Myaamiaataweenki ‘Miami Language’ FAQ’s

Are there any fluent speakers of Miami?

Answer

No, the last fluent speaker passed away in the 1960’s and the language went to sleep for 30 years until the community started revitalizing it through the documentation found in archives. Today, we have a small, but growing, population of Myaamia who use the language regularly at a beginner level with a handful who are more proficient in the language.


How do I get started learning the Miami language? What resources are available?

Answer

You can start learning by checking out our list of resources that will give you information about what is available. In the future we will be coming out with short language lessons that can be learned on your own time on topics such as: basic conversations, weather changes, language in the home, etc.


Does Miami have a standardized spelling system?

Answer

Yes, the spelling system was developed in the 1990’s and uses the Roman alphabet, similarly to English, with just one major exception, the š (which makes the sh sound in English). Check out our pronunciation guide for more information on the Myaamia spelling system.


Does the Miami language have a dictionary?

Answer

Yes, you can visit the dictionary website or download the ILDA dictionary app for Android or iOS. The Dictionary Update post has instructions for setting up the ILDA dictionary app.


How do I pronounce the language?

Answer

The dictionary website and app have audio files to help you learn to pronounce words and phrases. You can also check out our pronunciation guide for help pronouncing the sounds of our language.


Are there new words for things like computers and cell phones in the Miami language?

Answer

Yes, we regularly create new words for our lives today. Words such as computer, laptop, cell phone, ice cream, and more can all be found on the dictionary website and app.


Why are the words so much longer than English words?

Answer

Miami language is known as a polysynthetic language in linguistics, which means the words are longer because all the pieces necessary for a sentence can be combined into one word. Imagine if the English words in a sentence were all put together into one word. For example: the sentence “she is running” has the same number of syllables as “meemikwiici” but all the pieces are combined into one word.


Is it okay to teach other non-Myaamia people the language?

Answer

Absolutely! The language will only grow and be spoken if people speak it, regardless of who they are.


What is the importance of Myaamia names and how can I be named?

Answer

Being given a Myaamia name is important in our community and something that is being revitalized. Typically when someone feels they are ready for a name they will ask an older family member who then begins the process of thinking of a name. These names can be a description of the individual, whether it’s their looks or personality or some other feature about them, or it can be a family name that their family member would like to see passed down into the new generation. They will often seek the help of the Myaamia Center or others who are familiar with the language and can give accurate spelling and pronunciation of the new name. For more about the history and current practice of giving names in our community, read our post kiwiinsooneminaana ‘Our Names’.


What kinds of stories do we have in the Miami language?

Answer

Our community has two types of stories that make up a spectrum. On one end are aacimoona, Historical Narratives, which are the retelling of events that happened in our past. Some of these are about our community’s past, while others are specific family stories. The other end of the spectrum are aalhsoohkaana, Winter Stories, which are only told in the wintertime and have recurring characters, such as Wiihsakacaakwa, our cultural hero, or Paapankamwa and Mahweewa, Fox and Wolf, who have adventures that are humorous, serious, scary, or all the above and have lessons about how to lead a good life tied into them.


I can’t find what I’m looking for in the dictionary. What do I do?

Answer

Here are some tips and tricks for searching on the dictionary. If you still cannot find what you are looking for then the final step is to send a request for the word by using the feedback button.


What does incl. and excl. mean in the dictionary?

Answer

In Myaamia we have two different ways of saying we/us. The incl. stands for “inclusive” which means it is including the person you are talking to. The excl. stands for “exclusive” which means it is excluding the person you are talking to.


How do I say “please”?

Answer

Miami does not have a word for “please” because it is not required when asking for something, as it is in English. The way you say something, such as your tone, was the important part for being nice and polite.