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).


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). Speakers 30 and older. 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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