Ojibwe language

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.

Anishinaabemowin, ᐊᓂᐦᔑᓈᐯᒧᐎᓐ
Pre-contact distribution of Ojibwe dialects
Native toCanada, United States
RegionCanada: Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, groups in Alberta, British Columbia; United States: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, groups in North Dakota, Montana
EthnicityOjibwe people
Native speakers
(90,000 cited 1990–2010, 100,880 including all other dialects not included in Ethnologue.)[1]
Dialects(see Ojibwe dialects)
Latin (various alphabets in Canada and the United States),
Ojibwe syllabics in Canada,
Great Lakes Algonquian syllabics in the United States
Language codes
ISO 639-1oj – Ojibwa
ISO 639-2oji – Ojibwa
ISO 639-3oji – inclusive code – Ojibwa
Individual codes:
ojs  Severn Ojibwa
ojg  Eastern Ojibwa
ojc  Central Ojibwa
ojb  Northwestern Ojibwa
ojw  Western Ojibwa
ciw  Chippewa
otw  Ottawa
alq  Algonquin
Glottologojib1241  Ojibwa[2]
Linguasphere62-ADA-d (Ojibwa+Anissinapek)
Location of all Anishinaabe Reservations/Reserves and cities with an Anishinaabe population in North America, with diffusion rings about communities speaking Anishinaabe languages.

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.

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 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

Ojibwe communities are found in Canada from southwestern Quebec, through Ontario, southern Manitoba and parts of southern Saskatchewan; and in the United States from northern Michigan through northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, with a number of communities in northern North Dakota and northern Montana.[28] Groups of speakers of the Ottawa dialect migrated to Kansas and Oklahoma during the historical period, with a small amount of linguistic documentation of the language in Oklahoma.[29] The presence of Ojibwe in British Columbia has been noted.[10]

Current census data indicate that all varieties of Ojibwe are spoken by approximately 56,531 people. This figure reflects census data from the 2000 United States census and the 2006 Canadian census. The Ojibwe language is reported as spoken by a total of 8,791 people in the United States[30] of which 7,355 are Native Americans[31] and by as many as 47,740 in Canada,[13] making it one of the largest Algic languages by numbers of speakers.[13]

LanguageCanada (2016)Canada (2011)United StatesTotal (by speakers)Total ethnic population
Algonquin 1,6602,680[13]02,6808,266
Oji-Cree 13,63012,600[13]012,60012,600
Ojibwe 20,47024,896[32]8,355[30]33,251219,711
Ottawa 1657,564[33]436[31]8,000[34]60,000[34]
Total (by Country) 35,92547,7408,79156,531300,577

The Red Lake, White Earth, and Leech Lake reservations are known for their tradition of singing hymns in the Ojibwe language.[35] As of 2011, Ojibwe is the official language of Red Lake.[36]


Because the dialects of Ojibwe are at least partly mutually intelligible, Ojibwe is usually considered to be a single language with a number of dialects, i.e. Ojibwe is "... conventionally regarded as a single language consisting of a continuum of dialectal varieties since ... every dialect is at least partly intelligible to the speakers of the neighboring dialects."[37] The degree of mutually intelligibility between nonadjacent dialects varies considerably; recent research has shown that there is strong differentiation between the Ottawa dialect spoken in southern Ontario and northern Michigan; the Severn Ojibwa dialect spoken in northern Ontario and Manitoba; and the Algonquin dialect spoken in southwestern Quebec.[38] Valentine notes that isolation is the most plausible explanation for the distinctive linguistic features found in these three dialects.[39] Many communities adjacent to these relatively sharply differentiated dialects show a mix of transitional features, reflecting overlap with other nearby dialects.[40] While each of these dialects has undergone innovations that make them distinctive, their status as part of the Ojibwe language complex is not in dispute.[39] The relatively low degrees of mutual intelligibility between some nonadjacent Ojibwe dialects led Rhodes and Todd to suggest that Ojibwe should be analyzed as a linguistic subgroup consisting of several languages.[41]

While there is some variation in the classification of Ojibwe dialects, at a minimum the following are recognized, proceeding west to east: Western Ojibwe (Saulteaux), Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa), Northwestern Ojibwe, Severn Ojibwe (Oji-Cree), Ottawa (Odawa), Eastern Ojibwe, and Algonquin. Based upon contemporary field research, 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]

