- Massachusett language
Massachusett Wampanoag Spoken in United States Region Southeast Massachusetts Ethnicity Wampanoag people, Massachusett people Native speakers ~5 children (no adults)
Exinct late 19th century,
Revived 21st century (date missing)
Language family Language codes ISO 639-3 wam This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
The Massachusett language was a Native American language, a member of the Algonquian language family. It is also known as Wôpanâak (Wampanoag), Natick, and Pokanoket.
Massachusett was spoken by the Massachusett and the Wampanoag nations of Native Americans, who lived in the area of present-day Boston, on Cape Cod, and on the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts. Massachusett was one of the first Native American languages which English settlers learned, and the first Bible published in the colony was a translation in Massachusett, in 1663.
Massachusett is the first Native American language to be revived in the United States after its last speakers had died; the work has been led since 1993 by Jessie Little Doe Baird and the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project.
The first Bible published in North America was a translation of the entire Bible into Massachusett; translated and printed in 1663 by John Eliot, a missionary associated with the Indian College at Harvard. He followed with a primer in 1669, and a second edition of the Bible in 1685. Eliot's missionary work led to literacy among the Wampanoag, who left many wills, deeds, and other documents written in Massachusett using the orthography he introduced. As a result of the tradition of literacy, Massachusett has a much richer documentation than many other extinct Native American languages.
The Lord's Prayer in Massachusett:
- Nooshun kesukqut, wunneetupantamuch koowesuounk. Peyamooutch kukkeitasootamounk. Toh anantaman ne n-naj okheit, neane kesukqut. Asekesukokish petukqunnegash assaminnean yeu kesukok. Ahquontamaiinnean nummatcheseongatch, neane matchenehikqueagig nutahquontamanóunonog. Ahque sagkompaguninnean en qutchhuaonganit, webe pohquohwussinnan wutch matchitut. Newutche keitassootamoonk, kutahtauun, menuhkesuonk, sohsumoonk micheme kah micheme. Amen.
Since 1993 Jessie Little Doe Baird, a Mashpee Wampanoag, has led the effort to revive the language within the Wampanoag nation more than a century after it was last spoken. She earned a Master's in Algonquian Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2000, and has compiled an 10,000-word dictionary, as well as developed a Wampanoag grammar (see below).
This is the first time in the United States that a language has been revived after the death of all native speakers, and in 2010 Baird was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her leadership. The work of the Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) Language Reclamation Project has been documented in the film, We Still Live Here - Âs Nutayuneân, by the filmmaker Anne Makepeace; it is being shown on PBS local stations at different dates during November 2011.
The work has been a collaboration among members of The Assonet Band of Wampanoag, The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah and the Herring Pond Band of Wampanoag. They are training adult facilitators to teach young children and develop a curriculum; the long-term goal is to establish a school in Wôpanâak.
As reconstructed by Algonquianists, Massachusett had 11 consonants, two short vowels, and four long vowels. The consonants consisted of the stops /p/, /t/, /c/, /t͡ʃ/, and /k/; fricatives /s/ and /ʃ/; nasals /m/ and /n/; and semivowels /w/ and /j/. The short vowels were /a/ and /ə/, and the long vowels were /iː/, /uː/, /aː/, and /ãː/.
- ^ Goddard (1978:71)
- ^ a b c Saskia De Melker, "'We Still Live Here' Traces Comeback of Wampanoag Indian Language", PBS Newshour, 11-10-2011, accessed 18 November 2011
- ^ "A Glance Back at America's First Bible," Cotton Boll Conspiracy, September 19, 2011
- ^ a b Jeffrey Mifflin, "Saving a Language: A rare book in MIT's archives helps linguists revive a long-unused Native American language", Technology Review, May/June 2008, accessed 18 November 2011
- ^ The Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) Language Reclamation Project
- ^ Walker (1997:159)
- "Wampanoag", Ethnologue
- Jessie Little Doe Fermino. 2000. An Introduction to Wampanoag Grammar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MS thesis.
- Goddard, Ives (1978). "Eastern Algonquian Languages" in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 15 (Bruce G. Trigger, ed.). Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
- Goddard, Ives and Kathleen J. Bragdon (eds.) (1989) Native Writings in Massachusett, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. ISBN 0-87169-185-X
- Moondancer and Strong Woman (2007) A Cultural History of the Native Peoples of Southern New England: Voices from Past and Present, Boulder, CO: Bauu Press. ISBN 0-97213-493-X
- Walker, Willard B. (1997). "Native Writing Systems" in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 17 (Ives Goddard, ed.). Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
- The Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) Language Reclamation Project
- Wampanoag Language and the Wampanoag Indian Tribe, (general information and links)
- Fermino, Jessie Little Doe (2000): An Introduction to Wampanoag Grammar, MIT
- "Algonquian Texts" (features many Wampanoag texts, including the bulk of the Eliot bible and subsequent missionary writings), University of Massachusetts
- Eliot, "Translation of the Book of Genesis, 1655, Kings Collection
- Trumbull, James Hammond (1903). Natick Dictionary, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office (Washington) (also at the Internet Archive)
- Eliot, John (1666): The Indian Grammar Begun. Cambridge: Marmaduke Johnson.
- Eliot, John (1709): The Massachuset Psalter or, Psalms of David with the Gospel according to John. Boston, N.E: Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England.
- "A glance back at America’s first bible", Cotton Boll Conspiracy blog, 19 September 2011, scanned image of Eliot Bible page
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.