Cree language

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Cree (Nēhiyawēwin / ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ; also known as Cree-Montagnais, Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi) is an Algonquian language represented by a large dialect continuum spoken by approximately 117,000 people across Canada, from the Northwest Territories and Alberta to Labrador, making it one of the few North American Aboriginal languages with an expansive and healthy speaker base, alongside Inuktitut and Navajo.[1] Despite numerous speakers within this wide-ranging area, the only region where Cree has any official status is in the Northwest Territories, alongside eight other aboriginal languages.[2]

Contents

Dialect criteria

The Cree dialect continuum can be divided by many criteria. Dialects spoken in northern Ontario and the southern James Bay, Lanaudière, and Mauricie regions of Quebec make a distinct difference between /ʃ/ (sh as in she) and /s/, while those to the west (where both are pronounced /s/) and east (where both are pronounced either /ʃ/ or /h/) do not. In several dialects, including northern Plains Cree and Woods Cree, the long vowels /eː/ and /iː/ have merged into a single vowel, /iː/. In the Québec communities of Chisasibi, Whapmagoostui, and Kawawachikamach, the long vowel /eː/ has merged with /aː/.

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