Wôbanakiôdwawôgan: Sketch of Western Abenaki
These notes are meant to give a brief outline of the grammar of Western
Abenaki, or Wôbanakiôdwa.
UMass (Amherst) /
SOAS (University of London)
NOTE to readers: I am in process of cataloguing verb forms that can be found in
various sources and will expend this sketch from time to time. Comments
welcomed with thanks.
Last revision: 15 October 2014
Sources for examples are sometimes tagged (complete references at end):
Examples that I have constructed and so need to be checked are enclosed in
brackets like this: [n'dai] or are marked with question marks in brackets
I have tried to make the explanations as nontechnical as possible, but I often
include technical terms in parentheses, like this: (independent
order). This is to help a reader who already knows the technical
terminology as well as a reader who wants to study the more technical
linguistic literature on the language or other languages related to
Western Abenaki (WA) belongs to the Eastern branch of the Algonquian languages.
Other Eastern Algonquian languages are: Penobscot, Mikmaq, Lennape (Delaware),
Massachusett, Mahican, and others. The whole big family of Algonquian
stretches far to the west and includes Central Algonquian languages like
Anishinabe (Ojibwa, Chippewa), Menominee, Odawa (Ottawa), and to the far west
and north various languages called Cree, as well as Shawnee, Blackfoot,
Arapaho, and so on. Algonquian is one of the largest families of North
American languages, both in the number of languages and in its geographical
spread. There are two languages of the west coast, Wiyot and Yurok, which are
very likely related to the Algonquian languages at a much more distant level.
(The language is sometimes called Alnôbaôdwa, meaning something
like "people's or Indians' language.")
PRELIMINARY: SOUNDS AND SPELLINGS
Over the years, Western Abenaki has been written down by many different
people. Unlike many Algonquian languages, Western Abenaki makes a
difference between voiced and voiceless sounds, as in English, b vs
p, d vs t, and so on.
The two main conventions for showing the difference between the voiced and the
voiceless series are (1) Gordon Day used separate letters, b d g j z vs.
p t k c s or 2) Janet Warne used single versus double letters,
(Warne) p t k c s vs pp tt kk cc ss. A second
choice is: what to do about positions of neutralization, places where the two
sets of sounds come out the same and you can't tell the difference between
them. Here linguists have written the difference, native speaker generally
don't. In these notes I generally follow the spelling of the source.
There is one special sound in WA that needs a special letter. That is the
nasal vowel that you hear in many words like one way of saying Yes:
ôhô or the word for `my friend,' nidôba.
Here, there have been two traditions, one is that just illustrated: an
o with a special mark on it, usually a circumflex ^ over it; the other
is to use "8." Learners should be prepared to see both of these spellings.
Western Abenaki words are generally made up of a central core, with the main
meaning of the word, and a number of smaller pieces attached to the main word.
Often a single word will correspond to several words in an English
- K'namii. `You see me.'
- K'namiol. `I see you.'
Often, as here, the meaningful pieces of the words do not correspond exactly
one to one to English words either. The pieces that are tacked onto words are
called prefixes, which go on the front, suffixes, which go on
the end, a cover term for both is affixes. Sometimes you have to
take into account a combination of several pieces. So in Examples 1 and 2 it
is the combinations k-...-i and k-...-ol which tell us who
sees whom. The various endings, prefixes and so on that are needed to make
sentences are called inflections. To indicate whether an item is a
prefix or a suffix, we will follow the practice just used: hyphens after
prefixes, hyphens before suffixes, sometimes with dots to indicate something
expected in between: prefix-, -suffix, prefix-...-suffix .
Moreover, with different languages, you have to expect that different kinds of
meanings can play a role in the grammar. For example,
Western Abenaki draws an important distinction between two kinds of
words referring to things, people, and so on: some are classified as
animate, some as inanimate, and the difference is
important for the grammar. Gender -- as in English he, she, it -- is of
minor importance. More on this in the sections on Nouns and Verbs.
Different styles and historical stages of a language will show different uses.
In English, we no longer use forms like `thou,' `thee' and so on. So also in
Wôbanakiôdwa, some forms might be used only in older language or
in fancy or high style.
Nouns are words like phanem `woman' or sanôba
`man, male', that refer to things, people, qualities, and so on.
