Speaking Native


Mi'gmaq is a language where speakers often draw on the knowledge that they share as members of the same (or a closely related) community. For this reason, some normal ways of talking in Mi'gmaq can seem not as specific as what English speakers are used to.

In Listuguj, for example, qame'g 'across (the river)' can often specifically mean Campbellton, and gm'tnigtug 'at the mountain' can often specifically mean the Sugarloaf. This way of talking is effective because speakers draw on their common understanding of where they are and which specific places would naturally tie to those words.

For the same reason, it is normal and in fact more natural in Mi'gmaq to say 'speak Native' when talking about speaking the Mi'gmaq language. More specific expressions are possible, but are usually only used when really needed, say, to talk about speaking different kinds of Native languages.

Dialog 1

Nnui'sin gi'l?

Do you speak Native [lit. 'speak Native', but used where English would say 'speak Mi'gmaw']


E'e, 'nnui'si.

Yes, I speak Native.


Getu'-nnuisin nige'?

Do you want to speak Native now?


E'e, 'nnui'sinej.

Yes, let's speak Native.