I have had the privilege of studying Wabanaki Languages this fall, taught by Roger Paul. For me it has been a small way to begin to decolonize my mind–to begin to think differently. Our final project was to make a short presentation to our class, and I was inspired by the words we had learned to talk about the animals I see and hear on my morning walk. I also drew on the Passamaquoddy/Maliseet (Wolastoqe) Language Portal for further help with verb and noun forms, and I learned some new words along the way. If any speakers of the language read this, edits are welcome! Roger encouraged us to jump in with using the language, even though we will make mistakes.
For those who do not know about Wabanaki languages, you might find it interesting that animals are not referred to as “it,” and people are not referred to by “he” or “she.” There are “animate” and “inanimate” forms, and both people and animals are referred to by animate, non-gendered verb and noun forms. A lot of information is encoded into one word. So, for example, “npomuhs” means “I walk.” “Nutuwak” means “I hear (beings plural and animate.)
Ntoliwis Mayk. Nuceyaw Portland. (My name is Myke. I am from Portland.)
Spasuwiw npomuhs. Wolokiskot. (In the morning I walk. It is a beautiful day.)
Nolokuhs lahtoqehsonuk. (I walk in the direction of the north.)
Nutuwak sipsisok. (I hear small birds.)
Nomiyak mihkuwiyik oposik. (I see squirrels in a tree.)
Apc, nolokuhs cipenuk. (Next, I walk in the direction of the east).
Nomiya kisuhs musqonok. (I see the sun in the sky.)
Nutuwak kahkakuhsok. Tolewestuhtuwok. (I hear the crows. They are talking)
Nomiyak oqomolcin kehsuwok nehmiyik awtik. (I see eight turkeys in the street.)
Apc, nolokuhs sawonehsonuk. (Next, I walk in the direction of the south.)
Npomuhs sipuwahkuk, naka nomiya motehehsim sipuhsisok. (I walk along the edge of the brook, and I see a duck in the brook.)
Nutuwa pakahqaha lamatokiw. (I hear a woodpecker a little ways into the forest.)
Wahte, nomiya qaqsoss. (In the distance, I see a fox.)
Apc, nolokuhs skiyahsonuk, naka ntapaci nikok. (Next, I walk in the direction of the west, and I come back to my house).
Nomiya munimqehs kihkanok. N’ciciya wot. (I see a woodchuck in the garden. I know this one.)
Coness, Munimqehs! Musa micihkoc kihkakonol! Wesuwess! (Stop, Woodchuck! Don’t eat the vegetables! Go back where you came from! )
Munimqehs qasku. Qasku asit kakskusik. Qasku lamatokiw. (Woodchuck runs. S/he runs behind the cedar. S/he runs a little ways into the forest.)
Toke, ntop qotaputik qocomok. (Now, I sit in the chair outside.)
Komac Wolokiskot! Woliwon! (It is a very good day. Thank you)