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Understanding Algonquian Indian Words: New England (rev ed.)

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A brief dictionary of the extinct American Indian languages, Massachusett and Narragansett. Book is designed for the layperson to gain an understanding of the vocabulary and grammar of the lost languages of southern New England. Includes original deeds, poetry, Indian place names analysis.

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									Understanding Algonquian Indian Words (New England)-revised ed.

Moondancer ⊗ Strong Woman

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data O’Brien, Francis Joseph, Jr. (Moondancer) Jennings, Julianne (Strong Woman) Understanding Algonquian Indian Words (New England). p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Algonquian Indian languages (Massachusett and Narragansett) — Dictionary 2. Algonquian Indian languages (Massachusett and Narragansett) — Grammar. I. The Massachusett Language Revival Project. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 96-85223

SECOND PRINTING (corrected and revised—April, 2001)

The Massachusett Language Revival Project is made possible [in part] by a grant from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The views expressed in this book do not necessarily reflect the views of either the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Aquidneck Indian Council is solely responsible for its contents. The Massachusett Language Revival Project is also made possible [in part] by a grant from The Council of Elders, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Copyright © 1996, 2001 by Moondancer and Strong Woman, Aquidneck Indian Council, Inc.,12 Curry Avenue, Newport, RI 02840-1412, USA. E-mail: moondancer_Nuwc@hotmail.com. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the Aquidneck Indian Council, Inc. Printed in the United States of America.


List of Illustrations iii Foreword by Tall Oak iv Foreword by Moondancer ⊗ Strong Woman v Preface vi vi


Algonquian Languages vii The Massachusett Language Revival Project Aquidneck Indian Council ix ix vii

Understanding Algonquian Indian Words (New England) ACKNOWLEDGMENTS x xii


The Massachusett Language

Approach to Language Revival xxviii Structure of Book Part I Part II Part III xxviii xxx xxx xxviii




Earliest Recorded Indian Dictionary, Wm. Wood’s 1634 “Nomenclator” 74 Selected New England Place Names 79


• Conversational Lesson Sheet • “Keihtanit-∞m” (Poem) 84 • Wampanoag Prayer 86


• One of The Longest Indian Words Ever Recorded In The New England Algonquian Languages 89 • Sample of Wampanoag Langauge: A Deed for Land Sold in 1700 91 94 • Translation Exercise

The Indian Grammar Begun by John Eliot 97



ENGLISH INDEX About the Authors


Front Cover, Southern New England, Wm. Wood map, 1634 Figure 1. Southern New England Tribal Territories circa 1630 xxv xxvi

Figure 2. Southern New England Indian Settlements and Reservations after 1674

Figure 3. Facsimile Title page, A Key into the Language of America, Roger Williams, 1643 1 Figure 4. Facsimile Title page, The Holy Bible (first ed.), John Eliot, 1663 1 Figure 5. Facsimile Title page, The Indian Grammar Begun, John Eliot, 1666 96


