Ojibwe language

Ojibwe language
Ojibwe language
Anishinaabemowin, ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒧᐎᓐ
Pronunciation [anɪʃɪnaːpeːmowɪn]
Spoken in  Canada,
 United States
Region Canada: Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, groups in Alberta, British Columbia; United States: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, groups in North Dakota, Montana
Ethnicity Ojibwe people
Native speakers 56,531 (47,740 in Canada; 8,791 in the United States)  (date missing)
Language family
Writing system Latin alphabet, various orthographies in Canada and the United States; Ojibwe syllabics in Canada; Great Lakes Algonquian syllabary in the United States
Language codes
ISO 639-1 oj
ISO 639-2 oji
ISO 639-3 oji – Macrolanguage
individual codes:
ojs – Severn Ojibwa
ojg – Eastern Ojibwa
ojc – Central Ojibwa
ojb – Northwestern Ojibwa
ojw – Western Ojibwa
ciw – Chippewa
otw – Ottawa
alq – Algonquin
Linguasphere 62-ADA-d (Ojibwa+Anissinapek)
Location of all Ojibwe Reservations/Reserves and cities with an Ojibwe population in North America, with diffusion rings about communities speaking the Ojibwe language

Ojibwe (or Ojibwa, Ojibway, or Chippewa), also called Anishinaabemowin, is an indigenous language of the Algonquian language family.[1][2] Ojibwe is characterized by a series of dialects that have local names and frequently local (non-indigenous) writing systems. There is no single dialect that is considered the most prestigious or most prominent, and no standard writing system that covers all dialects. The relative autonomy of the regional dialects of Ojibwe is associated with an absence of linguistic or political unity among Ojibwe-speaking groups.

The dialects of Ojibwe are spoken in Canada from southwestern Quebec, through Ontario, Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan, with outlying communities in Alberta,[3][4] and in the United States from Michigan through Wisconsin and Minnesota, with a number of communities in North Dakota and Montana, as well as migrant groups in Kansas and Oklahoma.[4][5]

The aggregated dialects of Ojibwe comprise the second most commonly spoken First Nations language in Canada (after Cree),[6] and the fourth most widely spoken in the United States or Canada behind Navajo, Inuit and Cree[citation needed].



The Algonquian language family of which Ojibwe is a member is itself a member of the Algic language family, other Algic languages being Wiyot and Yurok.[1] Ojibwe is sometimes described as a Central Algonquian language, along with Fox, Cree, Menominee, Miami-Illinois, Potawatomi, and Shawnee.[1] Central Algonquian is a geographical term of convenience rather than a genetic subgroup, and its use does not indicate that the Central languages are more closely related to each other than to the other Algonquian languages.[7]

Exonyms and endonyms

The most general indigenous designation for the language is Anishinaabemowin 'speaking the native language' (Anishinaabe 'native person,' verb suffix –mo ‘speak a language,’ suffix –win ‘nominalizer’),[8][9] with varying spellings and pronunciations depending upon dialect. Some speakers use the term Ojibwemowin.[10][11] The general term in the Severn Ojibwe dialect is Anihshininiimowin, although Anishinaabemowin is widely recognized by Severn speakers.[10] Some speakers of Saulteaux Ojibwe refer to their language as Nakawemowin.[10] The Ottawa dialect is sometimes referred to as Daawaamwin,[12] although the general designation is Nishnaabemwin, with the latter term also applied to Jibwemwin or Eastern Ojibwe.[13] Other local terms are listed in Ojibwe dialects. English terms include Ojibwe, with variants including Ojibwa and Ojibway.[14] The related term Chippewa is more commonly employed in the United States and in southwestern Ontario among descendants of Ojibwe migrants from the United States.[15]

Relationship of Ojibwe and Potawatomi

Ojibwe and Potawatomi are frequently viewed as being more closely related to each than to other Algonquian languages.[16] Ojibwe and Potawatomi have been proposed as likely candidates for forming a genetic subgroup within Proto-Algonquian, although the required research to ascertain the linguistic history and status of a hypothetical “Ojibwe–Potawatomi” subgroup has not yet been undertaken. A discussion of Algonquian family subgroups indicates that "Ojibwe–Potawatomi is another possibility that awaits investigation." [17] In a proposed consensus classification of Algonquian languages, Goddard (1996) classifies Ojibwa and Potawatomi as "Ojibwayan," although no supporting evidence is adduced.[18]

The Central languages share a significant number of common features. These features can generally attributed to diffusion of features through borrowing: “Extensive lexical, phonological, and perhaps grammatical borrowing—the diffusion of elements and features across language boundaries—appears to have been the major factor in giving the languages in the area of the Upper Great Lakes their generally similar cast, and it has not been possible to find any shared innovations substantial enough to require the postulation of a genetically distinct Central Algonquian subgroup.” [17]

The possibility that the proposed genetic subgrouping of Ojibwa and Potawatomi can also be accounted for as diffusion has also been raised: “The putative Ojibwa–Potawatomi subgroup is similarly open to question, but cannot be evaluated without more information on Potawatomi dialects.” [19]

