“While none of us can choose whether or not we are born with the language, we all have the ability to choose whether or not we die knowing the language.”

― Wabanakwut Kinew


Travelling Exhibit on the Cree Language


IMG_3969The Canadian Language Museum recently launched its newest travelling exhibit, Cree: The People’s Language, at the University of Toronto. While browsing six beautifully designed panels and an audio station, visitors can become acquainted with the most widely spoken indigenous language in Canada. The colourful bilingual panels feature information about the various dialects of Cree, some idiosyncrasies of its grammar, information about its various spelling systems, along with other interesting linguistic facts. Browsing the audio station, one can actually listen to clips from the various dialects of Cree and get a sense of what is written on the panels.


Having been invited to contribute to the content of the exhibit it was great to attend the launch and finally see the end product in person. Elaine Gold and her team at the Canadian Language Museum did a wonderful job at crafting eye-catching displays that are sure to please even the less linguistically inclined. In fact, the exhibit proved to be a great conversation starter as visitors pondered linguistic traits such as animacy and polysynthesis. I certainly enjoyed my evening conversing with the curious!


The Canadian Language Museum plans to have their exhibit travel the country and will be presenting it at the Pan-Am games in Toronto this summer. Be sure to visit this stimulating exhibit if it comes to a town near you or contact the museum directly if you would like to host it for a special event!

(Cree: The People’s Language was launched on March 25, 2015. The images above were provided by Andrew Tomkins.)

VTA – Independent Dubitative


1s → 2s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑎᓈᑐᒉ
1s → 2p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑎᓈᐙᑐᒉ
1p → 2s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑎᓈᓈᑐᒉ
1p → 2p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑎᓈᓈᑐᒉ

2s → 1s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᓈᑐᒉ
2s → 1p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᓈᓈᑐᒉ
2p → 1s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᓈᐙᑐᒉ
2p → 1p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᓈᓈᑐᒉ

3s → 1s ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑰᑐᒉ
3s → 1p ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᓈᓈᑐᒉ
3s → 2s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑰᑐᒉ
3s → 2p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᐙᑐᒉ
3s → 21 ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᓈᑐᒉ
3p → 1s ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑰᑐᒉᓂᒡ
3p → 1p ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᓈᓈᑐᒉᓂᒡ
3p → 2s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑰᑐᒉᓂᒡ
3p → 2p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᐙᑐᒉᓂᒡ
3p → 21 ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᓈᑐᒉᓂᒡ

1s → 3s ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᑐᒉ
1s → 3p ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᑐᒉᓂᒡ
2s → 3s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᑐᒉ
2s → 3p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᑐᒉᓂᒡ
1p → 3s ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᓈᓈᑐᒉ
1p → 3p ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᓈᓈᑐᒉᓂᒡ
2p → 3s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᐙᑐᒉ
2p → 3p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᐙᑐᒉᓂᒡ
21 → 3s ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᓈᑐᒉ
21 → 3p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᓈᑐᒉᓂᒡ

1s → 4  ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᔩᑐᒉᓐᐦ
1p → 4  ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᒫᓈᓈᑐᒉᓐᐦ
2s → 4  ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᔩᑐᒉᓐᐦ
2p → 4  ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᒫᐙᑐᒉᓐᐦ
21 → 4  ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᒫᓈᑐᒉᓐᐦ
3s → 4  ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒣᑐᒉ
3p → 4  ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒣᑐᒉᓂᒡ
3s → 5  ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᒣᑐᒉ
3p → 5  ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᒣᑐᒉᓂᒡ

4  → 1  ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᔩᑐᒉᓐᐦ
4  → 1p ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᓈᓈᑐᒉᓐᐦ
4  → 2  ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᔩᑐᒉᓐᐦ
4  → 2p ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᐙᔩᑐᒉᓐᐦ
4  → 21 ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᓈᑐᒉᓐᐦ
4  → 3s ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑰᑐᒉ
4  → 3p ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑰᑐᒉᓂᒡ

5  → 4  ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑯᔩᑐᒉᓐᐦ

1s  ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑲᐎᓈᑐᒉ
2s  ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑲᐎᓈᑐᒉ
3s  ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᑲᓂᐐᑐᒉ

1p  ᓂᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑲᐎᓈᓈᑐᒉ
2p  ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑲᐎᓈᐙᑐᒉ
21  ᒋᑲᓇᐙᐸᒥᑲᐎᓈᓈᑐᒉ
3p  ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᑲᓂᐐᑐᒉ

4   ᑲᓇᐙᐸᒫᑲᓂᐎᔩᑐᒉᓐᐦ

Note:  The …ᑐᒉ… sequence of the dubitative inflexion is almost always contracted to …ᑦᒉ… in everyday speech. Additionally, forms where the subject is a 4th person are generally difficult for most Cree-speakers to produce, including myself, and were elicited with much difficulty from other fluent speakers. Forms involving a 4th person subject and further obviative persons were unknown to me and other Cree-speakers whom I consulted.