Two recent analyses of the relationships between the Ojibwe dialects are in agreement on the assignment of the strongly differentiated Ottawa dialect to a separate subgroup, and the assignment of Severn Ojibwe and Algonquin to another subgroup, and differ primarily with respect to the relationships between the less strongly differentiated dialects. Rhodes and Todd recognize several different dialectal subgroupings within Ojibwe: (a) Ottawa; (b) Severn and Algonquian; (c) a third subgroup which is further divided into (i) a subgrouping of Northwestern Ojibwe and Saulteaux, and a subgrouping consisting of Eastern Ojibwe and a further subgrouping comprising Southwestern Ojibwe and Central Ojibwe.[42] Valentine has proposed that Ojibwe dialects are divided into three groups: a northern tier consisting of Severn Ojibwe and Algonquin; a southern tier consisting of "Odawa, Chippewa, Eastern Ojibwe, the Ojibwe of the Border Lakes region between Minnesota and Ontario, and Saulteaux; and third, a transitional zone between these two polar groups, in which there is a mixture of northern and southern features."[43]

Lingua franca

Several different Ojibwe dialects have functioned as lingua franca or trade languages in the circum-Great Lakes area, particularly in interactions with speakers of other Algonquian languages.[44] Documentation of such usage dates from the 18th and 19th centuries, but earlier use is likely, with reports as early as 1703 suggesting that Ojibwe was used by different groups from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to Lake Winnipeg, and from as far south as Ohio to Hudson Bay.[45]

A trade language is "a language customarily used for communication between speakers of different languages, even though it may be that neither speaker has the trade language as his dominant language" although "there is a relatively high degree of bilingualism involving the trade language."[46]

Documentation from the 17th century indicates that the Wyandot language (also called Huron), one of the Iroquoian languages, was also used as a trade language east of the Great Lakes by speakers of the Nipissing and Algonquin dialects of Ojibwe, and also by other groups south of the Great Lakes, including the Winnebago and by a group of unknown affiliation identified only as "Assistaeronon." The political decline of the Hurons in the 18th century and the ascendancy of Ojibwe-speaking groups including the Ottawa led to the replacement of Huron as a lingua franca.[47]

In the area east of Georgian Bay, the Nipissing dialect was a trade language. In the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula, the area between Lake Erie and Lake Huron, and along the north shore of Georgian Bay, the Ottawa dialect served as a trade language. In the area south of Lake Superior and west of Lake Michigan Southwestern Ojibwe was the trade language.[48] A widespread pattern of asymmetrical bilingualism is found in the area south of the Great Lakes in which speakers of Potawatomi or Menominee, both Algonquian languages, also spoke Ojibwe, but Ojibwe speakers did not speak the other languages. It is known that some speakers of Menominee also speak Ojibwe and that the pattern persisted into the 20th century. Similarly, bilingualism in Ojibwe is still common among Potawatomis who speak Potawatomi.[49]

Reports from traders and travellers as early as 1744 indicate that speakers of Menominee, another Algonquian language, used Ojibwe as a lingua franca. Other reports from the 18th century and the early 19th century indicate that speakers of the unrelated Siouan language Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) also used Ojibwe when dealing with Europeans and others.[50] Other reports indicate that agents of the American government at Green Bay, Wisconsin spoke Ojibwe in their interactions with Menominee, with other reports indicating that "the Chippewa, Menominee, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sac, and Fox tribes used Ojibwe in intertribal communication...."[50] Some reports indicate that farther west, speakers of non-Algonquian languages such as Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Iowa, and Pawnee spoke Ojibwe as an "acquired language."[50]

Influence on other languages

Michif is a mixed language that primarily is based upon French and Plains Cree, with some vocabulary from Ojibwe, in addition to phonological influence in Michif-speaking communities where there is a significant Ojibwe influence.[51][52][53] In locations such as Turtle Mountain, North Dakota individuals of Ojibwe ancestry now speak Michif and Ojibwe.[54]

Ojibwe borrowings have been noted in Menominee, a related Algonquian language.[55]

Bungi Creole is the name given to an English Based Creole language spoken in Manitoba by the descendants of "English, Scottish, and Orkney fur traders and their Cree or Saulteaux wives ...".[56] Bungee incorporates elements of Cree; the name may be from the Ojibwe word bangii "a little bit" or the Cree equivalent but whether there is any other Ojibwe component in Bungee is not documented.[57]


All dialects of Ojibwe generally have an inventory of seventeen consonants.[58] Most dialects have the segment glottal stop /ʔ/ in their inventory of consonant phonemes; Severn Ojibwe and the Algonquin dialect have /h/ in its place. Some dialects have both segments phonetically, but only one is present in phonological representations.[59] The Ottawa and Southwestern Ojibwe (Chippewa) have /h/ in a small number of affective vocabulary items in addition to regular /ʔ/.[60][61] Some dialects may have otherwise non-occurring sounds such as /f, l, r/ in loanwords.[62]

Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar
and palatal
Velar Glottal
Plosive and affricate p [pʰ] b [p~b] t [tʰ] d [t~d] ch [tʃʰ] j [tʃ~dʒ] k [kʰ] g [k~ɡ] [ʔ]
Fricative s [sʰ] z [s~z] sh [ʃʰ] zh [ʃ~ʒ] (h [h])
Nasal m [m] n [n]
Approximant y [j] w [w]

Obstruent consonants are divided into lenis and fortis sets, with these features having varying phonological analyses and phonetic realizations cross-dialectally. In some dialects, such as Severn Ojibwe, members of the fortis set are realized as a sequence of /h/ followed by a single segment drawn from the set of lenis consonants: /p t k tʃ s ʃ/. Algonquin Ojibwe is reported as distinguishing fortis and lenis consonants on the basis of voicing, with fortis being voiceless and lenis being voiced.[63] In other dialects fortis consonants are realized as having greater duration than the corresponding lenis consonant, invariably voiceless, "vigorously articulated," and aspirated in certain environments.[64] In some practical orthographies such as the widely-used double vowel system, fortis consonants are written with voiceless symbols: p, t, k, ch, s, sh.[65]

Lenis consonants have normal duration and are typically voiced intervocalically. Although they may be devoiced at the end or beginning of a word, they are less vigorously articulated than fortis consonants, and are invariably unaspirated.[66] In the double vowel system, lenis consonants are written with voiced symbols: b, d, g, j, z, zh.[65]

All dialects of Ojibwe have two nasal consonants /m/ and /n/, one labialized velar approximant /w/, one palatal approximant /j/, and either /ʔ/ or /h/.[67]

All dialects of Ojibwe have seven oral vowels. Vowel length is phonologically contrastive and so is phonemic. Although long and short vowels are phonetically distinguished by vowel quality, recognition of vowel length in phonological representations is required, as the distinction between long and short vowels is essential for the operation of the metrical rule of vowel syncope, which characterizes the Ottawa and Eastern Ojibwe dialects, as well as for the rules that determine word stress.[21]

There are three short vowels /i a o/ and three corresponding long vowels /iː aː oː/ in addition to a fourth long vowel /eː/, which lacks a corresponding short vowel. The short vowel /i/ typically has phonetic values centring on [ɪ]; /a/ typically has values centring on [ə]~[ʌ]; and /o/ typically has values centring on [o]~[ʊ]. Long /oː/ is pronounced [uː] for many speakers, and /eː/ is often [ɛː].[68]

Oral Vowels
Front Central Back
Close ~
Near-Close ɪ o~ʊ
Mid ə

Ojibwe has nasal vowels. Some arising predictably by rule in all analyses, and other long nasal vowels are of uncertain phonological status.[69] The latter have been analysed as underlying phonemes[8] and/or as predictable and derived by the operation of phonological rules from sequences of a long vowel and /n/ and another segment, typically /j/.[70]

Nasal Vowels
Front Central back
Close ĩː õː~ũː
Mid ẽː
Open ãː

Placement of word stress is determined by metrical rules that define a characteristic iambic metrical foot, in which a weak syllable is followed by a strong syllable. A foot consists of a minimum of one syllable and a maximum of two syllables, with each foot containing a maximum of one strong syllable. The structure of the metrical foot defines the domain for relative prominence, in which a strong syllable is assigned stress because it is more prominent than the weak member of the foot. Typically, the strong syllable in the antepenultimate foot is assigned the primary stress.[71]

Strong syllables that do not receive main stress are assigned at least secondary stress.[72] In some dialects, metrically weak (unstressed) vowels at the beginning of a word are frequently lost. In the Ottawa and Eastern Ojibwe dialects, all metrically weak vowels are deleted.[73] For example, bemisemagak(in) (airplane(s), in the Southwestern Ojibwe dialect) is stressed as [be · mise · magak /ˈbɛːmɪˌseːmʌˌɡak/] in the singular but as [be · mise · maga · kin /ˌbeːmɪˈsɛːmʌˌɡaˌkin/] in the plural. In some other dialects, metrically weak (unstressed) vowels, especially "a" and "i", are reduced to a schwa and depending on the writer, may be transcribed as "i", "e" or "a". For example, anami'egiizhigad [ana · mi'e · gii · zhigad /əˌnaməˈʔɛːˌɡiːʒəˌɡad/] (Sunday, literally "prayer day") may be transcribed as anama'egiizhigad in those dialects.


The general grammatical characteristics of Ojibwe are shared across its dialects. The Ojibwe language is polysynthetic, exhibits characteristics of synthesis and a high morpheme-to-word ratio. Ojibwe is a head-marking language in which inflectional morphology on nouns and particularly verbs carries significant amounts of grammatical information.