Geographic distribution

Pre-contact distribution of the Plains Ojibwe, Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa), and Algonquin dialects of the Ojibwe language

Ojibwe communities are found in Canada from southwestern Quebec, through Ontario, southern Manitoba and parts of southern Saskatchewan, and in the United States from northern Michigan through northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, with a number of communities in northern North Dakota and northern Montana.[20] Groups of speakers of the Ottawa dialect migrated to Kansas and Oklahoma during the historical period, with a small amount of linguistic documentation of the language in Oklahoma.[21] The presence of Ojibwe in British Columbia has been noted.[4]

Current census data indicate that all varieties of Ojibwe are spoken by approximately 56,531 people. This figure reflects census data from the 2000 United States census and the 2006 Canadian census. The Ojibwe language is reported as spoken by 8,791 total people in the United States[22] of which 7,355 are Native Americans[23] and by as many as 47,740 in Canada,[6] making it one of the largest Algic languages by numbers of speakers.[6]

Language Canada United States Total (by speakers) Total ethnic population
Algonquin 2,680[6] 0 2,680 8,266
Oji-Cree 12,600[6] 0 12,600 12,600
Ojibwe 24,896[24] 8,355[22] 33,251 219,711
Ottawa 7,564[25] 436[23] 8,000[26] 60,000[26]
Total (by Country) 47,740 8,791 56,531 300,577


Because the dialects of Ojibwe are at least partly mutually intelligible, Ojibwe is usually considered to be a single language with a number of dialects, i.e. Ojibwe is "...conventionally regarded as a single language consisting of a continuum of dialectal varieties since … every dialect is at least partly intelligible to the speakers of the neighboring dialects." [27] The degree of mutually intelligibility between nonadjacent dialects varies considerably; recent research has shown that there is strong differentiation between the Ottawa dialect spoken in southern Ontario and northern Michigan; the Severn Ojibwa dialect spoken in northern Ontario and Manitoba; and the Algonquin dialect spoken in southwestern Quebec.[28] Valentine notes that these three dialects “...show many distinct features, which suggest periods of relative isolation from other varieties of Ojibwe.” [29] Many communities adjacent to these relatively sharply differentiated dialects show a mix of transitional features, reflecting overlap with other nearby dialects.[30] While each of these dialects has undergone innovations that make them distinctive, their status as part of the Ojibwe language complex is not in dispute.[29] The relatively low degrees of mutual intelligibility between some nonadjacent Ojibwe dialects led Rhodes and Todd to suggest that Ojibwe “...could be said to consist of several languages...," suggesting analysis of Ojibwe as a linguistic subgroup.[31]

While there is some variation in the classification of Ojibwe dialects, at a minimum the following are recognized, proceeding west to east: Western Ojibwe (Saulteaux), Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa), Northwestern Ojibwe, Severn Ojibwe (Oji-Cree), Ottawa (Odawa), Eastern Ojibwe, and Algonquin. Based upon contemporary field research, Valentine also recognizes several other dialects: Berens Ojibwe in northwestern Ontario, which he distinguishes from Northwestern Ojibwe; North of (Lake) Superior; and Nipissing. The latter two cover approximately the same territory as Central Ojibwa, which he does not recognize.[32]

Two recent analyses of the relationships between the Ojibwe dialects are in agreement on the assignment of the strongly differentiated Ottawa dialect to a separate subgroup, and the assignment of Severn Ojibwe and Algonquin to another subgroup, and differ primarily with respect to the relationships between the less strongly differentiated dialects. Rhodes and Todd recognize several different dialectal subgroupings within Ojibwe: (a) Ottawa; (b) Severn and Algonquian; (c) a third subgroup which is further divided into (i) a subgrouping of Northwestern Ojibwe and Saulteaux, and a subgrouping consisting of Eastern Ojibwe and a further subgrouping comprising Southwestern Ojibwe and Central Ojibwe.[33] Valentine has proposed that Ojibwe dialects are divided into three groups: a northern tier consisting of Severn Ojibwe and Algonquin; a southern tier consisting of “Odawa, Chippewa, Eastern Ojibwe, the Ojibwe of the Border Lakes region between Minnesota and Ontario, and Saulteaux; and third, a transitional zone between these two polar groups, in which there is a mixture of northern and southern features.” [34]

Lingua franca

A sign at Lakehead University in English and Anishinaabemowin.

