Nisga’a

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A language of Canada

Alternate Names
Nass, Nisgha, Nishga, Nishka, Nisk’a, Nisqa’a
Population

610 (2011 census). Ethnic population: 5,400 (Krauss 1997). L2 users: 1,500.

Location

British Columbia, Lower Nass River Valley, Aiyansh (Ay’ans), Canyon City (Gitwinksihlkw), Greenville (Laxtalts’ap or Gitxat’in), Kincolith (Gingolx) villages.

Language Maps
Language Status

7 (Shifting).

Dialects

Variation within Nisga’a not great enough to be considered dialects. High degree of inherent intelligibility between Nisga’a and Gitxsan [git].

Typology

VSO; prepositions; genitives after noun heads; articles, adjectives, numerals before noun heads; relatives without noun heads; question word initial in sentence; 3 or 4 prefixes, 1 inflectional suffix; word order distinguishes subjects, objects, indirect objects, given and new information, topic and comment; verb affixes mark person and number of subject and object unless obscured by phonological rule; pronominal system is fully ergative; morphological passives, but not by construction; direct causatives indicated by suffixes, indirect (jussive) by prefix; CVC; nontonal.

Language Use

Taught in public school since 1976 and at local community college and the University of Northern British Columbia (Golla 2007). Speakers 30 and older. Some older people also use Tsimshian [tsi]. Also use English [eng]. Used as L2 by Gitxsan [git].

Language Development
Schools try to teach oral and written Nisga’a. Taught in primary schools. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 1906.
Writing

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Nisga’a consider Gitxsan [git] ethnically distinct. Christian.