Exactly What I Said

Translating Words and Worlds


"You don’t have to use the exact same words.… But it has to mean exactly what I said.” Thus began the ten-year collaboration between Innu elder and activist Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue and Memorial University professor Elizabeth Yeoman that produced the celebrated Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive, an English-language edition of Penashue’s journals, originally written in Innu-aimun during her decades of struggle for Innu sovereignty.

Exactly What I Said: Translating Words and Worlds reflects on that collaboration and what Yeoman learned from it. It is about naming, mapping, and storytelling; about photographs, collaborative authorship, and voice; about walking together on the land and what can be learned along the way. Combining theory with personal narrative, Yeoman weaves together ideas, memories, and experiences––of home and place, of stories and songs, of looking and listening––to interrogate the challenges and ethics of translation.

Examining what it means to relate whole worlds across the boundaries of language, culture, and history, Exactly What I Said offers an accessible, engaging reflection on respectful and responsible translation and collaboration.


"I love this book. Exactly What I Said offers an intelligent, sensitive detailing of the many challenges of translating an Indigenous language and working in innovative ways alongside an Indigenous author, seeking always respectful engagement that avoids simply reproducing the colonizer-colonized relationship."

Valerie Henitiuk, Co-translator of Markoosie Patsauq's Hunter with Harpoon

"A highly personal and intimate approach to broaching discussions around cultural understanding and traditional practices... this work goes beyond documenting and surpasses any conventional approach to scholarly discourse. Audiences who come to the book with open minds and open hearts will find the contents feeling enriched and intellectually challenged."

Regan Treewater, Alberta Native News


Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher (2023)
BMO Winterset Award (2023)
Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing (2023)

About the Author

Elizabeth Yeoman is a retired professor who now works full-time as a writer and activist. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Table of Contents

Ch 1: Mapping
Ch 2: Walking
Ch 3: Stories
Ch 4: Looking
Ch 5: Signs
Ch 6: Literacies
Ch 7: Listening
Ch 8: Songs
Ch 9: Wilderness

University of Manitoba Press is grateful for the support it receives for its publishing program from the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund; the Canada Council for the Arts; the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism; the Manitoba Arts Council; and the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Programme.