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 and to some extent English, by the Algonquin First Nations of Quebec and Ontario. 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.


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 by many. But, although the speakers call themselves ("Anishinaabe"), the Ojibwe call them (those at the end of the lake). Among the Algonquins, however, the Nipissing are called (the Algonquin orthography for the Ojibwe ) and their language as . The rest of the Algonquin communities call themselves (down-stream men), and the language (speech of the down-stream men). Other than Algonquin, languages considered as particularly divergent dialects of the Anishinaabe language include Mississauga (often called "Eastern Ojibwe") and Odawa. The Potawatomi language was considered a divergent dialect of the Anishinaabe language but now is considered a separate language. Culturally, the Algonquin and the Mississaugas were not part of the Ojibwe–Odawa–Potawatomi alliance known as the Council of Three Fires. The Algonquins maintained stronger cultural ties with the Abenaki, Atikamekw and Cree. Among sister Algonquian languages are Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Cree, Fox, Menominee, Potawatomi, and Shawnee. The Algic family contains the Algonquian languages and the so-called "Ritwan" languages, Wiyot and Yurok. 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 Algonquin dialect of Anishinabemowin as spoken at Winneway, Quebec (Long Point), and Timiskaming First Nation, Quebec, is a similar dialect to the Oji-Cree dialect (Severn/Anishininimowin) of northwestern Ontario, despite being geographically separated by .


There are several dialects of 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 phonemes 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 allophones. 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 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


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. * Sherwin, Reider T. 1940. ''The Viking and the Red Man: The Old Norse Origin of the Algonquin Language''. New York and London: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

External links

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