Montagnais

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A language of Canada

Alternate Names
Innu, Innu Aimun
Population

11,000 (2011 census).

Location

Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador provinces; Lake Saint John east along Saguenay Valley to north shore Saint Lawrence River, Gulf of Saint Lawrence east to St. Augustin, north to height of land at Schefferville and inland Labrador, Goose Bay and Lake Melville, 11 communities.

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 (Golla 2007). All ages. Nearly all Mashteuiatsh are fluent in French [fra] (communities in Quebec). Also use English [eng]. Used as L2 by Naskapi [nsk].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 5%. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–75% in French or English. Taught in all schools (Golla 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 [Latn].

Other Comments

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