User:Jomeara421/Severn Drafts

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Severn Ojibwa
Native to Canada
Region Ontario, Manitoba
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ojs

Severn Dialect Features[edit]

Ojibwa dialects are characterized by an enormous amount of dialect variation. Dialect features very often form a continuum, with adjacent dialects being transitional in sharing some features of their neighbours.[1] The Northern tier of Ojibwa dialects consists of Severn Ojibwa and Algonquin; both morphological and lexical (vocabulary) data support the existence of the Northern tier showing significant differences from the Southern tier of dialect and the transition zone. A significant number of dialectal features assigned to the Northern tier are shared by the two dialects, although both Severn and Algonquin have undergone independent innovations as well.[2]


Severn has a certain amount of distinctive vocabulary. Some of this appears to reflect forms either borrowed from a number of Cree dialects, or words that are cognate with Cree forms but otherwise not occurring in other Ojibwa dialects.


Severn has a set of particles (words that are invariant in shape, i.e. do not occur with prefixes or suffixes) that appear to be borrowings form Cree.[3] Examples include egwa ‘and, so’ compared with for example zhigwa found in some other dialects. Other distinctively Severn particles include midoni ‘really,’ aadit ‘some,’ maawaj ‘really,’ maaskooj, and mistahi ‘much, a lot.’ The term mistahi can only be a borrowing since the cluster <st> does not occur in native Ojibwa words.[4] Similarly, Severn aadit ‘some’ corresponds directly to the corresponding Cree term, while other Ojibwe dialects have aanind, which is the historically expected form.[5]

Other Severn Vocabulary from Cree[edit]

In addition to grammatical particles, Severn has other vocabulary that appears to be borrowed from Cree. A number of Severn terms are identical to or closely match Swampy Cree terms; the Swampy Cree community of Fort Severn, Ontario, is directly to the north of the Severn Ojibwa area, on the coast of Hudson Bay. The following presents a sample of such words.[6]

SevernOjibwa Vocabulary Comparable to Fort Severn Swampy Cree
English Severn Ojibwa Swampy Cree (Fort Severn)
animal awiyaazhiish awiyaashish
bannock aanakonaa aanakonaaw
cap ashtodin astodin
child awaazhish awaashish
cow mishtoz mishtos
my heart nidehi nidehi
sun biisim biisim

These apparent direct borrowings from Cree can be distinguished from distinctively Severn words (i.e. not occurring in other Ojibwa dialects) that appear to be cognate with Cree terms rather than direct borrowings.[7] For example, Severn uses the distinctive word mitigowazh ‘box’ as opposed to the more broadly used general Ojibwa term makak. The Severn term consists of the noun <mitig> ‘wooden’ and a suffix <-wazh> ‘container.’ The Severn term resembles the Swampy Cree term mistikowat, which the same morphological structure: <mistik> ‘wooden’ and suffix <-wat> ‘container.’ However, while the Severn term is arguably cognate with the Cree term it is not a direct borrowing.[8]

Severn Borrowings from Plains Cree[edit]

Plains Cree has been suggested as a possible source of some terms in the set of Severn numerals. For example, Severn uses the numeral ayinaanew ‘eight’ which closely resembles Plains Cree ayenaaniw and is less similar to Swampy Cree niyaanaanew. As noted previously, the use of Plains Cree as a liturgical language by Severn speakers may be significant here.

Severn Numbers Compared to Cree
English Severn Ojibwa Plains Cree Swampy Cree
eight ayinaanew ayenaanew niyaanaanew
one thousand gichi-midaaso-midana kihci-mitaahto-mitanaw kishe-mitaahto-mitana

Firm conclusions are not possible, but it is likely that there are multiple Cree sources for some borrowings into Severn.[9]

Distinctive Severn vocabulary[edit]

Other distinctively Severn vocabulary does not appear to reflect Cree sources. [10]

Severn Ojibwa Vocabulary Not Derivable from Cree
English Severn Ojibwa
apple miinish
blueberry ininiminaanag
boy naabens
chicken bine
exactly mayaam
old man gichi-ahaa
potato ashkibwaaw
star wajakosh
table wiisiniiwinaatig
tent wiiskwehogaan

Morphological Features[edit]

Severn has a number of morphological features that distinguish from other Ojibwa dialects, although a number of morphological features as shared with the Algonquin dialect. Some are shared with Algonquin while others are unique.

Second person plural VAI Ind. Indic –naawaa[edit]

Locative Suffix[edit]

Particles in –j[edit]

Third Conjunct Suffix[edit]

AI Unspecified Actor[edit]

Conjunct Negatives[edit]


  1. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, 1994, p. 354. The author is specifically discussing morphological features, but other forms of dialect variation show the same type of patterning.
  2. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, p. 284. See also p. 357 for a cross-dialect checklist of morphological features.
  3. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, pp. 399-400
  4. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, p. 400
  5. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, p. 406
  6. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, pp. 405-406
  7. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, pp. 399-400
  8. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, pp. 361, 363
  9. ^ Valentine, J. Randolph, p. 410
  10. ^ For a more extensive list, see Valentine, J. Randolph, pp. 402-405