by Tall Oak My interest in the story of our People here in southern New England did not burn into the passion I now have until I was already in my senior year in high school (1955) when I stumbled on a little old book in our school library entitled A Key into the Language of America by Roger Williams. It was like finding buried treasure! I had no idea such a book had ever been written and couldn’t believe I had access to such a prize! Once I picked it up, I became completely fascinated with the treasure house of information it was filled with and soon found myself transported back in time as I began to absorb the contents of each page with a thirst I could not quench. It opened my eager eyes to the beauty of a language and a way of life that had been taken away from us for so many, many years. My dream of repossessing what should have been never been take away had begun! Through many years of research and being blessed with the opportunity to meet many traditional people from Alaska to South America, I have been able to participate in a revival which continues today in southern New England in ways I never dreamed would be possible. I soon became aware that the world-view of a people and the thought processes of their minds are all embodied in the language that they used to communicate with each other. I then began to see that in order to really understand our people and our history, you have to develop more understanding of the language which was the soul of our people. This was all part of that circle which had been broken and definitely needed to be repaired. As I continued to accumulate all the information I could, it wasn’t until I was married and became the father of my sons, all of whom have Algonquian names, that I saw what I thought would be an ideal strategy in realizing my dream. Believing that a language can only be brought back to life by being used regularly and understanding that children, having less inhibitions, can learn a language more easily than adults, I decided to utilize those capabilities I had with my three young sons, who ranged in age from pre-school to the early elementary level. Although they soon developed some proficiency in the language, I eventually tempered my idealism with enough reality to realize that any serious revival of the language was going to take a lot more time and effort than I had been able to put into it, so my dream of that revival was put on hold -- indefinitely. All of the time and effort that Strong Woman and Moondancer put into this Project might now make this dream of revival more possible. It is with this hope that I have agreed to become a consultant on this project. The dream is still alive and the contribution is ready to be made.
Tall Oak Mashantucket Pequot and Wampanoag May, 1997


FOREWORD by Moondancer ⊗ Strong Woman

The Indian Spirit is alive today throughout Turtle Island. In New England, one of the principal manifestations of the ancient ones is the names they have left for many things -- foods, animals, clothing, states and cities, lakes, mountains, and so on. For example, one can note the names Wampanoag and Narragansett, succotash and squash, moccasin, wampum, toboggan, Connecticut and Massachusetts, opossum and raccoon, Mashantucket, Winnepesaukee, and many more, all of which are common names taken over from our New England Indian heritage. It is important to know how to understand these words which are derived from the Indian tongues once heard in these woods, fields, lakes and mountains for thousands of years before the keels of the European boats grated harsh against the sands of these shores. No one knows for sure how to pronounce the original Indian words from the extinct languages of southeastern New England since there are no detailed recordings of the speakers. But we can begin to gain reading and writing fluency from the written records we do have. Analysis of similar existing Algonquian languages in New England may help in reconstructing the pronunciation and talking style of the extinct languages. This book by Moondancer and Strong Woman is the first in a planned series of non technical works initiated by the Aquidneck Indian Council. The program “The Massachusett Language Revival Project” is designed to introduce the Indian languages of New England at an elementary level, particularly the language Massachusett. The first volume, Understanding Algonquian Indian Words (New England) is a primer (very elementary and introductory work), focusing on wordanalysis skills, or the ability to break words down into their primary roots and other parts. For example the words Wampanoag and wampum both share the common root wómp meaning “white” which comes from the American Indian language Massachusett. Moondancer and Strong Woman have compiled a selection of important roots and combining stems and prefixes/suffixes as well as phrases and whole sentences. The word elements contained in this book are provided for those interested in understanding the meanings of various Algonquian language words that are spoken or were spoken in New England by Eastern Woodland American Indians. Another purpose of the book is for readers to be able to understand the present, often mangled, words through out New England that come from "Pure Indian" (such as Mystic, Horseneck, Swampscott, Sheepaug, Wicaboxet, and hundreds more). By using this book and practicing reading of known books, poems and the like (such as given in this book) a person can begin to understand this complex language. A person will also be able to recognize many Indian-based names so prevalent in our culture. Thus, Understanding Algonquian Indian Words (New England) will be of interest to all people who find languages a fascinating invention of human beings. Since the first edition of our book, we have published several other books on the language and culture of regional peoples. A Massachusett Language Book, Vol. 1 contains several vocabulary listings arranged topically. Our two Narragansett books offer a dictionary for Roger Williams’ A Key into the Language of America, and a re-translation of A Key supported by 1,000 footnotes. Recently we have produced an audiocassette tape of songs and chants in the language, sung by Strong Woman. See SOURCES. The Wampanoags have made tremendous strides in bringing back their lost language. See, for example, Jessie Little Doe Fermino, 2000, An Introduction to Wampanoag Grammar. Cambridge, Mass.: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Unpublished Masters Thesis.)

