Greetings


Common Greetings and phrases

aaniin ("hello")
literally means "how" or "what" (like saying,"how are you, or what's up?")
pronounced ahh ("h" is silent", like a sigh - ahh) neen

giga-waabamin ("see you")
literally means "I shall see you"
pronounced gi (i as in "it") guh - wahhbuhmin

maajaan(usually used when someone is leaving someone`s house)
literally means "go" in command form, but is not interpreted that way.
pronounced mahh "j" is almost like zh ( as "si" sound in Asia) ahhn

miigwech ("thanks")
literal meaning,"it is too much"
Native Americans are more likely to SHOW things such as "I'm sorry", "apology accepted" and "thank you" than to verbally say them.


Common Words

izhichige(verb) meaning the way in which he/she does (something)
note: The Ojibwe language is an "action" language and likewise the culture is action oriented. 2/3 of the words in the language are verbs. A lot of communication is non-verbal. Words like "I love you" are seldom said, but more often shown by being there, cutting someone's wood for them, making sure they've had a good meal and a place to stay. On the flip side, words are not used loosley. When something is said it is almost as if it is contracted, it is taken as true. (unless it is in teasing, which has no relation to "mocking" - the sarcasm/double meaning and mocking type of jokes are non-existant in Native culture - if someone is teased or played a trick on, it is in acceptance and everybody laughs).
another note: no culture is without it's cruelties, a Native American person may make fun of someone by imitating the way the talk or do something.

debwe(verb) he/she tells the truth
"de" usually signifies something going on in the mind/thinking (also in "he/she understands","he/she knows", and "he/she believes").
"bwe" refers to speech (also in "he/she speaks", "he/she says so"),
"debwe" literally means something like, "to know enough about something to speak of it" (in Ojibwe culture you would not risk talking like you know something when you really don't; to be found wrong would be an embarassment).


Nancy Vogt,
nancyv@citilink.com, September 1994.