The reason to learn a new language is to use it. Here’s how to greet others and start a conversation.
- The translation provided below the words is a literal translation that should help you see how Anishinaabemowin and English differ.
- Don’t try to turn the sentences around to sound good in English. Start thinking in an Anishinaabe order. Anishinaabemowin begins with a verb in the center. You work out in both directions to say who is involved, where something is happening, or when something is happening.
- Look for similarity in the center of the action and notice how it changes.
- nindonjibaa = I am from
- onjibaad = he or she is from
- gimbakade = you are hungry
- nimbakade = I am hungry
- Practice saying the phrases below without worrying about grammar. Just let the sounds and meaning become more familiar.
- The readers here give you a sense of how these words and phrases sound but keep in mind the dialect in your area may be different and every speaker has their own voice, some are soft and careful speakers, others are more emphatic or simply use a faster pace. The most important thing is for you to find your own voice and begin having conversations with a wide range of speakers.
||Aaniin / Aanii
||* In the west, people use a final “n” more often than the east.
||* This is another common, slightly more formal, greeting.
||It’s a good morning.
||* This is all one word and it reminds us we can see Anishinaabe science in: gizheb (morning), gizhebaa (rotation), giizhig (day) and gizhaade (warm weather). The first speakers of Anishinaabemowin understood that the earth goes around something that creates heat and light. Furthermore, it is clear both the orbit that causes seasons and the rotation that causes day and night were understood.
||Pat ina gidizhinikaaz?
||Pat ? you are called?
||* “ina” makes a sentence a yes or no question.
||Enh, Pat nindizhinikaaz.
||Yes, Pat I am called.
||What are you called?
||Colin I am called.
||Where are you from?
||Michigan is where I am from originally.
||Michigan onjibaa nookomis.
||Michigan is where my grandmother is from.
||Bear is my clan.
||Who (is the)
||you belong to?
*It is common for speakers to ask about your clan in a first conversation. This complex system, based on the animal world, has given Anishinaabe people a way to connect communities and share roles in society for many thousands of years. It is the Anishinaabe custom for people to be part of their father’s clan, but not everyone today knows their clan. Some are adopted into clans and some do considerable research to find their clan. Most importantly, when you meet someone and find out their clan you now know if you can marry that person. If the clan is the same, elders would say “try again.”
||is the one I belong to.
||Gaawiin ningikenimaasii nindoodem.
||I don’t know my clan.
||Gaawiin nindayaawaasii doodem.
||I don’t have a clan.
||Are you hungry?
||I am hungry.
* In some areas “enh” is used for yes by everyone. In other areas men say “enh” and only women say “enya.”
||No I am not hungry.
||come on let’s go
||to the restaurant.
||let’s speak Anishinaabemowin!
Many indigenous peoples introduce themselves by stating their name, kinship or clan connections, and nation or nations they identify with. Below are some basic introduction statements to help you start creating your introduction.
Nindizhinikaaz – I am called…
Nindizhinikaaz Anishinaabemong – I am called in the Anishinaabe language…
Nindoodem – My clan is…
Nindonjibaa – I am from… (This is typically used to indicate the tribe you belong to or where you would call your home town.)
Nindaa – I live currently…. (This is used to clarify where you are living right now.)
When talking about where you are from or what you belong to, you may choose to be more specific. Below are some examples:
Nindaaw Bahweting Ojibwe.
I am Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa
Nindibendaagoz Bahweting Ojibwe.
I belong to the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa
Nindonjibaa Bahweting Ojibwe.
I am from the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa
Nindaa Ann Arbor, Michigan.
I am currently living in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
You can add your education as part of your introduction:
|I am a
||at Yale University.
||gabegikendaasogamigong Miskwaa’asin Minowakii.
|I am a
||University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
(Student translates to “learning one”)
(University translates to “forever learning place”)
(-ong suffix refers to being at someplace)
Verbs referring to a “major”
Naagadawendan (VTI) – focus your thoughts on something
Ninaagadawendaan dibaajimowin – I study literature.
Naagadawenim (VTA) – focus your thoughts on someone
Ninaagadawenimaag makwag – I study bears
Naanaagadawendan (VTI) – To study something / major in something
Ninaanaagadawendaan ezhi-gikinoo’amaageyang – I am studying / my major is education (how we teach)
(naa – is a reduplicative. This is when a speaker takes one of the morphemes (typically the first one) and repeats it to emphasize the meaning of a word.)
You can always say your major in English if you are unsure of what the Ojibwe translation would be. Sometimes when translating these ideas into Ojibwe it helps to be specific about what you are doing or focusing on. The Ojibwe language is based around verbs and what is happening in the world around us. This allows room to be more descriptive. In Ojibwe, we would use verbs to describe what we are doing and make them into a noun in order to make it a profession. Rather than talking about the major itself, we can say what we are learning to become. Below are some examples:
*Note: When making a verb a noun, add “d” to the end to make it a singular noun or “jig” to make it a plural noun.
Nanaandawi’iwe – to heal people (vai)
Nanaandawi’iwed – doctor or nurse
Nanaandawi’iwejig – doctors or nurses
*Note: In the old days, many people (typically current individuals aged 65+) would use mashkikiwinini or mashkikiwikwe. “Mashkiki” translates to medicine. You would add inini (man) or ikwe (woman) to the end to make it a noun that specifies gender. Recently, it is more common now to use the Verb Type 2 verb, nanaadawi’iwe (to heal people) and turn it into a noun.
Ozhibii’ige – to write (vai)
Ozhibii’iged – writer / journalism or english major
Gikinoo’amaage – to teach (vai)
Gekinoo’amaaged – teacher / education major
Here is an introduction that speaks about someone’s education:
I am called Esme.
Nindaaw gekinoo’amaagan Yale gabegikendaasowigamigong.
I am a student at Yale University.
Niizho-biboon ninanda-gikendaan ji-nanaadawi’agwaa.
Two years I have been learning to heal others.
I am studying to be a mental health nurse.
Ingoding nimbagosendaan ji-nadamawagwaa waa-mino-ayaawaad.
At some time, I hope to help them in the future to be healthy.
(“mino-ayaa” represents a holistic well-being)
You can also add your job as part of your introduction:
Nindananoki – I work at a certain place…
*Note: Add the “-ong” suffix to the end of your place of work to make it a locative.
Here are some example sentences of an introduction containing jobs:
Nindananoki naanan ininiwag wiisiniwigamigong.
I work at Five Guys restaurant.
I teach others to speak the Anishinaabe language.
Ningikinoo’amawaag ezhiwebak mewinzha.
I teach history. (I teach what happened long ago.)
Now practice writing your own introduction. Share it with a friend!