Like all other Algonquian languages, Western Abenaki makes a big
distinction between animate and inanimate nouns:
AN: animate nouns are generally nouns that refer to animals
and people and some other living or powerful things.
IN: inanimate nouns generally refer to lifeless things.
BUT (just as with gender in languages like German or French) some
classifications are just arbitrary or their reasons have been obscured by
history. For example: abazi `tree' is ANimate, abazon
`wood' (firewood) is INanimate, zegweskimen (GDD) `raspberry' is
ANimate, zata `blueberry' (GDD) is INanimate.
This means that you need to learn the class of the noun for words that do not
clearly refer to people and animals.
These classifications are sometimes called distinctions of (grammatical)
gender, but gender in Western Abenaki has nothing to do with sex. We will
just call them (noun) classes.
The class of the nouns plays a large role in the form of endings on other words
connected to them. Many examples are found in these notes.
Plurals: For talking about more than one thing, nouns are put into
the plural form. The endings for the plural are:
ANimates: -ak: kaozak `cows'
INanimates: -al: senal `stones'
These endings vary according to the final sound of the word to which they are
attached. (Details below under Plural Forms.)
Obviative: when a sentence has two references to different people or
animate beings other than the speaker (I, we) or hearer (you), all but one of
the references is put into a special form, called obviative. We
will also refer to this as the `other-form.' The one that is not
obviative is called proximate. There will be more explanations of
this feature of Western Abenaki (which is present in all Algonquian
languages) in the sections on making sentences. But for now: see the special
forms for possessed nouns below when the possessor is a he or she or they.
These special forms are only used for ANimate nouns and these obviative forms
are the same for both singular and plural. Generally the ending is
-a: asessa `the (other) horse.' (JL84) (The `other' that is
sometimes used in glossing these forms is a convenient tag, not a real
Locative: there is a special ending to refer to places, or
locations where something is: -k / -ek / -ik : senek `at
the stone,' kpiwik `at / in the woods,' taipodik `at / on the
This ending is often found on place-names (such as Odanak from odana
`town, village, settlement'), and is carried over into many borrowed names in
French and English, including names from other Algonquian languages which have
locatives in -t: so Connecticut, Massachusett(s).
By and large the forms of the plural nouns depend on the form of the word to
which they are added. The plural endings for animate and inanimate nouns each
have four forms:
ANimate plurals: -ak / -ik / -ok / -k
INanimate plurals: -al / -il / -ol / -l
-ik after ..d ..t , and the d/t changes to
-il after ..g ..k:
-ok -ol after -gw -kw and the w drops
A few other words have plurals in -ok -ol , chiefly ones ending on
m or n. These are to be explained as coming from older
forms with -mw and -nw (gratia RW and FRH)
-ak -al after other consonants, and after the vowels
-k -l after other vowels: ..a ..ô :
There are a few exceptions to these rules, these exceptional plurals have to
be learned one my one.
Pronouns are words like nia `I, me' kia `you,' agma
`he, she' and
so on. In most sentences in Alnôbaôdwa these meanings will be
expressed as inflections on other words, and not as separate words. But
there are separate words that are sometimes needed, sometimes used for
emphasis. Since they show a very important set of meanings that differ
from those of English, Spanish, and some other languages, it is important to
learn them as a kind of frame for associating with much of the grammar of the
language. Here are the most important pronouns for talking about different
persons (personal pronouns; we will use the abbreviations in
[*This form is given in Day's dictionary. Presumably it is an obviative form,
but I have not been able to verify it. Remember that the singular-plural
distinction is not otherwise registered in obviative forms.]
Here is a place where Western Abenaki makes more distinctions than English.
Be clear that when you want to express `you' in Alnôbaôdwa you
must think about whether you are addressing just one person or more than one.
Informal English in various places sometimes uses some form like `you all' or
`you guys' or `youse' for the plural.
When you say `we' or `us' in English, it is not clear except from context,
whether you are including the person you are talking to or not. WA makes a very
clear distinction here that you must keep in mind. One meaning excludes the
person you are talking to, the other includes her or him: the technical terms
exclusive and inclusive are worth learning here. The abbreviations will
help here: once you associate 2 with `you' and 1 with `I, me, we, us' then the
abbreviation 21 will tell you instantly that you are including 1st and 2nd
persons, that is me and you.