Several different Ojibwe dialects have functioned as lingua franca or trade languages in the circum-Great Lakes area, particularly in interactions with speakers of other Algonquian languages.[35] Documentation of such usage dates from the 18th and 19th centuries, but earlier use is likely, with reports as early as 1703 suggesting that Ojibwe was used by different groups from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to Lake Winnipeg, and from as far south as Ohio to Hudson Bay.[36]

A trade language is “…a language customarily used for communication between speakers of different languages, even though it may be that neither speaker has the trade language as his dominant language…” although “…there is a relatively high degree of bilingualism involving the trade language.” [37]

Documentation from the 17th century indicates that Huron (also called Wyandot), an Iroquoian language, was also used as a trade language east of the Great Lakes by speakers of the Nipissing and Algonquin dialects of Ojibwe, and also by other groups south of the Great Lakes, including the Winnebago and by a group of unknown affiliation identified only as “Assistaeronon.” The political decline of the Hurons in the 18th century and the ascendancy of Ojibwe-speaking groups including the Ottawa led to the replacement of Huron as a lingua franca.[38]

In the area east of Georgian Bay, the Nipissing dialect was a trade language. In the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula, the area between Lake Erie and Lake Huron, and along the north shore of Georgian Bay, the Ottawa dialect served as a trade language. In the area south of Lake Superior and west of Lake Michigan Southwestern Ojibwe was the trade language.[39] A widespread pattern of asymmetrical bilingualism is found in the area south of the Great Lakes, in which speakers of Potawatomi or Menominee, both Algonquian languages, could also speak Ojibwe, but Ojibwe speakers did not speak the other languages. It is known that some speakers of Menominee also speak Ojibwe, and that this pattern persisted into the 20th century. Similarly bilingualism in Ojibwe is still common among Potawatomis who speak Potawatomi.[40]

Reports from traders and travellers as early as 1744 indicated that speakers of Menominee, another Algonquian language, used Ojibwe as a lingua franca. Other reports from the 18th century and early 19th century indicate that speakers of the unrelated Siouan language Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) also used Ojibwe when dealing with Europeans and others.[41] Other reports indicate that agents of the American government at Green Bay, Wisconsin spoke Ojibwe in their interactions with Menominee, with other reports indicating that “…the Chippewa, Menominee, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sac, and Fox tribes used Ojibwe in intertribal communication…” [41] Some reports indicate that further to the west speakers of non-Algonquian languages such as Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Iowa, and Pawnee spoke Ojibwe as an ‘acquired language.’[41]

Broken Oghibbeway

During the fur trade era, a pidgin form of Ojibwe known as Broken Oghibbeway was used by travellers and traders in the Wisconsin and Mississippi River valleys. Data in the language were collected during the 1820s at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin by Edwin James, a physician and naturalist, who also gave the pidgin its name.[42] It has been described as “…a language with a restricted vocabulary drawn from the Ottawa dialect of Ojibwe with a few words from Fox (Mesquakie), another Algonquian language of the region, and restructured and reduced, but not absent, Ojibwe morphology.” [41]

James recognized that “Broken Oghibbeway” was different from the variety of Ojibwe spoken in Wisconsin (which at that time included Minnesota). He noted that it “…is of the dialect used by the traders and the people of mixed blood in speaking with the Menomonies and Winnebagoes also many of the Sioux Saxes and Foxes.” [41]

Although “Broken Oghibbeway” retains many aspects of the complex inflectional morphology that characterizes Ojibwe, it is nonetheless simplified and restructured, with reductions in the treatment of transitivity and gender, with simplification of the system of personal prefixes used on verbs, loss of the negative suffix that occurs on verbs, and loss of inflectional suffixes that indicate grammatical objects.[43]

Ojibwe influence on other languages

Michif is a mixed language that primarily is based upon French and Plains Cree, with some vocabulary from Ojibwe, in addition to phonological influence in Michif-speaking communities where there is a significant Ojibwe influence.[44][45][46] In locations such as Turtle Mountain, North Dakota individuals of Ojibwe ancestry now speak only Michif and not Ojibwe.[47][48]

Ojibwe borrowings have been noted in Menominee, a related Algonquian language.[49]

Bungee is the name given to a dialect of English spoken in Manitoba by the descendants of "English, Scottish, and Orkney fur traders and their Cree or Saulteaux wives...".[50] Bungee incorporates elements of Cree; the name may be from the Ojibwe word bangii 'a little bit' or the Cree equivalent but whether there is any other Ojibwe component in Bungee is not documented.[51]


All dialects of Ojibwe generally have an inventory of seventeen consonants.[52] Most dialects have the segment glottal stop /ʔ/ in their inventory of consonant phonemes; Severn Ojibwe and the Algonquin dialect have /h/ in its place. Some dialects have both segments phonetically, but only one is present in phonological representations.[53] The Ottawa and Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa) have /h/ in a small number of affective vocabulary items in addition to regular /ʔ/.[54][55] Some dialects may have otherwise non-occurring sounds such as /f, l, r/ in loanwords.[56]

Obstruent consonants are divided into lenis and fortis sets, with these features having varying phonological analyses and phonetic realizations cross-dialectally. In some dialects, such as Severn Ojibwe, members of the fortis set are realized as a sequence of /h/ followed by a single segment drawn from the set of lenis consonants: /p t k tʃ s ʃ/. Algonquin Ojibwe is reported as distinguishing fortis and lenis consonants on the basis of voicing, with fortis being voiceless and lenis being voiced.[57] In other dialects fortis consonants are realized as having greater duration than the corresponding lenis consonant, invariably voiceless, ‘vigorously articulated,’ and aspirated in certain environments.[58] In some practical orthographies such as the widely used Double Vowel system, fortis consonants are written with voiceless symbols: p, t, k, ch, s, sh.[59]

