A language of Canada

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

2,360, all users. L1 users: 860 (FPCC 2014). 1,380 semi-speakers (FPCC 2014). L2 users: 1,500. Ethnic population: 5,430 (FPCC 2014).


British Columbia province: Aiyansh (Ay’ans), Canyon City (Gitwinksihlkw), Greenville (Laxtalts’ap or Gitxat’in), Kincolith (Gingolx) villages on lower Nass river valley.

Language Maps
Language Status

7 (Shifting). Language of recognized indigenous peoples: Nisga’a Village of Gingolx, Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw, Nisga’a Village of Laxgalt’sap, Nisga’a Village of New Aiyansh.


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


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). Adults only. Some also use Tsimshian [tsi], especially older people. 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. Texts. Bible portions: 1890–1897.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

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

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