Word classes include nouns, verbs, grammatical particles, pronouns, preverbs, and prenouns. Preferred word orders in a simple transitive sentence are verb-initial, such as verb–object–subject and verb–subject–object. While verb-final orders are dispreferred, all logically possible orders are attested.[74]

Complex inflectional and derivational morphology play a central role in Ojibwe grammar. Noun inflection and particularly verb inflection indicate a wide variety of grammatical information, realized through the use of prefixes and suffixes added to word stems. Grammatical characteristics include the following:

  1. gender,[75] divided into animate and inanimate categories
  2. extensive head-marking on verbs of inflectional information concerning person[76]
  3. number[77]
  4. tense[78]
  5. modality[79]
  6. evidentiality[80]
  7. negation[81]
  8. a distinction between obviative and proximate third-person, marked on both verbs and nouns.[82]

There is a distinction between two different types of third person: the proximate (the third person deemed more important or in focus) and the obviative (the third person deemed less important or out of focus). Nouns can be singular or plural in number and either animate or inanimate in gender. Separate personal pronouns exist but are used mainly for emphasis; they distinguish inclusive and exclusive first-person plurals.

Verbs, the most complex word class, are inflected for one of three orders (indicative, the default; conjunct, used for participles and in subordinate clauses; and imperative, used with commands), as negative or affirmative, and for the person, number, animacy, and proximate/obviative status of both the subject and object as well as for several different modes (including the dubitative and preterit) and tenses.


Loanwords and neologisms

Although it does contain a few loans from English (e.g. gaapii, "coffee," ) and French (e.g. mooshwe, "handkerchief" (from mouchoir),[83] ni-tii, "tea" (from le thé, "the tea")), in general, the Ojibwe language is notable for its relative lack of borrowing from other languages. Instead, speakers far prefer to create words for new concepts from existing vocabulary. For example in Minnesota Ojibwemowin, "airplane" is bemisemagak, literally "thing that flies" (from bimisemagad, "to fly"), and "battery" is ishkode-makakoons, literally "little fire-box" (from ishkode, "fire," and makak, "box"). Even "coffee" is called makade-mashkikiwaaboo ("black liquid-medicine") by many speakers, rather than gaapii. These new words vary from region to region, and occasionally from community to community. For example, in Northwest Ontario Ojibwemowin, "airplane" is ombaasijigan, literally "device that gets uplifted by the wind" (from ombaasin, "to be uplifted by the wind") as opposed to the Minnesota's bemisemagak.

Dialect variation

Like any language dialects spanning vast regions, some words that may have had identical meaning at one time have evolved to have different meanings today. For example, zhooniyaans (literally "small[-amount of] money" and used to refer to coins) specifically means "dime" (10-cent piece) in the United States, but a "quarter" (25-cent piece) in Canada, or desabiwin (literally "thing to sit upon") means "couch" or "chair" in Canada, but is used to specifically mean a "saddle" in the United States.

Cases like "battery" and "coffee" also demonstrate the often great difference between the literal meanings of the individual morphemes in a word, and the overall meaning of the entire word.

Sample vocabulary

Below are some examples of common Ojibwe words.

Writing system

There is no standard writing system used for all Ojibwe dialects.[84] Local alphabets have been developed by adapting the Latin script, usually based on English or French orthography.[85] A syllabic writing system, not related to English or French writing, is used by some Ojibwe speakers in northern Ontario and Manitoba. Great Lakes Algonquian syllabics are based on the French alphabet with letters organized into syllables. It was used primarily by speakers of Fox, Potawatomi, and Winnebago, but there is some indirect evidence of use by speakers of Southwestern Ojibwe.[86][87]

A widely used Roman character-based writing system is the double vowel system devised by Charles Fiero. Although there is no standard orthography, the double vowel system is used by many Ojibwe language teachers because of its ease of use. A wide range of materials have been published in the system, including a grammar,[21] dictionaries,[88][89] collections of texts,[90][91][92] and pedagogical grammars.[93][94] In northern Ontario and Manitoba, Ojibwe is most commonly written using the Cree syllabary, a syllabary originally developed by Methodist missionary James Evans around 1840 in order to write Cree. The syllabic system is based in part on Evans' knowledge of Pitman's shorthand and his prior experience developing a distinctive alphabetic writing system for Ojibwe in southern Ontario.[95]

Double vowel system

The double vowel system uses three short vowels, four long vowels, and eighteen consonants, represented with the following Roman letters:[96]

a aa b ch d e g h ' i ii j k m n o oo p s sh t w y z zh

Dialects typically either have /h/ or /ʔ/ (the orthographic ' in most versions) but rarely both.[97] This system is called "double vowel" because the long vowel correspondences to the short vowels a, i and o are written with a doubled value. In this system, the nasal ny as a final element is instead written nh. The allowable consonant clusters are mb, nd, ng, n', nj, nz, ns, nzh, sk, shp, sht, and shk.

Sample text and analysis

The sample text, from the Southwestern Ojibwe dialect, is taken, with permission, from the first four lines of Niizh Ikwewag (Two Women),[98] a story told by Earl Nyholm, on Professor Brian Donovan of Bemidji State University's webpage.


  1. Aabiding gii-ayaawag niizh ikwewag: mindimooyenh, odaanisan bezhig.
  2. Iwidi Chi-achaabaaning akeyaa gii-onjibaawag.
  3. Inashke naa mewinzha gii-aawan, mii eta go imaa sa wiigiwaaming gaa-taawaad igo.
  4. Mii dash iwapii, aabiding igo gii-awi-bagida'waawaad, giigoonyan wii-amwaawaad.


  1. Once there were two women: an old lady, and one of her daughters.
  2. They were from over there towards Inger.
  3. See now, it was long ago; they just lived there in a wigwam.
  4. And at that time, once they went net-fishing; they intended to eat fish.


oncePAST-be in a certain place-3PLtwowoman-3PLold woman,3SG.POSS-daughter-OBVone.
Oncethey were in a certain placetwowomen:old woman,her daughterone.
over therebig-bowstring-LOCthat wayPAST-come from-3PL.
Over thereby Inger
(lit: by Big-Bowstring [River])
that waythey came from there.
Inashkenaamewinzhagii-aawan,mii eta goimaasawiigiwaaminggaa-taawaadigo.
looknowlong agoPAST-besoonlyEMPHthereEMPHwigwam-LOCPAST.CONJ-live-3PL.CONJEMPH.
Looknowlong agoit was,onlytheresoin a wigwamthat they livedjust then.
Mii dashiwapii,aabidingigogii-awi-bagida'waawaad,giigoonyanwii-amwaawaad.
it is thatCONTRthat--thenonceEMPHPAST-go and-fish with a net-3PL/OBV.CONJfish-OBVDESD-eat-3PL/OBV.CONJ
And thenthen,oncejust thenthat they went and fished with a netthose fishthat they are going to eat those


3 third person
SG singular
PL plural
POSS possessive
OBV obviative
LOC locative
EMPH emphatic particle
CONJ conjunct order
CONTR contrastive particle
DESD desiderative

Notable speakers

Notable speakers of Anishinaabemowin include:

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, 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 increased 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


