Talk:Unami language

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Format source[edit]

The format of this article was copied from Munsee language stub. (Taivo (talk) 00:20, 14 March 2008 (UTC))

Delaware versus Lenape[edit]

"Lenape" only refers to the Unami, not to both the Unami and Munsee. I cut all Lenape-specific references out of Delaware languages and moved them here. (Taivo (talk) 07:41, 16 March 2008 (UTC))

I would respectfully submit that both Munsee and Unami speakers call themselves "Lenape" in their respective Delaware languages (of course, using their own particular othographies, on occasion). Sschkaak (talk) 19:07, 5 June 2010 (UTC)Sschkaak
Ray, I am posting this here since you deleted the comments you had made here and on other pages re use of the term “Lenape”.

It's clear that the English word "Lenape", a borrowing from Unami, was historically used to refer to Unami only. In both Delaware languages and Munsee language I have provided relevant documentation (most citations from various articles by Ives Goddard, etc). In published scholarship by knowledgable experts the term “Lenape” is restricted to Unami people.

One of the things about Wikipedia is that people adding material to articles are expected to use Reliable Sources, i.e. documentation should be provided for any statements (kind of like writing a term paper in college). Anecdotal information or personal opinion, or "original research" are not allowed because they do not meet the "Reliable Sources" criterion. An undocumented assertion of the “X says y” without appropriate documentation fall short of the criterion.

In the sections I contributed on these different terms I have fully documented all my sources, so what I written is robust, and stands up.

Goddard shows clearly that when he was doing his field research with Munsee speakers at Moraviantown and Munceytown in the 1960s, people there referred to themselves IN ENGLISH as "Delaware" or sometimes at Moraviantown as "Christian Indians" [there is a Munsee equivalent for the latter] (references in the article Munsee language). They didn't use "Lenape" in English as a self-designation, or as a name for their language (the Munsee term for the language is included in Munsee language.

Bizarrely, in his later books Herbert Kraft used the term "Lenape" to refer to both Munsee and Unami groups even though he acknowledged that this usage did not follow the historical pattern ("not entirely correct" was the way he put it). I imagine this was because he wanted to use a term of indigenous origin, so "Delaware" wouldn't do.

It may be that nowadays some people at Moraviantown (the only community nowadays where Munsee is spoken) use the term "Lenape" in English with English pronunciation, but that is really a modern extension, and no doubt is likely seen as a way of promoting native identity, i.e. has some symbolic value as more 'authentic' than "Delaware" perhaps. In any event if that usage exists it needs to be documented according to Wikipedia standards.

My impression is that some people like to use indigenous terms because that seems more authentic etc as stated above, even if it doesn't follow the historical pattern. For example the Wikipedia article Lenape is about both Unami and Munsee and in my opinion should really be called “Delaware (people)”. Changing it would trigger a huge Wikipedia bunfight, and I am not interested in that.

You mentioned the name of the lexicon published at Moraviantown called “Lunaapeew Dictionary”. But 'Lunaapeew” is the Munsee word meaning “Delaware Indian, native person” in the language itself, and is not informative about whether that word is used by people at Moraviantown in Engish as a term for their language; it's hard to know how the author of the title intended it. Similarly I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the reference to the “LUNAAPE' LANGUAGE TEACHER ACADEMY”, this may just be their approximation to the Munsee word, I can't tell. In any event, it's just a title and doesn't provide a reliable source as to how terms are being used.

Anyone can edit a Wikipedia article, but the quality of contributions is greatly enhanced by adhering to some basic standards, as exemplified by the "Reliable Sources" criterion.

Hope this is of use.

Jomeara421 (talk) 18:14, 12 July 2010 (UTC) John

Editing by Asavoyk[edit]