Lenis consonants have normal duration; are typically voiced intervocalically, although they may be devoiced at the end or beginning of a word; are less vigorously articulated than fortis consonants; and are invariably unaspirated.[60] In the Double Vowel practical orthography, lenis consonants are written with voiced symbols: b, d, g, j, z, zh.[59]

All dialects of Ojibwe have two nasal consonants /m/ and /n/; one labialized velar approximant /w/; one palatal approximant /j/; and one of glottal stop /ʔ/ or /h/.[61]

All dialects of Ojibwe have seven oral vowels. Vowel length is phonologically contrastive, hence phonemic. Although the long and short vowels are phonetically distinguished by vowel quality, recognition of vowel length in phonological representations is required, as the distinction between long and short vowels is essential for the operation of the metrical rule of vowel syncope that characterizes the Ottawa and Eastern Ojibwe dialects, as well as for the rules that determine word stress.[13] There are three short vowels, /i a o/; and three corresponding long vowels, /iː aː oː/, in addition to a fourth long vowel /eː/, which lacks a corresponding short vowel. The short vowel /i/ typically has phonetic values centring on [ɪ]; /a/ typically has values centring on [ə]~[ʌ]; and /o/ typically has values centring on [o]~[ʊ]. Long /oː/ is pronounced [uː] for many speakers, and /eː/ is for many [ɛː].[62]

Ojibwe has nasal vowels; some arise predictably by rule in all analyses, and other long nasal vowels are of uncertain phonological status.[63] The latter have been analysed both as underlying phonemes,[2] and also as predictable, that is derived by the operation of phonological rules from sequences of a long vowel followed by /n/ and another segment, typically /j/.[64]

Placement of word stress is determined by metrical rules that define a characteristic iambic metrical Foot, in which a Weak syllable is followed by a Strong syllable. A Foot consists of a minimum of one syllable, and a maximum of two syllables, with each Foot containing a maximum of one Strong syllable. The structure of the metrical Foot defines the domain for relative prominence, in which a Strong syllable is assigned stress because it is more prominent than the weak member of the Foot. Typically, the Strong syllable in the antepenultimate Foot is assigned the primary stress.[65] Strong syllables that do not receive main stress are assigned at least secondary stress.[66] In some dialects, metrically Weak (unstressed) vowels at the beginning of a word are frequently lost; in the Ottawa and Eastern Ojibwe dialects all metrically Weak vowels are deleted.[67]


The general grammatical characteristics of Ojibwe are shared across its dialects. The Ojibwe language is polysynthetic, exhibits characteristics of synthesis and a high morpheme-to-word ratio. Ojibwe is a head-marking language in which inflectional morphology on nouns and particularly verbs carries significant amounts of grammatical information.

Word classes include nouns, verbs, grammatical particles, pronouns, preverbs, and prenouns. Preferred word orders in a simple transitive sentence are verb-initial, such as V(erb)–O(bject)–S(ubject) and VSO. While verb-final orders are dispreferred, all logically possible orders are attested.[68]

Complex inflectional and derivational morphology play a central role in Ojibwe grammar. Noun inflection and particularly verb inflection indicate a wide variety of grammatical information, realized through the use of prefixes and suffixes added to word stems. Grammatical characteristics include the following:

  1. gender,[69] divided into animate and inanimate categories
  2. extensive head-marking on verbs of inflectional information concerning person[70]
  3. number[71]
  4. tense[72]
  5. modality[73]
  6. evidentiality[74]
  7. negation[75]
  8. a distinction between obviative and proximate third-person, marked on both verbs and nouns.[76]

There is a distinction between two different types of third person, the proximate (the third person deemed more important or in-focus) and the obviative (the third person deemed less important or out-of-focus). Nouns can be singular or plural, and one of two genders, animate or inanimate. Separate personal pronouns exist, but are usually used for emphasis; they distinguish inclusive and exclusive first person plurals.

Verbs constitute the most complex word class. Verbs are inflected for one of three orders (indicative, the default; conjunct, used for participles and in subordinate clauses; and imperative, used with commands), as negative or affirmative, and for the person, number, animacy, and proximate/obviative status of both the subject and object, as well as for several different modes (including the dubitative and preterit) and tenses.


Loanwords and neologisms

Although it does contain a few loans from English (e.g. gaapii, "coffee," ) and French (e.g. mooshwe, "handkerchief" (from mouchoir),[77] ni-tii, "tea" (from le thé, "the tea")), in general, the Ojibwe language is notable for its relative lack of borrowing from other languages. Instead, speakers far prefer to create words for new concepts from existing vocabulary. For example in Minnesota Ojibwemowin, "airplane" is bemisemagak, literally "thing that flies" (from bimisemagad, "to fly"), and "battery" is ishkode-makakoons, literally "little fire-box" (from ishkode, "fire," and makak, "box"). Even "coffee" is called makade-mashkikiwaaboo ("black liquid-medicine") by many speakers, rather than gaapii. These new words vary from region to region, and occasionally from community to community. For example, in Northwest Ontario Ojibwemowin, "airplane" is ombaasijigan, literally "device that gets uplifted by the wind" (from ombaasin, "to be uplifted by the wind") as opposed to the Minnesota's bemisemagak.