  1. Ojibwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Severn Ojibwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Eastern Ojibwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Central Ojibwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Northwestern Ojibwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Western Ojibwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Chippewa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    (Additional references under 'Language codes' in the information box)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ojibwa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: oji". ISO 639-2 Registration Authority - Library of Congress. Retrieved 2017-07-04. Name: Ojibwa
  5. "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: oji". ISO 639-3 Registration Authority - SIL International. Retrieved 2017-07-04. Name: Ojibwa
  6. R. R. Bishop Baraga, 1878. A Theoretical and Practical Grammar of the Otchipwe Language
  7. Goddard, Ives, 1979.
  8. Bloomfield, Leonard, 1958.
  9. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 6.
  10. Nichols, John, 1980, pp. 1–2.
  11. Rhodes, Richard, and Evelyn Todd, 1981.
  12. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 456.
  13. "Various Languages Spoken (147), Age Groups (17A) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data". Statistics Canada.
  14. "Waadookodading: Ojibwe Language Immersion School". theways.org.
  15. Goddard, Ives, 1978; Goddard, Ives, 1979.
  16. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 1.
  17. Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995, p. 10.
  18. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 1, Fn. 2.
  19. Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, p. 105.
  20. Baraga, Frederic, 1878, p. 336.
  21. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001.
  22. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 2.
  23. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 3–4.
  24. Goddard, Ives, 1978, pp. 585–586; Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 100–102.
  25. Goddard, Ives, 1979, p. 95.
  26. Goddard, Ives, 1996, p. 4.
  27. Goddard, Ives, 1979, pp. 95–96.
  28. Rhodes, Richard, and Evelyn Todd, 1981, p. 54, Fig. 2.
  29. Feest, J. and Feest, C., 1978; Dawes, Charles, 1982.
  30. U.S. English Foundation: Ojibwa Archived 2010-11-29 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved November 12, 2009.
  31. https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2000/phc-5-pt1.pdf U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census of Population and Housing,Characteristics of American Indians and Alaska Natives by Tribe and Language: 2000. PHC-5. Washington, DC, 2003.
  32. 2006 Canadian Census reported 32,460 total Ojibwe–Ottawa speakers less derived Ottawa of 7,564.
  33. Ethnologue reported 8,000 less 2000 US Census reported 436.
  34. Gordon, Raymond, 2005. See online version of same: Ethnologue entry for Ottawa. Retrieved November 12, 2009.
  35. Dan Gunderson (2013-01-14). "At White Earth, hymns a unique part of a renewed Ojibwe culture". Park Rapids Enterprise. Park Rapids, Minnesota. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
  36. Meurs, Michael (2011-09-21). "Native American Language Revitalization on Red Lake Agenda". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
  37. Rhodes, Richard, and Evelyn Todd, 1981, p. 52.
  38. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994.
  39. J. Randolph Valentine, 1994, pp. 43–44.
  40. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 42–43.
  41. Rhodes, Richard and E. Todd, 1981, p. 52.
  42. Rhodes, Richard and E. Todd, 1981, p. 61, Fig. 5.
  43. J. Randolph Valentine, 1994, pp. 39.
  44. Rhodes, Richard, 1982, p. 2.
  45. Bakker, Peter and Anthony Grant, 1996, p. 1117.
  46. Rhodes, Richard, 1982, p. 1.
  47. Bakker, Peter and Anthony Grant, 1996, p. 1116.
  48. Rhodes, Richard, 1982.
  49. Rhodes, Richard, 1982, pp. 3–4.
  50. Nichols, John, 1995, p. 1.
  51. Rhodes, Richard, 1976.
  52. Bakker, Peter, 1991.
  53. Bakker, Peter, 1996, pp. 264–270.
  54. Alex DeCoteau, Turtle Mountain Chippewa member and Ojibwe speaker.
  55. Bloomfield, Leonard, 1962.
  56. Blain, Eleanor, 1987, 7.
  57. Blain, Eleanor, 1987.
  58. See e.g. Nichols, John, 1981, p. 6 for Southwestern Ojibwe.
  59. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 124–125.
  60. Rhodes, Richard, 1985, p. xlvi.
  61. Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995, p. xxvi.
  62. Rhodes, Richard, 1985, p. xli.
  63. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, pp. 123–124.
  64. Bloomfield, Leonard, 1958, p. 8; Rhodes, Richard, 1985, pp. xliv, xlvii, xlix, l, li.
  65. For Southwestern Ojibwe, see Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995; for Ottawa, see Rhodes, Richard, 1985.
  66. Bloomfield, Leonard, 1958, p. 8.
  67. For Southwestern Ojibwe, see Nichols, John, 1981; for Ottawa, see Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001.
  68. See, e.g., Rhodes, Richard, 1985, for the Ottawa dialect; Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm, 1995, for the Southwestern Ojibwe dialect.
  69. Nichols, John, 1980, pp. 6–7.
  70. Piggott, Glyne, 1981.
  71. For discussion of the rule in the Ottawa dialect, see Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 54.
  72. Valentine, J. Randoph, 2001, p. 53.
  73. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 51–55.
  74. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 934–935.
  75. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 114.
  76. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, Chapters 5–8; pp. 62–72.
  77. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 178.
  78. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 759–782.
  79. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, p. 759.
  80. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 830–837.
  81. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 837–856.
  82. Valentine, J. Randolph, 2001, pp. 623–643.
  83. O'Meara, John. "Words Borrowed From English/French Into Ojibwe". Archived from the original on 2007-07-18. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
  84. Ningewance, Patricia, 1999.
  85. Walker, Willard, 1996.
  86. Walker, Willard, 1996, pp. 168–172.
  87. Smith, Huron, 1932, p. 335.
  88. Nichols, John, 1995.
  89. Rhodes, Richard, 1985.
  90. Valentine, J. Randolph, 1998.
  91. Kegg, Maude, 1991.
  92. Nichols, John and Leonard Bloomfield, eds., 1991.
  93. Vollom, Judith and Thomas M. Vollom, 1994.
  94. Ningewance, Patricia, 1993.
  95. Nichols, John, 1996.
  96. Nichols, John (2015). "About the Ojibwe Language". Ojibwe People's Dictionary. University of Minnesota. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  97. For Southwestern Ojibwe, which has /ʔ/ (orthographic ') but not /h/, see Nichols, John, 1981.
  98. Niizh Ikwewag Archived 2013-12-12 at the Wayback Machine
  99. "Ojibway Language program for teachers students and schools". Ogoki Learning Systems Inc. iPhone App Developer. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  100. Dadigan, Marc (2013-04-12). "Learning a Native Language? Ojibway Programmer Has an App For That". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  101. "Ojibwe Language Program". American Indian Studies | College of Liberal Arts. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  102. "Ojibwe Language Classes for Nondegree Students | American Indian Studies". Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  103. Margaret Noori (2011). "Waasechibiiwaabikoonsing Nd'anami'aami, "Praying through a Wired Window": Using Technology to Teach Anishinaabemowin". Studies in American Indian Literatures. 23 (2): 3. doi:10.5250/studamerindilite.23.2.0003.
  104. University, BlackCherry Digital Media; Carleton. "Path of the Elders - Free Treaty 9 Games! Aboriginal Cree - First Nations history, culture". www.pathoftheelders.com. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  105. Frontiers in american children's literature. Clark, Dorothy., Salem, Linda C. (1st unabridged ed.). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2016. ISBN 978-1-4438-8958-2. OCLC 944380203.CS1 maint: others (link)
  106. Noori, Margaret. 2009. “Wenesh Waa Oshkii-Bmaadizijig Noondamowaad? What Will The Young Children Hear?” In Indigenous Language Revitalization: Encouragement, Guidance, and Lessons Learned, edited byJ. Reyhner and L. Lockhard, Pp. 11-22.


