Gallery - living-language-land



2022    12x12" shadow box

Tshinanu: The inclusive ‘we’ - all as equals

  • Language: Nehluen, Innu language
  • Region: Nitassinan - a territory that spreads from the south-west of Quebec, to the north-eastern coast of Labrador, Canada

To better understand the base of the Innu language, we have to position ourselves in the context of circular thought. A human being and his environment are indissociable in this kind of thought. The pronoun ‘we’ will serve as an example to better understand the possible shades. If I wanted to speak of ‘we’ which includes me and you (singular or plural), then I would use ‘TSHINANU’. The prefix ‘TSHI-‘ corresponds to you in all its forms. If I wanted to speak about ‘we’ but in a way which is excluding you, whether singular or plural, I would say ‘NINAN’ (with the accent on the second N). Tshinanu – the inclusive form of we – invites sharing, community life, as there are no fences in the word tshinanu. It is a collective ‘we’, an open hand extended to others, inviting them to be a part of the circle. It also correspondingly tells a story, the story of the community of life of the person who speaks or writes.

This word brings into relation the land, the animals, the plants and the peoples in the same pronoun.

With this piece I am showing that every colour, every shape, carries equal importance and contributes to the whole. The dandelion head design, with each seed head ready to send its progeny into the future, also points to openness and generative power of this world view.

For the full description, along with pronunciation, map and short video, click HERE.