Massachusett is an Algonquian language spoken until late 19th century by the Massachusett and Wampanoag nations in the States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, especially in Boston, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. It was also one of first Native American languages encountered and learned by English settlers when they arrived in North America in the early 17th century.
Massachusett, which is also known as Massachusett-Narragansett, Wampanoag, Natick and Pokanoket, first appeared in writing in 1653 with the publication of a translation of the Catechism. This, and other translations of religious works, including the Bible, were made by John Elliot (1604—1690), a clergyman and missionary who learnt the native languages of Massachusetts in order to preach to and convert the people.
The orthography developed by Elliot helped spread literacy in the Massachusetts nation and was used to produce such documents as wills and deeds. As a result, Massachusett is one of the best documented Native American languages.
Efforts are currently underway to reconstruct and revive the Algonquian languages of New England. The driving force behind this revival of Wampanoag (Wôpanâôtuwâôk) is Jessie "Little Doe" Fermino, a Mashpee Indian from Cape Cod, who launched the Wampanoag Dictionary Project, is working on a Wampanoag grammar, is developing a Wampanoag language curriculum, and is teaching the language to tribal members. She has studied linguistics at MIT, and has been helped and guided by Kenneth Hale (1934-2001), MIT professor of linguistics and philosophy.
The letters B, D, C, F, G, I, J, L, O, R, V, X and Z are also used, but only for proper names and place names.
Nꝏshum keskqut quttianatamanack hꝏwesaouk. Peyaumꝏutch kukkenau-toomoouk ne a nack okkeet neam keskqut. Nem-meet-sougash asekesuhokesu assnauean yedyee kesu-kod. Kah ahquotaneas inneaen nummateheouqasu, neem machenekukequig nutahquoretawmomouag. Ahque sag hompagunaianeem enqutchuasouqauit webe pohquohwaossueau wutch matchitut. Nuwatche huhahteem ketassootamouk hah nuumkessouk, kah sosamꝏuk michene. Amen
Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Information about the Massachusett Language
Information about the revival of New England Algonquian languages
Information about John Elliot
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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