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The representation of people and places with Indigenous names is an ever more important topic in Canada. For many years, such names were Anglicized and represented using only letters from the Latin alphabet, such as these names of First Nations:

  • Musqueam
  • Tseshaht
  • Squamish

For some time, there has been a movement to represent these names in syllabic or phentic characters. For example:

  • xʷməθkʷəy̓əm
  • c̓išaaʔatḥ
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh

For our DB/TextWorks clients, this poses a challenge. DB/TextWorks does not use Unicode to store data, so cannot natively store the syllabic characters, only those from Latin alphabets. 

However, our Andornot Discovery Interface has no trouble displaying characters from any character set, so can display Indigenous names and places in this more respectful manner, and also optionally still display the Anglicized or Romanized versions too.

The approach we’ve come up with for clients who use both DB/TextWorks and our Andornot Discovery Interface is:

1. Anglicized names only will still be entered in DB/TextWorks records. 

2. When those records are indexed in the Andornot Discovery Interface, the indexing process will look for these Anglicized indigenous names and places in some or all fields in the data, using a pre-created list of such terms. When found, the Anglicized term will either be replaced with the term using syllabics, or appended. For example, the end result could be:

  • xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam)
  • c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht)
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish)

This can be done in subject headings, place names, and large passages of text too.

We hope also to improve searching of these terms using the syllabic characters. Currently a user would be able to enter the entire term and find it (e.g. xʷməθkʷəy̓əm)  but we hope to also offer some or all of the search features that make the Andornot Discovery Interface so useful, such as stemming and wildcards and relevancy scores based on these terms. We’ll be working on this second step in the coming months. Contact us if this approach would be of use to you.

 

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