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Naskapi is spoken in the community of ᑲᐛᐛᒋᑲᒪᒡ (Kawawachikamach), in Northern Québec. Some have grouped the language together with Innu (Montagnais) and Quebec Cree, but it has its own orthography and the Naskapi people see themselves as a distinct first nation. Although there are a small number of total speakers, the language is spoken by all ages, and has a vibrant presence in the community. The language is very similar to northern East-Cree. Labrador Naskapi is written in Roman orthography, and is better classified as a eastern Innu dialect.

Except for linguistic works, Naskapi is virtually always written in Syllabics. The Syllabics system differs is several ways from its Cree neighbour. Several of the main differences are: long vowels are not marked by a superimposed dot. Symbols do not combine with a mid-dot to indicate a /w/ glide before a vowel, instead, a colon-like character appears before the syllabic, but only for a-series syllabics. There is no e-series. When an /s/ precedes a consonant + /w/ + vowel, a special s-final is used, merging the colon and s-final into one glyph.  More information about Syllabics is available on the Syllabics pages.

The Roman orthography standard (as used in the Naskapi Lexicon) is shown below. As mentioned above, it is typically not used by speakers themselves. Long vowels can be marked either by doubling the vowel, or using an accent (such as a circumflex). /l/ and /r/ are used in loan words only.

Note: There are several Roman Orthography conventions on this site that may require further explanation. On the charts below, there is lots of phonetic terminology that may not be familiar to everyone.

Syllabarium and Syllabics

keyboard1 Syllabics Keyboards

Naskapi Text

The 2006 Canadian Census combines Naskapi with Innu. In looking at the Census information for Kawawachikamach, 545 out of 570 speak a language other than French or English.

Algonquianist Roman Orthography: Consonants (Syllabics)

  bilabial interdental alveolar affricate palatal velar glottal
voiceless fricative

Vowels (Syllabics)

  front central back
i – ii î
u – uu û
a – aa â


  • Hyphens are used to separate certain prefixes from verbs. Syllabics users may or may not put spaces (or half-spaces) where Roman orthography uses hyphens.
  • Symbols in parentheses are only found in certain loanwords.
  • Some linguists using Roman orthography prefer a circumflex ‹â› to mark long vowels in the Roman orthography


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Last Update: August 20, 2008