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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.
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
The Micmacs were sometimes also called Porcupine Indians because of their porcupine-quill art. They
were kinfolk and traditional allies of the Abenaki,
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.
Introduction to Micmac Indian mythology.
Our Mi'kmaq Language Materials
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.
Worksheet showing color words in the Micmac language.
Worksheet showing how to count in Micmac.
Worksheet with pictures of food words in the Micmac language.
Mi'kmaq Animate Nouns:
Lesson on Micmac animate and inanimate nouns.
Lesson on the use of Mi'kmaq possessive prefixes.
Mi'kmaq Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources
The Metallic Migmaq-English Reference Dictionary:
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links
Comprehensive dictionary of the Listuguj (Restigouche) dialect of the Mi'kmaq language.
Silas Rand's classic Mi'kmaq 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.'
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 pronunciation guide, vocabulary, and soundfiles.
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:
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'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.
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 Micmac Revitalization Resources:
Bibliographies of Micmac language learning resources.
Mi'kmaw language information and services available through by the Mi'kmaq Centre of Excellence.
The Mi'kmaq People:
Ethnographic and linguistic information about the Mikmaq Indian people.
House of Languages: Micmac:
Information about Micmac language usage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mi'kmaq Indian books.
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