CIT offers Michif interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.
Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Michif language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Michif language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Michif language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Michif language, as well as of the culture and history of the Michif people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.
The Michif Language
The Michif language is spoken in certain parts of Canada, particulalry in Manitoba and Saskatchewan along with in North Dakota and Montana. Michif is spoken by the Metis people. It is a combination of Cree and French but has English and Indigenous language(such as Ojibwe) loanwords. As of 2016, Michif is considered an endangered language since only 1,170 people are reoirted to be Michif speakers. Even with its endangered status, it is the most commonly spoken Metish language among French Cree, French Michif, Bungi and Brayet.
The word Michif refers to the Metis people themselves and means “of mixed blood.” Michif came between Cree and Ojibwe speakers. Their offspring are the Metis and the language has been believed to be created in the early 19th century on the Plains. Historically speaking, Michif had been spoken only by bison hunters in the winter camps. It is said that most Metis people, such as the wealthy, fishers, farmers an ranchers, did not even speak Michif. Over the 1800s and 1900s, Michif became the language of the Metis people.
Michif used to be thought of as poor French or a poor mixture of the language elements. However. Michif is quite complex and the complexity of the Michif language suggests to linguists and historians that Michif speakers spoke multiple languages, such as Cree, Ojibwe and French. However, today, not many Michif speakers can speak or even understand other languages fluently. In Michif, there are French nouns, numbers, articles and adjectives. The syntax and structure follows that of the French language. Unlike in French, Michif is written like it sounds to the people of a certain region. This means that there are several spellings for the same word based on the dialect of the area. Because Michif is considered to be an oral language, its spelling system is not very uniform. The first Michif spelling system created was the Turtle Mountain spelling system in North Dakota. The others were created by linguists named Rita Flamand, Robert Papan and Norman Fleury.
Today, Michif is spoken where bison hunters used to spend their winters, specifically around the Assiniboine and Qu’Appelle rivers in Manitoba, the Qu’Appelle valley in Saskatchewan, and the Grand Coteau du Missouri in North Dakota. In 2016, Canadian statistics indicated that only 315 people reported Michif as their first language. In the schools, Michif is not spoken or taught; rather, English and French dominate. The fact that the language has lasted this long indicates a strong cultural tradition with the Metis people. Funding has been allocated in Canada to preserve the language through the production of dictionaries and language programs.
Other Metis languages include French Cree, French Michif, Bungi and Brayet. French Cree is spoken in northern Saskatchewan, in the village of Ile-a-la-Crosse along with other communities such as Buffalo Narrows. It is the general consensus that French Cree is very different from Cree-Michif.
French Michif, known as Metis French, is a variation of the French that helped create the Michif language. It originated from traders around the Great Lakes in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is still spoken in St. Lauren and St. Ambroise, located in Lake Manitoba.
Bungi, meaning “a little” is a mix of English, Ojibwe, Cree and Gaelic. It also has some French loanwords. It was spoken by the Metis who had Scottish ancestors but is almost now extinct as only a few elders speak the language.
Lastly, Brayet is another language that came to be as a mixture between Europeans and the Indigenous people. It includes French and Ojibwe words and has also been spoken around the Great Lakes. It is considered to be extinct.