The Cree that younger people speak today is different from the old style of Cree used by our Elders. Much of this has to do with the fact that our people have been drifting away from the traditions and culture of the Muskego people for the past 100 years or so. Many young Cree people don’t speak their language fluently and those who do have changed it to a degree.

The Cree language in its more-or-less original form is preserved in the text of the bible that was originally produced by Catholic missionaries. They had no idea that in trying to assimilate us by documenting our oral language and putting it into a text they produced called syllabics that in fact they were preserving a very original form of Muskego Cree. There are fewer and fewer Elders we can learn from for information on ancient Cree, but thanks to the fact the language is preserved in this religious document we will always have something to turn to.

There has been much accomplished by our own First Nation educators in terms of developing and producing programs aimed at teaching the Cree language, culture and traditions to the younger generation. However, with increased exposure to the outside world and all the electronic ways we can communicate these days the language is changing.

In discussing this notion of change in language my writer friend pointed out that English is also experiencing the same trend. We agreed that most of this change seems to be coming from our new relationship with the computer and a longer one with television. I think this has to do so much with how we, as children, learn language and culture. Before my time and also when I was young most of the teaching we learned in language and culture came from our grandparents and parents. I think it has been the same for those who speak English. That has all changed.

Today, many children hardly know their grandparents and don’t spend much time with them. Most of the teaching in language and culture is coming from the computer and television. Think about all the English clichés people are using so freely these days. Take for example, “It is what it is.” How many times have I heard this phrase and really it just seems like a way to stop a discussion. What can it possibly mean? Then, there is “Watever”, “As if”, “Da bomb” and “Aight”. Many of these words or phrases are really shortcuts for what should be more discussion and often they are used mostly because people believe they are somehow more current and keeping up with the times. Much of the time these clichés or slang words are being picked up from TV sitcoms or popular music.

I am not saying these trends in language are necessarily negative, but it just proves that we are developing our language and culture mostly from sitcoms and pop music rather than from grandparents and parents. It makes sense that language should and will change as civilization moves along. However, some of this change in language does not make for much depth in the way we express ourselves. Most importantly, a lot of these changes have to do with taking shortcuts and rapid communication.

Computers have really had a huge effect on language. These days you get emails with all types of short forms or acronyms such as LOL (laugh out loud) and LMAO (laughing my a** off). This all makes me feel like a NEWB (someone who is new to a task). To find out all about the latest in urban language development you can go to

You have probably noticed teens on their cellphones clicking away like they are in a trance. They are texting their friends. This is the latest development in rapid communication because it is cheap and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Due to the fact that cellphones are so small and users are wanting to communicate quickly, while on the go, an entirely new language is developing. I can’t keep up with all of this but guess what – all the kids are well advanced in this new development of the language. In 10 years all those teens will think we are speaking an old version of the English language.

This is all a little strange for me. I was part of the change in language development of Cree as I communicate in a more abbreviated form. Now, after learning English as a second language from the time I was a child I discovered that much of what I know is changing quickly. Most of this change is happening because of developments in exposure to new and rapid means of communication like television, computers and cellphones. We are moving away from learning in a traditional oral way from grandparents and parents and picking up changes in language, belief and culture from all types of media.

My friend pointed out that the big problem with all of this development might be in terms of control. If you think about it there is a danger as we learn and pick up our language and culture from these newly developing forms. Who do we become? It makes sense that whoever produces and controls the media has a lot of power to manipulate us and even form who we are. I think I will try to take more time to visit people and sit and have a coffee or tea with them with this thought on my mind. Still, I will have my cellphone in my pocket.