Naskapi language

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ᓇᔅᑲᐱ naskapi,
ᐃᔪᐤ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ
iyuw iyimuun
Native toCanada
(Quebec, Labrador)
Native speakers
1,230 (2016 census)[1]
Eastern Cree syllabics
Language codes
ISO 639-3nsk
Naskapi is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
PeopleNaskapi Iyuw
ᓇᔅᑲᐱ ᐃᔪᐤ
LanguageNaskapi Iyuw Iyimuun
ᓇᔅᑲᐱ ᐃᔪᐤ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ
ᒋᑦ ᐊᔅᒋᓄᐤ

Naskapi (also known as ᐃᔪᐤ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ/Iyuw Iyimuun in the Naskapi language) is an Algonquian language spoken by the Naskapi in Quebec and Labrador, Canada.[3] It is written in Eastern Cree syllabics.

The term Naskapi is chiefly used to refer to the language of the people living in the interior of Quebec and Labrador in or around Kawawachikamach, Quebec. Naskapi is a "y-dialect" that has many linguistic features in common with the Northern dialect of East Cree, and also shares many lexical items with the Innu language.

Although there is a much closer linguistic and cultural relationship between Naskapi and Innu than between Naskapi and other Cree language communities, Naskapi remains unique and distinct from all other language varieties in the Quebec-Labrador peninsula.


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop/ Affricate p t k
Fricative s h
Approximant w (ɹ) j
Lateral (l)

Each stop has voiced allophones as [b, d, ɡ, dʒ].[4]

  • Long vowels: /i/, /a~æ/, /u/
  • Short vowels: /ɪ~ə/, /ʌ~ə/, /o~ʊ/


There are two writing systems used for Naskapi language. One is Latin, similar to Innu Language (Montagnais), and the other is Cree syllabics, similar to James Bay Cree, as well as other dialects of Cree across Canada.


The Naskapi Latin alphabet consists of three vowels, ⟨a⟩, ⟨i⟩, and ⟨u⟩, in short form and in long form. The long form is either written with a circumflex accent, e.g. ⟨â⟩, or by simply writing the vowel twice, e.g. ⟨aa⟩. In addition there are twelve graphemes to represent the consonants, including the digraph ⟨Ch⟩.

Uppercase A Â/AA Ch H I Î/II K L M N P R S T U Û/UU W Y
lowercase a â/aa ch h i î/ii k l m n p r s t u û/uu w y
IPA /ʌ~ə/ /a~æ/ /tʃ, dʒ/ /h/ /ɪ~ə/ /i/ /k, g/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /p, b/ /ɹ/ /s, ʃ/ /t, d/ /o~ʊ/ /u/ /w/ /j/
  • Ch, K, P, and T are also used to write the voiced allophones.
  • L and R are only used in loanwords from other languages.


Naskapi Syllabics (ᓇᔅᑲᐱ ᐃᔪᐤ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ, naskapi iyuw iyimuun) is derived from Canadian Aboriginal syllabics, and while having its unique characteristics, shares many features with other Canadian Cree Syllabic systems. Unlike other Cree Syllabics, long and short vowels are not distinguished. The final forms in Naskapi Syllabics are similar to other varieties of Eastern Cree syllabics.

_a _i _u _wa _wi _w s_wa -
Other Symbols


  1. ^ "Language Highlight Tables, 2016 Census - Aboriginal mother tongue, Aboriginal language spoken most often at home and Other Aboriginal language(s) spoken regularly at home for the population excluding institutional residents of Canada, provinces and territories, 2016 Census – 100% Data". Government of Canada, Statistics. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian (2022-05-24). "Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi". Glottolog. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Archived from the original on 2022-10-15. Retrieved 2022-10-29.
  3. ^ Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version:
  4. ^ MacKenzie, Marguerite. 1994.

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