Malecite–Passamaquoddy (also known as Maliseet–Passamaquoddy) is an endangered Algonquian language spoken by the Maliseet and Passamaquoddy peoples along both sides of the border between Maine in the United States and New Brunswick, Canada. The language consists of two major dialects: Malecite, which is mainly spoken in the Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick; and Passamaquoddy, spoken mostly in the St. Croix River Valley of eastern Maine. However, the two dialects differ only slightly, mainly in accent. Malecite-Passamaquoddy was widely spoken by the indigenous people in these areas until around the post-World War II era, when changes in the education system and increased marriage outside of the speech community caused a large decrease in the number of children who learned or regularly used the language. As a result, in both Canada and the U.S. today, there are only 600 speakers of both dialects, and most speakers are older adults. Although the majority of younger people cannot speak the language (particularly the Passamaquoddy dialect), there is growing interest in teaching the language in community classes and in some schools.
|Native to||Canada; United States|
|Region||New Brunswick; Maine|
|Ethnicity||5,500 Maliseet and Passamaquoddy (2010)|
|355 in Canada (2016 census)|
100 in the United States (2007)
Distribution of Maliseet and Passamaquoddy peoples.
The Malecite-Passamaquoddy standard orthography consists of 17 letters and an apostrophe. The following tables are based on the sound system described by Robert M. Leavitt in Passamaquoddy-Maliseet (1996). The bold letters are the spelling in the standard orthography and the symbols in square brackets give the respective IPA pronunciation:
|Nasal||m /m/||n /n/|
|Plosive||p /p/||t /t/||c /tʃ/||k /k/||q /kʷ/|
|Fricative||s /s/||h /h/|
|Approximant||l /l/||y /j/||w /w/|
Additionally, the standard orthography uses an apostrophe (') to represent word-initial consonants that are no longer pronounced due to historic sound changes. It occurs only word-initially before p, t, k, q, s, or c. These "missing consonants" can appear in other forms of the word. For example, the stem ktomakéyu produces the word 'tomakéyu "s/he is poor" (where the apostrophe indicates that the initial k has been dropped) as well as the word nkótomakey "I am poor" (where the k remains pronounced because it occurs after the pronoun n-).
There are six monophthongs, five of which are spelled with a single letter and one which is spelled with the combination eh. There are also five diphthongs, which are spelled as a combination of a vowel and a glide:
|High||i [i]||u [u]|
|Mid||e [e]||o [ə]|
|Low||eh [æ]||a [a]|
(When o appears before w, it is written as u to reflect the rounding of the vowel due to the influence of the w). (/e/ may also be pronounced as /ɛ/).
There are many phonological processes that occur in Malecite-Passamaquoddy, the most important of which are outlined below:
|Consonant(Orthography)||Voiceless allophone||Voiced allophone|
Every phoneme except "o" and "h" can occur initially, medially, or finally; "o" and "h" are never word-final. Clusters of two obstruents, geminate consonant pairs, and clusters of a sonorant followed by an obstruent are all common. Consonant clusters ending in a sonorant usually don't occur except in geminate pairs or when they occur initially through the use of one of the personal pronoun prefixes. Clusters of three consonants can occur, and are almost always of the form CsC.
The most basic and common syllable structures are CV and CVC.
Stress is assigned based on a set of very complex rules, and difference in stress and accent systems is one of the clearest distinguishing features between Malecite and Passamaquoddy. According to LeSourd, in Passamaquoddy there are vowels that are considered stressable and ones that are considered unstressable. Stressable vowels are available to be acted on by stress rules, while unstressable vowels might undergo syncope. Stress is assigned (to stressable vowels only) to initial syllables and even-numbered syllables, counting from right to left. There is a simultaneous left to right process that reassigns some unstressable vowels as stressable. Unstressable vowels which do not become stressable based on the left to right process are subject to syncope based on five rules LeSourd outlines in Accent and Syllable Structure in Passamaquoddy. Malecite has a similar process but the finer details of the stress assignment rules are different.
In addition to stress rules, there are also rules that assign pitch to some syllables based on their position in the words. As LeSourd describes, Passamaquoddy stressed syllables can be relatively high-pitched or low-pitched, and final unstressed syllables can be distinctively low-pitched. Malecite has similar pitch assignments, but again, differs from Passamaquoddy in ways which serve to distinguish the two dialects.
There are four categories of words in Malecite-Passamaquoddy: nouns, pronouns, verbs, and particles; every type except particles are inflected. Like other Algonquian languages, Malecite-Passamaquoddy is polysynthetic, often combining many morphemes into one word unit. It is also fairly agglutinative, with many morphemes generally corresponding to a single unit of meaning.
