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Welcome to the Mi'gmaq language wiki!

This wiki aims to provide a snapshot of some of the current topics in describing the grammar of Mi'gmaq that McGill linguists are working on with members of the Listuguj community. It is still a work in progress, so nothing here should be taken as the final word on the language, although we are doing our best to make it as accurate as possible. If you see an error, we are very happy to fix it, so please contact us through the blog or if you have an account feel free to fix it yourself! If you know something about Mi'gmaq and would like to contribute to the wiki, feel free to also contact us for an account. Please be aware that anything that is submitted to the wiki may be edited by other contributors.

A list of glosses used on this wiki can be found on the Glosses page. There are various resources online which provide definitions of basic linguistic terminology, for example this glossary of linguistic terms; see the "Linguistics Online" sidebar of the blog for more info.

Many of the articles in this wiki build on class projects that were developed as part of a class wiki for a field methods course on Mi'gmaq in Fall 2011 at McGill. Currently available and projected content of the wiki is described below, for a structured list of these articles visit the contents page.


[edit] Background information

Mi'gmaq is an Eastern Algonquian language spoken in eastern Canada. For more information about the history and the people, see the article Background. There are several general characteristics of the language that are useful to understand for the remaining sections. These include:

[edit] Sounds and spelling

There are several different ways of writing down Mi'gmaq. This wiki uses the Spelling from Listuguj, but some of the resources we discuss may also use other systems. One sound that is not always written is schwa, because it is sometimes possible to predict where to pronounce it anyway. For details on this, see Writing Schwa.

Mi'gmaq has six vowels and thirteen consonants according to the Listuguj orthography, although they are not always pronounced as in English. Mi'gmaq words are also grouped into syllables, some of which are pronounced more emphatically, or are stressed.

[edit] Verbs

For more detail, see Verbs

Verbs are used to describe actions, activities, or events. They are the central component of a sentence in Mi'gmaq and are made up of many different pieces of information. They contain enough information that they can represent a complete sentence, and are often the only element in a sentence.

All verbs include at least: the Verb Stem and Person and number marking. The person and number markings are vary depending on the type of verb, as described in the following articles.

  • VAI -- Intransitive Animate Verbs
  • VII -- Intransitive Inanimate Verbs
  • VTA -- Transitive Animate Verbs
  • VTI -- Transitive Inanimate Verbs

There are also elements that aren't present on all verbs but are still very useful in certain contexts, including Preverbs, Negation, Tense, and Obviation. An additional characteristic of verbs is Mood, which refers to the speaker's attitude towards a situation, for example, making a definite statement, giving an order, or talking about a condition or possibility. Also see the page on Evidentiality, or the grammatical marking of information source.

[edit] Nouns

For more detail, see Nouns.

Nouns are words that refer to persons (like e'pit, "woman"), places (like Listuguj), or things (like mpoqon, "bed"). They are the parts of a sentence that do the action described by the verb or have the action done to them. Many Mi'gmaq sentences have nouns in them, but they aren't necessary because the verbs are so expressive.

Nouns can have several characteristics in Mi'gmaq, including Animacy, being Singular or Plural, Obviation, and being Absentative. Nouns can be modified by a variety of things, including Possession, Adjectives, Determiners, Numerals, Relative Clauses, Diminutives and Augmentatives. Pronouns can also be used to substitute for nouns.

[edit] Sentences

[edit] Conversational Mi'gmaq

In this section you will find useful everyday phrases to start off your Mi'gmaq learning!

[edit] Understanding and Editing this Wiki

[edit] Mi'gmaq Language Resources

  • The blog associated with this wiki, for project updates and more language-related links
  • Mikmaq Online, which includes an online dictionary
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