Dialect variation

Like any language dialects spanning vast regions, some words that may have had identical meaning at one time have evolved to have different meanings today. For example, zhooniyaans (literally "small[-amount of] money" and used to refer to coins) specifically means "dime" (10-cent piece) in the United States, but a "quarter" (25-cent piece) in Canada, or desabiwin (literally "thing to sit upon") means "couch" or "chair" in Canada, but is used to specifically mean a "saddle" in the United States.

Cases like "battery" and "coffee" also demonstrate the often great difference between the literal meanings of the individual morphemes in a word, and the overall meaning of the entire word.

Sample vocabulary

Below are some examples of common Ojibwe words.

Short List of VAIs:
onjibaa = he/she comes
izhaa = he/she goes
maajaa = he/she departs
pikade = he/she is hungry
mino'endamo = he/she is glad
zhaaganaashimo = he/she speaks English
biindige = he/she comes in
ojibwemo = he/she speaks Ojibwe
boogidi = he/she flatulates
boogide = he/she has flatulence
aadizooke = he/she tells a story
wiisini = he/she is eating
minikwe = he/she drinks
bimose = he/she walks
bangishino = he/she falls
digoshino = he/she is arriving
giiwe = he/she goes home
jiibaakwe = he/she cooks
zagaswe = he/she smokes
nibaa = he/she sleeps
giigoonyike = he/she is fishing (lit. he/she makes fish)
gashkendamo = he/she is sad
bimaadizi = he/she lives
gaasikanaabaagawe = he/she is thirsty

Short List of Nouns:
naboob = soup
ikwe = woman
inini = man
ikwezens = girl
gwiiwizens = boy
mitigo = tree
asemaa = tobacco
opwaagan = pipe
mandaamin = corn
manoomin = wild rice
miskwi = blood
doodooshaaboo = milk
doodoosh = breast
doodooshaaboo-bimide = butter
omanoominiig = Menomonee peoples
giigoonh = fish
miskwimin = raspberry
gekek = hawk
gookookoo'oo = owl
migizi = bald eagle
giniw = golden eagle
bemaadizid = person
bemaadizijig = people
makizin = mocassin, shoe
wiigiwaam = wigwam, house

Writing system

There is no standard writing system used for all Ojibwe dialects.[78] Local writing systems have been developed by adapting the Roman alphabet, usually from English or French writing systems.[79] A syllabic writing system not related to English or French writing is used by some Ojibwe speakers in northern Ontario and Manitoba. The Great Lakes Algonquian syllabary is based upon the French alphabet, with letters organized into syllables. It was primarily used by speakers of Fox, Potawatomi, and Winnebago, but there is indirect evidence of use by speakers of Southwestern Ojibwe.[80][81]

A widely used Roman character-based writing system is the Double Vowel system devised by Charles Fiero. Although there is no standard orthography, the Double Vowel system is used by many Ojibwe language teachers because of its ease of use. A wide range of materials have been published in this system, including a grammar,[13] dictionaries,[82][83] collections of texts,[84][85][86] and pedagogical grammars.[87][88] In northern Ontario and Manitoba, Ojibwe is most commonly written using the Cree syllabary, a syllabary originally developed by Methodist missionary James Evans around 1840 in order to write Cree. The syllabic system is based in part on Evans' knowledge of Pitman shorthand and his prior experience developing a distinctive alphabetic writing system for Ojibwe in southern Ontario.[89]

Double Vowel System

The Double Vowel System uses three short vowels, four long vowels, and eighteen consonants, represented with the following Roman letters:

a aa b ch d e g ' h i ii j k m n o oo p s sh t w y z zh

Dialects typically either have /h/ or /ʔ/ (the orthographic <'> in most versions) but rarely both.[90] This system is called "Double Vowel" because the long vowel correspondences to the short vowels <a>, <i> and <o> are written with a doubled value. In this system, the nasal "ny" as a final element is instead written as "nh." The allowable consonant clusters are <mb>, <nd>, <ng>, <n'>, <nj>, <nz>, <ns>, <nzh>, <sk>, <shp>, <sht> and <shk>.

Sample text and analysis

The sample text, from the Southwestern Ojibwe dialect, is taken, with permission, from the first four lines of Niizh Ikwewag, a story originally told by Earl Nyholm, on Professor Brian Donovan of Bemidji State University's webpage.


  1. Aabiding gii-ayaawag niizh ikwewag: mindimooyenh, odaanisan bezhig.
  2. Iwidi Chi-achaabaaning akeyaa gii-onjibaawag.
  3. Inashke naa mewinzha gii-aawan, mii eta go imaa sa wiigiwaaming gaa-taawaad igo.
  4. Mii dash iwapii, aabiding igo gii-awi-bagida'waawaad, giigoonyan wii-amwaawaad.


