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Friday 22nd of September 2006 10:27:13 PM
CREE GRAMMAR LESSONS: About the Cree Language
[the following is from the introduction to "A Cree Phrase Book"]

The Cree language is spoken in many communities across north-central Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and in northern Ontario and Quebec, and they form a majority in the population of much of this area.

The Cree language is one of the most widely used North American Native languages.

Any language that is spoken over a wide area for a long while develops regional differences in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. Such differences are already apparent in North American English, for example, the so-called accents of the United States, of Canada, of the Souther States, of Newfoundland, of New England, of New York city, etc. Note that the differences are most pronounced along the Atlantic coast where English has been spoken longest.

Cree was already widely spoken in North America before English was spoken here at all, so it is only natural that regional variation in Cree is greater than in North American English. A favorite illustration of the regional differences in Cree are the words for 'I' and 'you' which are (in the transcription used in this book) ni'ya and ki'ya in most of Alberta and Saskatchewan, ni'na and ki'na in most of Manitoba and Ontario, ni'tha and ki'tha in part of Manitoba, ni'la and ki'la in part of Ontario, and ni'ya and ci'ya in part of Quebec.

The type of Cree, or English, or any other language that is spoken in a given area is called the dialect of that area. This book is based on the Cree dialects of Manitoba. Where these dialects differ from one another, the dialect of Norway House (= kinose'wi si'pi'hk) is used, not because it is preferable, but only because most of the contributors to this book are from there. As much as possible, other Manitoba dialect forms are given also, with 'W.' or 'western' indicating dialects spoken west of Norway House, with 'E.' or 'eastern' indicating dialects spoken east of Norway House, and 'N.' or 'northern' indicating dialects spoken north of Norway House. Many dialectal differences must have been missed, however, and it is up to the teacher to adapt the words, phrases, and sentences given here to their own dialect.

Lesson 1: Greetings and Polite Formulas
"Hello.", "Hi.", "How are you?", "How are things?"
Literally: "How?"
m'on~(a) na'ntaw.
"Hi.", "Fine." (in response to ta'n(i)si.)
ki'n~a ma'ka.
"And you?"

"Thank you." (said to one person.)
Literally: "I thank you."
"Thank you." (said to more than one person.)
Literally: "I thank you people."

"That's how!", "That's the way!", also very commonly used for "Thank you."

ki'htwa'm ka-wa'p(a)mit(i)n.
"I'll see you again." (said to one person.)
ki'htwa'm ka-wa'p(a)mit(i)na'wa'w.
"I'll see you people again."
ki'htwa'm ka-wa'p(a)mit(i)na'n.
"We'll see you again." (said to one or more persons.)
The last three sentences are probably the most commonly used equivalents of "Goodbye."

Greetings and polite formulas are among the first expressions most people seek translations for in another language. But many of these expressions are peculiar to European culture and therefore have no close equivalents in Native North American languages.

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Lesson 2: Numbers One Through Ten (and zero)
mwac ke'kwa'n
0 - zero
Literally: not anything
1 - one

2 - two

3 - three

n'ew, ne'wo, ne'yo
4 - four

5 - five

n(i)kotwa'sik or kotwa'sik
6 - six

7 - seven

ayina'new (dialects: e'na'ne'w)
8 - eight

ke'ka'c mita'taht
9 - nine
Literally: almost ten
mita'taht (W. dialects: mita'yaht for mita'taht)
10 - ten
Extra Numbers (not from the instruction book)
13 - thirteen

20 - twenty
Count the following aloud in Cree:

The windows in the room.
The doors in the room.
The chairs in the room, or, if you are in a classroom, just count the students.
The rooms in your house.
The wires leading to the nearest hydro pole.
The buttons on your shirt or dress.
Anything else that seems to consist of ten or less. If you have to count beyond ten, get help from your teacher.

Name the numbers in the following in Cree, and write them down in figures so your teacher can check you:

Your phone number.
Your license plate (if you have one).
Your house number, or room number, or post office box number.
Your social insurance number.
Anything else you can think of.

