Writing Systems

 

The Henry Orthography

The Henry orthography was created by the late Reg Henry. Reg was a fluent speaker of Cayuga, Onondaga, and English (among other languages), and was also a gifted linguist.

The Henry orthography is widely used by Cayuga speakers at Six Nations. There is also a linguistic writing system, which is used in academic circles.

The following example shows the main differences between the Henry and linguistic writing systems.

The Henry and linguistic orthographies compared

Henry

Linguistic

t

th

d

t

k

kh

g

k

s

sh

ts

tsh

j

ts, tsy

At the end of words, both writing systems use < t > or < k >, but not < th > or < kh >.

If you’re familiar with other writing systems, you’ll notice that the linguistic orthography has a lot in common with the Mohawk and Oneida writing systems, as shown below.

Comparison of writing systems

Henry

Linguistic

Mohawk

 

to:

tho:

eˀ tho

that, there

do:

to:

to

how

Some background notes about this manual

Sometimes, it is necessary to make a distinction between letters (or written symbols) and how they are pronounced. For this reason, letters in the Henry orthography will be written between angle brackets; for example, < d > means ‘the written letter D in the Henry orthography’. In contrast, to describe the exact pronunciation of a letter, symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) will used; the letters from the IPA will be written between square brackets; for example, [ ɑ ] stands for ‘the vowel sound in lawn’.

If you want to learn more about the IPA, you can go to the following website, which has interactive charts: http://www.paulmeier.com/ipa/charts.html. Or you can go to the website of the International Phonetic Association, which also has interactive charts and sound files illustrating what the letters of the IPA sound like: http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/IPA/ipa.html.