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Native Languages of the Americas:
Abnaki-Penobscot (Abenaki Language)

Language: Abenaki-Penobscot is an Algonkian language spoken by two related tribes, the Abenaki and the Penobscot. Today only a handful of Canadian Abenakis still speak the Western Abenaki language. The last fully fluent speaker of Eastern Abnaki/Penobscot has passed on, but several Penobscot elders still speak some of the language and are working to revive its use in the Penobscot Nation today. Abenaki-Penobscot is a polysynthetic language with complex verbs and fairly free word order.



Names: There are two dialects of the Abenaki-Penobscot language, Abenaki and Penobscot (also known as Western Abenaki and Eastern Abenaki.) In their own language, Alnôbak is the original name for the Abenaki language, and Penawahpskewi is the name for Penobscot. Other spellings include Alnobak, Alnombak, or Aln8bak (the 8 was used by Jesuit linguists to represent a nasalized, unrounded 'o'); Abanaki, Abnaki, Abénaki, Abinaki, Abenakai, Abenaqui, Abenaquis, Abenaquise, Abenakis, or Abnakis; and Panawahpskek, Penobscott, Old Town, or Eastern Abnaki. The Western Abenaki were also sometimes known as the St. Francis Indians, after the Saint Francois River in Quebec (where the Abenaki First Nation of Odanak is located.) Eastern Abenaki-speaking bands included the Caniba (Kennebec), Norridgewock, Aroosagunticook (Androscoggin), Pigwacket (Pequawket), Wawenock, and Old Town Penobscots. Bands speaking the Western Abenaki language included the Sokoki (Sokokis), Cowasuck (Cowass), and Missisquoi (Mazipskwik). Another group which is sometimes associated with the Abenakis is the Pennacook band, though it's not certain which language they spoke (some people believe their language was a form of Abenaki, while others believe that it was a dialect of Wampanoag.)

People: The Abnakis and Penobscots, together with the Maliseets, the Passamaquoddys, and the Mi'kmaqs, were me mbers of the old Wabanaki Confederacy, traditional adversaries of the Iroquois. These allies from the eastern seaboard spoke related languages, and "Abnaki" and "Wabanaki" have the same Algonquian root, meaning "people from the east." Today there are about 12,000 Abnakis living in New England and Quebec (where they fled British aggression in the 1600's), and 3000 Penobscots living primarily in Maine.



Penobscot-Abenaki Language
Penobscot-Abenaki language samples and resources.

Abenaki Tribe Culture and History
Information and links about the Abnaki people.

Abenaki Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to common questions about the Abenakis.

Abenaki Legends
Introduction to Abenaki mythology.

Penobscot Tribe Culture and History
Information and links about the Penobscot people.

Penobscot Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to common questions about the Penobscots.

Penobscot Legends
Introduction to Penobscot mythology.



Penobscot-Abenaki Language Resources

Our Online Abenaki Language Materials

Abenaki-Penobscot Vocabulary:
    List of words in the Western Abenaki language compared to other Algonquian languages.
Abenaki-Penobscot Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Abenaki-Penobscot words.
Abenaki-Penobscot Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Abenaki language.
Abenaki Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Abenaki language.
Abenaki-Penobscot Colors:
    Worksheet showing color words in the Abenaki language.
Abenaki-Penobscot Numbers:
    Worksheet showing how to count in the Abenaki language.
Abenaki-Penobscot Animate Nouns:
    Lesson on Abenaki-Penobscot animate and inanimate nouns.
Abenaki-Penobscot Possession:
    Lesson on the use of Abenaki-Penobscot possessive prefixes.

Abnaki-Penobscot Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources

English-Abenaki Dictionary:
    Gordon Day's Abenaki dictionary for sale.
French-Abenaki Dictionary:
    Abenaki elder Stephen Laurent's updated edition of Aubry's 1755 Abenaki dictionary.
New Familiar Abenakis and English Dialogues:
    19th-century grammar book written by an Abenaki Indian chief.
Abenaki Indian Legends, Grammar and Place Names:
    Traditional stories in the Abenaki language with English translations and notes.
Indian Place-Names of the Penobscot Valley and the Maine Coast:
    Study of the Penobscot place names of Maine.
Vermont Historical Society: Abenaki:
    Books on the Abnaki for sale, including an Abenaki language book and tape.
Native American Language Dictionaries:
    Abenaki and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Abenaki-Penobscot Language Community and Tools

Western Abenaki Radio:
    Homepage of a Native radio station airing language lessons and programs in Abenaki.
    Abenaki-language MP3's can be downloaded directly from their site!
Wijokadoak: Abenaki Language Project:
    This non-profit Abenaki organization runs a language learning camp for children, among other projects.