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Contents: Nisto - Products - Mail Lists - Cree - Standards - Babylon 5

Lesson 3: Comments on the Weather
it is raining

it is snowing

it's nice weather
Literally: it's a good day
it's windy

it's cloudy

it's clear or sunny

it's hot (speaking of the weather or the temperature of the air)

it's cold (speaking of the weather or the temperature of the air)

it's bitterly cold (speaking of the weather or the temperature of the air)

These weather words, in Cree, are indicative verbs. An indicative verb can be used to make a statement, like the statements about the weather listed above. These verbs are also in the present tense, that is, they indicate events or situations occuring at the time of speaking, "in the present."

(pictures not yet shown.)

Describe the weather as shown in each of the pictures above.

Lesson 4: Further Comments on the Weather: Past, Present and Future
it rained
it snowed
it's going to snow
it's going to be hot
it's going to be cold
it's going to be nice weather
it will snow
tahka'ya'w anohc
it's cold today
anohc tahka'ya'w
it's cold today
kimiwan anohc
it's raining today
ki'-kimiwan anohc
it rained today
anohc wi'-mispon
it's going to snow today
ki'-kimiwan ota'hkosi'hk
it rained yesterday
wi'-n~otin wa'pahke'
it's going to be windy tomorrow
ta-kimiwan wa'pahke'
it will rain tomorrow
me'kwa'c mispon
it's snowing right now
mispon me'kwa'c
it's snowing right now
ke'ya'pic mispon
it's still snowing
ki'htwa'm ki'-mispon
it snowed again
ki'-mispon ki'htwa'm
it snowed again
ma'sko'c ta-mispon
maybe it will snow
anohc kisina'w
it's bitterly cold today
ota'hkosi'hk mina ki-kisina'w
it was also bitterly cold yesterday
New Words
still (referring to time)
maybe, perhaps
right now, at present
ki'- is placed before indicative verbs to make statements referring to past time, that is, statements that describe situations or events that occurred before the time of speaking. We say ki'- forms the past tense of indicative verbs.

wi'- (going to), and ta'- (will) are placed before indicative verbs to make statements referring to the future, that is, statements that describe situations or events that are going to occur, or will occur, after the time of speaking. We say wi'- and ta'- form future tenses of indicative verbs.

Some speakers feel that ta- is too definite to be applied to anything as unpredictable as the weather, as one person said, "Only God could say ta-mispon."

Adverbs are used with verbs to provide certain additional information about a situation. Most Cree adverbs usually precede the verb, but some of them can also follow it.

How was the weather yesterday? Answer in Cree.
Using the pictures in lesson three, answer the previous question as you would have if yesterday's weather had been as shown in each picture (for example, you could say, "it rained yesterday," for picture 5).
Again using the pictures in lesson three, predict tomorrow's weather as you would if you expected it to be as shown in each picture (for example, you could say, "it's going to snow tomorrow," for picture 6).

Lesson 5: Affirmative and Negative
kimiwan na
is it raining?
ke'ya'pic na kimiwan
is it still raining?
ki'-kimiwan na ota'hhkosi'hk
did it rain yesterday?
mwac (dialects: (na)mwac and (na)mo'n~a for mwac and mo'n~a)
mwac n(i)kiske'n~(ih)te'n
i don't know, i don't know it
mo'n~a n(i)kiske'n~(ih)te'n
i don't know, i don't know it
mo'n~a kimiwan
it's not raining
mwac kimiwan
it's not raining
mwac ohci-kimiwan ota'hhkosi'hk
it didn't rain yesterday
mwac ce'skwa kimiwan
it's not raining yet
mo'n~a ce'skwa kimiwan
it's not raining yet
ta'n(i)si e'si-ki'sika'k
how is the weather?
Literally: how is the day?
ta'n(i)si ka'-isi-ki'sika'k
how was the weather?
Literally: how was the day?
ta'n(i)si ka'-isi-ki'sika'k ota'hhkosi'hk
how was the weather yesterday?
New Adverbs
indicator of a yes-or-no question
mo'n~a or mwac
not, no
Yes-or-no questions are questions to which the answer may be 'yes' or 'no.' In Cree, yes-or-no questions are formed from statements by placing the word in question at the beginning of the sentence, and then putting na after the word (sentences 1 to 3).

