The Munsee of southern Ontario (Canada) and their struggle to preserve their language

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In the southern part of the Canadian province of Ontario, there are two small Indian reserves on which several hundred Munsee Indians live. Their own language, like so many Native American peoples in North America, has gradually disappeared over the past century, so that by 2023 there is only one Munsee Indian living who grew up with Munsee as mother tongue.

It has been common practice in Canadian schools for much of the last century to ridicule and, if necessary, forcefully stamp out Native American languages from the minds and hearts of Native children. The pain and shame that came with this, eventually led the young Native American parents to raise their own children in English in order to spare …

A French-Canadian Métis historian in a bilingual country

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Many months ago, colleague Peter Bakker asked me to review a new book called “Changing Canadian History: The Life and Works of Olive Patricia Dickason”. Peter and I were originally under the impression that Dr. Dickason had done some scholarship on indigenous languages of Canada, but it turns out that her focus was purely on history. Although initially disappointed to have agreed to review a book with little relation to languages and linguistics, I feel differently now after having read the biography. Olive Dickason’s contributions to reconceptualising Canadian history and recognition of indigenous people in Canada is important and worthy of sharing with Lingoblog readers.

Olive Dickason (1924-1989) was a celebrated Canadian historian best known for her groundbreaking work on

Tricky Trickster in Amerindian traditions

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It is book review week here on Lingoblog! Today, we are bringing you a review of “Retelling Trickster in Naapi’s Language”.

What is a trickster? Many cultures in the world tell stories about a person or animal that do many things that are tricky. In Medieval Europe, one can think of the fox. In the 12th century, a number of stories about the cunning activities of the fox Renart were written down in France, and such stories with speaking and deceiving animals are widespread through Europe. The fox kills and bullies, and gets away with it. These writings go back to stories transmitted orally from generation to generation.

One can also think of the fables written down by Aesop …

A Brief History of the Canadian Language Museum or How a Posting on Linguist List Changed My Life

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On June 8, 2007 a posting was distributed on Linguist List with the following subject line: “An International Language Museum in Denmark”. I was teaching Linguistics at the University of Toronto at the time and received many messages from Linguist List daily, but this one caught my eye. I had never heard of a language museum before, and my first thought was ‘A language museum! If any country should have a language museum, Canada should have a language museum!’ There are more than 60 Indigenous languages in Canada; early European settlers brought both English and French, now the country’s official languages, and more recent immigrants have brought hundreds of languages from around the world. Issues, debates and conflicts …

A report from the “They, Hirself, Em, and You” Conference: “Nonbinary pronouns in research and practice”


Back in June this year I attended a conference titled “They, Hirself, Em, and You: Nonbinary pronouns in research and practice”. It was a very giving experience, and the conference was quite unique both in terms of scholarly topic and with regards to more interpersonal aspects, so I’ve been asked to write up a brief account of the event.


The conference, in shorthand referred to as THEY2019, took place on June 11-13th 2019 at Queen’s University in the city of Kingston in Ontario, Canada. The topic was that of (quoting from the conference website) “nonbinary gender in language, particularly in pronouns”. That is, the work presented at the conference was concerned with language used by and about nonbinary