  1. Once there were two women: an old lady, and one of her daughters.
  2. They were from over there towards Inger.
  3. See now, it was long ago; they just lived there in a wigwam.
  4. And at that time, once they went net-fishing; they intended to eat fish.


Aabiding gii-ayaawag niizh ikwewag: mindimooyenh, odaanisan bezhig.
aabiding gii- ayaa -wag niizh ikwe -wag mindimooyenh, o- daanis -an bezhig.
once PAST- be in a certain place -3PL two woman -3PL old woman, 3SG.POSS- daughter -OBV one.
Once they were in a certain place two women: old woman, her daughter one.
Iwidi Chi-achaabaaning akeyaa gii-onjibaawag.
iwidi chi- achaabaan -ing akeyaa gii- onjibaa -wag.
over there big- bowstring -LOC that way PAST- come from -3PL.
Over there by Inger
(lit: by Big-Bowstring [River])
that way they came from there.
Inashke naa mewinzha gii-aawan, mii eta go imaa sa wiigiwaaming gaa-taawaad igo.
inashke naa mewinzha gii- aawan mii eta go imaa sa wiigiwaam -ing gaa- daa -waad igo.
look now long ago PAST- be so only EMPH there EMPH wigwam -LOC PAST.CONJ- live -3PL.CONJ EMPH.
Look now long ago it was, only there so in a wigwam that they lived just then.
Mii dash iwapii, aabiding igo gii-awi-bagida'waawaad, giigoonyan wii-amwaawaad.
mii dash iw- -apii aabiding igo gii- awi- bagida'waa -waad, giigoonh -yan wii- amw -aawaad.
it is that CONTR that- -then once EMPH PAST- go and- fish with a net -3PL.CONJ fish -OBV DESD- eat -3PL/OBV.CONJ
And then then, once just then that they went and fished with a net those fish that they are going to eat those


3 third person
SG singular
PL plural
POSS possessive
OBV obviative
LOC locative
EMPH emphatic particle
CONJ conjunct order
CONTR contrastive particle
DESD desiderative

Well-known speakers of Anishinaabemowin

See also


  1. ^ a b c Goddard, Ives, 1979
  2. ^ a b Bloomfield, Leonard, 1958
  3. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 6
  4. ^ a b c Nichols, John, 1980, pp. 1-2
  5. ^ Rhodes, Richard, and Evelyn Todd, 1981
  6. ^ a b c d e Statistics Canada 2006
  7. ^ Goddard, Ives, 1978; Goddard, Ives, 1979
  8. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 1
  9. ^ Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995, p. 10
  10. ^ a b c Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 1, Fn. 2
  11. ^ Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, p. 105
  12. ^ Baraga, Frederic, 1878, p. 336
  13. ^ a b c Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001
  14. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 2
  15. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 3-4
  16. ^ Goddard, Ives, 1978, pp. 585-586; Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 100-102
  17. ^ a b Goddard, Ives, 1979, p. 95
  18. ^ Goddard, Ives, 1996, p. 4
  19. ^ Goddard, Ives, 1979, p. 95-96
  20. ^ Rhodes, Richard, and Evelyn Todd, 1981, p. 54, Fig. 2
  21. ^ Feest, J. and Feest, C., 1978; Dawes, Charles, 1982
  22. ^ a b U.S. English Foundation: Ojibwa. Retrieved November 12, 2009
  23. ^ a b http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2000/phc-5-pt1.pdf U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census of Population and Housing,Characteristics of American Indians and Alaska Natives by Tribe and Language: 2000. PHC-5. Washington, DC, 2003.
  24. ^ 2006 Canadian Census reported 32,460 total Ojibwe–Ottawa speakers less derived Ottawa of 7,564
  25. ^ Ethnologue reported 8,000 less 2000 US Census reported 436
  26. ^ a b Gordon, Raymond, 2005. See online version of same: Ethnologue entry for Ottawa. Retrieved November 12, 2009
  27. ^ Rhodes, Richard, and Evelyn Todd, 1981, p. 52
  28. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994
  29. ^ a b J. Randolph Valentine, 1994, p. 43-44
  30. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 42-43
  31. ^ Rhodes, Richard and E. Todd, 1981, p. 52
  32. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 456
  33. ^ Rhodes, Richard and E. Todd, 1981, p. 61, Fig. 5
  34. ^ J. Randolph Valentine, 1994, pp. 39
  35. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1982, p. 2
  36. ^ Bakker, Peter and Anthony Grant, 1996, p. 1117
  37. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1982, p. 1
  38. ^ Bakker, Peter and Anthony Grant, 1996, p. 1116
  39. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1982
  40. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1982, pp. 3-4
  41. ^ a b c d e Nichols, John, 1995, p. 1
  42. ^ Nichols, John, 1995, pp. 1-2
  43. ^ Nichols, John, 1995, p. 17-18
  44. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1976
  45. ^ Bakker, Peter, 1991
  46. ^ Bakker, Peter, 1996, 264-270
  47. ^ Rhodes, 1976
  48. ^ Laverdure, Patline and Ida Rose Allard, 1983
  49. ^ Bloomfield, Leonard, 1962
  50. ^ Blain, Eleanor, 1987, 7
  51. ^ Blain, Eleanor, 1987
  52. ^ See e.g. Nichols, John, 1981, p. 6 for Southwestern Ojibwe
  53. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 124-125
  54. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1985, p. xlvi
  55. ^ Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995, p. xxvi
  56. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1985, p. xli
  57. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 123-124
  58. ^ Bloomfield, Leonard, 1958, p. 8; Rhodes, Richard, 1985, pp. xliv, xlvii, xlix, l, li
  59. ^ a b For Southwestern Ojibwe, see Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995; for Ottawa, see Rhodes, Richard, 1985
  60. ^ Bloomfield, Leonard, 1958, p. 8
  61. ^ For Southwestern Ojibwe, see Nichols, John, 1981; for Ottawa, see Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001
  62. ^ See e.g.: Rhodes, Richard, 1985, for the Ottawa dialect; Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995, for the Southwestern Ojibwe dialect.
  63. ^ Nichols, John, 1980, pp. 6-7
  64. ^ Piggott, Glyne, 1981
  65. ^ For discussion of this rule in the Ottawa dialect, see Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 54
  66. ^ Valentine, J. Randoph, 2001, p. 53
  67. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 51-55
  68. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 934-935
  69. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 114
  70. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, Chapters 5-8; pp. 62-72
  71. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 178
  72. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 759-782
  73. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 759
  74. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 830-837
  75. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 837-856
  76. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 623-643
  77. ^ O'Meara, John. "Words Borrowed From English/French Into Ojibwe". http://bolt.lakeheadu.ca/~jomeara/ojibweBorrowings.html. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  78. ^ Ningewance, Patricia, 1999
  79. ^ Walker, Willard, 1996
  80. ^ Walker, Willard, 1996, pp. 168-172
  81. ^ Smith, Huron, 1932, p. 335
  82. ^ Nichols, John, 1995
  83. ^ Rhodes, Richard, 1985
  84. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1998
  85. ^ Kegg, Maude, 1991
  86. ^ Nichols, John and Leonard Bloomfield, eds., 1991
  87. ^ Vollom, Judith and Thomas M. Vollom, 1994
  88. ^ Ningewance, Patricia, 1993
  89. ^ Nichols, John, 1996
  90. ^ For Southwestern Ojibwe, which has /ʔ/ (orthographic <'>) but not /h/, see Nichols, John, 1981


