure. The orthography of the New Lakota Dictionary attempts to do this, it is a highly practical orthography (i.e. used for purposes of literacy) and at the same time it is consistent and linguistically sound.

The dictionary and texts (and to a degree also the grammar) by Eugene Buechel use inconsistent spelling. As a result one cannot learn correct pronunciation from these materials. These materials have various other problems that make them unreliable. For instance the Buechel dictionary was largely based on borrowing from a much older Dakota dictionary by Stephen Riggs, and most of the borrowed entries were never checked with native speakers. Additional errors were introduced during the editing done by Father Manhardt who decided to convert Buechel's relatively consistent spelling into another orthography and he did so in such a way that resulted in unreliable and inconsistent misspelling of most of the words. Manhardt's translation of the Tales and Texts collected by Buechel is flawed, to the most part.

These and other things are described in detail in the introduction to the New Lakota Dictionary.

The bilingual reader 'Songs and Dances of the Lakota' is a wonderful resource, but it uses the simplistic spelling introduced by the missionaries, which means that unless one knows the language extremely well it is nearly impossible to read the text with full comprehension.

If you learn the consistent phonemic spelling used in the New Lakota Dictionary and other LLC publications you will not only be able to learn the correct pronunciation but you will also gain better understanding of the older publications written in the inaccurate missionary spelling.

The book by Albert White Hat (Reading & Writing the Lakota language) uses a consistent and reliable orthography (except that it does not mark word stress, an important feature of Lakota pronunciation). Anyone who learns the spelling used in the New Lakota Dictionary will have no problem reading and understanding the orthography used in Albert White Hat's book.

In the past decade there has been a growing support for the new orthography in Lakota country and most schools are now using it as the standard spelling for Lakota.

You can also read reviews of the New Lakota Dictionary on Amazon to find out what some Lakota language learners think of it: ... s_11561_15
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