Missionaries began extensive work on Maskoke in Indian Territory in the 1800’s.They taught students how to read and write, and with them developed a practical alphabet based in part on the English alphabet. Creek speakers such as David Winslett and L. C. Perryman were responsible for leading the missionaries towards certain spelling conventions. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation adopted this spelling system and published many laws and other materials before Oklahoma statehood.
The spelling system used here uses the letter “ē” consistently for the long “e” sound. This is to aid those learning the language.
Introduction to Standards for Written MAskoke Opunvkv
Every language has more than one style of speech. Style refers to the differences in speech in various situations. People usually speak differently in a formal setting than they do in a family environment. Frequently, speech style is confused with dialect. The written form of Maskoke is based on style, not dialect. There are a number of dimensions along which we exhibit variation in speech style. These involve pronunciation, sentence structure, and vocabulary. There are three distinctive speech styles within the Maskoke language. These are opunvkv-cvpkat [long speech or formal speech], opunvkv–vketēcat (careful or slow speech) and opunvkv–pvfnat (fast or rapid speech). Opunvkv-cvpkat is sometimes referred to as the “old language.” Opunvkv–vketēcat is a careful speech in which words are carefully pronounced with minimal changes in the articulation of sounds. There is not always a clear separation between opunvkv-cvpkat and opunvkv-vketēcat. Opunvkv–pvfnat on the other hand is a style of casual, informal pronunciation. Omission of certain sounds and contractions of words are common with this style.
It is generally the case that a standard for written language is based on the formal style of speech. For example, in English people say, “I’m gonna go,” or, “I gotta go.” Yet, these expressions are written according to the slow pronunciation, like, “I am going to go,” and, “I have got to go.”
In Maskoke we can also base the spelling of written language on opunvkv-cvpkat and/or opunvkv–vketēcat. This means that the proper spelling of words should reflect the slow and careful pronunciation.
This does not mean that students should not be able to choose whether or not they know opunvkv–pvfnat. When teaching the language, if this style is introduced, it should only occur once students are familiar with the formal pronunciation and spelling. We want all language learners not only to be able to speak but to know how the language works so it is natural for us to want to provide them with the most formal form that we are able.
Examples of these speech styles:
- (opunvkv-cvpkat) kometsken owat ‘if you want…’
- (opunvkv-vketēcat) konccen owat
- (opunvkv-cvpkat) maket not os ‘it says’
- (opunvkv-vketēcat) mak’t ont os
- (opunvkv-cvpkat) elēpet omes ‘he/she died’
- (opunvkv-vketēcat) elēt os.
- (opunvkv-cvpkat) ohliketv ‘chair’
- (opunvkv-vketēcat) ohlik’tv
- (opunvkv-cvpkat) eskotkv ‘scissors’
- (opunvkv-vketēcat) ‘skotkv
- (opunvkv-cvpkat) cehēcen omaten ‘if he/she sees you’
- (opunvkv-vketēcat) cehēcen owat
- (opunvkv-pvfnat) cehet nowat
1. (opunvkv-cvpkat) Naken oketska? ‘What did you say/mean?’
2. (opunvkv-vketēcat) Naken okecca?
3. (opunvkv-pvfnat) Nak’ okca?
1. (opunvkv-cvpkat) Hompvhanetska? ‘Are you going to eat?’
2. (opunvkv-vketēcat) Hompvhanecca?
3. (opunvkv-pvfnat) Homp’anca?