A basic characteristic of Malecite-Passamaquoddy is that all nouns and pronouns have noun classes: Like other Algonquian languages, nouns are either animate or inanimate. All abstract nouns (such as "prayer", "happiness", "the past") are inanimate; people, personal names, animals, and trees are all animate. There is not a perfect correspondence between the inherent "animateness" of a noun and its class for all words, however: the words for "fingernail" and "knee" are animate, but the words for "heart" and "tongue" are inanimate. Verbs impose restrictions on the noun class that one of their arguments must be. The easiest way to distinguish animate and inanimate nouns is by their plural forms. Animate plural nouns end in -k, and inanimate plural nouns end in -l.
In addition to class and number, animate nouns and pronouns (except "I," "we," and "you") are marked in sentences as either proximate or obviative. Inanimate nouns are never marked as obviative. Proximate nouns refer to something that is near the speaker or most central to the discourse, whereas obviative nouns refer to something that is distanced or more remote from consideration. When two nouns or pronouns are conjoined, they can both be proximate or both obviative. In all other cases, when two or more animate nouns or pronouns appear in the same clause, one will be proximate (the focus of the clause) and the others will be obviative. Proximate is the "default" noun ending; obviative forms use different endings.
Additionally, nouns can also be inflected for the absentative, locative, and (with some nouns) vocative cases. The Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Language Portal includes a chart showing all the possible declensions of nouns in various forms. Notably, the absentative case is marked not only with endings, but also changes in pitch contour.
Nouns can also be marked with diminutive and/or feminine suffixes. When these are combined with case markings, the order of suffixes is as follows:
Some nouns cannot appear in an unpossessed form—that is, they must appear with one of the personal pronoun prefixes. All body parts and kinship terms are in this class. For each of these words there is a corresponding word that can appear unpossessed. For example, 'temisol "dog" must appear in a possessed form, but olomuss "dog" is usually never possessed.
Nouns can be used in apposition with other nouns and function like adjectives (which do not exist as a separate class of words).
Participles can be formed from the Changed Conjunct form of a verb and use the special plural endings -ik (animate) or -il (inanimate).
Personal pronouns differ from nouns and other pronouns in that they do not use plural markers but instead each form is unique. The third person is gender-neutral and there are both inclusive and exclusive forms of the second person plural pronoun. The first and second person singular also have longer emphatic forms:
|First person||nìl, nilá "I, me"||nilùn "we, us (exclusive)"|
|kilùn "we, us (inclusive)"|
|Second person||kìl, kilá "you (singular)"||kiluwìw "you (plural)"|
|Third person||nékom "he/she, him/her"||nekomàw "they, them"|
(In the above chart, acute accents show relatively high pitch and grave accents show relatively low pitch. Pitch is usually not marked except in dictionaries to distinguish similar words.)
There are three demonstrative pronouns, which have both animate and inanimate forms and are inflected for number, obviation, and absentativity:
The interrogative pronouns are wen "who? (referring to animate noun)" and keq "what? (referring to inanimate noun)". They are also inflected for number, obviation, and absentativity.
The word kotok "another, other" is a pronoun that also has animate and inanimate forms that can be inflected with various endings.
One of the most interesting features is the pronoun that functions similarly to English "uh..." or "er...", but which is inflected to match the anticipated word. Compare the bolded pronoun in:
Verbs are built from word stems, which consist of one or more roots. Roots can be initial, medial, or final, and can be combined to build rich levels of meaning into a verb:
Verbs are classified by the final root in their stem, which marks them as transitive or intransitive. Some verbs that have a direct object when they are translated into English are in reality intransitive verbs where the noun has been incorporated into the verb: posonut•ehk•e (basket-do.AI-3.sg) "he/she makes baskets".
Because Malecite-Passamaquoddy is polysynthetic, a large amount of grammatical information is expressed in one verb through the use of various inflections and affixes:
|Gender||animate, inanimate||final root vowels, inflectional endings|
|Transitivity||transitive, intransitive||final root vowels, inflectional endings|
|Person||first, second, third, third obviate||inflections|
|Number||singular, plural||inflectional endings; theme markers in ai verbs|
|Hierarchy||direct, inverse; reflexive, reciprocal||prefixes; theme markers in ta verbs|
|Aspect||positive, neg||separate endings in most forms|
|Mode||indicative, conjunct, subordinative, imperative||stem shape, inflection|
|Tense||present, absentative, dubitative, preterite||inflectional endings|
The possible modes and how they are used in sentences are:
The possible tenses are:
The Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Language Portal also includes verbs charts showing extensive conjugations of different classes of verbs.