The same pattern of distinctions show up in verb forms (discussed below under
VERBS) and in affixes that are used to express possession, as in expressions
like my house, your mother, and so on.
Possessive Pronoun Affixes
1 n- / nd- *
|Pronoun || English || technical term ||
|nia|| I, me|| 1st person singular:||
|kia|| you (singular)|| 2nd person
|agma || he, she, him, her || 3rd person
| niona || we, us (exlusive) || 1st person plural
| kiona|| we, us (inclusive)|| 1st person plural
| kiowô || you (plural)|| 2nd person
| agmôwô || they, them || 3rd person
| agmôgik ??|| they, them, the others || 3rd
person plural: || 3'p* (GDD)
2 k- / kd-
3 w- (o-) / wd- noun in obviative
1p n- / nd- ... -na(w)
21 k- / kd-...-na(w)
2p k- / kd-...-(o)wô
3p w- (o-) / wd-...-(o)wô
Kaoz `cow.' (JL84 123):
- N'kaozem `My cow.'
- K'kaozem `Thy cow.'
- W'kaozema `His cow.'
- N'kaozemna `Our cow.' [excl]
- K'kaozemna `Our cow.' [incl]
- K'kaozemwô `Your cow.'
- W'kaozemwô `Their cow.'
- N'kaozemak `My cows.'
- K'kaozemak `Thy cows.'
- W'kaozema `His cows.'
- N'kaozemnawak `Our cows.'[excl]
- K'kaozemnawak `Our cows.' (incl)]
- K'kaozemwôk `Your cows.'
- W'kaozemwô `Their cows.'
These examples show that the plural ending ( -(a)k) goes on AFTER the
Notice the lack of singular / plural distinctions in the obviative forms with
third person possessors. That is, the final bit of `his cow' is the -a
of the obviative, and the word can equally be translated `cows.' In the form
for `their cow' the last bit -wô goes for the plural of the
possessor (and the -a doesn't show up at all) and the form is the same
as the one for `their cows.'
*The three prefixes that we see here are also used for verbs in some forms.
Which of the forms to use depends on the first sound of the word that the
prefix goes onto: the forms with d ( nd- etc.) are used if
the word begins with a vowel: a e i o ô u , the w- forms
show up as o- in front of consonants. If a form with the prefix
k- is to be attached to a word that begins with g or
k the two consonants fuse into a single k. People often write the
prefixes with an apostrophe, as here: n'gadopi.
A note on w: the sound represented by w is pronounced as
o when it appears at the beginning or end of a word before a
consonant or between two consonants, and is sometimes written as o in
these situations. For purposes of the choice of nd- kd- etc.
this sound still counts as a consonant. That is why you see words starting
with no.. and so on where you might expect nd.. etc. The
o is `really' w .
And here is an example of a possessed INanimate noun (LR84: 127)
- n'paskhigan `My gun.'
- k'paskhigan `Thy gun.'
- w'paskhigan `His gun.'
- n'paskhiganna `Our gun.'
- k'paskhiganna `Our gun.' (incl)]
- k'paskiganowô[?] `Your gun.'
- w'paskhiganowô `Their gun.'
- n'paskhiganal `My guns.'
- k'paskhiganal `Thy guns.'
- w'paskhiganal `His guns.'
- n'paskhigannawal `Our guns.'
- k'paskhigannawal `Our guns.' incl]
- k'paskihiganowôl `Your guns.'
- w'paskhiganowôl `Their guns.'
Conditions under which one or another form of suffixes appear will be taken up
below, when we look at the fuller sets of endings on verbs.
A verb is a word that expresses an action or quality and (usually)
connects the idea to an actor or participant or thing doing the action or
having the quality. Two big divisions of kinds of verbs are these:
Intransitive Verbs need only one participant that is doing the
action or has the quality: run, jump, laugh, (be) angry, and so on are English
examples, Western Abenaki examples are: abi `sit,'
Transitive Verbs need two participants: one doing the action
( subject) and one being acted on ( object). English
examples: hit, see, love, kiss, and so on; : nami(h)a `see,'
wawtam `understand something,' and so on.
