Algonquian Languages

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Algonquian Languages


one of the major language families of the North American Indians. Since most Algon-quian tribes have been exterminated, the Algonquian languages are now spoken only in a few places in the United States and Canada, mainly in the Great Lakes region and farther south.

The Algonquian language family consists of five groups: the languages of the Blackfoot Indians; Cheyenne; Arapaho; the central and eastern groups; and the California group. The central and eastern groups, which are the most widespread, include the Algonquian language proper, Ojibway,Ottawa (in the region of lakes Superior and Huron), Cree (in Labrador), Delaware (in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey), Fox (in the Mississippi Valley), and the extinct languages of the Mohicans, Massachusetts, and other tribes. The Black-foot languages are spoken in Canada, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and northern Montana; Cheyenne in southeastern Minnesota and northeastern South Dakota; and Arapaho in eastern North Dakota and southern Montana. The California group is represented by two languages—Wiyot and Yurok.

The grammar of the Algonquian languages is characterized by polysynthesism: word elements which correspond to secondary members of a sentence and depend on a predicate are combined to form morphs (the smallest units of language that have meaning). The resulting word is the equivalent of a sentence.


Boas, F. Handbook of American Indian Languages, part 1. Washington, 1911.
Pilling, J. C. Bibliography of the Algonquian Languages. Washington, 1891.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It should be noted that the use of full NPs would not resolve the ambiguity, since Cree (and Algonquian languages in general) does not have a fixed word order or a system of case marking for core arguments.
(23.) It is reported that in some languages (e.g., Ojibwa, another Algonquian language) the direction is present only when at least one of the core arguments is a SAP (Jelinek 1990; Rhodes 1990).
Allouez employed the French Dieu, while Le Boullenger used kichemanet8a, or "great spirit," the term most commonly associated with God in Algonquian languages. The central issue in the decision here appears to be the Illinois concept of manet8a, a key word in the Illinois-Jesuit religious encounter.
On Miami-Illinois, see Costa, The Miami-Illinois Language, 1; and Ives Goddard, "Central Algonquian Languages," in Handbook of North American Indians, vol.
In sum, however, the book is worth having for all those seriously interested in Algonquian languages and literature.
This type of system is attested for instance in the Algonquian language Blackfoot (see Russell et al., this issue).
Lena Russell, Inge Genee, Eva van Lier, and Fernando Zuniga on Blackfoot, an Algonquian language spoken in Southern Alberta (Canada) and Northern Montana (United States)
Among the few song texts that appear in the Jesuit relations, two are untranslated fragments from the Algonquian language of the Montagnais ([6] 185; [12] 9-11), one is a series of songs by Christian Iroquois which may have been sung originally in French ([421 115-117), one is the "death song" of a Christian Iroquois which is presented in the original and with a translation ([57] 173), and one is the Nativelanguage text with music for a song for the Calumet Dance among the Illinois ([59] 137).
While the present study does not describe lexical variation in detail, it nonetheless makes a contribution to existing accounts of three-participant constructions in Algonquian languages, in going beyond the presumably pervasive pattern of secundative alignment of indexation (cf.
(2) The animate/inanimate distinction in Algonquian languages is grammatical rather than purely notional.
(6) The term "non-specific" for this form--whose occurrence among Algonquian languages is remarkably rare--is Taylor's (1969:192); Frantz (2009:11f) uses "non-particular" and "non- referring." Proulx (2005:15) identifies Blackfoot non-specific -i as cognate of the Fox suffix -i appearing on animate nouns and even postulates a Proto- Central-Algonquian non-specific morpheme *-i.
Even a cursory glance at the grammatical sketch of any Algonquian language reveals the crucial role played in its fundamental structures by gender, person, and obviation.