Rock Your Mocs Week, 9-16 November 2019

A selection of fine-looking moccasins from Solomon Ratt’s personal collection.

takahkiska kipahkêkinaskisina.
ᑕᑲᐦᑭᓴᑲ ᑭᐸᐦᑫᑭᓇᐢᑭᓇ᙮
Look good wearing your moccasins.  

cihkêyihta ta-kikiskaman kipahkêkinaskisina.
ᒋᐦᑫᔨᐦᑕ ᑕᑭᑭᐢᑲᒪᐣ ᑭᐸᐦᑫᑭᓇᐢᑭᓇ᙮
Be happy to wear your moccasins. 

We love the whole idea of “Rock your Mocs” as to reminder to embrace and celebrate Indigenous heritage by showing off the style and craft that has protected Indigenous feet for aeons. And we love that it’s a whole week this year, because it’s tough for collectors to show off a life-long collection in a single day!

While you’re out there rocking those mocs, here are a few thoughts about translating English into Cree that are helpful to know (because it’s often more complicated than you’d think.)

Translating “your leather moccasins” is the easy part: kipahkêkinaskisina ᑭᐸᐦᑫᑭᓇᐢᑭᓯᓇ, or kipahkêkinwêskisina ᑭᐸᐦᑫᑭᓊᐢᑭᓯᓇ. You could also use kimaskisina ᑭᒪᐢᑭᓯᓇ “your shoes.” Remember: not all that long ago, moccasins were the only kind of footwear around!

The “rock” part is a bigger challenge. Even beginners know the Cree noun asiniy ᐊᓯᓂᐩ for “rock” – but that’s a noun, not a verb, so that won’t work. (English often uses the same word form to mean different things. Don’t fall for the mistake of assuming that Cree will do the same! You’ll end up complaining about the English language using the English language: wîstâci-mawimohtam awa âkathâsîmowin itwîna âkayâsîmowin î-âpacihtât. ᐑᐢᑖᒋᒪᐏᒧᐦᑕᒼ ᐊᐘ ᐋᑲᔮᓰᒧᐏᐣ ᐃᑘᓇ ᐋᑲᔮᓰᒧᐏᐣ ᐁᐋᐸᒋᐦᑖᐟ᙮)

Then there’s Cree word wêwêpis ᐍᐍᐱᐢ, a command that means “rock him or her.” That’s getting a warmer, but it really refers to the kind of rocking you might do in rocking chair, or rocking a baby in a swing. Maybe that’s where the English form started out, too, before Rock ‘n’ Roll added kick bass and back beat.

In everyday contemporary English (the kind we find in the Urban Dictionary), “to rock someone” means to make them have a good time, make them feel okay and have fun. Now we’re getting to the kind of words we need to express the idea in Cree (as Solomon Ratt did back at the beginning of this post). So while you’re wearing your moccasins,

takahkisaka êkwa cihkêyihta
ᑕᑲᐦᑭᓴᑲ ᐁᑿ ᒋᐦᑫᔨᐦᑕ᙮
Look good and be happy! 

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.
This entry was posted in Literacy and Learning, Rock Your Mocs, Solomon Ratt. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *