I love this new piece from Kevin Brousseau. Just look at all the exciting ways you can play with Cree!
The Cree language can be likened to the world’s most mechanically intricate clocks that, despite their innumerable moving parts, display time using only two or three hands. Similarly, our beautiful language is built on a rich, but incredibly complex, grammatical structure, and yet boasts only a simple repertoire of vowels and consonants. In this way, our language sounds deceptively simple, but its grammar has thwarted many in their attempts to learn to speak it.
Certainly, numerous factors aside from grammar conspire against the would-be Cree speakers. Inconsistent orthographies, sparse learning materials, dialectal differences, and even idiolectal differences are complicit. But there is one grammatical feature that is so unfamiliar to speakers of European languages that it usually escapes their attention, only to repeatedly frustrate their efforts at speaking with any degree of fluency. This feature is called polysynthesis.
Polysynthesis is the process of stringing together many morphemes, or word-parts, into long words…
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