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Cree
Quick Facts
TypeSyllabic
GenealogyCanadian Aboriginal Syllabics
LocationAmericas > Canada
Time1840 CE to Present
DirectionLeft to Right

The Cree script is a syllabary (called "syllabics") used by nearly all Cree-speaking First Nations in Canada. Initially an invention of the English missionary James Evans to create a non-Latin writing system for Cree and Ojibwe, it was readily adopted because its appearance was unlike that of the Latin alphabet and therefore free of the stigma of colonialism.

Unique among syllabic scripts is that the basic shape of a sign denotes its consonant, and the orientation of the sign represents its vowel. There are four basic vowels in Cree, namely /e/, /i/, /u/, and /a/, which are represented by the directions down, up, right, and left, respectively. Vowels can also be short or long, and a long vowel is marked by a dot on top of the sign. A smaller sign placed higher than the baseline, somewhat like a superscript, is used to write the consonant at the end of a syllable.

There are two main varieties of the Cree script, namely Eastern and Western syllabics, with many additional local distinctions to suit different Cree dialects. The Eastern syllabics is also used for Ojibwe.

The following chart illustrates the Cree syllabary. Note that (E) stands for Eastern variant, whereas (W) for Western variant.

The Cree syllabics has also been adopted by other indigenous people to write their own languages. Together as a group the system is known as Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics. Another widely used variant of the script is the Inuktitut script.

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