|10,075, 36% of ethnic population (2016 census)|
Innu-aimun or Montagnais is an Algonquian language spoken by over 10,000 Innu in Labrador and Quebec in Eastern Canada. It is a member of the Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi dialect continuum and is spoken in various dialects depending on the community.
Since the 1980s, Innu-aimun has had considerable exposure in the popular culture of Canada and France due to the success of the rock music band Kashtin and the later solo careers of its founders Claude McKenzie and Florent Vollant. Widely heard hit songs with Innu-language lyrics have included "Ish-kuess" ("Girl"), "E Uassiuian" ("My Childhood"), "Tipatshimun" ("Story") and in particular "Akua tuta" ("Take care of yourself"), which appeared on soundtrack compilations for the television series Due South and the documentary Music for The Native Americans. The lyrics of Akua Tuta are featured on over 50 websites, making this one of the most broadly accessible pieces of text written in any native North American language. Florent Vollant has also rendered several well-known Christmas carols into Innu in his 1999 album Nipaiamianan.
|Nasal||m /m/||n /n/|
|Plosive||p /p/||t /t/||tsh /t?/||k /k/||k?/ku /k?/|
|Fricative||ss /s/||sh/s /?/||h /h/|
/l/ is written as n in standard orthography and only exists in the western dialects Mashteuiatsh and Betsiamites. Other dialects use /n/ in those positions.
The plosives are voiced to [b d d? ? ] between vowels.
There are three pairs of so-called "long" and "short" vowels, and one long vowel with no short counterpart, though the length distinction is giving way to a place distinction. The column titles here refer chiefly to the place of articulation of the long vowel.
|High Front||Mid Front||Mid/Low Central||High Back|
* [?] particularly before m
** [u] particularly after i
Macron accent marks over the long vowels are omitted in general writing. e is not written with a macron because there is no contrasting short e.
Innu-aimun is a polysynthetic, head-marking language with relatively free word order. Its three basic parts of speech are nouns, verbs, and particles. Nouns are grouped into two genders, animate and inanimate, and may carry affixes indicating plurality, possession, obviation, and location. Verbs are divided into four classes based on their transitivity: animate intransitive (AI), inanimate intransitive (II), transitive inanimate (TI), and transitive animate (TA). Verbs may carry affixes indicating agreement (with both subject and object arguments), tense, mood, and inversion. Two different sets, or orders, of verbal affixes are used depending on the verb's syntactic context. In simple main clauses, the verb is marked using affixes of the independent order, whereas in subordinate clauses and content-word questions, affixes of the conjunct order are used.
Innu-aimun is related to East Cree (?yiy? Ayim?n - Northern/Coastal dialect and ?n? Ayim?n - Southern/Inland dialect) spoken by the James Bay Cree of the James Bay region of Quebec and Ontario and the Atikamekw (N?hinaw?win and Nehirâmowin) of the Atikamekw ('Nehiraw', 'Nehirowisiw'). Innu-aimun is divided into four dialects - Southern Montagnais (Mashteuiatsh and Betsiamites), Eastern Montagnais (Mingan, Natashquan, La Romaine, Pakuashipi), Central Montagnais (Sept-Iles and Maliotenam, Matimekosh) and Labrador -Montagnais (Sheshatshit). The speakers of the different dialects can communicate well with each other. The Naskapi language and culture are quite different from those of the Montagnais, in which the dialect changes from y to n as in "Iiyuu" versus "Innu".