100 Days of Cree

Neal McLeod, with Arok Wolvengrey. University of Regina Press (UTP, dist.) $19.95 trade paper (283p) ISBN 978-0-88977-429-2
This informative and entertaining tribute to the richness of the Cree language—inspired by a series of Facebook posts from McLeod, editor of Indigenous Poetics in Canada—arrives at a critical juncture when the reclamation and celebration of indigenous languages are becoming focal healing points for many First Nations communities. Ostensibly a storytelling dictionary, its brief two-to-four-page entries allow for easy reference, with memorable anecdotes that enrich context and definition. McLeod's concise and pointed translations of terms grouped by subject matter (such as place names, flowers, feelings, and household items) include personal stories as well as insights into Cree history, culture, spirituality, and sexuality (Cree is always "walking the edge of the risqué"). Terms that reflect serious concerns of land dispossession and poverty sit alongside colloquialisms for ordering at Tim Hortons coffee shops and translations of Johnny Cash songs. The guide does not shy away from difficult truths (pizza, it informs readers, is "the throw-up bread"). Linguist Wolvengrey provides an excellent guide to pronunciation, syllabic stress, and dealing with vowels and consonants (which would better serve readers if it were placed in the front of the book). McLeod's thesis that the Internet will help preserve endangered languages is amply supported with this loving and timely collection. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
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