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Ojibwe /ˈɪbw/,[3] also known as Ojibwa /ˈɪbwə/,[1][2][4][5] Ojibway or Otchipwe,[6] is an indigenous language of North America of the Algonquian language family.[7][8] The language is characterized by a series of dialects that have local names and frequently local writing systems. There is no single dialect that is considered the most prestigious or most prominent, and no standard writing system that covers all dialects.

Dialects of Ojibwemowin are spoken in Canada, from southwestern Quebec, through Ontario, Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan, with outlying communities in Alberta;[9][10] and in the United States, from Michigan to Wisconsin and Minnesota, with a number of communities in North Dakota and Montana, as well as groups that removed to Kansas and Oklahoma during the Indian Removal period.[10][11] While there is some variation in the classification of its dialects, at least the following are recognized, from east to west: Algonquin, Eastern Ojibwe, Ottawa (Odawa), Western Ojibwe (Saulteaux), Oji-Cree (Severn Ojibwe), Northwestern Ojibwe, and Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa). Based upon contemporary field research, J. R. Valentine also recognizes several other dialects: Berens Ojibwe in northwestern Ontario, which he distinguishes from Northwestern Ojibwe; North of (Lake) Superior; and Nipissing. The latter two cover approximately the same territory as Central Ojibwa, which he does not recognize.[12]

The aggregated dialects of Ojibwemowin comprise the second most commonly spoken First Nations language in Canada (after Cree),[13] and the fourth most widely spoken in the United States or Canada behind Navajo, the Inuit languages and Cree.[citation needed]

Ojibwemowin is a relatively healthy indigenous language. The Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School teaches all classes to children in Ojibwe only.[14]

Classification

The Algonquian language family of which Ojibwemowin is a member is itself a member of the Algic language family, other Algic languages being Wiyot and Yurok.[7] Ojibwe is sometimes described as a Central Algonquian language, along with Fox, Cree, Menominee, Miami-Illinois, Potawatomi, and Shawnee.[7] Central Algonquian is a geographical term of convenience rather than a genetic subgroup, and its use does not indicate that the Central languages are more closely related to each other than to the other Algonquian languages.[15]

Exonyms and endonyms

The most general Indigenous designation for the language is Anishinaabemowin 'speaking the native language' (Anishinaabe 'native person,' verb suffix –mo 'speak a language,' suffix –win 'nominalizer'),[16][17] with varying spellings and pronunciations depending upon dialect. Some speakers use the term Ojibwemowin.[18][19] The general term in Oji-Cree (Severn Ojibwe) is Anihshininiimowin, although Anishinaabemowin is widely recognized by Severn speakers.[18] Some speakers of Saulteaux Ojibwe refer to their language as Nakawemowin.[18] The Ottawa dialect is sometimes referred to as Daawaamwin,[20] although the general designation is Nishnaabemwin, with the latter term also applied to Jibwemwin or Eastern Ojibwe.[21] Other local terms are listed in Ojibwe dialects. English terms include Ojibwe, with variants including Ojibwa and Ojibway.[22] The related term Chippewa is more commonly employed in the United States and in southwestern Ontario among descendants of Ojibwe migrants from the United States.[23]

Relationship with Potawatomi

Ojibwe and Potawatomi are frequently viewed as being more closely related to each other than to other Algonquian languages.[24] Ojibwe and Potawatomi have been proposed as likely candidates for forming a genetic subgroup within Proto-Algonquian, although the required research to ascertain the linguistic history and status of a hypothetical "Ojibwe–Potawatomi" subgroup has not yet been undertaken. A discussion of Algonquian family subgroups indicates that "Ojibwe–Potawatomi is another possibility that awaits investigation."[25] In a proposed consensus classification of Algonquian languages, Goddard (1996) classifies Ojibwa and Potawatomi as "Ojibwayan," although no supporting evidence is adduced.[26]

The Central languages share a significant number of common features. These features can generally be attributed to diffusion of features through borrowing: "Extensive lexical, phonological, and perhaps grammatical borrowing—the diffusion of elements and features across language boundaries—appears to have been the major factor in giving the languages in the area of the Upper Great Lakes their generally similar cast, and it has not been possible to find any shared innovations substantial enough to require the postulation of a genetically distinct Central Algonquian subgroup."[25]

The possibility that the proposed genetic subgrouping of Ojibwa and Potawatomi can also be accounted for as diffusion has also been raised: "The putative Ojibwa–Potawatomi subgroup is similarly open to question, but cannot be evaluated without more information on Potawatomi dialects."[27]

Geographic distribution

Canada, from southwestern Quebec, through Ontario, Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan, with outlying communities in Alberta;[9][10] and in the United States, from Michigan to Wisconsin and Minnesota, with a number of communities in North Dakota and Montana, as well as groups that removed to Kansas and Oklahoma during the Indian Removal period.[10][11] While there is some variation in the classification of its dialects, at least the following are recognized, from east to west: Algonquin, Eastern Ojibwe, Ottawa (Odawa), Western Ojibwe (Saulteaux), Oji-Cree (Severn Ojibwe), Northwestern Ojibwe, and Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa). Based upon contemporary field research, J. R. Valentine also recognizes several other dialects: Berens Ojibwe in northwestern Ontario, which he distinguishes from Northwestern Ojibwe; North of (Lake) Superior; and Nipissing. The latter two cover approximately the same territory as Central Ojibwa, which he does not recognize.[12]

