Although I did not enjoy Limits of Language: Almost Everything You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know About Language and Languages by Mikael Parkvall, I did spend two days reading its bibliography alone. Parkvall had consulted hundreds of titles in the compilation of his own work, and I discovered some books about certain languages I had not known about. One language that I had never encountered before reading Parkvall’s book was Michif, a language of the Métis. The Michif language is a blend of Cree, French and other regional language elements. It is a severely endangered language, as more and more of the younger generations of Métis are monolingual in English. Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer : l’Alfabet di Michif = Owls See Clearly at Night : a Michif Alphabet by Julie Flett is an alphabet book for young children. I was published in 2010 and I was very surprised to find that my library had it.
Flett is an illustrator and for each of the letters of the Michif alphabet (which has no Q or X), Flett, herself a Métis, painted an image specifically relevant to Métis culture.
One can see the influence of French in Michif with the words for “water” = “diloo” (de l’eau); “barley” = “lorzh” (l’orge); “snow” = “la niizh” (la neige); “rain” = “la pwii” (la pluie); “eyes” = “lii zyeu” (les yeux); “owls” = “lii yiiboo” (les hiboux) and “night” = “lii swer” (le soir).
Michif is only recently a written language, and is still developing a standard orthography. The title alone, to my unscientific eye, seems symptomatic of a new orthography in its abundance of double letters.