  • Bakker, Peter. 1991. "The Ojibwa element in Michif." W. Cowan, ed., Papers of the twenty-second Algonquian conference, 11-20. Ottawa: Carleton University. ISSN 0031-5671
  • Bakker, Peter. 1996. A language of our own: The genesis of Michif, the mixed Cree-French language of the Canadian Métis. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509711-4
  • Bakker, Peter and Anthony Grant. 1996. "Interethnic communication in Canada, Alaska and adjacent areas." Stephen A. Wurm, Peter Muhlhausler, Darrell T. Tyron, eds., Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, 1107-1170. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3110134179
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1958. Eastern Ojibwa: Grammatical sketch, texts and word list. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1962. The Menomini language. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • [Dawes, Charles E.] 1982. Dictionary English-Ottawa Ottawa-English. No publisher given.
  • Canada. Statistics Canada 2006 Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  • Feest, Johanna, and Christian Feest. 1978. "Ottawa." Bruce Trigger, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15. Northeast, 772-786. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1978. "Central Algonquian Languages." Bruce Trigger, ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15, Northeast, 583-587. Washington: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1979. "Comparative Algonquian." Lyle Campbell and Marianne Mithun, eds, The languages of Native America, 70-132. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1996. "Introduction." Ives Goddard, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 17. Languages, 1-16. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Gordon Jr., Raymond. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th edition. Ethnologue entry for Ojibwe. Retrieved March 31, 2009. Dallas: SIL International. ISBN 978-1-55671-159-6
  • Kegg, Maude. 1991. Edited and transcribed by John D. Nichols. Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 081662-4151
  • Laverdure, Patline and Ida Rose Allard. 1983. The Michif dictionary: Turtle Mountain Chippewa Cree. Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications. ISBN 0919143350
  • Nichols, John. 1980. Ojibwe morphology. PhD dissertation, Harvard University.
  • Nichols, John. 1995. "The Ojibwe verb in "Broken Oghibbeway." Amsterdam Creole Studies 12: 1-18.
  • Nichols, John. 1996. "The Cree syllabary." Peter Daniels and William Bright, eds. The world’s writing systems, 599-611. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  • Nichols, John D. and Leonard Bloomfield, eds. 1991. The dog’s children. Anishinaabe texts told by Angeline Williams. Winnipeg: Publications of the Algonquian Text Society, University of Manitoba. ISBN 0-88755-148-3
  • Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm. 1995. A concise dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. St. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-2427-5
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 1993. Survival Ojibwe. Winnipeg: Mazinaate Press. ISBN 0-9697826-0-8
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 1999. Naasaab izhi-anishinaabebii'igeng: Conference report. A conference to find a common Anishinaabemowin writing system. Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario. ISBN 0-7778-8695-2
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 2004. Talking Gookom's language: Learning Ojibwe. Lac Seul, ON: Mazinaate Press. ISBN 0-969782-3-2
  • Piggott, Glyne L. 1980. Aspects of Odawa morphophonemics. New York: Garland. (Published version of PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 1974) ISBN 0-8240-4557-2
  • Rhodes, Richard. 1976. "A preliminary report on the dialects of Eastern Ojibwa – Odawa." W. Cowan, ed., Papers of the seventh Algonquian conference, 129-156. Ottawa: Carleton University.
  • Rhodes, Richard. 1982. "Algonquian trade languages." William Cowan, ed., Papers of the thirteenth Algonquian conference, 1-10. Ottawa: Carleton University. ISBN 0-7709-0123-9
  • Rhodes, Richard A. 1985. Eastern Ojibwa-Chippewa-Ottawa Dictionary. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-013749-6
  • Rhodes, Richard and Evelyn Todd. 1981. "Subarctic Algonquian languages." June Helm, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6. Subarctic, 52-66. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Smith, Huron H. 1932. "Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians." Bulletin of the Public Museum of Milwaukee 4:327-525.
  • Todd, Evelyn. 1970. A grammar of the Ojibwa language: The Severn dialect. PhD dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Characteristics of American Indians and Alaska Natives by Tribe and Language: 2000 Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  • Valentine, J. Randolph. 1994. Ojibwe dialect relationships. PhD dissertation, University of Texas, Austin.
  • Valentine, J. Randolph. 1998. Weshki-bimaadzijig ji-noondmowaad. ‘That the young might hear’: The stories of Andrew Medler as recorded by Leonard Bloomfield. London, ON: The Centre for Teaching and Research of Canadian Native Languages, University of Western Ontario. ISBN 0-7714-2091-9
  • Valentine, J. Randolph. 2001. Nishnaabemwin Reference Grammar. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-4870-6
  • Vollom, Judith L. and Thomas M. Vollom. 1994. Ojibwemowin. Series 1. Second Edition. Ramsey, Minnesota: Ojibwe Language Publishing.
  • Walker, Willard. 1996. "Native writing systems." Ives Goddard, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 17. Languages, 158-184. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9