  • Bakker, Peter. 1991. "The Ojibwa element in Michif." W. Cowan, ed., Papers of the twenty-second Algonquian conference, 11–20. Ottawa: Carleton University. ISSN 0831-5671
  • Bakker, Peter. 1996. A language of our own: The genesis of Michif, the mixed Cree-French language of the Canadian Métis. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509711-4
  • Bakker, Peter and Anthony Grant. 1996. "Interethnic communication in Canada, Alaska and adjacent areas." Stephen A. Wurm, Peter Muhlhausler, Darrell T. Tyron, eds., Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, 1107–1170. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-013417-9
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1958. Eastern Ojibwa: Grammatical sketch, texts and word list. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1962. The Menomini language. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • [Dawes, Charles E.] 1982. Dictionary English-Ottawa Ottawa-English. No publisher given.
  • Canada. Statistics Canada 2006 Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  • Feest, Johanna, and Christian Feest. 1978. "Ottawa." Bruce Trigger, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15. Northeast, 772–786. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1978. "Central Algonquian Languages." Bruce Trigger, ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 15, Northeast, 583–587. Washington: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1979. "Comparative Algonquian." Lyle Campbell and Marianne Mithun, eds, The languages of Native America, 70–132. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Goddard, Ives. 1996. "Introduction." Ives Goddard, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 17. Languages, 1–16. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Kegg, Maude. 1991. Edited and transcribed by John D. Nichols. Portage Lake: Memories of an Ojibwe Childhood. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 0-8166-2415-1
  • Laverdure, Patline and Ida Rose Allard. 1983. The Michif dictionary: Turtle Mountain Chippewa Cree. Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications. ISBN 0-919143-35-0
  • Nichols, John. 1980. Ojibwe morphology. PhD dissertation, Harvard University.
  • Nichols, John. 1995. "The Ojibwe verb in "Broken Oghibbeway." Amsterdam Creole Studies 12: 1–18.
  • Nichols, John. 1996. "The Cree syllabary." Peter Daniels and William Bright, eds. The world's writing systems, 599–611. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  • Nichols, John D. and Leonard Bloomfield, eds. 1991. The dog's children. Anishinaabe texts told by Angeline Williams. Winnipeg: Publications of the Algonquian Text Society, University of Manitoba. ISBN 0-88755-148-3
  • Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm. 1995. A concise dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. St. Paul: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-2427-5
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 1993. Survival Ojibwe. Winnipeg: Mazinaate Press. ISBN 0-9697826-0-8
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 1999. Naasaab izhi-anishinaabebii'igeng: Conference report. A conference to find a common Anishinaabemowin writing system. Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario. ISBN 0-7778-8695-2
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 2004. Talking Gookom's language: Learning Ojibwe. Lac Seul, ON: Mazinaate Press. ISBN 978-0-9697826-3-6
  • Piggott, Glyne L. 1980. Aspects of Odawa morphophonemics. New York: Garland. (Published version of PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 1974) ISBN 0-8240-4557-2
  • Rhodes, Richard. 1976. "A preliminary report on the dialects of Eastern Ojibwa – Odawa." W. Cowan, ed., Papers of the seventh Algonquian conference, 129–156. Ottawa: Carleton University.
  • Rhodes, Richard. 1982. "Algonquian trade languages." William Cowan, ed., Papers of the thirteenth Algonquian conference, 1–10. Ottawa: Carleton University. ISBN 0-7709-0123-9
  • Rhodes, Richard A. 1985. Eastern Ojibwa-Chippewa-Ottawa Dictionary. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-013749-6
  • Rhodes, Richard and Evelyn Todd. 1981. "Subarctic Algonquian languages." June Helm, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6. Subarctic, 52–66. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Smith, Huron H. 1932. "Ethnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians." Bulletin of the Public Museum of Milwaukee 4:327–525.
  • Todd, Evelyn. 1970. A grammar of the Ojibwa language: The Severn dialect. PhD dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Characteristics of American Indians and Alaska Natives by Tribe and Language: 2000 Retrieved on March 31, 2009.
  • Valentine, J. Randolph. 1994. Ojibwe dialect relationships. PhD dissertation, University of Texas, Austin.
  • Valentine, J. Randolph. 1998. Weshki-bimaadzijig ji-noondmowaad. 'That the young might hear': The stories of Andrew Medler as recorded by Leonard Bloomfield. London, ON: The Centre for Teaching and Research of Canadian Native Languages, University of Western Ontario. ISBN 0-7714-2091-9
  • Valentine, J. Randolph. 2001. Nishnaabemwin Reference Grammar. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-4870-6
  • Vollom, Judith L. and Thomas M. Vollom. 1994. Ojibwemowin. Series 1. Second Edition. Ramsey, Minnesota: Ojibwe Language Publishing.
  • Walker, Willard. 1996. "Native writing systems." Ives Goddard, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 17. Languages, 158–184. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9

