Background

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[edit] Pre-Contact History

The Mi’gmaq people first appeared in their homeland roughly ten thousand years ago. It is believed that their descendants crossed the Bering Straight from Asia into North America around 18,000 years ago. Before contact with Europeans, the Mi'gmaq were a hunter-gatherer people [1]. The Mi'gmaq people left many traces of their existence. Weapons and tools made of various material have been found as well as ancient burial grounds and stone walls in Nova Scotia that are believed to have been built by the Mi'gmaq people [2]. Ancient petroglyphs left behind give a glimpse of ancient Mi'gmaq history. There are over 500 petroglyphs in Kejimkujik National Historic Site depicting different clothing worn by the Mi'gmaq as well as ocean going canoes and hunting traditions [3].

[edit] Post-Contact History

The Mi'gmaq first made contact with Europeans in 1497 when John Cabot arrived on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River [4]. The Mi'gmaq set up a trade relationship with the Europeans at first. However as conflicts in Europe began to impact North America, the Mi'gmaq joined with the French in a failed attempt to keep the British out of Canada.

[edit] Etymology of Name

There are many different hypotheses on the origin of the Mi’gmaq name. It could come from ‘family’, or megamingo, meaning earth, or possibly nigumaach, meaning ‘my brother’ or ‘my friend’. According Ethnologue, Mi’gmaq is spoken by 8960 people in Eastern Canada and 330 people in the northeastern United States. The Mi’gmaq language is an Eastern Algonquian language that is in the same family as Delaware and Powhatan, to name a couple.

[edit] Writing Systems

[edit] Mi'gmaq hieroglyph writing

Mi'gmaq hieroglyphs were written on birch bark or animal hide. The system was developed pre contact thus making Mi'gmaq one of the few languages of North America to have a writing system before European contact.

[edit] Rand orthography

The Rand orthography was developed in the late 19th century by Reverend Silas Tertius Rand.

[edit] Pacifique orthography

The Pacifique orthography was developed at the turn of the 20th century by Father Pacifique. It is primarily used in New Brunswick.

[edit] Listuguj orthagraphy

The Listuguj orthography is used in Quebec.

[edit] Listuguj

The Mi’gmaq that this wiki will concentrate most on is the Listuguj dialect. Listuguj is located in Eastern Quebec, right on the border of New Brunswick. The population is 1,475 (c2006).

[edit] Language Variation and Change in Mi'gmaq

Mi'gmaq is part of the Eastern Algonquian language subgroup. It is closely related to Maliseet, Wampanoag, and Munsee.

[edit] Sociolinguistic Situation

More and more as the language is not spoken among younger generations as a native language, there are evident differences between the older generations and the younger ones. One of these differences is instead of using a voiceless uvular fricative (represented by 'q' in the orthography) some younger speakers prefer to use the voiced velar stop (g).

According to Native Languages of the Americas, some speakers of Mi'gmaq will say w- before a vowel instead of u- (your) and some will say -nt before a vowel instead of -n (my). This seems to depend on the community from which the speaker comes from.

Another sociolinguistic peculiarity is the use of the dual and plural forms. It seems as if younger speakers are starting to use less and less the plural form, opting to use the dual form even if talking about more than two people. This seems to happen with certain verbs with older generations. It could be that the plural form, the form used for 3 or more people, is starting to disappear since younger generations use it less and less, some not using it at all.

[edit] Loan Words

"Linguistic contaet between Mi'kmaq and French and English speakers has had several consequences: the first has been the linguistic dominance by the two Indo-European languages of French and English." (Inglis, 2004) As a result, Mi'gmaq reflects the influence of those speakers, especially the one of French. Having traded with the Europeans and becoming dependent on foreign goods also had a great influence on the language. Therefore, the speakers of Mi'gmaq use "borrowed" words from other languages to indicate the objects that they did not have prior to the trade. Some examples are given below:

  1. lasiet  
            
    'plate'
  • Borrowed from the French word "l'assiette"
  1. lapue'l  
             
    'frying pan'
  • Borrowed from the French word "la poêle"
  1. lapol  
           
    'bowl'
  • Borrowed from the French word "le bol"
  1. musuei  
            
    'handkerchief'
  • Borrowed from the French word "mouchoir"
  1. magasan  
             
    'store'
  • Borrowed from the French word "magasin"
  1. gapjij  
            
    'cup'
  • Borrowed from the English word "cup"
  1. mapos  
           
    'pocket'
  • Borrowed from the French word "ma poche"

However, instead of saying "tapos" or "sapos" to follow the pattern of the French (ta poche, sa poche), there is a different way to say "pocket" when it belongs to 2nd person singular or 3rd person singular.

my pocketSingularPlural
First person nt mapos
Second person 'g mapos'm  ?
Third person ug maposml  ?

Due to the conversion to to Catholicism also had an impact on the Mi'gmaq language as we can see in the religious terms below:

  1. alame's  
             
    '(at the) mass'
  • Borrowed from the French word "à la messe"
  1. patlias  
             
    'priest'

Other words for items that did not exist in Mi'gmaq society before the arrival of Europeans are formed through compounding and analogy to previously-existing concepts, as seen below.

  1. wenju-su'n        
    French-cranberry  
    'apple'
  1. wenji-diam    
    French-moose  
    'cow'

[edit] Dialects

Some examples of language variation between the dialect of Nova Scotia and the dialect of elsewhere are given below:


  1. nipitgwe'gnn  
                  
    'fork (used in Nova Soctia)'
  1. migwije'maqan  
                   
    'fork (used elsewhere)'


  1. magasann  
    store.PL  
    'stores (used elsewhere)'
  1. storeg    
    store.PL  
    'stores (used by some people in Nova Scotia)'
  • This can be viewed as anglicism.


  1. gajuewj  
             
    'cat (used elsewhere)'
  1. miawj  
           
    'cat (used in Nova Scotia)'

[edit] References

  1. http://www.heritage.nf.ca/aboriginal/mikmaq_land_use.html
  2. http://www.danielnpaul.com/Mi'kmaqBurialGround.html
  3. http://www.muiniskw.org/pgHistory3b.htm
  4. http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/prehistory/micmac.htm
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