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Language Information

An Endangered language of the Kanien’kéhaka

Alternate Names
Kanien’kéha
Population

540 in Canada (2011 census). Population total all countries: 3,540. Ethnic population: 24,000 (1999 SIL). L2 users: Several hundred L2 speakers.

Location

Ontario, the Six Nations Reserve, south, the Tyendinaga Reserve on the Bay of Quinte near Kingston, and a small settlement at Gibson east of Georgian Bay; Quebec, Kahnawà:ke and Kanehsatà:ke in the vicinity of Montreal.

Language Status

6b (Threatened).

Language Use

Immersion schools in Caughnawaga, Oka, on the Six Nations Reserve (Golla 2007). Mostly older adults but a few children are native speakers. Also use English [eng].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 75%–100%. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 1787–2004.
Writing

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Kanien’kehaka is name for Mohawk people.

Keyboard Downloads and Maps

Mac Download (2.0)Mac Installation Instructions
Windows Download (2.0)Windows Installation Instructions
Kanienkeha Keymap (pdf)

Mohawk alphabet (Iewennonnià:tha)

All Mohawk writing systems use the same Roman or Latin alphabet which is also used to write English. However, the Mohawk method is more systematic than the English writing system; you generally write a word exactly the way it sounds in Mohawk. It is therefore easy to learn the written Mohawk form: the written form reflects the spoken word.

Twelve letters of the Roman alphabet are used to write the Mohawk language. The vowels are “a,” “e,” “i,” “o,” “en,” and “on.” The consonants are “h,” “k,” “n,” “r,” “s,” “t,” “w,” and “y.”

Dialect differences do exist on the different reserves. Speakers may and do have different pronunciations for the same word. This difference is now reflected in the orthography used.

For example: (wákien – I have something)

  • wátien: Wáhta/Kahnawà:ke/Kanehsatà:ke
  • wákien: Ahkwesahsne/ Ohswé:ken
  • wádien: Tyendinaga

Tyendinaga writes the “t” as a “d” because one of the rules in the language states that a “d” before a vowel sounds like a “t.”

Diacritical Marks:

The Mohawk names for the diacritical marks are:

  • (‘:) Kawennakará:tats tánon teiotsistóhkwake (Rising tone with length)
  • (‘) Tekawénniaks (Glottal stop)
  • (´) Kawennakará:tats (Rising tone)
  • (`:) Kawennénhtha tánon teiotsistóhkwake (Falling tone with length)

For example, the following diacritical marks are now used:

  • (‘:) length with rising tone
  • (‘) an apostrophe to indicate glottal stop
  • (´) accent to mark stress
  • (`:) length with fallin
  • tó:kwahre (cranberry)
  • sha’té:kon (eight)
  • ohwísta (money)
  • toneià:ia’k (six)

Sample texts in Mohawk

Translation

Teiohonwa:ka ne’ni akhonwe:ia
Kon’tatieshon iohnekotatie
Wakkawehatie wakkawehatie.

The canoe is very fast. It is mine.
All day long I splash away.
I paddle along, I paddle along.

Okariata:ne tahotharatie
Tahsakohroria:ne ne tsi niho:ten
Ne se aonha:a thorihwaka:ion
Ne se aonha:a thorihwaka:ion

The mosquito is bringing a message
He’s coming to tell us how poor he is.
The truth of the matter is, that
He is so old fashioned and brings the same old message.


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