Further reading

  • Beardy, Tom. Introductory Ojibwe in Severn dialect. Parts one and two. Thunder Bay, Ontario: Native Language Instructors' program, Lakehead University, 1996. ISBN 0886630185
  • Cappel, Constance, editor, "Odawa Language and legends: Andrew J. Blackbird and Raymond Kiogima," Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2006. ISBN 9781599269207
  • Hinton, Leanne and Kenneth Hale. 2001. The Green Book of Language Revitalization in Practice. Academic Press. ISBN 0123493534
  • McGregor, Ernest. 1987. Algonquin lexicon. Maniwaki, QC: River Desert Education Authority.
  • Mitchell, Mary. 1988. Eds. J. Randolph Valentine and Lisa Valentine. Introductory Ojibwe (Severn dialect), Part one. Thunder Bay: Native Language Office, Lakehead University.
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: University Press. ISBN 0521232287
  • Moose, Lawrence L. et al., Aaniin Ekidong: Ojibwe Vocabulary ProjectAaniin Ekidong: Ojibwe Vocabulary Project. St. Paul: Minnesota Humanities Center, 2009.
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 1990. Anishinaabemodaa: Becoming a successful Ojibwe eavesdropper. Winnipeg: Manitoba Association for Native Languages. ISBN 189463201X
  • Northrup, Jim, Marcie R. Rendon, and Linda LeGarde Grover. Nitaawichige = "to Do Something Skillfully" : Selected Poetry and Prose by Four Anishinaabe Writers. Duluth, MN: Poetry Harbor, 2002. ISBN 1886895287
  • Snache, Irene. 2005. Ojibwe language dictionary.Rama, ON: Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Publishers. ISBN 189463201X
  • Sugarhead, Cecilia. 1996. ᓂᓄᑕᐣ / Ninoontaan / I can hear it: Ojibwe stories from Lansdowne House written by Cecilia Sugarhead. Edited, translated and with a glossary by John O’Meara. Winnipeg: Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics. ISBN 0921064144
  • Toulouse, Isadore. Kidwenan An Ojibwe Language Book. Munsee-Delaware Nation, ON: Anishinaabe Kendaaswin Pub, 1995. ISBN 1896027164
  • Treuer, Anton. Living our language: Ojibwe tales & oral histories. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001. ISBN 0873514041
  • Treuer, Anton. Ojibwe in MinnesotaOjibwe in Minnesota. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2010.
  • Vizenor, Gerald Robert. Summer in the Spring Anishinaabe Lyric Poems and Stories. American Indian literature and critical studies series, v. 6. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993. ISBN 0806125187
  • Williams, Shirley I. 2002. Gdi-nweninaa: Our sound, our voice. Peterborough, ON: Neganigwane. ISBN 0973144211

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