An introductory tutorial of the Southern New England Algonquian Language
Getting Started. Some useful references...
The word 'Eenàntowash', was recorded by an English settler as meaning "Speak Indian!". Named Roger Williams, he was one of the English Protestants who, in the 17th Century, sailed from England to the Americas. He is best known as the author of a book titled "A Key Into the Language of America" which he wrote in the hope of helping other settlers to be able to communicate with the native Americans, living in that area.
Join us in "Speaking Indian" and to be able to make a true translation of this word and others. We hope to provide enough information to get you started and maybe also to have sufficient knowledge to start reading and writing it. If you already have some language proficiency, perhaps you could help us to get others going by contributing to our knowledge.
You will find lots of interesting things in learning this language, for instance, Eenàntowash translates to 'speak same' or in other words 'speak as I do', not 'speak Indian'.
There are many resources available that may help you. Here are some of them.
- Website "Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and promoting American Indian languages" is a good place to look. There is a huge amount of information here, vocabularies, word lists, cultural information and much more.
- Website "New England Algonquian Language Revival" by Dr. Frank Waabu O'Brien, Aquidneck Indian Council. This site concentrates on the Roger Williams book so is a must see. In here we are dealing mainly with the Narragansett language as recorded by Williams, but a note of caution, Williams record is not pure. It contains a mix of various local dialects from around the area in which he lived. This is no big problem. Just be aware of it.
The Mohegan Language Project Quite comprehensive and contains a lot of information.
- "Native Writings In Massachusett" by Goddard and Bragdon. This is the principal book from where most information about the grammar of Massachusett can be obtained. Though not written as a grammar, this is a book that anyone reclaiming a Southern New England Language must have.
- "A Key Into the Language of America" is the book from which we first quote. The paperback version is extremely cheap so it is nice to get a copy. The book itself is more of a phrase book - that is what Williams intended. It is not going to teach you grammar, but it is a good read and you learn quite a lot about the native culture of the time.
"Natick Dictionary (1903)" by James Hammond Trumbull, in paperback, is another book really essential to learning. It is based upon the Bible which John Eliot translated into Massachusett. Many of the words we will use are in this dictionary.
Ready to starting learning something of the language of the Southern New England tribes? Let's begin....