Innu Language Project


Marguerite MacKenzie, Phil Branigan, Barbara Burnaby, Marie-Odile Junker (Carleton U), Carrie Dyck, Sandra Clarke


CURA Project: Laurel Anne Hasler, Will Oxford, Del Torkornoo, Terry George (Carleton U)

Students: Jennifer Thorburn, Will Oxford, Janet Burgess, Dougal Graham, Karlie King, Emily Urquhart


The Innu Language Project (ILP) is a true collaboration between university researchers and Aboriginal organizations. It has grown out of a number of continuously SSHRC-funded research projects over the past twelve years, the most recent and largest of which was the CURA project, Knowledge and Human Resources for Innu Language Development, which ran from 2005-2010.


The primary outcome of the ILP has been the pan-Innu dictionary database, which comprises over 27,000 words, with translations into both national languages, French and English. There are three printed dictionaries (English-Innu, Innu-English, and Innu-French), with a fourth (French-Innu) that will be available in the future. As the only pan-dialectal dictionary of an Algonquian language (or of virtually any language), it is comprehensive but not exhaustive, documenting primarily traditional Innu vocabulary, and to a lesser degree neologisms (words for new items and concepts). The need for neologisms has been addressed through parallel projects which have recorded and created specific workplace vocabulary, for use in training and practice of interpreters and translators in various sectors (justice, health, education, and environment).

Current and Future Projects

Thanks to continued funding from our partner organizations, primarily Mamu Tshishkutamashuta / Innu Education and l'Institut Tshakapesh, the ILP has been able to continue to run workshops and develop Innu language curriculum and reading materials. We are currently in the final stages of editing a glossary of Innu medical terms, and are developing mobile apps for smartphones and tablets for the Innu dictionary as well as the upcoming medical glossary. Additional children's books, online interactive language exercises, and numerous other materials are also in the works.

For more information, visit the ILP website, at


Selected publications

See the website for a bibliography and pdf versions of theses and papers

2007 Marguerite MacKenzie and Kristen O'Keefe (eds.) Innu-aimun Legal Terms (Criminal Law) / Kaueueshtakanit innu-aimuna: Sheshatshiu-aimun (124 pp.) and Mushuau-aimun (127 pp.)St. John’s, NL: Department of Justice, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

2007 Clarke, Sandra and Marguerite MacKenzie. Labrador Innu-aimun: an introduction to the Sheshatshiu dialect. Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

2004 “Montagnais/Innu-aimun (Algonquian)” Sandra Clarke and Marguerite MacKenzie in Gert Booj, Christian Lehmann, Joachim Mugdan, Stavros Skopeteas in collaboration with Wolfgang Kesselheim (eds.), Morphology. An International Handbook on Inflection and Word Formation, Vol. 2, 1411-1422. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

2002 “Word order variation at the left periphery in Innu-aimûn.” Philip Branigan and Marguerite MacKenzie, In H.C. Wolfart and A. Ogg (eds.), Papers of the Thirty-third Algonquian Conference, 110-119. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.

2002 “Altruism, A-bar movement and object agreement.” Philip Branigan and Marguerite MacKenzie, Linguistic Inquiry 3(3):385-407.

2001 “How much syntax can you fit in a word? Late insertion and verbal agreement in Innu-aimun.” Phil Branigan and Marguerite MacKenzie, in S. Gessner, S. Oh & K. Shiobara (eds.), Proceedings of WSCLA 5 (The Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas, 5:37-52. Vancouver: University of British Columbia.

1999 “Binding and the nature of pro in Innu-aimun.” Philip Branigan and Marguerite MacKenzie, in Pius Tamanji, Masako Hirotani and Nancy Hall (eds.), Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society 29:475-485. Amherst: University of Massachusetts.

1999 “A double object obviation constraint in Innu-aimun”, Philip Branigan and Marguerite MacKenzie, in David Pentland (ed.), Papers of the Thirtieth Algonquian Conference, 28-33. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.

1999-04 Sheshatshiu atanukana mak tipatshimuna, Myths and tales from Sheshatshit, collected by Madeleine Lefebvre and Robert Lanari in 1967, Booklet 1-4. José Mailhot and collaborators (eds.). St. John’s, Newfoundland: Innu Text Project.

Theses and student papers

Jennifer Thorburn MA 2006 Language Attitudes and Use in the Innu Community of Sheshatshiu, Labrador
Will Oxford MA 2007 Towards a Grammar of Innu-aimun Particles

Janet Burgess MA (in progress) The Phonology of Reduplication and Initial Change in Sheshatshiu Innu-aimun