Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 47 > Page 60 - Introduction to Micmac Hieroglyphics

Page 60 - Introduction to Micmac Hieroglyphics

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1988/1/1 (1034 reads)

only usable grammar of the language (1939). Even this second edition is now a collec? tor's item: the copy in the library of Me? morial University is kept in the storage vault for rare books. It differs from the first edition only in that the headings and titles have been changed from German to French and English. Hieroglyphics are, literally, "sacred carv- A colourful and informative brochure containing a piece of fibre optic d'lst available free from Maritime Tel & Tel. For your copy, please call toll free ?ififlw: Nova Scotia 1-421-4720. ing," from the Greek adjective hiero- "sacred" and the root glyph- "carve, en? grave." Since all the Micmac works written in hieroglyphics were missionary texts, prayers, creeds, catechisms, and so forth, the term is particularly suitable. But it does not really tell us what kind of writ? ing is involved: does it, for example, rep? resent the sounds of words, like our Euro? pean alphabets which are phonographic, or does it represent the meanings of words, like the primitives in Chinese characters, which are ideographic? (There are, in the world, hieroglyphic systems of both kinds.) The Micmac sys? tem is of the second kind: ideographic. Each ideogram represents a word, and may be either simple or composite: that is, either made of a single element, or made of more than one element. The Mic? mac word wa'so'k "heaven," for example, was simply represented by a five point? ed star, but verb forms, whose meanings are composite by nature, required com? posite ideograms, as is shown by the following different forms of the verb to be in a place, to exist: eymin thou art eyk- he is eykik they are ':' ':' Q K3 eymek we r r- (exclusive) are Q'-' • -- =a As can be easily deduced, the pronomi? nal notions explicit in the verbal mor? phology are also made explicit in the ideograms by means of prefixed ele? ments. These latter are also used inde? pendently as personal pronouns, so that Micmac ki'1 "thou" is found as ''p in the hieroglyphics (see Illustration B, line 5). ' Obviously, this form of writing is not very profitable, since it would take a long time to master, and one needs to know the text first, so that the hiero? glyphics are only a reminder of a text that is already known: it would be dif? ficult to read a text that had not been 150 YEARS OF SHIP REPAIRS TRADITION Good People Sea & Shore Services Inc. "You are welcome to be sen/ed by long tradition and high quality." ?? Ship & Industrial Repairs Dry Docking (SOOT) ?? Diesel Engines Repairs & Rebuilding ?? Propeller Repairs Welding ?? Carpentry ?? Diving Services ?? Fueling Station Carmel Ship Supplies If we don't have it, We can get it! If we cant get it, It doesn't exist! Complete Stock of Fishing & Fish Plant Supplies SERVING THE INSHORE AND DEEP-SEA COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN 255 Commercial Street, NORTH SYDNEY, Nova Scotia (902) 794-4741 1362 Main Street, LOUISBOURG, Nova Scotia (902) 733-2209 60) 255 Commercial Street • North Sydney ?? DAY: (902) 794-4741 (office) ~ CALL 24 HOURS A DAY ~ NIGHT: 794-8235 or 794-4338 or 539-8634
Cape Breton's Magazine
  View this article in PDF format Print article

Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to the PDF version of this content. Click here to download and install the Acrobat plugin
Acrobat Reader Download