Category Archives: How Cree Works

Some longer lessons here that explain *about* Cree: the way words are organized by gender; how dialects are related; some of the many ways that Cree *is not* English.

A Snowy “Minimal Pair” (all dialects)

Fresh as new snow from Solomon Ratt (with apologies for his “cool” pun): Here’s a cool exercise with ‘maci-‘ And ‘mâci-‘ If you don’t like it snowing: maci-mispon  “bad/evil snow”  ᒪᒋ ᒥᐢᐳᐣ If you do like it snowing: mâci-mispon!  “It begins … Continue reading

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Cree Demonstrative Pronouns by Andrea Custer (y-dialect)

Sometimes Cree language complexity makes English look impoverished. Take this lesson on demonstrative pronouns, for example, that English tries to cover with merely “this/these” and “that/those.” Thanks to Andrea Custer for permission to share this really carefully crafted lesson that … Continue reading

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mahti êkâwiya (Please don’t!): Be careful with idioms (Solomon Ratt)

Translating some phrases from English into Cree can have unexpected results, especially idioms. What makes English idioms so dangerous to translate? By definition, idioms are phrases that come to mean something different than the words do on their own. In … Continue reading

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Summary Paradigm Tables: The Decoder Ring of Cree Verbs (y- and th-dialects)

In English, we don’t waste much time with verb conjugations. We can cover almost every possibility (for the simple present, at least) with just one rule: “For 3rd person singular subjects (he/she/it), add an S to the verb stem.” Try … Continue reading

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Making things smaller: About Diminutives

Thanks to Elyse McKenna and Arok Wolvengrey for letting me share their recent FaceBook exchange in the Nêyihawêwin (Cree) Word/Phrase of the Day Group about making diminutive forms out of ordinary nouns to describe smaller- (or younger-) than-ordinary things. Depending on … Continue reading

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Some Minimal Pairs from Solomon Ratt – With Audio

Cree spelling: kiyâm nâ? – It doesn’t matter? namôtha kiyâm! – It matters!  This great collection of minimal pairs from Solomon Ratt brings together words in Cree that differ by only one sound, some of which are commonly confused – … Continue reading

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It’s all about the Verbs!

Thanks to Wayne Jackson and to Janell Mistik Barrenda for sharing some beautiful videos recently on Facebook that teach about verbs. I’ll be writing more about each of them in future posts (with thanks), because, in Cree, verbs really are the … Continue reading

Posted in Audio (y-dialect), How Cree Works, Video, Wayne (Goodspirit) Jackson | 3 Comments

Beyond the Kinship System: About Family Relationships

Today while families are gathering for Thanksgiving (or at least, to share a good meal of turkey!) seems like a good time to share Doug Cuthand’s May 2016 piece about family ties. Published in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix appeared under the … Continue reading

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Cree language facts for editors of English and French: The Cree Language Family

This article written for the Language Portal of Canada was originally published on 17 June 2013 (it was also translated into French for that site). Since it is no longer available online, I am reproducing it here.  Special thanks to … Continue reading

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Why the French can throw away their hats – But we still need them for written Cree

Yesterday’s news of spelling reforms in France – eliminating most (but not all) uses of the circumflex accent – is an interesting comment on the information we get from spelling – and on the information we need. (In case you haven’t seen … Continue reading

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