FACTOID # 21: 15% of Army recruits from South Dakota are Native American, which is roughly the same percentage for female Army recruits in the state.
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Encyclopedia > Mohawk language
Pronunciation: IPA: [ganjʌ̃ʔg'ɛha]
Spoken in: United States, Canada 
Region: Ontario, Quebec and northern New York
Total speakers: 3,350 (Ethnologue)
Language family: Iroquoian
 Northern Iroquoian
  Proto-Lake Iroquoian
   Iroquois Proper
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: moh
ISO 639-3: moh

Mohawk is a Native American language spoken by the Mohawk nation in the United States and Canada. It is part of the Iroquoian family. Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Latin: Loyal she began, loyal she remains) Capital Toronto Largest city Toronto Official languages English Government - Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman - Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament - House seats 106 - Senate seats 24 Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st) Area Ranked 4th... Motto: Je me souviens (French: I remember) Capital Quebec City Largest city Montreal Official languages French Government - Lieutenant-Governor Lise Thibault - Premier Jean Charest (PLQ) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament - House seats 75 - Senate seats 24 Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st) Area Ranked 2nd - Total 1,542,056 km² - Water... NY redirects here. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families A language family is a group of related languages said to have descended from a common proto-language. ... Iroquoian languages The Iroquoian languages are a Native American language family. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is in process of development as an international standard for language codes. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Phonetics (from the Greek word φωνή, phone meaning sound, voice) is the study of the sounds of human speech. ... Unicode is an industry standard designed to allow text and symbols from all of the writing systems of the world to be consistently represented and manipulated by computers. ... Native Americans are the indigenous peoples from the regions of North America now encompassed by the continental United States, including parts of Alaska. ... The Mohawk (Kanienkeh or Kanienkehaka meaning People of the Flint) are an indigenous people of North America who live around Lake Ontario and the St. ... The Iroquoian languages are a Native American language family. ...



Mohawk has three major dialects: Western (Six Nations and Tyendinaga), Central (Ahkwesáhsne), and Eastern (Kahnawà:ke and Kanehsatà:ke); the differences between them are largely phonological. The pronunciation of /r/ and several consonant clusters may differ in the dialects.

  Underlying Phonology Western Central Eastern
seven /tsjata/ [ˈʤaːda] [ˈʤaːda] [ˈʣaːda]
nine /tjohtu/ [ˈdjɔhdũ] [ˈgjɔhdũ] [ˈʤɔhdũ]
I fall /kjaʔtʌʔs/ [ˈgjàːdʌ̃ʔs] [ˈgjàːdʌ̃ʔs] [ˈʤàːdʌ̃ʔs]
dog /erhar/ [ˈɛɹhaɹ] [ˈɛlhal] [ˈɛɹhaɹ]


The phoneme inventory is as follows (using the International Phonetic Alphabet). Phonological representation (underlying forms) are in /slashes/, and the standard Mohawk orthography is in bold. Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...


An interesting feature of Mohawk phonology is that there are no labials, except in a few borrowings from French and English, where [m] and [p] appear (e.g., mátsis matches and aplám Abraham); as such, these sounds are late additions to Mohawk phonology and were introduced after widespread European contact. Labials are consonants articulated either with both lips (bilabial articulation) or with the lower lip and the upper teeth (labiodental articulation). ...

  Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive t   k ʔ
Affricate   ʤ    
Fricative s     h
Nasal n      
Liquid/Semivowel l / r j w  

Consonant clusters in the Central (Ahkwesáhsne) dialect: Dentals are consonants such as t, d, n, and l articulated with either the lower or the upper teeth, or both, rather than with the gum ridge as in English. ... Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate (the middle part of the roof of the mouth). ... Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum). ... Glottal consonants are consonants articulated with the glottis. ... A stop or plosive or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ... An affricate is a consonant that begins like a stop (most often an alveovelar, such as [t] or [d]) and that doesnt have a release of its own, but opens directly into a fricative (or, in one language, into a trill). ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... A nasal consonant is produced when the velum—that fleshy part of the palate near the back—is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ... Liquid consonants, or liquids, are approximant consonants that are not classified as semivowels (glides) because they do not correspond phonetically to specific vowels (in the way that, for example, the initial in English yes corresponds to ). The class of liquids can be divided into lateral liquids and rhotics. ... Semivowels (also glides, more rarely: semiconsonants) are non-syllabic vowels that form diphthongs with syllabic vowels. ...

-tt, kt, -ʔt, st, -ht, tk, kk, -ʔk, sk, -hk, -ʔʤ, -hʤ, ts, ks, -ʔs, -ss, -hs, th, kh, sh, -nh, -lh, -wh, -ʔn, sn, -hn, -ʔl, sl, hl, -nl, -ʔj, ʤj, sj, -hj, nj, -lj, -ʔw, sw, -hw.

Those clusters preceded by a hyphen only occur word-medially; the others occur both initially and medially.

The consonants /{k, kw, t, ts}/ are pronounced voiced before any voiced sound (i.e. a vowel or /j/). They are voiceless at the end of a word or before a voiceless sound. /s/ is voiced word initially and between vowels.

carkà:sere [ˈgàːzɛrɛ]
thatthí:ken [ˈthiːgʌ̃]
hello, stillshé:kon [ˈshɛːgũ]
Note that th and sh are pronounced as consonant clusters, not single sounds like in English thing and she.


  Front Central Back
High i   ũ
Mid e ʌ̃ o
Low   a  

i, e, a, and o are oral vowels, while ʌ and u (IPA /ʌ̃/ and /ũ/) are nasalized; oral versions of ʌ and u do not occur in the language. Vowels Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel. ... A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. ... A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. ... A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. ... A close-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. ... An open vowel is a vowel sound of a type used in most spoken languages. ... An oral vowel is a vowel that is produced by air that escapes through the mouth only (as opposed to nasal vowels, in which air also goes out through the nose). ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... A nasal vowel is a vowel that is produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through the mouth and the nose. ...


The Mohawk orthography was standardised in 1993[1]. The standard allows for some variation of how the language is represented, most notably:, and the clusters /ts(i)/, /ty/, and /ky/ are written as pronunced in each community. The orthography matches the phonological analysis as above except:

  • The glottal stop /ʔ/ is written with an apostrophe , it is often omitted at the end of words, especially in Eastern dialect where it is typically not pronounced.
  • /ʤ/
    • /ʤ/ is written ts in the Eastern dialect (reflecting pronunciation). Seven is tsá:ta [dza:da].
    • /ʤ/ is written tsi in the Central dialect. Seven is tsiá:ta [dʒa:da].
    • /ʤ/ is written tsy in the Western dialect. Seven is tsyá:ta [dʒa:da].
  • /j/
    • /j/ is typically written i in the Central and Eastern dialects. Six is ià:ia’k [jà:jaʔk].
    • /j/ is usually written y in the Western dialect. Six is yà:ya’k [jà:jaʔk].
  • The vowel /ʌ̃/ is written en, as in one énska [ʌ̃ska].
  • The vowel /ũ/ is written on, as in eight sha’té:kon [shaʔdɛ:gũ].

Stress, Length, and Tone

Stress, vowel length and tone are linked together in Mohawk. There are three kinds of stressed vowels: short-high tone, long-high tone, and long-falling tone. Stress is always written and only occurs once per word.

  • Short-high tone usually (but not always) appears in closed syllables or before /h/. It is written with an acute accent: stick kánhia, road oháha.
  • Long-high tone generally occurs in open syllables. It is written with a combination acute accent and colon: town kaná:ta, man rón:kwe. Notice that when it is one of the nasal vowels which is long, the colon appears after the n.
  • Long-falling tone is the result of the word stress falling on a vowel which comes before a /ʔ/ or /h/ + a consonant (there may be, of course, exceptions to this and other rules). The underlying /ʔ/ or /h/ re-appears when stress is placed elsewhere. It is written with a grave accent and colon: stomach onekwèn:ta (from /onekwʌʔta/).


Mohawk expresses a large number of pronominal distinctions: person (1st, 2nd, 3rd), number (singular, dual, plural), gender (masculine, feminine, neuter, indefinite) and inclusivity/exclusivity on the first person dual and plural. Pronominal information is encoded in prefixes on the verbs, rather than given as separate pronoun words; there are two main paradigms of pronominal prefixes: intransitive and transitive. Inclusive we is a pronoun or verb conjugation that indicates the inclusion of the speaker, the addressee, and perhaps other people, as opposed to exclusive we, which specifically excludes the addressee. ...

Some phrases (Kahnawake dialect) ::

Nahò:ten kén:ton'? - What does it mean?
Tiohrhén:sa satá:ti. - Say it in English, Speak in English.
Onkwehonwehnéha satá:ti. - Say it in Indian. Speak in Indian.
Sa'nikonhraién:tas ken? - Do you understand?
Seni'nikonhraién:tas ken? - Do you (d) understand?
Sewa'nikonhraién:tas ken? - Do you (p) understand?
Iah tewake'nikonhraién:ta's. - I don't understand.
Ónhka thi? - Who's that?
Ónhka ki? - Who's this?
Ontiatén:ro' ne thi. - That is my friend. (m to m)
non' ónhka ne: nakáonha? - And who is she?
Tánon' ónhka ne: ne ráonha? - And who is he?
Tánon' ónhka ní:se'? - And who are you?
Tánon' ónhka ne: ne ronónha? - And who are they(p,m)?
Raterihwaiénstha ni' né:'e. - He's a student, too.
Ionterihwaiénstha ni né:'e. - She's a student, too.
Katerihwaiénstha ni ní:'i. - I'm a student, too.
Ronterihwaiénstha ni né:'e - They (p,m) are students, too.
Ontiátshi né:'e. - She is my friend(f).
Ontiatén:ro' né:'e - He's my friend(m).
Ontiatén:ro' ne ki. - This is my friend(m).
Onkwatén:ro né:'e - They (p,m) are my friends


  • Khwe – hi
  • Kwehkwe - hi there
  • Ó:nen - bye
  • Ó:nen ki' wáhi - goodbye
  • Ó:nen - bye now
  • Oh niiawenhátie? - what’s happening.... what’s going on?

