Broken Oghibbeway

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Broken Oghibbeway
Region Wisconsin, Mississippi valley
Native speakers
Ojibwe-based pidgin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog brok1252[1]

During the fur trade era, a pidgin form of Ojibwe known as Broken Oghibbeway was used as a trade language in the Wisconsin and Mississippi River valleys. Data on the language were collected during the 1820s at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin by Edwin James, a physician and naturalist, who also gave the pidgin its name.[2] It has been described as “…a language with a restricted vocabulary drawn from the Ottawa dialect of Ojibwe with a few words from the Fox language, another Algonquian language of the region, and restructured and reduced, but not absent, Ojibwe morphology.”[3]

James recognized that “Broken Oghibbeway” was different from the variety of Ojibwe spoken in Wisconsin Territory. He noted that it “…is of the dialect used by the traders and the people of mixed blood in speaking with the Menomonies and Winnebagoes also many of the Sioux, Saxes and Foxes.”[3]

Although “Broken Oghibbeway” retains many aspects of the complex inflectional morphology that characterizes Ojibwe, it is nonetheless simplified and restructured, with reductions in the treatment of transitivity and gender, with simplification of the system of personal prefixes used on verbs, loss of the negative suffix that occurs on verbs, and loss of inflectional suffixes that indicate grammatical objects.[4]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Broken Oghibbeway". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Nichols, John, 1995, pp. 1-2.
  3. ^ a b Nichols, John, 1995, p. 1.
  4. ^ Nichols, John, 1995, pp. 17-18.