English may be the dominant language in Canada today (other than in Quebec, where French reigns supreme), but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, it’s only been the case for the last few hundred years. For most of history, the territory that makes up modern-day Canada has been inhabited by various unrelated ethnolinguistic groups who have spoken their own languages—languages that are worlds apart from English. Languages like Kwak’wala, which is still spoken in Canada today.
According to the 2016 Canadian census, 450 people in the country are native speakers of Kwak’wala, which makes the language one of the largest indigenous languages in British Columbia. Nonetheless, the number of speakers is low, a result of the horrors inflicted upon the tribe through the historical repression by the Canadian government. Kwak’wala is classified by UNESCO as critically endangered, but linguists and tribal elders have been working on revitalizing the language, particularly among youth, and despite hurdles, the efforts are seen as promising. At TranslationServices.com, we’re proud to support revitalization efforts by offering Kwak’wala translation services.
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Zooming in on the Kwak’wala language
Kwak’wala is one of the original languages of Vancouver Island, spoken at the northeastern tip of the lush island as well as the adjacent area of mainland British Columbia. In terms of indigenous languages, the Pacific Northwest is one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the Americas, which means Kwak’wala has had significant contact with nearby languages, particularly Salishan languages, over the millennia. Though Kwak’wala is part of the Wakashan family, it’s sustained influence from Salishan languages and, in turn, has influenced them with its own patterns.
Kwak’wala doesn’t have a dominant word order—rather, it has two. Both subject-verb-object and verb-subject-object are common in the language, although the object consistently comes at the end. Grammar is where Kwak’wala really gets complicated, though. The language is jam-packed with all sorts of suffixes, whether to mark person on nouns or verbs, to denote the tense or aspect of a verb, or to indicate the source of information. A peculiar feature of the language is that suffixes attach not to the word they actually modify but to the word before it, which can cause confusion for learners. For example, the word bəɡʷanəmaχa consists of bəɡʷanəm (“man”) + -a (object marker) + -χa (“the”), but the -a and -χa apply not to bəɡʷanəm but to the word that comes after it in the sentence. But don’t worry—our native-speaking Kwak’wala translators can handle this complicated feature with ease.
Let our Kwak’wala translators help you with your translation needs.
We’re proud to be one of the few translation companies that works with Kwak’wala to provide quality translation services to those in British Columbia and beyond looking for Kwak’wala translation. Our translators come from different areas of Vancouver Island and mainland BC, representing the T̓łat̓łasik̓wala, G̱uc̓ala, Nak̕wala, and Liq̓ʷala dialects. We can translate documents both to and from Kwak’wala—all you have to do is let us know what you’re looking for!
Our team is eager to help anyone who needs Kwak’wala translation services, regardless of the nature of their project. Looking to foster Kwak’wala-language education by translating lesson materials into the language? Or perhaps you’re a local organization seeking to distribute texts in the Kwak’wala language? Maybe you’d like to translate Kwak’wala tales and legends into English so that more people can appreciate the culture—or maybe you’re looking to translate English-language books, poems, stories, websites, apps, games, and more into Kwak’wala, expanding the range of use for the language and helping ensure that it continues to thrive in the future.
Whatever you need Kwak’wala translation services for, we’re here to help you. Contact us to get started!