Particles are all the words in the language that aren't inflected. They include:
The verb system is ergative–absolutive, meaning that the subjects of intransitive verbs behave like the objects of transitive verbs. Because of this, transitive and intransitive verbs have subcategories based on which gender one of their arguments must be, so that there are four major verb types:
AI intransitive verbs can only be used with animate subjects, TI verbs can only be used with inanimate objects, etc.
Because of the polysynthetic nature of verbs, subjects and objects are often not separate words but rather affixes attached to the verbs; therefore, one word "sentences" are possible and even common.
Malecite-Passamaquoddy, along with other Algonquian languages, is also a direct–inverse language, which means the subjects and objects of transitive verbs are marked differently in different contexts according to where they fall relative to each other on a "person hierarchy". The person hierarchy lays out which word is considered more salient or takes precedence over another form. Leavitt's grammar gives the following hierarchy:
|1||Second person and first plural inclusive (kil, kiluwaw, kilun)|
|2||First person, not including "you" (nil,nilun)|
|3||Third person (nekom, nekomaw)|
The hierarchy comes into play in sentences with transitive-animate (TA) verbs. When the subject of a TA verb is higher on the person hierarchy than the object, the verb is conjugated in the direct form. If the subject is lower on the hierarchy than the object, the verb is conjugated in the inverse form. The direct form is considered unmarked, and the inverse is shown by theme markers. Because of the direct–inverse system, Malecite-Passamaquoddy does not have a clear way of otherwise showing active–passive distinction on verbs.
Another case for which the hierarchy is relevant is in reflexive and reciprocal verb forms. For them, the action is considered "self-contained" because they occur on the same level of the hierarchy. Thus, reflexive and reciprocal verbs are no longer transitive but become intransitive, with only one argument being shown and a reflexive or reciprocal theme marker used.
Some first- and second-person pronouns overlap in meaning; for example kilun "we (inclusive)" includes within its meaning nil "I". Overlapping pairs of this sort cannot be used as the subject-object pair of a transitive verb. Leavitt gives the following chart outlining the restrictions on how first- and second-person subject-object pairs can occur for transitive verbs:
(R means that a form will be reflexive or reciprocal and intransitive; -- means a combination is not allowed.)
Because so much grammatical information is encoded in each word, word order is very free, and there are few restrictions on the order words can appear, especially in simple one-verb sentences. One of the only restrictions is that the negative particle must precede the verb, but other words may intervene.
There is no word for the verb "to be" in the language so identity sentences with no verb are possible. The word order is less free than in sentences with verbs and is fixed in negative identities.
Complex and compound sentences with two or more verbs can be created in multiple ways, such as these:
Today Malecite-Passamaquoddy has a ranking of 7 on the Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (EGIDS); a 7 corresponds to "Shifting: The child-bearing generation can use the language among themselves, but it is not being transmitted to children." However, in spite of this bleak assessment, there are significant efforts to revitalize the language and teach both children and adults who did not learn the language natively.
Since 2006, a project known as Language Keepers, which attempts to document endangered languages and increase public group discourse carried out in these languages, has worked with the Passamaquoddy and Maliseet communities and done extensive documentation of the language. In their first three years of work, they filmed over 50 hours of natural group conversation with 70 speakers, which led to the production of eight DVDs in Malecite-Passamaquoddy subtitled in English. According to the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Language Portal, this film "stimulated language revival programs for people who understand but cannot speak, and identified new sources of resiliency and leadership in the language-speaking community." Their approach to documentation is fairly novel and has garnered praise: "In contrast to 'elicitation,' in which linguists ask speakers questions to learn about a language, Language Keepers videos show how the language works in practice, and have provided many "new" words for the dictionary. They also document traditional Passamaquoddy culture—activities, like canoe-building, and views of the world."
In addition to the film, the Language Keepers project—along with other linguists and community activists—has helped compile the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary, which was started in the 1970s by linguists Philip LeSourd and today includes over 18,000 entries, many of which include audio and video files of native speaker pronunciations.
Along with the various resources available online, recent revitalization efforts have included Malecite-Passamaquoddy classes being taught at the University of New Brunswick, with efforts to increase inter-generational communication and transmission of knowledge and culture.
The Algonquins are indigenous inhabitants of North America who speak the Algonquin language, a divergent dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is part of the Algonquian language family. Culturally and linguistically, they are closely related to the Odawa and Ojibwe, with whom they form the larger Anicinàpe (Anishinaabe) grouping. The Algonquin people call themselves Omàmiwinini (plural: Omàmiwininiwak) or the more generalised name of Anicinàpe.
Though known by several names in the past, the most common term "Algonquin" has been suggested to derive from the Maliseet word elakómkwik (IPA: [ɛlæˈɡomoɡwik]): "they are our relatives/allies". The much larger heterogeneous group of Algonquian-speaking peoples, who, according to Brian Conwell, stretch from Virginia to the Rocky Mountains and north to Hudson Bay, was named after the tribe.
