Atikamekw language

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atikamekw nehiromowin
Native toCanada
Native speakers
6,200 (2016 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3atj
Atikamekw is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
PeopleAtikamekw Nehirowisiw
LanguageAtikamekw Nehiromowin
CountryNitaskinan (Nehirowisi Aski)

Atikamekw (endonym: Atikamekw Nehiromowin, literally "Atikamekw native language") is a variety of the Algonquian language Cree[citation needed] and the language of the Atikamekw people of southwestern Quebec, Canada. It is spoken by nearly all the Atikamekw, and therefore it is among the indigenous languages least threatened with extinction, according to some studies.[3]

Atikamekw is a language belonging to the CreeMontagnaisNaskapi linguistic continuum, which is part of the Central branch of the Algonquian languages of the Algic family of languages. It is sometimes classified as a dialect of Cree.[citation needed]

The Atikamekw reflex of Proto-Algonquian liquid ("L" sound) *l is [ɾ] (spelled 'r'). The corresponding sound in other Cree dialects is [n], [j], [l], or [ð] (it is consistently one of these depending on the dialect). So, alternatively, it is also referred to as the "r-Dialect of Cree".[citation needed] Another way in which Atikamekw is distinctive among dialects of Cree is in having many loanwords from the Anishinaabe language.



The consonants of Atikamekw are listed below in the standard orthography and with IPA equivalents in brackets:

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m  [m] n  [n]
Stop p  [p] t  [t] tc (c)  [t͡ʃ] k  [k]
Fricative s  [s] c ()  [ʃ] h  [h]
Tap r  [ɾ]
Approximant w [w] i (y)  [j]

In Atikamekw, fortis and lenis consonants are not distinguished in writing, even though they are in speech. But if precise spelling is required, fortis consonant realised as a geminate is indicated with an underline on the letter of concern.


The vowels of Atikamekw are listed below:

Front Back
long short long short
Close î [] i [i]
Mid e [] ô [] o [o]
Open â [] a [a]
  • Vowel length (shown above with a circumflex accent) is typically not indicated in the written language.


  1. ^ Atikamekw at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian (2022-05-24). "Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi". Glottolog. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Archived from the original on 2022-10-15. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
  3. ^ "Cultures et traditions" (in French). Conseil des Atikamekw d'Opitciwan. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2010-03-09.


  • Béland, Jean-Pierre. 1978. Atikamekw Morphology & Lexicon. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.

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