A situation is denied by using mwac or mo'n~a (not) with an indicative verb (sentences 1 to 3).

When mwac or mo'n~a is used with a verb in the past tense, the prefix ki'- is changed to ohci- (sentence 11).

Supplementary questions are questions formed with the words 'who?', 'what?', 'which?', 'when?', 'where?', 'why?' or 'how?' (sentences 14-16). How such questions are made up in Cree will be described later.

Note: when i is followed by e', only the e' is pronounced sometimes. Thus ta'n(i)si e'si-ki'sika'k may be pronounced as ta'n(i)s e'si-ki'sika'k

Using the pictures in lesson 3, the teacher should ask the student questions about the weather shown in the various pictures. The teacher should vary the questions, using both "How is the weather?', and yes-or-no questions like "Is it raining?", "Is it snowing?", etc.. The yes-or-no questions should be asked so that the student must answer 'yes' to some and 'no' to others.

The student should answer as honestly as possible. If the answer to a question is 'no,' then the student should tell what kind of weather the picture really shows.

Continue until the student shows by her answers that she understands all the questions.

Sample questions

kimiwan na
ta'n(i)si e'si-ki'sika'k
mispon na
n~ikwaskwan na
kimiwan na
mispon na
ta'n(i)si e'si-ki'sika'k

Lesson 6: Some useful commands
'Enter!', 'Go inside!' (said to one person)
(Dialects: pi'htoke' or pi'htike' for pi'htikwe')
'Enter, you people!'
(Dialects: pi'htoke'k or pi'htike'k for pi'htikwe'k)
These words are used where English uses 'Come in!' to invite someone at the door into a building room. Otherwise, a more exact translation of 'Come in!' is pe'-pi'htikwe'.
'sit (down)!' (said to one person)
'Sit (down), you people!'
'Go out!', 'Go outside!' (said to one person)
'Go out(side), you people!'
'Go home!' (said to one person)
'Go home, you people!'
'Say it!' (said to one person)
ki'htwa'm itwe'
'Say it again!' (said to one person)
ki'htwa'm itwe'k
'Say it again, you people!'
pe'hka'c itwe'
'Say it slowly!', 'Say it carefully!' (said to one)
n(i)sihka'c itwe'
' Say it slowly!'
'Count!' (to one)
'Count, you people!'
kawin'a api
'Don't sit (down)!' (to one)
kawin'a apik
'Don't sit (down), you people!'
kawin'a ki'we'
'Don't go home.' (to one)
kawin'a ce'skwa pe'-pi'htikwe'
'Con't come in yet!' (to one)
kawin'a pe'-pihtikwe' ce'skwa
'Don't come in yet!'
(E. dial. ka'n'a for kawin'a)
'Go away!', 'Get away!'
'Come here!'
New Adverbs
'carefully, slowly'
'carefully, slowly'
Words like 'go', 'go in', 'go out', 'sit', 'count' are verbs.

In Cree, as in English, most verbs, when spoken alone, express commands. In Cree, however, these command-forms are singular, that is, they are only used in speaking to one person.

In giving a command to more than one person, the plural command-form of a verb must be used. This is formed for many verbs, including those above, by adding -k.

ka'win'a 'don't' is used in place of mo'n'a or mwac with command - forms.

Note: when a or a' is followed by a or a', the two vowels are sometimes pronounced like on a'. Thus kawin'a api is sometimes pronounced as kawin'a'pi.

awas and a'stam are not verbs in Cree, though they can be translated into English by commands containing verbs.

The best way to practice these commands is to have your teacher say some of them to you for you to obey. To avoid the expense of time and energy involved in going out and coming in, sitting down and getting up, put a couple of coins or something on the table to indicate a door and let your fingers do the walking.

Always use 'say it again'l in Cree when you want your teacher to repeat something

Thursday 26th of October 2006 10:31:20 PM
Are you a native speaker of Cree? If no, how are you related to this language?

Wednesday 27th of December 2006 01:26:19 AM
i`d say he`s keen on amerindian languages :D

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