May, 1997 April, 2001 ÇÈ Newport, RI


Latin and ancient Greek are “dead” languages. Many people spoke these languages a long time ago. No one speaks Latin or ancient Greek today. Only a handful of people read Latin or ancient Greek poets, philosophers and statesmen. But you can study Latin and ancient Greek in schools and learn to pronounce Latin and ancient Greek words. But no one is sure how the Romans spoke Latin or the Greeks spoke Greek. Latin and ancient Greek are important for learning English because a good percentage of the words in English dictionaries are derived from Latin and ancient Greek roots* . Ask any medical or nursing student or medical secretary how important Latin and ancient Greek are for their professions. For example, take the word

which is a real word based on Latin and Greek roots. Roughly the word means “the condition of having glass-like dust particles caught in the lungs from a volcanic eruption.” One word expresses so much! The medical student learns to break this very long word down into its basic roots and other combining elements (prefixes, suffixes, etc.) to understand and remember it. Let’s see how we can break the code of this word. Breaking it up into the basic parts:

pneumono ultra micro scopic silico volcano coni osis
Look at the following table for the essential meaning of each part: pneumono ultra micro scopic silico volcano con osis = = = = = = = = lungs beyond very small see glass-like volcano with the condition of

The Greek elements are written in English. Forget for now how you pronounce this monster-word. Forget for now that volcano is a noun (referring to a person, place, thing or idea). Forget all technical matters dealing with grammar. Let’s focus only on the meaning of this word. Now if we take the word elements in the left hand column of the table we created and string them together we get a clue to the meaning of

pneumono ultra micro scopic silico volcano coni osis
lungs + beyond + very small + see + glass-like + volcano + with + condition of


A knowledge of 14 Greek and Latin roots would help readers to recognize over 14, 000 words in the English language.


Stringing the meanings together, and clumping the meaning of each part into larger whole units of meaning, and imposing an ordering (that students learn) tells us how you get the essential meaning from the list. Now we know a very big word. But we also learned something else because the roots and other combining elements (pneumono, etc.) show up in very many medical words one finds in a medical dictionary, a doctors’ report and so on. So if you now see the word pneumonia, you have a good clue that pneumonia has something to do with the lungs. The beginning student of medical terminology who is taught these eight roots has knowledge of all words using them. That’s what makes doctors so smart (and rich). The words, ideas, thoughts, feelings expressed in the Algonquian Indian languages present the same challenge to understanding them that pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis presents to the medical student. Interestingly, in medical courses students are taught their Latin and Greek roots (etymology) first before they learn the “language of medicine”. Without the roots, students would never remember the language of their profession. So, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis can be understood by word-analysis. Now, to spill another one, take the following hyphenated word from the Indian language Massachusett:

nup-pahk-nuh-tô-pe-pe-nau-wut-chut-chuh-quô-ka-neh-cha-neh-cha-e-nin-nu-mun-nô-n o k.
This 61-letter word means “our well-skilled looking-glass makers” (Trumbull, 1903, p. 290). Such a word can be analyzed with the tools learned in this book. Our approach is the same basic one used to understand pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Algonquian Languages
Now suppose you give yourself the challenge of learning another “dead” language such as any of the extinct American Indian languages in southern New England (Narragansett, Massachusett (no “s” on end) or Pequot-Mohegan, among others). There are several types of books and other materials on the Indian languages of New England (called Algonquian languages) particularly those dealing with the extinct languages of southern New England. Some of the books are more than 300 years old. These books can tell you something about how the language sounded, the meanings of the words, and the syntax (grammatical rules for making words, phrases and sentences). But you don’t really know how the musical spoken word really sounded or how hand gestures and other body language was used to communicate thoughts and feelings. Most of these books are not available to most people. Some books are available in scholarly libraries but are understandable to only a handful of people in the world. Other books are phrase books with no instruction on how to make new words, phrases or sentences. Still others are “place name listings” of towns, cities and so on in New England. Such Indian place name books tell you something about the roots and other important word elements of Algonquian words. But they are not readily available either in our public libraries. You are frustrated! The language experts must make a living also. Some seem too busy to help you to the extent you need, or are helpless themselves because they are like the Latin or ancient Greek teachers -they have some knowledge, but not certain knowledge. Also, Algonquian languages are very “strange”, very complicated and most beautiful, almost like poems. You are almost afraid to try to pronounce them, either for fear of making mistakes or out of reverence for the ancient ones.

