This is Keith Montreuil, A few weeks back we met at a language workshop in Saugeen. I was thoroughly impressed (and overwhelmed haha) by the whole experience. I would really like to attend any more workshop you & Helen plan on doing in the future, I think your suggestion of limiting the scope to common endings & words would be a good idea (...I have no idea what transitive or any linguistic jargon means tho..)
I have been thinking about writing a testimonial of sorts ever since the first afternoon of day one.
I hope it's not too long, you can use it in whole or in part as you wish,
After completing the Introduction to the Sound Based Method of Understanding Anishinaabemowin workshop, I left thoroughly impressed and rededicated to learning the original language of our people. As a second language learner, having learned the language taught in school, but never hearing the language at home while growing up, I always had difficulty understanding what was being said. I learned word lists of animals, trees, foods, etc. but could never communicate effectively with fluent speakers. After a few basic sentences, I would be lost because I did not grasp the language enough to understand what was being said back to me. It was also very difficult to learn because I felt like I had to learn each English word three or more times because most of the fluent speakers I know are not from my community and use slightly different words...which only weakened my confidence..trying to guess which words to use depending on who I'm speaking with so they will understand and not make fun of me. Very slow and frustrating learning this way, and I knew I didn't understand the language the way my fluent speaker friends did because I would ask them, " how do you say this..." ("Good morning!" for example) And they would say, " there's no way to say that". And on the flip side, I would ask what a small word meant...and they would go on and on about everything that tiny word was saying. How can I understand the way they do? How can I develop confidence in the words I'm choosing to speak?
I started looking through the dictionaries, looking at common sounds and how they related in usage in the different words translated into English. I felt like, "Ok, this is starting to make sense...but this is going to take my whole life trying to backwards engineer all these translations". And that's when I heard about Helen Roy & David Fuhst.
The Sound Based Method of Understanding Anishinaabemowin is exactly what I had been searching for. Each sound is broken down to an exact meaning. So when you say the words, you know exactly how you are describing what you see going on. You understand exactly how the person talking to you is describing what they are seeing. There is no guess work when speaking, you understand why people say words differently because they are describing them differently, they are seeing them differently. This method is about the fundamentals, the very root sounds of the language broken down better than I could have ever hoped to understand them on my own as a second language learner...or second language thinker as my new goal has become.
I encourage everyone to come with an open mind to learn about what Helen & David are doing. Helen has been teaching for a long time, so I know she understands a lot of the frustrations of learners and teachers alike.
I once heard about Anishinaabemowin spoken about as an animal, and in our remote and far reaching communities we hear our language and we know it really well, but when we travel around and hear other people's way of speaking...it's close...it's related...its connected...but different. Where I come from, it could be said that we understand the foot of that animal, maybe some other community might understand the arm or shoulder of the language. I can only speak for myself, but there is a lot of value in understanding how other people see & view the world around them and understanding the sounds we speak will help us to understand all of Anishinaabemowin, not just the leg, or the foot, or the arm of it. Dialects have served only to draw distinctions between our people when, in reality, we are all Anishinaabe & have always referred to ourselves that way.
-Waabishko Maa"iingan Keith Montreuil
Mississauga Territory, Alderville ON.