A language of Canada

Alternate Names
Innu, Innu Aionun, Montagnais Innu
Innu Aimun

10,200 (2016 census).


Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec 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). Language of recognized indigenous peoples: Bande des Innus de Pessamit, Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, Innue Essipit, Innu Matimekush-Lac John, Les Innus de Ekuanitshit, Montagnais de Pakua Shipi, Montagnais de Unamen Shipu, Montagnais du Lac St-Jean, Mushuau Innu, Innus de Nutashkuan, Sheshatshiu Innu.


Western Montagnais, Eastern 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’.


Polysynthetic language; fairly free word order.

Language Use

Vigorous except 2 communities. Rapid shift occurring in communities near cities. Strong use in lower north shore communities and Schefferville (Golla 2007). Some of all ages. Also use English [eng]. Also use French [fra], especially in the Mashteuiatsh communities in Quebec, nearly all fluently. Used as L2 by Naskapi [nsk].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 5%. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–75% in French [fra] or English [eng]. 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.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Culture mainly based on family hunting grounds visited seasonally.

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