The Massachusett Language Revival Project

All of this was the womb in which began The Aquidneck Indian Council’s The Massachusett Language Revival Project. Let us tell you some background about this project. As mentioned, one major Indian language group of southeastern New England is referred to by linguists as Massachusett. The Massachusett Language Revival Project is designed to assist in the reconstruction and revival of this extinct American Indian language to the extent humanly possible. We must start with the basics and proceed carefully and slowly. Our task is like micro-surgery on a language, and like micro-surgery, one needs skill, patience and love for what one is doing. The Massachusett language was once spoken fluently in what are now the States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well as other places in New England. According to linguists and historians, the Indians speaking the Massachusett language are called by scholars the Massachusett Indians, the Pokanoket Indians, The Nipmuck Indians and the Pawtucket Indians (see Trigger, 1978, or Goddard and Bragdon, 1988, or Bragdon, 1996, for other information [sometimes not always clear to the non specialist]). Thousands of Indians spoke this language before the coming of the bacilli and the Bible, plus an untold number who spoke different dialects of Massachusett or could understand it to some degree. Go to our Figure 1 in the Introduction to the book for a map showing these peoples’ aboriginal general locations along the coast of southern and middle New England. Various dialects of Massachusett were once spoken in Rhode Island and Massachusetts by peoples of different Tribes, each showing regional variation, but together constituting a single “language” -Massachusett of the Eastern Algonquian language family. One dialect of Massachusett (called Natick) was extensively studied and documented by the missionary The Reverend John Eliot in the 1600s. It seems that he learned to speak the local oral language from Job Nesutan, a devoted Indian tutor and servant for 35 years, and he studied its grammatical structure. Eliot began preaching to the Indians in their language which very much impressed them. Later he and Job Nesutan (and other Indians) undertook an ambitious project designed to convert Indians to Christianity. Eliot and Job Nesutan (and other Indians ?) translated every word of the Holy Bible into Massachusett, and Eliot set about to teach the “praying Indians” how to read words in their own language, and then instructed them in the reading of the Holy Bible written in Massachusett. Eliot is considered by some as one of history’s most gifted linguists. Job Nesutan and the other Indians must not be forgotten either, for they taught and assisted Eliot. Although Natick was the dialect of the language Massachusett that was documented by Eliot, and given that no two dialects of the same language are completely interchangeable, nonetheless NatickMassachusett is the logical place to begin in reconstructing and reviving some the Indian languages of southeastern New England.* In days of old, an Indian who spoke Natick-Massachusett could be understood throughout the areas of what are now the States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts (Gookin, 1792). Many Indians in New England spoke two or more Indian languages, according to scholars like Kathleen J. Bragdon (1996). After The King Philips War (1675-1676)⊗ , English and English ways were urged among all the Indians. Because the very small number of surviving Indians were discouraged, by love or by force, from using their mother tongue, it died out. It is believed that the language Massachusett (and all Indian languages of southern New England) became extinct sometime in the 1800s (Huden, 1962; Goddard, 1978). Today, among most of the descendants of the ancient American Indians of southern New England, all that survives of this unwritten Indian tongue are a handful of phrases handed down over the generations (“Good morning”, “Peace be to you,” “I love you”, and the like; some can recite the Lord’s Prayer in the language). Heated debates are heard at powwows over the roots and derivations of New England place names derived from Algonquian languages. However, what little they have of this language, they do not want to lose. They are keenly aware of what has been lost, and are very desirous of reconstructing and reviving all aspects of their culture (excluding the War Dance and related activities), including the language(s) of their ancestors.
Narragansett is an Algonquian language once spoken by Narragansett Indians (in present-day Rhode Island) and understood throughout New England. Narragansett is also extinct, and shares many features with Massachusett. Roger Williams wrote a famous Narragansett language phrase book in 1643. A technical problem is that Narragansett does not enjoy the linguistic knowledge we have from Eliot’s missionary work, and the subsequent technical work done on Massachusett. We treat Narragansett in our later books, Indian Grammar Dictionary for N-Dialect (2000) & Introduction to the Narraganett Language (2001). ⊗ To some Indians, this war is called The Great Matriotic War (fight to keep Mother Earth).


