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Mi'kmaq Holdings Resource Guide

Using this Resource




Spelling and use of the word "Mi'kmaq"

The spelling and pronunciation of the word 'Mi'kmaq' used throughout the Resource Guide is the plural, non-possessive of 'Ni'kmaq' meaning 'my kin-friends,' 'my allies' or 'my family,' derived from the Francis-Smith Orthography. This spelling came into popular use after 1980. However, there is still some confusion regarding the proper use of the word 'Mi'kmaq,' especially in the English language.

In the Mi'kmaq language, adjectives agree with nouns; a singular adjective describes a singular noun and a plural adjective describes a plural noun. Mi'kmaq speakers would therefore use the singular 'Mi'kmaw' to describe a singular noun and the plural 'Mi'kmaq' to describe a plural noun.

This adjective-noun agreement is not used in the English language. It is a limitation of the English language that we cannot represent the complexity of the Mi'kmaq language without risking grammatical inconsistencies, a high incidence of error and unnecessary confusion.

To avoid errors and confusion, the Resource Guide always uses the word 'Mi'kmaq' when writing in the English language. If the Mi'kmaq language is being used, we will use proper Mi'kmaq grammar according to the Francis-Smith Orthography, the orthography most widely used by Nova Scotian Mi'kmaq and by the Grand Council.

Also note, in the Francis-Smith Orthography, the Mi'kmaq language is written using short vowels and long vowels with an acute over the vowel; however, it is widely accepted either to remove the acute or to add it after the vowel. We have chosen to represent the long vowel, so the apostrophe appearing in 'Mi'kmaq' is representative of an acute accent over the long vowel 'i.'

The correct pronunciation of Mi'kmaq is 'Meeg-em-ach.'