Nisga'a language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nisg̱a’a, nisqáʔamq
Bandera Nis'ga Nation.png
Native to Canada
Region Northwest British Columbia (Nisg̱a’a Nation)
Ethnicity 5,430 Nisga’a people (2014, FPCC)[1]
Native speakers
2,818 (2014, FPCC)[1]
Nisg̱a’a Script (NAPA)
Official status
Official language in
Nisg̱a’a Nation
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ncg
Glottolog nisg1240[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Nisga’a (also Nass, Nisgha, Nisg̱a’a, Nishka, Niska, Nishga, Nisqa’a) is a Tsimshianic language of the Nisga'a people of northwestern British Columbia. Nisga'a people, however, dislike the term Tshimshianic as they feel that it gives precedence to Coast Tsimshian. Nisga’a is very closely related to Gitksan. Indeed, many linguists regard Nisga’a and Gitksan as dialects of a single Nass–Gitksan language. The two are generally treated as distinct languages out of deference to the political separation of the two groups.

History and usage[edit]

Anglican missionary James Benjamin McCullagh conducted much early linguistic work in Nisga’a, preparing translations of parts of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer as well as a Nisga’a primer for students.

Like almost all other First Nations languages of British Columbia, Nisga’a is an endangered language. As of the 2006 census, there are over 1,000 speakers out of a total ethnic population of around 6,000.[3]



Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
central lateral plain rounded
Nasal m [m] n [n]
Plosive voiceless p [p] t [t] k [k] qu [] [q] ʻ [ʔ]
voiced b [b] d [d] g [ɡ]
Affricate z [dz] ż []
Fricative voiceless s [s] ʻl [ɬ] š [ʃ] [ç] [x] h [h]
voiced ģ [ɣ]
Approximant l [l] y [j] w [w]


A Nisga’a iPhone app was released in January 2012.[4] An online dictionary, phrasebook, and language learning portal is available at First Voices.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nisga’a at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Nisga'a". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Statistics Canada: 2006 Census
  4. ^ "FirstVoices Apps". FirstVoices. Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  5. ^ "FirstVoices: Nisga'a Community Portal". Retrieved 2012-10-04. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]