NEH banner [Return to Query]

Products for grant FN-279530-21

A morphologically analyzed dictionary of Michif (crg)
Olivia Sammons, Carleton University

Grant details:

A diachronic view of Michif animacy and gender (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: A diachronic view of Michif animacy and gender
Author: A diachronic view of Michif animacy and gender
Abstract: Linguistic studies of Michif (ISO 639-3: crg), a contact language spoken by members of the Métis Nation on the northern Great Plains, have frequently observed two distinct systems of nominal classification in the language—one based on French-derived gender (masculine- feminine), and another based on Algonquian-derived animacy (animate-inanimate) (Bakker 1997; Papen 2003). More recent research in this area has noted variability in both animacy and gender assignment, both within and among present-day Michif speakers (e.g., Gillon & Rosen 2018, Papen 2003, Sammons 2019). While these recent studies draw valuable attention to the presence of such variability as a feature of contemporary Michif, it is not immediately clear from these synchronically oriented results to what extent variation in nominal classification should be understood as a relatively recent linguistic innovation, or if it may also be attested historically in Michif. To investigate this, this study draws upon noun classifications from a corpus of several thousand Michif language example sentences produced by first-language speakers in the context of community dictionary development during the 1970s and early 1980s (Laverdure & Allard 1983). As one of the few extensive collections of Michif language from this time period, this source provides apparent- time information on patterns of Michif language use among speakers born one to two generations earlier than those represented in recent studies. This study considers the scope of variability in gender and animacy assignment attested in this earlier Michif corpus as found in both native Michif lexemes and non-nativized borrowings from English, comparing these patterns against results reported in more recent studies. While not ruling out the possibility of greater present-day variability in noun classification as one result of more recent linguistic developments in the Michif language community, this work suggests that a degree of variation in Michif nominal
Date: 01/22/23
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: SSILA conference program, January 20–22, 2023
Conference Name: Annual meeting, Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas