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Mi'kmaq Language (Mi'kmaw, Micmac, Mikmaq, Mikmak)

Language: The Mi'kmaq language, Mi'kmawi'simk, is an Algonquian language spoken by 8000 Indians in the Canadian Maritimes (particularly Nova Scotia) and a few US communities in the Northeast. The Mi'kmaq dialect spoken in Quebec is called Restigouche (or Listuguj) and can be hard for other native speakers to understand.

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Writing: Mi'kmaq is written alphabetically today, but in the past it was written in pictographs. Though these pictographs were modified by Jesuit missionaries, who used them to teach Christian prayers to Micmac people, they probably predated European contact. Micmac hieroglyphics do not resemble Ancient Egyptian or Mayan hieroglyphs; see here for an explanation of these different writing systems. Mi'kmaq is not linguistically related to Ancient Egyptian or any other semitic languages. The Mi'kmaq language is entirely native to the New World and is related to other major North American Indian languages like Lenape, Ojibwe, and Cree. Although Mi'kmaq is one of the healthier American Indian languages, the number of children learning the language has been in decline since the 1970's. The Mi'kmaq people are working to reverse this trend before their language, like so many others, is threatened with extinction. Mi'kmaq is a polysynthetic language with complex verb morphology and fairly free word order.

People: The Micmac First Nations are indigenous people of eastern Canada, variously spelled Mi'kmaq, Míkmaq, Mikmak, Mi'gmak, Mick Mack, or Mikmaq. Their original term for themselves was Lnu'k (or L'nu'k), "the people." Mi'kmaq comes from a word in their own language meaning "my friends"; it is the preferred tribal name now, though fluent speakers often use the adjective form, Mi'kmaw. The Micmacs were sometimes also called Porcupine Indians because of their porcupine-quill art. They were kinfolk and traditional allies of the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet Indians, with whom they formed the historic Wabanaki Confederacy of New England and the Maritimes. Traditional Micmac territory is concentrated in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but the Micmac people also had a presence in parts of Quebec, Newfoundland, and Maine. There are about 25,000 Mi'kmaq Indians today, most of whom still live on their traditional lands.

History: In allying with the French, the Mi'kmaq tribe did not pick the winning side in the European fight over Nova Scotia; they did, however, pick pretty good friends. Not only didn't the French massacre the Mi'kmaqs, they kept their own settlements to the coast and didn't infringe much on Mi'kmaq hunting grounds. For their part, the Mi'kmaq people were staunch allies of the French in good times and bad, and if the tribe had not been devastated by smallpox and other European diseases, the history of Nova Scotia might have been written very differently. As it was, the English, helped by the Mohawk and other Iroquoians, did eventually defeat and deport the French, but the Mikmaq tribe remains in the Maritimes to this day.

Mi'kmaq Language Resources
Mi'kmaq language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Mi'kmaq Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Mi'kmaq Indians past and present.

Micmac Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Micmacs, their language and culture.

Micmac Legends
Introduction to Micmac Indian mythology.

Mi'kmaq Language Resources

Our Mi'kmaq Language Materials

Mi'kmaq Vocabulary:
    List of Mi'kmaq words, with comparison to other Algonquian languages.
Mi'kmaq Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Mi'kmaq words.
Mi'kmaq Animal Words:
    Picture glossary of animal words in Mi'kmaq.
Mi'kmaq Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Mi'kmaq language.
Mi'kmaq Colors:
    Worksheet showing color words in the Micmac language.
Micmac Numbers:
    Worksheet showing how to count in Micmac.
Micmac Food:
    Worksheet with pictures of food words in the Micmac language.
Mi'kmaq Animate Nouns:
    Lesson on Micmac animate and inanimate nouns.
Mi'kmaq Possession:
    Lesson on the use of Mi'kmaq possessive prefixes.

Mi'kmaq Dictionaries and Language Books for Sale
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

The Metallic Migmaq-English Reference Dictionary:
    Comprehensive dictionary of the Listuguj (Restigouche) dialect of the Mi'kmaq language.
English-Micmac Dictionary:
    Silas Rand's classic Mi'kmaq dictionary.
Micmac Dictionary:
    Micmac-English/English-Micmac dictionary.
Mi'kmaq Hieroglyphic Prayers: Readings in North America's First Indigenous Script:
    Collection of prayers in Micmac translation.
Outline for a Comparative Grammar of some Algonquian Languages:
    Linguistics text comparing the Micmac language to several other Algonquian languages.
Mikmaw Language Materials:
    Mikmaw-language books, tapes, and videos from the Mikmaw Centre of Excellence.
Míkmaw Christmas Music:
    CD of songs in the Mi'kmaq language.
Mi'gmaq New Testament:
    Translations of the Bible into the Mi'kmaq language.
Native American-English Dictionaries:
    Mi'kmaq and other native language dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Mi'kmaq Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

How to Spell Mi'kmaq:
    History and spelling of the word 'Mi'kmaq.'
Micmac Description:
    Marianne Mithun's Micmac language profile.
Languages of the Maritimes:
    Overview of the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet-Passamaquoddy languages.
Míkmaq Language Lessons:
    Mi'kmaq phonetics exercises, conversations, and glossaries.
Mi'kmaq Lessons:
    Mi'kmaq pronunciation guide, vocabulary, and soundfiles.
Mi'kmaq Alphabet:
    Mi'kmaq phonological inventory and writing systems.
    Micmac orthography and text example.
Pronouncing Micmac * The Mi'kmaq Alphabet * Micmac Orthography:
    Micmac pronunciation/spelling guides.
Native Traditions: The Mikmaq Language:
    Interviews with native speakers about the history and structure of Mi'kmaq.
Mi'kmaq Hieroglpyhs * Mi'kmaq Learning Resources * Mi'kmaw Hieroglyphic Writing:
    Images of historical Mi'kmaq symbols with information about their pre-colonial writing system.

