Bungee

Bungee

Canadian Scots/Gaelic/Native Creole

The Métis are Canadians of mixed European and Native blood. Many of them are “French Métis,” but there also “Anglo- Métis” communities of which many are actually of Scottish or even Scottish Gaelic ancestry. Some of these communities preserve a unique language called “Bungee,” or “Bungi,” which is a creole of Native languages, Scots, and Gaelic.

Scots is the Germanic language of Lowland Scotland, closely related to English but distinct from it. Gaelic or Scottish Gaelic is the language of the Scottish Highlanders, which belongs to the Celtic language family. Bungee, like other creoles, came into existence when two communities with different languages needed to interact for trade. First Nations people in Manitoba were trading with Scottish settlers, most of whom were Scots speakers while some were also Gaelic speakers. The result was a mixture of Gaelic-tinged Scots with the Native Cree and Ojibwe languages.

 

Bungee is an all but extinct language today, even among the Red River Métis communities where it originally formed. As is often the case with minority languages, speakers suffered from prejudice and discrimination, which motivated younger people to abandon it. Fragments of Bungee are still spoken among the Red River Métis, but only among some of the older people. Even today, Bungee speakers have expressed shame over their use of the language, so it seems unlikely that it will survive much longer. To anyone interested in the diversity of human language and culture, the extinction of Bungee will be a sad development.