Delaware (Lenape/Unami)

Delaware is an Algonquian language spoken mostly in Oklahoma, though historically it was spoken in the northeastern part of the USA, especially in New Jersey and Delaware. The language is almost extinct; only a few elders speak it, all of whom are over 90 years old. As with many Native American languages, many younger Lenape are trying to learn the language of their ancestors, but it is difficult.

The native name for the Delaware language and people, Lenape, means "original people". The Unami or Wënami were a group of Delawares who lived south of the Raritan River and the Delaware Water Gap. The Delaware word for house, wikwam, is probably the origin of the English word wigwam.

Delaware pronuncation

Delaware pronunciation


Voiced sounds only occur after a nasal. B comes after an M, and the others after N.

Sample text in Delaware (Silent Night)

Wèmi pilët, ahi chitkwe
Kwishkwei piskèke
Sapëlee òkai nèk nisha
Pilsit mimëns ahi tànktitit
Nalai kawiyok
Nalai kawiyok.

Wèmi pilët, ahi chitkwe
Wëlësëwakàn òs'hakaming
Enjëlàk asuhatuwàk
Christ ènda mitahpit
Christ ènda mitahpit

Wèmi pilët, ahi chitkwe
Kètantuwit kwisa
Osëlee wënji wëshkingung
Pilët ènda pètapànge
Jesus Këmitahpi!
Jesus Këmitahpi!



Delaware (Lenape) Tribe of Indians - includes a list of common Delaware words and phrases with audio:

The Lenape Language - a guide to pronunciation with some words and phrases

Standing Bear's Language Page: Common Words and Phrases in Lenape

The Lenape / English Dictionary

Algonquian languages

Abenaki, Algonquin, Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Cree, Delaware, Fox, Massachusett, Miami, Míkmaq, Montagnais, Naskapi, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Shawnee

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

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