Mi'kmaq Glossaries and Sound Files

The Mi'kmaq-Mi'gmaq Talking Dictionary:
    Grammatical examples and audio files for each Mikmaq word (Listiguj dialect).
Talking Mikmaq Dictionary:
    Online Mikmaq word lookup, with pronunciation key.
Mi'kmaw Numbers * Counting in Mikmaq:
    Mi'kmaq numerals.
Micmac Colors * Mi'kmaq Names of Birds * Mi'kmaq Names of Trees:
    English-Mi'kmaq vocabulary pages.
A Selection of Micmac Words:
    Small Micmac glossary of cultural terms, with discussion of each entry.
Kids' Stop: Mi'kmaq Phrases * Mikmaq Audio Samples * More Mikmaq Audio Samples:
    Expressions in Mi'kmaq * Pronouncing Mi'kmaq Words * Mi'kmaw Language Unit:
    Phrasebooks with audio files of Mi'kmaq words and phrases.

Literature and Texts in the Mi'kmaq Language

Spoken Mi'kmaq Stories * Mi'kmaq Online Story Page * Mikmaq Stories and Songs:
    Audio recordings of Mikmaq-language storytelling.
Mi'kmaq Talking Books:
    Children's stories in Mi'kmaq and English, with soundfiles for each Mi'kmaq word and sentence.
Teachings from the Medicine Wheel:
    Maliseet and Micmac stories, with audio records.
Mi'kmaq Song Page * Mikmaq Songs * Amazing Grace * Mi'kmaw Christmas Music * Mi'kmaq Blackbird:
    Mi'kmaw-language songs (traditional, translations, carols and hymns).
Human Rights: Micmac:
    Translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into the Mi'kmaq language.
Working Together as a Global People * ...And Understanding Your Neighbors:
    Audio interviews in Mi'kmaq and English about resource management and the environment.
    Master's thesis about the Mi'kmaq Indian world-view (text in Mi'kmaq).
School Net: National Aboriginal Day:
    Essay by a Mi'kmaq teenager, in English and Mi'kmaq.
Human Rights, Mikmaq Language * English translation:
    Mi'kmaq translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Lord's Prayer in Mikmaq * Micmac Prayers:
    Christian prayers in Micmac hieroglyphic and alphabetic writing, also with audio.
Micmac Bible Translation:
    The book of Genesis translated into Micmac.
Canadian Human Rights Tribute: Micmac:
    Plaque in the Micmac Indian language.

Mi'kmaq Language Preservation and Usage

Mi'kmaw Language Program:
    Mi'kmaw Language Program of the Native Council of Nova Scotia.
Mi'kmaw Language Centre of Excellence:
    Mi'kmaw Centre of Excellence at Eskasoni First Nation.
Confronting Language Ambivalence and Language Death:
    Paper by Robert Leavitt about Maliseet and Micmac language maintenance and revitalization.
Aroostook Band of Micmacs Keeps Language Alive * Micmac making a comeback in NS community:
    News articles about Mi'kmaq language revitalization.
Micmac Classes:
    Maliseet and Micmac language classes at the University of New Brunswick.
Mi'kmaq Language Courses:
    Index of Mi'kmaq courses offered by Canadian universities.
Learning Micmac:
    Bibliographies of Micmac language learning resources.
The Mi'kmaq People:
    Ethnographic and linguistic information about the Mikmaq Indian people.
House of Languages: Micmac:
     Information about Micmac language usage.
Ethnologue: Micmac:
    Demographic information about Micmac from the Ethnologue of Languages.
Micmac Language Tree:
    Theories about Micmac's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Mi'kmaq Language Structures:
    Micmac linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Mi'kmaq Names

Place Names in the Maritimes * Meaning of Mí'kmaq Place Names * Mikmak Indian Placenames:
    Mi'kmaq Names in Guysborough County * Mi'kmaw Place Name Translator:
    Micmac placenames and their meanings.
Mi'kmaq Surnames:
    List of Mikmaq Indian family names.
Native American Names for Pets:
    Our new translation fundraiser offering names for dogs and other animals in Mikmaq and other Native American languages.

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

  Langue Malecite et Micmaq * Coup d'oeil sur la langue micmaque * Les Micmacs: Lexique * Micmacs: Conversation real:
  Micmac language websites in French.
  Lengua Micmac de Canada:
  Article on the Micmac language in Spanish. With a language map.
  Míkmaw Language:
  Micmac links.
  Micmac Tribe:
  Mi'kmaq Indian books.

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