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  • Baraga, Frederic. 1978. A dictionary of the Otchipwe language, explained in English. A new edition, by a missionary of the Oblates. Part I, English-Otchipwe; Part II, Otchipwe-English. Montréal: Beauchemin & Valois. Reprint (in one volume), Minneappolis: Ross and Haines, 1966, 1973.
  • Beardy, Tom. 1996. Introductory Ojibwe: Parts One and Two in Severn Dialect. Thunder Bay: Native Language Instructors’ Program, Lakehead University.
  • Bishop, Charles. 1981. “Territorial groups before 1821: Cree and Ojibwa.” June Helm, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6. Subarctic, pp. 158-160. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Bloomfield, Leonard. 1958. Eastern Ojibwa: Grammatical sketch, texts and word list. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Canada. 1970. Linguistic and cultural affiliations of Canadian Indian Bands. Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Indian Affairs Branch.
  • De Beers Canada Inc, and Ojibway-Cree Cultural Centre. Mining and environmental terminology glossary English/Cree/Oji-Cree/Ojibway. Toronto, Ont: De Beers Canada, 2003.
  • Ellis, C.D. 1983. Spoken Cree. Revised Edition. Edmonton: Pica Pica Press.
  • Fiero, Charles. 1976. “Style Manual for Syllabics.” Barbara Burnaby, ed., Promoting Native Writing Systems in Canada, pp. 95-104. Toronto: OISE Press.
  • Jacasum, John Paul. English, Cree, Oji-Cree, and Ojibway Political Terminology Glossary. Timmins, Ont: Ojibway and Cree Cultural Centre, 2005. ISBN 0919523803
  • Nichols, John. 1996. “The Cree syllabary.” Peter Daniels and William Bright, eds. The world’s writing systems, pp. 599-611. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Nichols, John and Earl Nyholm. 1995. A concise dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe. St. Paul: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Ontario. Ministry of Education. Research and Information Branch, Mary Upper, and Modina McKay. Acquisition of Oji-Cree As a First Language A Preliminary Study of Children's Language Development, Phase 1. ONTERIS documents series, 4263. 1984.
  • ᐅᔥᑭᒪᓯᓇᐃᑲᓐ ᑲᐊᓂᔑᓇᐯᒧᒪᑲᒃ Oshkimasina’ikan KaaAnihshinaapemoomakahk. 1988. Toronto: Canadian Bible Society. [New Testament in Roman orthography and Cree syllabics. [Chapters in Sandy Lake Ojibwe: Luke, Acts, Philemon; other chapters in Pikangikam Ojibwe] ISBN 0-88834-301-1 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.
  • Rhodes, Richard and Evelyn Todd. 1981. “Subarctic Algonquian languages.” June Helm, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6. Subarctic, pp. 52-66. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Rogers, Edward. 1962. The Round Lake Ojibwa. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Rogers, Edward and J. Garth Taylor. 1981. “Northern Ojibwa.” June Helm, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6. Subarctic, pp. 231-243. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Rogers, Jean. 1964. “Survey of Round Lake Ojibwa phonology and morphology.” National Museum of Canada, Bulletin No. 194, Contributions to Anthropology, 1961-62, Part II, pp. 92-154. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada.
  • Sugarhead, Cecilia. 1996. ᓂᓄᑕᐣ / Ninoontaan / I can hear it: Ojibwe stories from Lansdowne House written by Cecilia Sugarhead. Edited, translated and with a glossary by John O’Meara. Winnipeg: Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics.
  • Todd, Evelyn. 1970. A grammar of the Ojibwa language: the Severn dialect. PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • Upper, Mary, Modina McKay. 1987. “The acquisition of Oji-Cree as a first language: A preliminary study.” Freda Ahenakew and Shirley Fredeen, eds. Seventh Annual Native American Languages Institute: Our languages: Our survival: Proceedings, pp. 169-196. Saskatoon: Sask.: Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute.
  • Valentine, J. Randolph. 1994. Ojibwe dialect relationships. PhD dissertation, University of Texas, Austin.
  • Valentine, Lisa Philips. 1990. Work to create the future you want: Contemporary discourse in a Severn Ojibwe community. PhD dissertation. University of Texas, Austin.
  • Valentine, Lisa Philips. 1995. Making it their own: Severn Ojibwe communicative practices Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Walker, Willard. 1996. “Native writing systems.” Ives Goddard, ed., The Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 17. Languages, pp. 158-184. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution.
  • Wolfart, H. Christoph. 1973. “Boundary Maintenance in Algonquian: A linguistic study of Island Lake, Manitoba.” American Anthropologist 75 (5): 1305-1323.
  • Wolfart, H. Christoph. “Les paradigmes verbaux ojibwa et la position du dialect de Severn.” W. Cowan, ed., Actes du Huitième Congrès des Algonquinistes,pp. 188-206. Ottawa: Carleton University.
  • Wolfart, H. Christoph and Salina M. Shrofel. “Aspects of Cree interference in Island Lake Ojibwa.” W. Cowan, ed., Actes du Huitième Congrès des Algonquinistes, pp. 156-167. Ottawa: Carleton University.
  • Wolvengrey, Arok. 2001. ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐁᐧᐃᐧᐣ ᐃᑘᐏᓇ / nēhiýawēwin: itwēwina / Cree: Words. Volume 1: Cree-English. Regina, SK: University of Regina, Great Plains Research Centre.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]