• Matt Windsor

Learning Naskapi

Updated: Feb 19

As Cait and I prepare for our first trip to Kawawachikamach, we’re starting to learn little snippets of Naskapi. The biggest challenge is of course the fact that most Naskapi speakers live on an isolated reserve on the other side of Canada, and Rosetta Stone doesn’t exactly have a beginner’s Naskapi course. Fortunately we have a few resources to draw from.

Naskapi is very different from English – in fact many Naskapi words correspond to full sentences in English. This can make it very challenging to learn for English speakers. If you’re curious to hear what Naskapi sounds like, you can listen to the New Testament read in Naskapi here (and the written version in Naskapi syllabics is available here).

If you’re feeling really sharp, try learning a couple Naskapi phrases with us! Some linguists put together a pretty nifty media map of the Algonquian language family, complete with sound files of simple phrases and even a conversation manual for a number of languages including Naskapi. (If you want to hear the Naskapi phrases, follow the link and click on the orange triangle marking Kawawachikamach on the border of Quebec and Labrador. Then you can pick a conversation topic in the top right corner).

Our language learning will begin in earnest when we actually move to Kawawa, but every little bit in the mean time helps.

With love, Matt & Caitlin