Montagnais

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A language of Canada

Alternate Names
Innu, Innu Aimun
Population

11,000 (2011 census). Includes 5,870 Western Montagnais, and 2,620 Eastern Montagnais. 10,500 L1 speakers of Montagnais and Naskapi [nsk] (2001 census). Ethnic population: 10,000 (1996 D. Myers).

Location

Quebec and Labrador, Lake Saint John east along Saguenay Valley to north shore Saint Lawrence River and Gulf of Saint Lawrence east to St. Augustin, north to height of land at Schefferville and inland Labrador (Goose Bay, Lake Melville). 11 communities. Western Montagnais in 4 communities: Mashteuiatsh (near Roberval, Quebec), Betsiamites, Uashat-Maliotenam (near Sept-Iles, Quebec), Matimekosh (near Schefferville, Quebec). Eastern Montagnais in Mingan, Natashquan, La Romaine, Pakuashipi (Saint Augustine, Quebec, sometimes called Pakuashipu), Sheshatshiu (North-West River, Labrador).

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened).

Dialects

Eastern Montagnais, Western Montagnais. Palatalized l-dialect and palatalized n-dialect within Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi language complex or dialect subgroup. There are possibly 3 dialects based on the shifting of Proto-Algonquian *l within Western Montagnais to ‘n’. 2 Western Montagnais communities (Mashteuiatsh, Betsiamites) use ‘l’, as the reflex of Proto-Algonquian *l, and the other Western Montagnais (Uashat-Maliotenam, Matimekosh) use ‘n’. Uashat-Maliotenam and Matimekosh could be classified as Central Montagnais. All Eastern Montagnais speakers use ‘n’.

Language Use

Vigorous except 2 communities. Rapid shift occurring in communities near cities. Strong use in lower north shore communities and Schefferville. All ages. Nearly all Mashteuiatsh speak French [fra]. Many fluent in English [eng] (Sheshatshiu in Labrador) or French (communities in Quebec).

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 5%. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–75% in French or English. Taught in all schools (2007). Recent language of instruction in Betsiamites, and taught as a subject in other classes. Taught as L2 in 2 communities. Taught in primary schools. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1990.
Writing
Latin script.
Other Comments

Ethnonym: Innu used in northeast Quebec and Labrador. Culture mainly based on family hunting grounds visited seasonally.