Most Algonquins live in Quebec. The nine Algonquin bands in that province and one in Ontario have a combined population of about 11,000. The Algonquin are original natives of southern
Quebec and eastern Ontario in Canada. Today they live in nine communities in Quebec and one in Ontario. The Algonquin were a small tribe that also lives in northern Michigan and southern Quebec and eastern Ontario. (Popular usage reflects some confusion on the point. The term "Algonquin" is sometimes used, such as in the Catholic Encyclopedia, to refer to all Algonquian-speaking societies, although this is not correct.)
Many Algonquins still speak the Algonquin language, called generally Anicinàpemowin or specifically Omàmiwininìmowin. The language is considered one of several divergent dialects of the Anishinaabe languages. Among younger speakers, the Algonquin language has experienced strong word borrowings from the Cree language.
Traditionally, the Algonquins lived in either birch bark or wooden mìkiwàms. Today Algonquins live in housings like those of the general public.
Traditionally, the Algonquins were practitioners of Midewiwin (the right path). They believed they were surrounded by many manitòk or spirits in the natural world. French missionaries converted many Algonquins to Catholicism in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, many of the people practice traditional Midewiwin or a syncretic merging of Christianity and Midewiwin.
In the earliest oral history, the Algonquins say they migrated from the Atlantic coast. Together with other Anicinàpek, they arrived at the "First Stopping Place" near Montreal. While the other Anicinàpe peoples continued their journey up the St. Lawrence River, the Algonquins settled along the Kitcisìpi (Ottawa River), a long-important highway for commerce, cultural exchange and transportation. Algonquin identity, though, was not fully realized until after the dividing of the Anicinàpek at the "Third Stopping Place". Scholars have used the oral histories, archeology, and linguistics to estimate this took place about 2000 years ago, near present-day Detroit.
After contact with the Europeans, especially the French and Dutch, the Algonquin nations became active in the fur trade. This led them to fight against the powerful Iroquois, whose confederacy was based in present-day New York. In 1570, the Algonquins formed an alliance with the Montagnais to the east, whose territory extended to the ocean.Etchemin language
Etchemin was a language of the Algonquian language family, spoken in early colonial times on the coast of Maine. The word Etchemin is thought to be either French alteration of an Algonquian word for "canoe" or a translation of "Skidijn" the native word for people in use by the inhabitants of the St. John, Passamaquoddy and St. Croix Rivers.
The only known record of the Etchemin language is a list of the numbers from one to ten recorded by Marc Lescarbot in the early 17th century and published in his book The History of New France (1609). The numerals in the list match those of Malecite-Passamaquoddy, Eastern Abenaki, as well as languages of southern New England such as Wampanoag, but as a set they do not match any other Algonquian language. The Etchemin language disappeared not long after Lescarbot's visit, and it is unknown what became of the tribe. All other language records called 'Etchemin', under more detailed analysis, appear to be the neighboring Malecite-Passamaquoddy language.List of endangered languages in Canada
An endangered language is a language that is at risk of falling out of use, generally because it has few surviving speakers. If it loses all of its native speakers, it becomes an extinct language. UNESCO defines four levels of language endangerment between "safe" (not endangered) and "extinct": There are primarily eight languages that were spoken in Canada around 2010.
Critically endangeredList of endangered languages in the United States
An endangered language is a language that it is at risk of falling out of use, generally because it has few surviving speakers. If it loses all of its native speakers, it becomes an extinct language. UNESCO defines four levels of language endangerment between "safe" (not endangered) and "extinct":
The Passamaquoddy (Peskotomuhkati or Pestomuhkati in the Passamaquoddy language) are an American Indian/First Nations people who live in northeastern North America, primarily in Maine, United States, and New Brunswick, Canada.
The Passamaquoddy people in Canada have an organized government, but do not have official First Nations status.Passamaquoddy (disambiguation)
The Passamaquoddy are an historic indigenous ethnic group of northeastern North America and a federally recognized tribe in the United States. Passamaquoddy may also refer to:
Passamaquoddy Bay, a bay in Maine and New Brunswick
Malecite-Passamaquoddy language, the language of the Passamaquoddy
"Passamaquoddy", a song in the 1977 film Pete's Dragon, and a fictional town in the filmPassamaquoddy Pleasant Point Reservation
Passamaquoddy Pleasant Point Reservation, in Malecite-Passamaquoddy Sipayik, is one of two Indian reservations of the federally recognized Passamaquoddy tribe in Washington County, Maine, United States. The population was 749 at the 2010 census.They also have the Indian Township Reservation, located near Calais, Maine.
Italics indicate extinct languages
|Pidgins, creoles and mixed|