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Abnaki-Penobscot (Abenaki Language)
Language: Abenaki-Penobscot is an Algonkian language
spoken by two related tribes of the Northeast Woodlands, the Abenaki
and the Penobscot.
Abenaki-Penobscot is a polysynthetic language
with complex verbs and fairly free word order.
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.
Thank you for your interest in Native American languages!
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, Abenake, Abenaque, 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.)
People: The Abnakis and Penobscots, together with the
Passamaquoddys, and the
Mi'kmaqs, were members of the
old Wabanaki Confederacy,
traditional adversaries of the Iroquois League. These allies from the
eastern seaboard area 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 (primarily Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire) and Quebec (where they fled British aggression in the 1600's),
and another 3000 Penobscots living in Maine.
Bands: Eastern Abenaki-speaking bands included
the Kennebec (Caniba),
and Old Town Penobscots.
Bands speaking the Western Abenaki language included the
Cowass (Cowasuck or Koes), and
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.)
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.
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.
Introduction to Penobscot mythology.
Our Online Abenaki Language Materials
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:
Picture glossary of animal words in the Abenaki language.
Abenaki Body Parts:
Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Abenaki language.
Worksheet showing color words in the Abenaki language.
Worksheet showing how to count in the Abenaki language.
Worksheet with pictures of food words in the Abenaki language.
Abenaki-Penobscot Animate Nouns:
Lesson on Abenaki-Penobscot animate and inanimate nouns.
Lesson on the use of Abenaki-Penobscot possessive prefixes.
Abnaki-Penobscot Dictionaries and Language Books for Sale
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links
Gordon Day's classic Western Abenaki dictionary for sale.
A more modern dictionary of Abenaki which is easier to find a copy of.
Abenaki elder Stephen Laurent's updated edition of Aubry's 1755 Abenaki dictionary.
The Language of Basket Making:
Language learning book by an Abenaki language revival advocate.
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.
Nulhegan Abenaki Coloring Book:
Tribal language learning materials for kids available online.
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
Abenaki language lessons from an Odanak elder. With sound files of Abenaki words and phrases.
Online Abnaki lessons from the Cowasuck tribe.
Phonology and spelling of the Abenaki language.
Profile of the Abenaki language including a phonological inventory, orthographies and a prayer.
Western Abnaki: Description Western Abnaki: Orthography:
Digitized language materials from the Rosetta Project.
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-Penobscot Glossaries and Audio Recordings
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.
University of Maine Penobscot Primer:
Audio clips of the last fluent Penobscot woman, Madeline Shay.
Literature and Texts in the Penobscot-Abenaki Language
Gluskonba and the Snow Bird:
Traditional legends told in the Abenaki language, with English translation.
Language Museum: Abnaki-Penobscot: Abenaki-Penobscot Prayers: Nemit8kusena:
Christian prayers translated into the Abenaki language.
School Net: Abenaki-Penobscot:
American Indian language plaque written in Abnaki-Penobscot.
Penobscot-Abenaki Language Preservation and Usage
Preserving the Abenaki Language and Culture Keeping a Language Alive:
Articles about Abenaki language maintenance efforts.
Reviving Penobscot Last Words Lost in Translation Teacher Keeps Penobscot Language Alive:
Articles about the language revival program of the Penobscot tribe.
Legacy of a Saved Language:
Story of Stephen Laurent's life work to preserve the Abenaki language in a dictionary.
Middlebury Center: School of Abenaki:
Summer immersion course in the Abenaki language, led by Native educator Jesse Bruchac.
House of Languages: Western Abenaki
Information about Abenaki language usage.
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 Language Resources:
Bibliography of Abenaki language learning materials.
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