Hi, my name is Alex. I am trying to complete this page as a grade for my linguistics class. I would appreciate any help in accomplishing this; my main source is Goddard's grammar. I would like to do so in a way that is in accordance with the current standards; I am new to editing Wikipedia but my professor has given us as an example the Kashaya page, which perhaps can explain some of my choices. Anyway, please discuss with me here; I do not want to get into any "editing wars" or misunderstandings. :) (talk) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Asavoyk (talkcontribs) 01:23, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Congratulations, you've generated more interested in this article than it's had for months. :)
Goddard's 'Delaware Verbal Morphology' is a very thorough study based on field research with both Unami Delaware and Munsee Delaware, but it is not user-friendly because it is tersely written. He treats the two closely related Delaware languages in a comparative framework that emphasizes their similarities; most significantly the transcription system makes the languages seem more similar than they really are and masks the significant phonological innovations in Unami. The preface to the 1979 publication (this was originally a 1969 Harvard dissertation) is important because it makes more evident the ways that Unami phonology has innovated relative to Munsee and since then Goddard in his many publications has transcribed Unami in a way that is more reflective of that language's phonology and phonetics.
It is challenging to develop a good article on Unami because although many of the sources are very high quality (anything by Goddard, C.L. Voegelin [older but valuable] and Bruce Pearson), they need a lot of interpretation, use different transcriptions / orthographic representations, often use different terminology, and reflect different analyses of key points.
You might find the Wikipedia Languages Project Languages Template useful, although most language articles do not follow it slavishly, and I don't care for some components of how it is organized. See Ottawa language for an article that follows the template to a considerable extent.
In the Delaware languages article there is a reference to Goddard 1997 "Pidgin Delaware". You should be able to easily find the book this article is in at your University library. Even though it is about the Delaware Pidgin, it has a very nice compact summary of basic Delaware grammatical characteristics, with extensive Unami examples, and would be a good way to flesh out the different sections about grammar.
Wikipedia uses the IPA as a transcription standard. While this makes sense, it is in my view a problem for articles on Amerindian languages, which are frequently transcribed in the Americanist phonetic notation, which uses a number of symbols distinct from the IPA. I think that words should be cited the way they are written in the sources, and it is easy for people to make mistakes if they are trying to convert one to the other, and in some cases may require interpretation. Most work on Delaware in academic publications uses an Americanist transcription, but you can see a practical orthography for Unami in the online Lenape Talking Dictionary. It is quite good but I have found minor transcription inconsistencies. There is no real standard orthography.
Feel free to post questions about Unami, or you can e-mail me if you like (on my userpage: User:Jomeara421, e-mail link in column on lefthand side of page).
Good luck with your project.
John Jomeara421 (talk) 02:53, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
As you can tell from my edits here yesterday, I'm very much in favor of using the IPA only instead of the Americanist transcription. Partly this is because of what John said above, that Goddard's transcription glosses over differences between Munsee and Unami, and using IPA won't do that. Also, we cannot be sure that people coming to this article will be familiar with the Americanist symbols. (Granted, we can't be sure people will be familiar with IPA either, but worldwide there are certainly far more people familiar with IPA than with Americanist symbols alone, as practically everyone familiar with the Americanist system is also familiar with the IPA, but the reverse isn't true.) When I first started at Wikipedia, I did a lot of work on Irish language and related articles, especially Irish phonology. When I started, I also used the conventional transcriptions found in the literature rather than the IPA, but after several encounters with other users I realized that sticking to IPA alone greatly decreases the chances of misunderstanding and confusion. The article should also explain the practical orthography, but that should be in a separate section, not mixed in with the phonology section. +Angr 08:34, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
One must remember that IPA was originally a phonetic transcription and its use as a phonological system has always had a few problems. One of its major problems is in its representation of affricates, which implies (correctly) that they are complex phonetically, but (incorrectly) that they are still complex phonologically. But I digress. There is one big problem with slavishly sticking to the IPA--it often requires the not-always-automatic conversion of forms from the original source (in this case it is not a standard orthography) into a different system. In Wikipedia terms, that constitutes original research if the original source does not use the IPA. Yep. We don't want any original research here. Indeed, if I wanted to spend the time, I could come up with a dozen different languages where the IPA is going to mess up the phonological representation or where retranscribing the Americanist forms will lead to incorrect IPA forms. I don't think that allowing š, č, and ž in some language articles is going to upset the foundation of the world. Indeed, the majority of readers who know the IPA will also be quite comfortable with these symbols as well. (Taivo (talk) 12:05, 9 February 2010 (UTC))
Actually, I just noticed that in reverting yesterday back to a standard that was closer to the original source, the vowel chart remained in that IPA form that masks vital phonological information. I'll try to reconstruct its original. Indeed, comparing the "IPA" vowel chart with the one that matches that in the source more closely, you can see that important phonological information and patterning is maintained that is lost when slavishly converted to IPA. (Taivo (talk) 12:12, 9 February 2010 (UTC))

(unindent) When I said above "...most significantly the transcription system makes the languages seem more similar than they really are..." I should have course said that Goddard chose to represent both languages in ways that made them seem more similar than they really are (not a criticism, it was a defensible analytical choice which he later modified); this issue would arise regardless of whether IPA or Americanist symbols were used - it's more about the analysis. John Jomeara421 (talk) 12:26, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

(edit conflict)Using IPA to represent phonological systems is no more problematic than using the Americanist system; it is flexible enough to be used for both phonemic and phonetic transcription. And converting a wide array of varying systems used by different authors into a single consistent IPA transcription is certainly not "original research". (I don't know to what extent that's a problem for Unami, but it is certainly a problem for Irish: each author has his own idiosyncratic transcription conventions, so slavishly following the original transcription in each case would result in an incomprehensible mishmash of transcriptions.) And while users familiar with IPA may not be thrown off by š, č, and ž, they may very well be thrown off by the use of y to stand for a palatal approximant and the use of a raised dot to indicate length. +Angr 12:28, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I didn't say that the IPA was always the wrong choice, but it's also important that the original not be compromised in its phonological statement. In this case, we have listed the IPA forms following the original Americanist usage in the consonant chart (the vowel symbols were already in IPA) so any reader shouldn't be confused. If a language uses something idiosyncratic, that's one thing and needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis if there is confusion, but if usage is one of the standard systems then we don't need to be converting unless absolutely necessary. I've converted to IPA myself before as well, but only with languages that I was completely conversant in so that I was certain that nothing of phonological importance was being lost or compromised. (Taivo (talk) 12:34, 9 February 2010 (UTC))

(unindent) Good discussion team. Nice to have a constructive WP conversation about an important topic. John Jomeara421 (talk) 12:44, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Unami language and Munsee language[edit]

It is difficult to discern from the above articles if there was a definitive or even vague border where the two overlapped and where it indeed was. Both articles claim that the part of region in which they were spoken radiates to the north, west, and possibly east from what is now New York City. Are there any sources which venture to make a distinction. I gleen that that Munsee may have been used more in the New York-New Jersey Highlands while Unami was the language of those who live along the lower Hudson River and it's bays and across New Jersey to the Delaware River. The map currently used (made by what seems to be less than a expert on the subject) further confuses matters. Would be great if somone could throw some light on the subject.Djflem (talk) 18:23, 20 November 2010 (UTC)