Algonquin (also spelled Algonkin; in Algonquin: or ) is either a distinct Algonquian language closely related to the Ojibwe language or a particularly divergent Ojibwe dialect. It is spoken, alongside
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France ** French language, which originated in France, and its various dialects and accents ** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with Fran ...
and to some extent English, by the Algonquin
First Nation Indigenous peoples are culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a particular geographic region and, to some extent, maintain the language and culture of those original people ...
s of
Quebec Quebec ( ; )According to the Canadian government, ''Québec'' (with the acute accent) is the official name in Canadian French and ''Quebec'' (without the accent) is the province's official name in Canadian English is one of the thirteen p ...
Ontario Ontario ( ; ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada.Ontario is located in the geographic eastern half of Canada, but it has historically and politically been considered to be part of Central Canada. Located in Central Cana ...
. As of 2006, there were 2,680 Algonquin speakers,. less than 10% of whom were monolingual. Algonquin is the language for which the entire Algonquian language subgroup is named; the similarity among the names often causes considerable confusion. Like many Native American languages, it is strongly verb-based, with most meaning being incorporated into verbs instead of using separate words for prepositions, tense, etc.


Omàmìwininìmowin (Algonquin) is an Algonquian language, of the Algic family of languages, and is descended from Proto-Algonquian. It is considered a particularly divergent dialect of
Ojibwe The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people in what is currently southern Canada, the northern Midwestern United States, and Northern Plains. According to the U.S. census, in the United States Ojibwe people are one of ...
by many. But, although the speakers call themselves '' Omàmìwininì or'' , the Ojibwe call them (those at the end of the lake). Among Omàmìwininì (Algonquins), however, the Nipissing are called (the Algonquin orthography for the Ojibwe ) and their language as . The rest of the Omàmìwininìmowin (Algonquin) communities call themselves (down-stream men), and the language (speech of the down-stream men). Other than Omàmìwininìmowin (Algonquin), languages considered as particularly divergent dialects of the
Anishinaabe language Ojibwe , also known as Ojibwa , Ojibway, Otchipwe,R. R. Bishop Baraga, 1878''A Theoretical and Practical Grammar of the Otchipwe Language''/ref> Ojibwemowin, or Anishinaabemowin, is an indigenous language of North America of the Algonquian la ...
include Mississauga (often called "Eastern Ojibwe") and Odawa. The Potawatomi language was considered a divergent dialect of Anishinaabemowin (the Anishinaabe language) but now is considered a separate language. Culturally, Omàmìwininì (Algonquin) and the Michi Saagiig (Mississaugas) were not part of the Ojibwe–Odawa–Potawatomi alliance known as the
Council of Three Fires The Council of Three Fires (in oj, label=Anishinaabe, Niswi-mishkodewinan, also known as the People of the Three Fires; the Three Fires Confederacy; or the United Nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians) is a long-standing Anishina ...
. The Omàmìwininìwak (Algonquins) maintained stronger cultural ties with the
Abenaki The Abenaki ( Abenaki: ''Wαpánahki'') are an Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands of Canada and the United States. They are an Algonquian-speaking people and part of the Wabanaki Confederacy. The Eastern Abenaki language was pred ...
, Atikamekw and
Cree The Cree ( cr, néhinaw, script=Latn, , etc.; french: link=no, Cri) are a North American Indigenous people. They live primarily in Canada, where they form one of the country's largest First Nations. In Canada, over 350,000 people are Cree o ...
. Among sister Algonquian languages are Blackfoot,
Cheyenne The Cheyenne ( ) are an Indigenous people of the Great Plains. Their Cheyenne language belongs to the Algonquian language family. Today, the Cheyenne people are split into two federally recognized nations: the Southern Cheyenne, who are enroll ...
Cree The Cree ( cr, néhinaw, script=Latn, , etc.; french: link=no, Cri) are a North American Indigenous people. They live primarily in Canada, where they form one of the country's largest First Nations. In Canada, over 350,000 people are Cree o ...
Fox Foxes are small to medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. They have a flattened skull, upright, triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or ''brush''). Twelve sp ...
, Menominee,
Potawatomi The Potawatomi , also spelled Pottawatomi and Pottawatomie (among many variations), are a Native American people of the western Great Lakes region, upper Mississippi River and Great Plains. They traditionally speak the Potawatomi language, a m ...
, and
Shawnee The Shawnee are an Algonquian-speaking indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands. In the 17th century they lived in Pennsylvania, and in the 18th century they were in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, with some bands in Kentucky a ...
. The Algic family contains the Algonquian languages and the so-called " Ritwan" languages, Wiyot and
Yurok The Yurok (Karuk language: Yurúkvaarar / Yuru Kyara - "downriver Indian; i.e. Yurok Indian") are an Indigenous people from along the Klamath River and Pacific coast, whose homelands are located in present-day California stretching from Trinidad ...
. Ojibwe and its similar languages are frequently referred to as a " Central Algonquian" language; however, Central Algonquian is an areal grouping rather than a genetic one. Among Algonquian languages, only the Eastern Algonquian languages constitute a true genetic subgroup. The northern Omàmìwininìmowin (Algonquin language) dialect of Anishinabemowin as spoken at Winneway, Quebec (Long Point), and Timiskaming First Nation, Quebec, is a similar dialect to the
Oji-Cree The Oji-Cree are a First Nation in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, residing in a narrow band extending from the Missinaibi River region in Northeastern Ontario at the east to Lake Winnipeg at the west. The Oji-Cree people are d ...
dialect (Severn/Anishininimowin) of northwestern Ontario, despite being geographically separated by .


