The reconstruction of Old Cree presented here is supported by research undertaken over the past two decades in multiple contemporary and historical Cree dialects. This research is ongoing and has resulted in the creation of several lexical databases and corpora. Contemporary dialects studied over the years include Eastern Swampy Cree, Moose Cree, Northern East Cree, Southern East Cree, Atikamekw, and Western Innu, with the main focus of research being Moose Cree and Southern East Cree.

Work on the Moose Cree dialect began in 2012 and continues to the present day. This work has resulted in a lexical database of over 34,100 entries, of which just over 32,200 are presented in the online Dictionary of Moose Cree. Three print editions of this dictionary have been published in the past decade. A corpus containing texts composed as far back as the 1850s was also compiled during the course of this work and contains just over 250,000 words of running text.

As the dialect spoken by the editor, Southern East Cree has been the object of sustained lexical research since 2000. A lexical database containing well over 20,000 entries was compiled from directed discussions with monolingual and knowledgeable bilingual speakers on specific semantic fields, in addition to a corpus containing just over 273,000 words of running text. An example of research on specific semantic fields is the work on faunal and floral vocabulary that was systematically undertaken between 2009 and 2010, with some occasional additional fieldwork. The fieldwork for this project also included interviews in neighbouring Algonquin and Atikamekw communities. This work has resulted in multiple dictionaries of East Cree fauna and flora, with the latest edition published in 2022 by Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute. A study of word frequency was also undertaken in 2011 for the Cree School Board, resulting in a carefully structured corpus of oral and written texts of various topics. In 2016, a study on the semantics of verbs of speech in this dialect was published in Recherches amérindiennes au Québec and was co-authored by linguists Vincent Collette and Fanny York.

Research on historical Cree dialects as recorded in manuscripts from the 17th and 18th century provides important information for the reconstruction of Old Cree, but also informs work on contemporary dialects. In 2009 the topic of medials in a historical dialect spoken in the Saguenay region was explored and published as a Master’s thesis at the University or Quebec in Montreal. As part of our research into historic dictionaries of Cree and Innu, John E. Bishop and I worked in the Deschatelets Archives in Ottawa where we examined and photographed historic dictionaries from the 18th and 19th centuries. This work eventually led to the publication of a paper on the subject of the lexicography of Cree dialects by Jesuits in 2011 by the journal Historiographia Linguistica. The research for this paper included morphologically-informed reconstruction of a cross-section of the entries found in these dictionaries.

As might be expected, the reconstruction of Old Cree lexical roots depends on data from multiple historical and contemporary dialects. Where the editor’s fieldwork is lacking, the dictionaries and glossaries listed below support the work. Following the principles of the comparative method, data from sister languages such as Anishinabe, Meskwaki, Miami, and Menomini are not used to reconstruct the lexical roots. However, when cognates in these languages are identified they are presented as externally corroborative evidence. Note that the editor conducts occasional fieldwork in the Abitibi dialect of Anishinabe since 2009 and maintains a lexical database that approaches 4,000 entries and continues to grow.

Cree Dialects

Plains Cree

Lacombe, Albert. (1874) Dictionnaire de La Langue Des Cris. Montréal: C.O. Beauchemin & Valois.

LeClaire, Nancy & Harold Cardinal, Emily Hunter, and Earle H. Waugh (1998) Alberta Elders’ Cree Dictionary. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press.

Wolvengrey, Arok, and Freda Ahenakew (2001) Nēhiýawēwin: Itwēwina, Cree: Words. Regina: University of Regina.

Woods Cree

Charles, Colin (2021) Colin Charles Cree Dictionary. Lac La Ronge: Lac La Ronge Indian Band.

Eastern Swampy Cree

MacKenzie, Marguerite (2007) Wasaho Ininîwimowin Dictionary (Fort Severn Cree). Sioux Lookout: Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre

Moose Cree

Brousseau, Kevin (2022) A Dictionary of Moose Cree (web edition). Moose Factory: Moose Cree First Nation.

Atikamekw Cree

Beland, Jean-Pierre (1978) Atikamekw Morphology and Lexicon. PhD thesis. Berkeley: University of California.