Thus we have some information about parts of this language, not only from Eliot, but also from scholars, both remote and proximate, who wrote dictionaries, etc. There exists today an elite band of scholars who work in this subset of a subset of theoretical and applied linguistics. Well-known scholars in the field helped us. They feel sure of the technical feasibility of reconstructing and reviving parts of the language with a great deal of painstaking work and cooperation among Native Americans, Indian language experts and funding agencies. Indians and language scholars are beginning to work together on this revival project. With the right assistance from Indian language experts and funding agencies, we expect to see in the future a degree of fluency in the language which will be a significant improvement over what now exists. Many people agree with us. Now, allow us to quote one of the many consulting scholars to our project, Professor Kenneth L. Hale, linguist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a man who gives generously of his time and efforts to Native Americans. Quoting Prof. Hale’s theory of language revival, taken from “Keeping our Words” (The Sciences, Sept./Oct., 1994):
“No case is hopeless,” Hale says. Just as Hebrew was revived as a spoken language in the nineteenth century, extinct native languages might return in the twenty-first century. “Take Mohican,” he says. “There aren’t any speakers in that language, but you could take books and deeds published back in the 1600s, and from what we know about comparative Algonquian, you could figure out pretty closely what it sounded like. People could learn it and begin to use it and revive it.” (p. 20)

How much of this ancient tongue Massachusett can be brought back is an open question. Can Indians in New England speak, read and write Massachusett as fluently as they speak English today? The Aquidneck Indian Council and its brothers and sisters and friends are committed to trying to do what can be done. Only time will tell and only the Creator knows for sure what will happen.

Aquidneck Indian Council
Our involvement is based on ancient Indian spiritual (religious) tradition -- if you have something to share, you are obligated to share because moral and social standing is derived from how much you give. No one must go hungry for lack of food or language. In principal, all men are brothers and fathers, all women are sisters and mothers. The Native American community supports our efforts and counts on us to complete our tasks. Our book is by Indians for Indians (and others). This is a very important point. The Aquidneck Indian Council is an independent, non profit, tax-exempt corporation. Our purposes are educational and cultural. We are committed to reviving and preserving the ancient traditions of New England Indians. We believe very strongly that American Indian heritage has much to offer to all peoples of the earth. We share our proud traditions and customs with all. The founding leaders of the Council are all descendants of the aboriginal peoples of North America.

Understanding Algonquian Indian Words (New England)
Understanding Algonquian Indian Words (New England) is the first in a planned series of non technical works designed to introduce the languages of southeastern New England at an elementary level with emphasis on the language Massachusett. The first volume is a primer (very elementary and introductory


work), focusing on word-analysis skills*, and a very brief introduction to the complicated grammar of Massachusett