The aggregated dialects of Ojibwemowin comprise the second most commonly spoken First Nations language in Canada (after Cree),[13] and the fourth most widely spoken in the United States or Canada behind Navajo, the Inuit languages and Cree.[citation needed]

Ojibwemowin is a relatively healthy indigenous language. The Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School teaches all classes to children in Ojibwe only.[14]

The Algonquian language family of which Ojibwemowin is a member is itself a member of the Algic language family, other Algic languages being Wiyot and Yurok.[7] Ojibwe is sometimes described as a Central Algonquian language, along with Fox, Cree, Menominee, Miami-Illinois, Potawatomi, and Shawnee.[7] Central Algonquian is a geographical term of convenience rather than a genetic subgroup, and its use does not indicate that the Central languages are more closely related to each other than to the other Algonquian languages.[15]

Exonyms and endonyms

The most general Indigenous designation for the language is Anishinaabemowin 'speaking the native language' (Anishinaabe 'native person,' verb suffix –mo 'speak a language,' suffix –win 'nominalizer'),[16][17] with varying spellings and pronunciations depending upon dialect. Some speakers use the term Ojibwemowin.[18][19] The general term in Oji-Cree (Severn Ojibwe) is Anihshininiimowin, although Anishinaabemowin is widely recognized by Severn speakers.[18] Some speakers of Saulteaux Ojibwe refer to their language as Nakawemowin.[18] The Ottawa dialect is sometimes referred to as Daawaamwin,[20] although the general designation is Nishnaabemwin, with the latter term also applied to Jibwemwin or Eastern Ojibwe.[21] Other local terms are listed in Ojibwe dialects. English terms include Ojibwe, with variants including Ojibwa and Ojibway.[22] The related term Chippewa is more commonly employed in the United States and in southwestern Ontario among descendants of Ojibwe migrants from the United States.[23]

Relationship with Potawatomi

Ojibwe and Potawatomi are frequently viewed as being more closely related to each other than to other Algonquian languages.[24] Ojibwe and Potawatomi have been proposed as likely candidates for forming a genetic subgroup within Proto-Algonquian, although the required research to ascertain the linguistic history and status of a hypothetical "Ojibwe–Potawatomi" subgroup has not yet been undertaken. A discussion of Algonquian family subgroups indicates that "Ojibwe–Potawatomi is another possibility that awaits investigation."[25] In a proposed consensus classification of Algonquian languages, Goddard (1996) classifies Ojibwa and Potawatomi as "Ojibwayan," although no supporting evidence is adduced.[26]

The Central languages share a significant number of common features. These features can generally be attributed to diffusion of features through borrowing: "Extensive lexical, phonological, and perhaps grammatical borrowing—the diffusion of elements and features across language boundaries—appears to have been the major factor in giving the languages in the area of the Upper Great La

The most general Indigenous designation for the language is Anishinaabemowin 'speaking the native language' (Anishinaabe 'native person,' verb suffix –mo 'speak a language,' suffix –win 'nominalizer'),[16][17] with varying spellings and pronunciations depending upon dialect. Some speakers use the term Ojibwemowin.[18][19] The general term in Oji-Cree (Severn Ojibwe) is Anihshininiimowin, although Anishinaabemowin is widely recognized by Severn speakers.[18] Some speakers of Saulteaux Ojibwe refer to their language as Nakawemowin.[18] The Ottawa dialect is sometimes referred to as Daawaamwin,[20] although the general designation is Nishnaabemwin, with the latter term also applied to Jibwemwin or Eastern Ojibwe.[21] Other local terms are listed in Ojibwe dialects. English terms include Ojibwe, with variants including Ojibwa and Ojibway.[22] The related term Chippewa is more commonly employed in the United States and in southwestern Ontario among descendants of Ojibwe migrants from the United States.[23]

Relationship with Potawatomi

Notable speakers of Anishinaabemowin include:[citation needed]

Mobile learning apps

An "Ojibway Language and People" app is available for iPhone, iPad, and other iOS devices.[99] The source code is available for others interested in developing their own application for learning a native language.[100]

Language revitalization

Recently,[when?] there has been more of a push toward bringing the Ojibwe language back into more common use, through language classes and programs sponsored by universities, sometimes available to non-students, which are essential to passing on the Ojibwe language.[101][102][103] These courses mainly target adults and young adults; however, there are many resources for all age groups, including online games[104] which provide domains for online language use. There has also been an increase in published children's literature.[105] The increase in materials published in Ojibwe is essential to increasing the number of speakers. Language revitalization through Ojibwe frameworks also allows for cultural concepts to be conveyed through language.[106]

See also