Further reading

  • Beardy, Tom. Introductory Ojibwe in Severn dialect. Parts one and two. Thunder Bay, Ontario : Native Language Instructors' program, Lakehead University, 1996. ISBN 0-88663-018-5
  • Cappel, Constance, editor, "Odawa Language and legends: Andrew J. Blackbird and Raymond Kiogima," Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2006. ISBN 978-1-59926-920-7
  • Hinton, Leanne and Kenneth Hale. 2001. The Green Book of Language Revitalization in Practice. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-349353-6 (Hardcover), ISBN 90-04-25449-8 (Paperback).
  • Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre. 2014. ᑭᑎᓯᑭᓯᐍᐏᓂᓇᐣ [Kihtisiikisiwewinan] : Anihshininiimowin Oji-Cree Dictionary (Severn River and Winisk River). Part One : Oji-Cree to English, Part Two : English to Oji-Cree. Nichols, John D. et al., editors. Sioux Lookout: Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre.
  • McGregor, Ernest. 1987. Algonquin lexicon. Maniwaki, QC: River Desert Education Authority.
  • Mitchell, Mary. 1988. Eds. J. Randolph Valentine and Lisa Valentine. Introductory Ojibwe (Severn dialect), Part one. Thunder Bay : Native Language Office, Lakehead University.
  • Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7
  • Moose, Lawrence L. et al. 2009. Aaniin Ekidong: Aaniin Ekidong: Ojibwe Vocabulary Project. St. Paul : Minnesota Humanities Center.
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 1990. Anishinaabemodaa : Becoming a successful Ojibwe eavesdropper. Winnipeg : Manitoba Association for Native Languages. ISBN 1-894632-01-X
  • Ningewance, Patricia. 1996. Zagataagan - A Northern Ojibwe Dictionary. Volume 1 : English-Ojibwe, Volume 2 : Ojibwe-English. Sioux Lookout: Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre. ISBN 978-1-897579-15-2
  • Northrup, Jim, Marcie R. Rendon, and Linda LeGarde Grover. Nitaawichige = "to Do Something Skillfully" : Selected Poetry and Prose by Four Anishinaabe Writers. Duluth, MN : Poetry Harbor, 2002. ISBN 1-886895-28-7
  • Snache, Irene. 2005. Ojibwe language dictionary. Rama, ON: Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Publishers. ISBN 1-894632-01-X
  • Sugarhead, Cecilia. 1996. ᓂᓄᑕᐣ / Ninoontaan / I can hear it: Ojibwe stories from Lansdowne House written by Cecilia Sugarhead. Edited, translated and with a glossary by John O'Meara. Winnipeg: Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics. ISBN 0-921064-14-4
  • Toulouse, Isadore. Kidwenan, An Ojibwe Language Book. Munsee-Delaware Nation, ON: Anishinaabe Kendaaswin Pub, 1995. ISBN 1-896027-16-4
  • Treuer, Anton. Living our language: Ojibwe tales & oral histories. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001. ISBN 0-87351-404-1
  • Treuer, Anton. Ojibwe in Minnesota. St. Paul : Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2010.
  • Vizenor, Gerald Robert. Summer in the Spring Anishinaabe Lyric Poems and Stories. American Indian literature and critical studies series, v. 6. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8061-2518-7
  • Williams, Shirley I. 2002. Gdi-nweninaa : Our sound, our voice. Peterborough, ON : Neganigwane. ISBN 0-9731442-1-1
Grammar and Lessons
Dictionaries and Wordlists
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