Chachai, Véronique, Marie-Odile Junker, and Nicole Petiquay (2022). Dictionnaire Atikamekw en ligne. https://dictionnaire.atikamekw.atlas-ling.ca/

Southern East Cree

Blacksmith, Anna & Patricia Diamond, Pearl Weistche, Marie-Odile Junker, and Marguerite MacKenzie (2018) The Eastern James Bay Cree Dictionary on the Web: English-Cree and Cree- English, French-Cree and Cree-French (Southern dialect). www.dictionary.eastcree.org/words

Bishop, John, editor (2022) Cree Nation Government Place Names Database. Department of Social and Cultural Development, Cree Nation Government.

Northern East Cree

Bobbish-Salt, Luci & Alice Duff, Linda Visitor, Ruth Salt, Marie-Odile Junker, and Marguerite MacKenzie (2018) The Eastern James Bay Cree Dictionary on the Web: English-Cree and Cree- English, French-Cree and Cree-French (Northern dialect). www.dictionary.eastcree.org/words

Bishop, John, editor (2022) Cree Nation Government Place Names Database. Department of Social and Cultural Development, Cree Nation Government.

Western Innu

Lemoine, Georges (1901) Dictionnaire français-montagnais: avec un vocabulaire montagnais-anglais, une courte liste de noms géographiques, et une grammaire montagnaise. Boston: W.B. Cabot and P. Cabot.

Drapeau, Lynn (1991) Dictionnaire montagnais-français. Sillery: Presses de l’Université du Québec.

Mailhot, José, Marguerite MacKenzie, and Marie-Odile Junker (2013) Online Innu Dictionary. www.dictionary.innu-aimun.ca/Words

Eastern Innu

Mailhot, José, Marguerite MacKenzie, and Marie-Odile Junker (2013) Online Innu Dictionary. www.dictionary.innu-aimun.ca/Words

Naskapi

Marguerite MacKenzie, Bill Jancewicz (2015) Naskapi lexicon (web edition). Kawawachikamach: Naskapi Development Corporation.

Historical dialects

Silvy, Antoine. Dictionnaire montagnais-français [ca. 1680]. Montréal: Presses de l’Université du Québec, 1974.

Fabvre, Bonaventure. Racines montagnaises [ca. 1690]. Ed. Lorenzo Angers & Gerry McNulty. Québec: Université Laval, 1970.

Laure, Pierre. Apparat français-montagnais [ca. 1726]. Edited by David E. Cooter. Sillery, Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec, 1988.

La Brosse, Jean-Baptiste de. Radicum Montanarum Silva [1766–1772]. Manuscript. Ottawa: Deschâtelets Archives.

Watkins, E. A. (1865) A Dictionary of the Cree Language: As Spoken by the Indians of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Territories. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Algonquian Languages

Abenaki

Day, Gorden M. (1994) Western Abenaki Dictionary, Volume 1: Abenaki-English. Mercury Series, Canadian Ethnology Service Paper 128. Gatineau: Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Day, Gorden M. (1995) Western Abenaki Dictionary, Volume 2: English-Abenaki. Mercury Series, Canadian Ethnology Service Paper 129. Gatineau: Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Anishinabe

Baraga, Frederic (1878) A Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Explained in English. Montréal: Beauchemin & Valois.

Daviault, Diane (1994) L’algonquin au XVIIe siècle: Une édition critique, analysée et commentée de la grammaire algonquine du Père Louis Nicolas. Chicoutimi : Presses de l’Université du Québec.

Dumont, Marie & Manie Dumont (1985) Lexique algonquin/français. Lac Simon: Conseil de bande du Lac Simon.

Dumont, Virginia (1999) Lexique anicinabe. Lac Simon: Conseil de bande du Lac Simon.

McGregor, Ernest (2004) Algonquin Lexicon: Third edition. Maniwaki: Kitigan Zibi Education Sector.

Rhodes, Richard A. (1993) Eastern Ojibwa-Chippewa-Ottawa Dictionary. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Livesay, Nora & John D. Nichols (2012-2022) Ojibwe People's Dictionary. https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu

Meskwaki

Goddard, Yves & Lucy Thomason (2014) A Meskwaki-English & English-Meskwaki Dictionary. Petoskey: Mundart Press.

Menomini

Bloomfield, Leonard (1975) Menomini Lexicon. Publications in Anthropology & History, no. 3. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum.

Miami

Baldwin, Daryl & David J. Costa (2005) A Miami-Peoria Dictionary. Miami: Miami Nation.

Proto-Algonquian

Hewson, John (1993) A Computer-generated Dictionary of Proto-Algonquian. Gatineau: National Museums of Canada.