Thank you/You're welcome

  • Niá:wen - thank you
  • Niawen’kó:wa - thank you very much
  • Niá:wenh ki’ wáhi - thanks a lot
  • Tekwanonwerá:tons - welcome
  • Io - you're welcome


  • Atenró:sera- friendship
  • Ontiatén:ro or yonkiatén:ron- he/she and I are friends (Eastern then Western dialect)
  • Onkwatenro'shón:'a- they all and I are friends.
  • Tiatén:ro- you and I are friends.

First/Second Person

  • Í:’i - I, me
  • Í:se - you
  • Akwá:wen - mine


  • Akwé:kon - all
  • Khá:wis - I am carrying
  • Tyorahteken - fisher
  • Iakohsatens – she rides
  • Tsiktsinenná:wen - butterfly
  • Karonhià:ke - in the sky
  • Ohontsà:ke - on earth
  • Otkon - spirit
  • Atonhnhetshera - spirit
  • Tsikenon'waristak - dragonfly
  • Skén:nen - peace; serenity.
  • Skennen'kó:wa - great peace
  • Ka'shatsténhshera - power


  • Ista – mother [isda]
  • Istén:’a – mom [isdʌ̃ʔa]
  • Raké:ni - father
  • Rake'níha - dad
  • Tiakení:teron – wife/husband (when speaking about him/her it works either way).
  • Rakshótha - grandfather (when referring to him).
  • Akshótha - grandmother (when referring to her).
  • Akhso – grandmother (when talking to her).
  • Tóta – can be used in reference to either grandmother/grandfather (slang)


  • Tree- Ó:kwire
  • Birch - Watenake:tarons
  • Cedar - Onen'takwenhten:sera
  • Elm - A'ka:ratsi'
  • Sugar Maple - Wahta
  • Spruce - O'so:ra


  • Tsyoka'wehkowa - raven
  • Ori:te' - dove
  • Ori:te nih wa'a - dove (small)
  • Oskenón:ton - deer
  • É:rhar - dog
  • Atená:ti – elk
  • Tsítsho - fox
  • Akoshá:tens - horse
  • Aióha - mink
  • Tako'skó:wa - mountain lion
  • Otsinò:wen - mouse
  • Tawí:ne - otter
  • Anén:taks - porcupine
  • Tehahonhtané:ken - rabbit
  • Atí:ron - raccoon
  • Otsinowenhkó:wa - rat
  • Anì:tas - skunk -
  • Onón:kote - weasel


  • Skennen’kó:wa kenh ontiatenro'shón:a - how are you my friends?
  • Konnorónhkwa - I love you (I show you I care)

"The best chief is not the one who persuades people to his point of view. It is instead the one in whose presence most people find it easiest to arrive at the truth". –Mohawk-

Onkwehonwehnéha – (the) native way


  • Ko:r ióntiats - My name is Paul
  • Arísawe iesá:iats - Your name is Elizabeth.
  • Keshini - one with beautiful hair


  1. ^ Mohawk Language Standardization Project. http://www.kanienkehaka.com/msp/msp.htm

External links

  • Free Mohawk Translators with tools to build your own
  • Mohawk Language Dictionary and Virtual Teachers
  • Mohawk - English Dictionary
  • Ethnologue
  • Mohawk language, alphabet and pronunciation from Omniglot

  Results from FactBites:
The Mohawk Language Standardisation Project > Ministry of Education / Ministry of Training, Colleges and ... (8117 words)
The Mohawk Language Standardisation Project, a joint effort of the six Mohawk nations of Tyendinaga, Ahkwesáhsne, Wáhta, Ohswé:ken (Six Nations), Kahnawà:ke and Kanehsatà:ke, was supported by the ministries of Education and Training, of Citizenship, and of Culture, Tourism and Recreation.
The Mohawk Language Standardisation Conference was funded by the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Citizenship (CIT), and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation (CTR).
A four-day conference on the standardisation of the Mohawk language was held on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory from August 17 to 20, 1993.
successes.html (2457 words)
Language became an issue in Friesland (the Dutch province where Frisian is primarily spoken) in the nineteenth century.
During the 1970s, the Mohawk people of Kahnawake in Quebec -- a native reserve on the outskirts of Montreal -- were experiencing the decline of their language, which had been replaced by French and then by English.
The Revival of the Mohawk Language in Kahnawake.
  More results at FactBites »



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