Abenaki-Penobscot Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Spoken Abenaki:
    Abenaki language lessons from an Odanak elder. With audio files of Abenaki words and phrases.
Abenaki Lessons:
    Online Abnaki lessons from the Cowasuck tribe.
Abenaki Alphabet:
    Phonology and spelling of the Abenaki language.
Abenaki (Alnôba):
    Profile of the Abenaki language including a phonological inventory, orthographies and a prayer.
Abenaki Language: Description:
    Marianne Mithun's linguistics profile of Abenaki-Penobscot.
Eastern Abenaki Language Tree * Western Abenaki Language Tree:
    Theories about Abenaki's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Abenaki Language Structures:
    Western Abenaki linguistic profile and academic bibliography.
Abenaki Language: Orthography:
    Excerpt from Gordon Day's Western Abenaki dictionary.
Abanaki and English Dialogues:
    Scanned-in copy of Joseph Laurent's 1884 Abnaki grammar.

Abenaki-Penobscot Glossaries and Sound Files

Freelang Abenaki Dictionary:
    Free downloadable wordlist of the Western Abenaki language.
Common Abenaki Words * Abenaki Lexicons:
    Abnaki-English word lists.
Abenaki Words and Phrases * Abenaki Conversation:
    Abenaki language phrasebooks.
Penobscot Primer Project:
    Audio clips of the last fluent Penobscot speaker, Madeline Shay.

Literature and Texts in the Penobscot-Abenaki Language

Abenaki-Penobscot Prayers * Nemit8kusena:
    Christian prayers in the Abenaki language.
School Net: Abenaki-Penobscot:
    American Indian language plaque written in Abnaki-Penobscot.
Language Museum: Abnaki-Penobscot:
    Abenaki language sample.

Penobscot-Abenaki Language Preservation and Usage

Struggle and Survival: Abenaki Language Preservation:
    Documentary clips about the preservation of the Abenaki language. Flash-only.
Reviving Penobscot * Last Words * Lost in Translation * Teacher Keeps Penobscot Language Alive:
    Articles about the language revival program of the Penobscot tribe.
Preserving the Abenaki Language and Culture * Keeping a Language Alive:
    Articles about Abenaki language maintenance efforts.
Legacy of a Saved Language:
    Story of Stephen Laurent's life work to preserve the Abenaki language in a dictionary.
House of Languages: Western Abenaki
     Information about Abenaki language usage.
Ethnologue: Western Abnaki * Ethnologue: Eastern Abnaki:
    Demographic information about the Penobscot-Abenaki language.

Abnaki-Penobscot Proper Names

Abenaki Place Names:
    Town and river names in the Western Abenaki language.
Streets of Odanak:
    Abenaki name list from Odanak, Quebec.
Abenaki Place-Names in the Champlain Valley:
    Origins and translations of Abenaki names of New England.
Common Wabanaki Names * Abenaki Names:
    Lists of Abnaki names.
Native American Names for Pets:
    Fundraiser offering names for dogs and other animals in Native American languages (including Abenaki-Penobscot).

Additional Resources, Links, and References

  Wikipedia: Abnaki Indian Language:
  Encyclopedia articles on the Abenaki language.
  L'Abénaki * Abénaki Lexique * Le Mot Abénaqui * Abénaki Conversation:
  Abenaki language articles in French.
  Eastern Abenaki Language * Western Abenaki Language * Abenaqués Occidental:
  Abenaki information in Spanish, including a language map of the Northeast..
  Abenaki Language and Literature Resources * Abenaki Language:
  Abnaki Indian links.
  Abenaki Tribe:
  Abenaki Indian books.



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