There are several dialects of Omàmìwininìmowin (the Algonquin language), generally grouped broadly as ''Northern Algonquin'' and ''Western Algonquin''. Speakers at Kitigan Zibi consider their language to be ''Southern Algonquin'', though linguistically it is a dialect of ''Nipissing Ojibwa'' which, together with ''Mississauga Ojibwa'' and ''Odawa'', form the ''Nishnaabemwin (Eastern Ojibwa)'' group of the Ojibwa dialect continuum.



The consonant
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme () is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west ...
s and major allophones of Algonquin in Cuoq spelling, one of several common orthographies, and its common variants are listed below (with IPA notation in brackets): In an older orthography still popular in some of the Algonquin communities, known as the Malhiot () spelling, which the above Cuoq spelling was based upon, are listed below (with IPA notation in brackets):

Aspiration and allophony

The Algonquin consonants ''p'', ''t'' and ''k'' are unaspirated when they are pronounced between two vowels or after an ''m'' or ''n''; plain voiceless and voiceless aspirated stops in Algonquin are thus
allophone In phonology, an allophone (; from the Greek , , 'other' and , , 'voice, sound') is a set of multiple possible spoken soundsor '' phones''or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language. For example, in English, (as in '' ...
s. So kìjig ("day") is pronounced , but anokì kìjig ("working day") is pronounced .



Nasal vowels

Algonquin does have nasal vowels, but they are allophonic variants (similar to how in English vowels are sometimes nasalized before ''m'' and ''n''). In Algonquin, vowels automatically become nasal before ''nd'', ''ndj'', ''ng'', ''nh'', ''nhi'', ''nj'' or ''nz''. For example, kìgònz ("fish") is pronounced , not .


Word stress In linguistics, and particularly phonology, stress or accent is the relative emphasis or prominence given to a certain syllable in a word or to a certain word in a phrase or sentence. That emphasis is typically caused by such properties as i ...
in Algonquin is complex but regular. Words are divided into iambic feet (an iambic foot being a sequence of one "weak" syllable plus one "strong" syllable), counting long vowels (''à'', ''è'', ''ì'', ''ò'') as a full foot (a foot consisting of a single "strong" syllable). The primary stress is then normally on the strong syllable of the third foot from the end of the word—which, in words that are five syllables long or less, usually translates in practical terms to the first syllable (if it has a long vowel) or the second syllable (if it doesn't). The strong syllables of the remaining iambic feet each carry secondary stress, as do any final weak syllables. For example: , , , .

See also

* Ojibwe dialects * Algonquian Bible * List of First Nations place names in Canada * Algonquian–Basque pidgin


Further reading

* Artuso, Christian. 1998. ''noogom gaa-izhi-anishinaabemonaaniwag: Generational Difference in Algonquin''. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press

* * Cuoq, Jean André. 1866. ''Études philologiques sur quelques langues sauvages de l'Amérique''. Montréal: Dawson. * Cuoq, Jean André. 1886. ''Lexique de la Langue Algonquine''. Montréal: J. Chapleau & Fils. * Cuoq, Jean André. 1891? ''Grammaire de la Langue Algonquine''. .l.: s.n.* * Mcgregor, Ernest. 1994. ''Algonquin Lexicon''. Maniwaki, QC: Kitigan Zibi Education Council. * Mithun, Marianne. 1999. ''The Languages of Native North America''. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links

French - Algonquin dictionary from the Algonquin Nation Tribal CouncilOLAC resources in and about the Algonquin language
{{DEFAULTSORT:Algonquin Language Central Algonquian languages Anishinaabe languages Indigenous languages of the North American eastern woodlands First Nations languages in Canada Languages of the United States