Before anybody can say, “kitâskwêw, pihtakwatâw!!!!! (He shoots, he scores!!!), we can already name the first, second, third and fourth stars of the March 24, 2019 NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Carolina Hurricanes:
Congratulations to APTN, too for all the work it’s taken to make this happen. Here’s a link to the full story from APTN, with a link to some hockey vocabulary further below.
Cheering (with thanks to Simon Bird and Mary Cardinal Collins):
awâs! for ‘Go!’ (to one person), but if you need to yell at the whole team at once, use awâsitik for ‘Go, All of you!’
kisiskâpayiw (vai) = ‘go fast’ (but be really careful with your vowel length: kîsipayiw (vii) = ‘ends, terminates’
If you’re in Edmonton in March, be sure to check into the Think Indigenous conference, hosted by Enoch Cree Nation. Stay tuned for conference program updates at http://www.thinkindigenous.ca/.
If you can get there, keep an eye out for astronomer Wilfred Buck who will be selling and signing his popular book Tipiskawi Kisik / Night Sky Star Stories on the 20th and 21st. (I’m sure he’ll be extra impressed if you study up your star vocabulary first at the link below!)
Solomon Ratt, okawiya, ohtâwima êkwa. Sol, his mother and his father.[/caption]
When we spoke to our relatives, their names were never used. Instead, to show respect, we would address our relatives using special “vocative” forms of the kinship terms. (Some families even honour this cultural practice in English by referring to one another (for example) as “Sister,” “Brother,” or “Auntie.”)
Ordinary kinship terms are perfect when we’re talking about our relatives, e.g. nikâwiy – my mother. But when speaking directly to our relatives, or calling out to them, we use special forms known as “vocatives.” If a form doesn’t have a specific vocative form, then the regular kinship term will do the job. Here’s a set of kinship terms in vocative form (so you can call out to all your relatives with respect!) Don’t forget to read the comments column as well: Sometimes the same term can mean different things depending on who is speaking!
One thing that’s interesting about kinship terms is that they tend to stay the same from one dialect to another, perhaps because they have been around longer than any dialect divisions.
You may also notice an important term missing from the list. In traditional Cree society, there was a taboo against speaking to your parent-in-law of the opposite sex. (Some people argue that this would be a good rule in any society.) The best way to show respect for this relative, is to never speak to them directly at all!
The kinship term for this relationship is nimanâcimâkan, literally meaning, “the person with whom I avoid speaking.” This is the correct term for “my in-law of opposite gender.” For a female speaker, “my father-in-law’; for a male speaker, “my mother-in-law.”
Two others that don’t follow the pattern of ordinary vocatives are “ayamihikimâw” used reciprocally between cross uncles and nephews. “ayamihikimâw” actually means ‘minister/priest’ and cross uncles/nephews used that term to convey equivalent respect.
And one final form to mention is câpân – another reciprocal term of affection and respect shared between a great grandparent (of either sex), and his or her great grandchild.
Wilfred Buck’s Tipiskawi Kisik / Night Sky Star Stories must have reached best seller status at McNally Robinson – and at Manitoba First Nations Education Centre where it was produced. It’s really a beauty. Here’s a link that includes a preview of the book and ordering instructions from MFNERC: https://mfnerc.org/product/tipiskawi-kisik-night-sky-star-stories/ It’s also available at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg and in Saskatoon.
The book also includes some fabulous astronomical vocabulary in Cree that Solomon Ratt gathered up and rendered in SRO and syllabics.
river of spirits or the milky way
the star blanket
acâhkos iyiniwak (Y) ininêwak (N) ithiniwak (TH)
ᐊᒑᐦᑯᐢ ᐃᔨᓂᐘᐠ (Y) ᐃᓂᓀᐘᐠ (N) ᐃᖨᓂᐘᐠ (TH)
the star people
ᐊᑖᐦᑯᓴᐠ / ᐊᒑᐦᑯᓴᐠ
the dog stars
the little dipper
ᐁᑳ ᑳ ᐋᐦᒌᐟ
the standing still star, north star
ininêwak (N); iyiniwak (Y); ithiniwak (TH)
ᐃᓂᓀᐘᐠ (N); ᐃᔨᓂᐘᐠ (Y); ᐃᖨᓂᐘᐠ (TH)
beings of light
going home star, north star
the north wind
kohkominâhkîsîs êkwa ahcahk sîpiy
ᑯᐦᑯᒥᓈᐦᑮᓰᐢ ᐁᑿ ᐊᐦᒐᕽ ᓰᐱᕀ
grandmother spider and the river of spirits or the milky way
This video from Solomon Ratt offers a lot more lessons in language and “shopping culture” than you might expect, and leaves you with unexpected feels. While you’re learning vocabulary and pronunciation, take a moment to acknowledge the parts that *should not* be normal for shopping while Cree!
being targeted for surveillance
resisting racist retail management
The video below has a white background: Scroll way down to find the video launcher to listen and read along!
A fabulous little observation about precision in Cree from the FaceBook Nêhiyawêwin (Cree) Word/Phrase of the Day group, thanks to Arok Wolvengrey. It helps to illustrate the importance of context to translate into Cree appropriately.
When somebody asked how to say “Wake up my sisters!” – Arok took a stroll down some of the many possible paths that simple phrase might suggest in Cree. Arok’s short answer: Depends.
First, you have to differentiate between “my older sisters” (nimisak) and “my younger siblings” (nisîmisak) or simply “my siblings” (nîcisânak). [Since Cree doesn’t really have a word for younger sister.] Or perhaps you are using the word “sisters” in terms of solidarity and you really mean “my fellow women” (nîci-iskwêwak).
Second you need to specify if you are telling someone else to “Wake up my sisters!” (koskonik …) or if you are yourself speaking to your sisters/fellow women and saying “Wake up, my sisters!” (pêkohik, …!) (commas are important).
Finally, if someone else is to awaken them, you would also have to be explicit as to how you want them to be awakened. Are they being shaken awake? (koskonik, pêkohik) Are they to be awakened verbally (pêkomik). Perhaps you even want them to awaken themselves (pêkohisok! koskonisok! waniskâhisok, or even âpahkawihisok “bring yourselves to consciousness, awareness”)
But perhaps you are simply telling your older and or younger sisters to wake up/get out of bed in the morning? waniskâk, _______! (inserting the appropriate term from the ones above.
As Arok observes: Cree is a very precise and explicit language. English, sometimes, less so.