kinipān cī / Are you sleeping? (y-dialect, audio)

Thanks to Crystal Anderson for permission to use her photo of two handsome-but-sleepy brothers, both Cree speakers-in-training.

(An adaptation for Plains Cree of “Frère Jacques” (English: “Are You Sleeping”) by Arok Wolvengrey. Singing assistance by Solomon Ratt.)

kinipān cī, kinipān cī,
nistēs John? nistēs John?
pē-tēpwēstamākēw, pē-tēpwēstamākēw:
“waniskā! waniskā!”*

kinipān cī, kinipān cī,
nimis Joan? nimis Joan?
pē-tēpwēstamākēw, pē-tēpwēstamākēw:
“waniskā! waniskā!”

Literal translation:
Are you sleeping,
Older brother John (Older sister Joan)
[Camp-crier] comes calling:

No audio? Try this pronunciation key:
kin nip PAAN tsee, kin nip PAAN tsee
nis tace JOHN, nis tace JOHN,
PAY tay pway STUM maa kayoo, PAY tay pway STUM maa kayoo
WUN nis kaa, WUN nis kaa!

Use this for teaching kinship terms, by replacing the second line with kinship terms (repeated), e.g.:

nitānis, nitānis (my daughter)
nikosis, nikosis (my son)
nikāwiy, nikāwiy (my mother)
nōhtāwiy, nōhtāwiy (my father)
nītisān, nītisān (my sibling)
nīcisānis, nīcisānis (my (small) sibling)
nimosōm, nimosōm (my grandfather)
nōhkomis, nōhkomis (my dear grandmother)
nīcimos, nīcimos (my sweetheart)

*The final line can be singular “waniskā” (to address the one you are singing to), or plural “waniskāk” (to quote the camp-crier as he wakes the whole camp.

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About Arden Ogg

Arden Ogg is Director of the Cree Literacy Network, launched in 2010 with the goal of creating Cree language literacy materials suitable for use by learners of all ages.
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