We are grateful for the enthusiasm and encouragement we have received from the Native American and non Indian communities for this historic project. We trust that others will be motivated to take up the torch light and help bring back the living languages of New England Indians heard in these woods, fields, lakes and mountains for thousands of years. Our financial funding came from three sources. The Aquidneck Indian Council has invested so far over $25,000 of its own meager resources in the form of cash and in-kind services for The Massachusett Language Revival Project. Chairman Richard “Skip” Hayward and The Council of Elders of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation were the first to give us a grant to purchase books and other supplies for us to begin our long journey. N∞womantam kehchisog kah kehchissquaog A great deal of acknowledgment must also go to the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, a state run program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The entire committee of R.I.C.H. as well as Executive Director Dr. Joseph Finkhouse and Deputy Director Jane H. Civens believed in our project, encouraged us, funded us, and helped in many other ways.
Kuttabotomish, n etomppauog Many of our friends in the Native American community of New England as well as recognized scholars have helped us in one way or another to make this book a reality. Our friend, Professor Shepard Kretch III of The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, and Anthropology Department, Brown University, was very kind in sending our original ideas to Dr. Kathleen J. Bragdon (noted ethnohistorian and Massachusett language expert). Dr. Bragdon offered much valuable technical assistance and stressed the importance of the project and gave us much needed encouragement. Tall Oak, who served as one of our Principal Humanities Scholars on the project, has encouraged us and helped us immensely from the beginning. Tall Oak serves as one of our Council’s wauontam (wise man, councilor). Our heart-felt thanks to Tall Oak for his kindness and love. Karl V. Teeter, Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), Harvard University, is a Principal Humanities Scholar on the Massachusett Language Revival Project. Prof. Teeter helped in many ways on the technical linguistic matters. His assistance was invaluable, and his friendship is cherished. Our children Brian (Feet Like Thunder) and Julia (A Great Voice), and newly born Lily-Rae (Little White Flower) helped us as only young boys and girls can help their parents who are doing “grown-up stuff”. This book is our legacy to them. Others who have helped us in one way or another include the following institutions and individuals:
• • • • • • • •

Rhode Island Indian Council Massachusetts Center for Native Awareness Massachusetts Council on Indian Affairs Widener Library, Harvard University Plymouth Colony Archive Project John Carter Brown Library University of Pennsylvania University of Rhode Island

Word-analysis means the breaking down of a word into its parts and the recognition of the original meaning of each part. For example the word “preliterate” has a prefix (pre = before) and a root (litera = a letter), to give the meaning of “preliterate” as “before writing”. Also, the word “docile” contains the root (docere = “to teach”) and a suffix (ile = capable of) to give the literal meaning of “docile” as “capable of teaching”.


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution Rhode Island Historical Society Library Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Rhode Island Foundation Expansion Arts Aquidneck Indian Council Members of the Board, Council & Friends and Contributors Seekonk Historical Society Rhode Island Public Libraries Massachusetts Public Libraries Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Library Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University The Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown, RI Public Schools in Newport Public Schools in Middletown Narragansett Indian News Los Angeles Times Newport Daily News Providence Journal New York Academy of Sciences Indian Country Today Whispering Wind Magazine American Indian Culture and Research Journal E’nokwin Journal of First Native American Peoples Lincoln Out-of-Print Book Search Dream Edit, Newport, RI Tribal Councils of Narragansett, Mashpee, Gay Head, Eastern Pequot, Quinnipiac, Wutuppa, Hassanamisco Nipmuc, Quinsigamond, Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuc, Assonset, Seaconke-Wampanoag, Dighton, and others Darrel Waldron, Executive Director, Rhode Island Indian Council Kenneth L. Hale, the late Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology George Aubin, Assumption College Philip S. LeSourd, Indiana University Lorraine Baker (Healing Woman), Council Treasurer, and Project Financial Officer Charles Weeden (Great Bear), Council Publicity Coordinator Iron Thunderhorse, Quinnipiac Tribal Council Grand Sachem Orman talking Turtle (Narragtansett) and Maliseet friends, Tobique Band, N.B. Chief Eagle, Sagamore Tribal Council, MA Peter Lenz, Maine Historian Mary Benjamin Maine Biographer Steven Baker, Council Photographer Guy Perotta & Charles Clemmons, Co-producers and Native American actors, “Mystic Voices: the Story of the Pequot War” Galen Silvia Kinko’s Copies of Middletown, RI Micro Image III, Inc., Everett, MA.

