• Language: Potawatomi
  • Alternate names: Pottawotomi, Bodéwadmimwen, Bodéwadmi, Zheshmowen, Neshnabémwen
  • Language code: pot
  • Language family: Algic, Algonquian-Blackfoot, Algonquian, Eastern Great Lakes Algonquian, Ojibwa-Potawatomi
  • Number of speakers: 50
  • Vulnerability: Endangered [Read more...]
  • Script: Latin script

More information:


    Potawatomi is a Central Algonquian language and is spoken around the Great Lakes in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as in Kansas in the United States, and in southern Ontario in Canada. There is currently an effort underway to revive the language.

    The alphabet

    Though no standard orthography has been agreed upon by the Potawatomi communities, the system most commonly used is the "Pedagogical System" developed by the Wisconsin Native American Languages Program. As the name suggests, this writing system was designed to be used in language teaching. The system is alphabetic (based on the Roman Alphabet), and is phonemic, with each letter or digraph representing a contrastive sound. The letters used are: a b ch d e é g h ' i j k m n o p s sh t w y z zh.

    The Verb

    The usual way to express who is doing what in Potawatomi is to inflect the verb by adding prefixes and suffixes. Prefixes come before the word (pre means "before", think preview, precursor, predated). Suffixes come at the end of a word. Instead of using whole words to show who the subject is, Potawatomi modifies the word with a letter or letters in front of the word (prefix), and a letter or letters at the end of the word (suffix).

    Sample verb: maji to leave

    Present Past Future
    Sg.1 nde-maji ngi-maji nwi-maji
    Sg.2 gde-maji ggi-maji wwi-maji
    Sg.3 maji gi-maji wi-maji
    Pl.1 (exlusive) nde-maji-men ngi-maji-men nwi-maji-men
    Pl.1 (inclusive) gde-maji-men ggi-maji-men gwi-maji-men
    Pl.2 gde-maji-m ggi-maji-m gwi-maji-m
    Pl.3 majik gi-majik wi-majik