Learning to Speak Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe) Some Quick Ojibwemowin Rules by Shaawano Chad Uran

Boozhoo niij-bimaabizidog! Here are some quick rules for speaking Ojibwe.

I have a few lists of vocabulary terms that will build upon the other materials I have posted, verbs that would be good to practice these rules on. I also have to finally record numbers and month names so that you can all customize the Boozhoo Speech to your liking.

Until then, check out….

Some Useful Rules:

Use of hyphen within words demarcates actor pronoun from verb
Example: niiji-bimaadiziig “my fellow human people”

When a verb begins with a consonant, use a prefix that ends with a vowel (ni-, gi-)
Example: gidoodem “your clan is” nidoodem “my clan is”

When a verb begins with a vowel, use a prefix that ends with a consonant (ind-, gid-)
Example: indizhinikaaz “my name is” gidizhinikaaz “your name is”

When first letter of verb is ‘o’, change to ‘oo’ when adding prefixes
Example: onjibaa “s/he is from” indoonjibaa “I am from” and gidoonjibaa “you are from”

These next three rules show how useful the double-vowel orthography can be for learning how to speak Ojibwemowin:

When a (3p) verb ends with a short vowel (-i, -a, -o), drop the ending vowel for 1p or 2p*
Example: izhinikaazo “his/her name is” indizhinikaaz “my name is” gidizhinikaaz “your name is”

When a verb ends with a short vowel, don’t drop the vowel for 3p
Example: izhinkaazo “his/her name is”

When a verb ends with a long vowel (-e, -ii, -aa, -oo), don’t drop the vowel
Example: bimibatoo “s/he is running” nibimibatoo “I am running” gibimibatoo “you are running”

Reduplicative sounds means habitual or usually

Example: Cornell University nindananokii.
I usually work at the Cornell University

Cornell ninanokii.
I work at Cornell.

* 1p, 2p, and 3p mean “first person,” “second person,” and “third person,” respectively. In these examples, they are all singular forms, so I left off the “s” (as in 1ps, 2ps, and 3ps).

Shaawano Chad Uran (White Earth Anishinaabe)

Shaawano Chad Uran (White Earth Anishinaabe)

Shaawano Chad Uran (White Earth Anishinaabe) received his PhD in Anthropology in 2012 from the University of Iowa. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Minnesota. He has taught at Bowdoin College in Maine, the University of Victoria in British Columbia, The Evergreen State College in Washington, and the University of Washington. His research areas are: Indigenous language revitalization, language and identity, American cultural studies, language ideologies, American Indian sovereignty, critical theory, Native American studies, and coloniality.

3 thoughts on “Learning to Speak Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe) Some Quick Ojibwemowin Rules by Shaawano Chad Uran

  1. I’ve been trying to get this language to stick… still, I’m studying Oglala and my own language – Diné

    Just need to keep on these and make it sink in.

    Thank you for the post

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