The Smithsonian Institution kindly allowed us to reprint the maps shown in our INTRODUCTION, taken from Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 15 (Northeast), © 1978. We are grateful to The John Carter Brown Library for permission to reprint John Eliot’s The Indian Grammar Begun which appears in Part III. We thank Plymouth Colony Archive project for permission to use Wood’s Map [front cover], the University of Pennsylvania for permission to use Figures 3, 4 & 5. Any errors remain solely those of the authors. We would appreciate hearing from readers who spot errors in the book or otherwise desire to improve this book in future editions. We are very proud of our heritage. Our ancestors were born on this land. Níttauke, Nissa Wânawkamuck. We want to share our gifts with others so that New England Indian culture and language will continue to exist. The language of a people is very important because it tells us how people thought of their world and lived in it. May the Indian People live !


Very few abbreviations and symbols are used in the book, except for the following. Abbreviation Meaning cf. e.g. etc. i.e. Narr. p. pp. compare with for example and so on specifically, that is to say Narragansett language page pages

Symbol =

Meaning or Meanings equal sign used to indicate “has the meaning”: e.g., neetompas = “my sister” authors not sure of something first meaning of a word; e.g., ke (1); ke (2) is second meaning, etc.
ist use: separation of singular-plural terms; e.g. hònck-hónckock is written to give the meaning for one goose as hònck, and hónckock for many geese. Likewise, the word qussuck-quanash stands for the words qussuck = “one rock” and qussuckquanash = “many rocks”. 2nd use: for hyphenating roots like s-s-k (rattling sound, like a snake, gourd, etc.) or t-op, and prefix/suffix terms, such as: -ash, and compound terms such as keht- or unk or -antam. Roots such as min or uhq are not hyphenated. 3rd use: to indicate different definitions of some words; e.g. the word -hogk has two different meanings listed in Part I.

? (1)



* † ⊗ ’

see footnote, bottom of page see footnote, bottom of page see footnote, bottom of page a sound or sounds usually written or spoken where ’ is; e.g., ( m’tah = me tah . Don’t confuse the symbol ’ with the symbol ´ (accent mark) such as seen in the word wétu ” literal meaning of a word, phrase, sentence; e.g. misquáshim = “red fox ”.



Here we give an explanation of how to read the entries in Part I and the Index of the book. In Part I, we give a short list of words, phrases, sentences along with their roots and stems, references to other words, some examples, and sometimes additional information. Each entry has some information like this, but not all entries have all the information because it doesn’t exist, or would take up too much space.

Reading Entries in Part I
We want to make sure you know how to read the entries when you look up a word. We try to keep it simple. Here are three examples just as they appear in Part I of the book:
agwe (agwu, ogwu) under, below (e.g., agwattin = “under a hill”) mituck-quash (mehtug-quash) tree-trees (see m’tugk, -quash) misquá (Narr.) (it is) red (e.g., misquáshim = “red fox”), animate form

The Algonquian words are on the left-side of the page, and the English translations are on the rightside of the page. Algonquian words are always written in the slanted-italic-style (like agwe). The Algonquian word agwe is given in the first example. In parentheses we show that two variant spellings of agwe may be seen in other written sources (agwu, ogwu). Next we know that agwe is a Massachusett language word (because we don’t give the Narr. abbreviation). The meanings of the word agwe are “under, below”. An example of agwe in a phrase is, agwattin = “under a hill”. The second example shows a singular and plural word for the noun “tree”. The Massachusett language entry is mituck-quash (mehtug-quash). In parenthesis is an alternate spelling of the words which may show the pronunciation of a different dialect (?), or spurious missionary recordin
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