Using Anishnaabemowin in Narratives, Prose, and Poetry
There’s so many considerations when writing a bilingual narrative, prose, and/or poetry using zhaagaanoshmowin minwaa anishnaabemowin (english and odawa/ojibwe/chippewa). Especially if you are a learner like me. Although, I don’t let it stop me. I’ve probably made tons of mistakes along the way but that’s part of the learning process. I have an ojibwe dictionary that I use even though I’m more odawa/ottawa than ojibway. It’s the dialect that changes the pronunciation of the word. The meaning doesn’t really change but it is determined based on the space in-between from one tribe to another tribe. For instance, where my father comes from they say, Aaniin! for hello but where my mother comes from they say, Aanii! And the communities are only an hour and a half away from each other. That’s how slight the dialects change the pronunciation but the meaning is the same. But you go further up north where the anishnaabeg are closer to the cree and they have fused both languages together thus creating a whole new language: ojibway/cree dialect. And they say, Waachiya! as a formal greeting and we say, waynaboozhoo, as a formal greeting.
There’s lots to learn, which is a huge understatement. One thing I’ve learned is that the language is very descriptive and precise, albeit with double digit syllables. Lol / gchi baapi! Write on 🙂
A Note On Pronouns Used
I purposely used “they” for Nanabush because the more I learn about Nanabush the more I understand that this person is free from gender or that it is based on the reader’s preference. Often in traditional storytelling the listener or reader is taught to put themselves in the role of the protagonist so if you’re listening to a story about Nanabush and your preference is she, he or they, then that’s how you identify with the story. And to me, Nanabush is all encompassing of gender and quite possibly beyond gender identification. But that’s just me. Sometimes when I learn about cultural stories, it sounds and feel like it’s been filtered through a colonial set of ideals so I often question many teachings because it smells like patriarchy and colonialism. And I’m not sure if you noticed this or not but colonialism sure has a huge erection. But that’s just me and Nanabush often offers a twist for the imagination.
Eastern Ojibwa/Chippewa/Ottawa Dictionary by Richard A Rhodes ISBN 3-11-013749-6
aambe (pt) – come here
-aash (adj) – addition to a noun to make it a derogative term
diy (ni) – ass
ndiy (ni)- my ass
diyaash – dirty ass
ndiyaash – my dirty ass
nanabush (name) – anishnaabe protagonist, sometimes antagonist, and sometimes both
noondaagzid (vai) – to call out
other words that could have been translated:
great big river – gchi (great, big, lots) ziibii (river)
birch – wiigwaaso(birch) mitig (tree)
game – dnakmigziwin
wind – noodin *but to say ‘on the wind’ does not translate. oh poetic speak!