Put these two ideas together with the central distinction between ANimate and
INanimate things and words and you get a major fourway split of kinds of verbs
in Western Abenaki (as in all other Algonquian languages: the
abbreviations given here are standard in all discussions of Algonquian
AI Animate Intransitive: verbs that apply to an animate
II Inanimate Intransitive: verbs that apply to an inanimate
TA Transitive Animate: verbs that apply to an animate
TI Transitive Inanimate: verbs that apply to an inanimate
These distinctions are fundamental: they make a difference in the kinds of
inflections that verbs have and in the kind of words that can go with them.
To let them sink in we will give the definitions again and then give some
AI Animate Intransitive: verbs that apply to an animate
These verbs will be verbs that tell about actions and qualities of living
beings. Since you and I are animate beings, we can give examples like these:
- Nd'abi. `I sit'
- Kd'aloka-ji. `you will work'
- Agma abo. `he/she sits'
II Inanimate Intransitive: verbs that apply to an inanimate subject.
These generally will be verbs that apply to lifeless things, including
statements about weather and so on where in English we use `it':
- Wligen. `It is good.' (GDD: oligen)
- Gezabeda. `It is hot.' (GDD)
Often there will be pairs of verbs that have the same or closely related
meanings, one an AI and one an II verb, that sound the same in their first
part but have different endings:
- AI wligo `he or she is good'
- II wligen `it is good'
TA Transitive Animate: verbs that apply to an animate object.
- n'namiô `I see him or her'
- giktawa `listen to someone'
TI Transitive Inanimate: verbs that apply to an inanimate object.
- agida `read'
- miji `eat'
Again, there will often be related verbs for TA and TI meanings with
- nami(h)a `see someone'
- namito `see something'
VERB FORMS: ORDERS
For each of the kinds of verbs just mentioned there are lots of different
patterns of variants, according to how they are used in sentences, who the
participants are (subjects, objects, etc.). One big classification of these
different forms is into a number of types called orders.
The most important order and the one that is used most often is called the
Independent order. The name reflects the main characteristic: verbs
in the independent order appear mostly in independent or main sentences, where
you are saying something directly, making a statement: I am happy, He saw her,
and so on. They also occur in some questions, and in some constructions that
are not strictly sentences by themselves.
The other two orders that we will take up here are the Conjunct and
the Imperative, the first is used in some kinds of dependent subparts of
sentences and some questions, the second is in commands and suggestions.
Each of the orders is used in several different subtypes. We will call these
sub-types modes (following Algonquianist tradition).
In the independent order, the most important mode is the indicative.
Here is an important thing to keep in mind:
Prefixes for participants are used only in possessives and
in the independent order of verbs.
That is, the prefixes n- / nd- k- / kd- w- / wd- ( o- /od-) that help
indicate who is the possessor or what or who is the subject or object of a
verb are seen only in these two situations: expressing things like `my house,'
`our grandmother' in possessives, or `I run,' `you see me' in the independent
order. In all other orders, the participants of actions or holders of
qualities are expressed by suffixes only.
So if you see one of the prefixes on a verb form, you know it is one of the
This does not mean that all independent forms will have prefixes: there are
independent verb forms that have no prefixes, as we will see. These are
chiefly the third person forms (he / she / they / the other..) that have a
prefixed w- / wd- (o- / od-) in possessives
and some of the independent verb forms but not in others.
VERB FORMS: INDEPENDENT INDICATIVE
We'll start with the simplest situation: Animate Intransitive (AI) verbs in
the independent indicative. These are the forms that you use when you are
making plain statements like:
- n'gadopi `I am hungry'
- aloka `he/she works '
- n'dalokabna `we (excl) work '
Here is the full set of affixes for AI independent indicative forms (for verbs
that end on -i like abi `sit, be in a place'):
- n- / nd-* I, me 1
- k- /kd- you (singular) 2
- -o / -ZERO ** he/she 3
- [-oa / -ZERO *** he/she 3'(p)]
- n- / nd- ... -bna we (exclusive) 1p
- k- / kd- ... -bna we (inclusive) 21
- k- / kd- ... -ba you (plural) 2p
- -oak / -ak / -k they 3p
NOTICE where the hyphens are: they mark prefixes (pre-) and suffixes (-es).
*Remember: the forms with -d- are used with words that begin with
vowels like i a o ô. From here on we will not repeat the two
different forms whenever we refer to these prefixes.
**The notation -ZERO means: sometimes there is nothing or `zero' for this
Notice: the third person forms for Independent Indicative AI have NO
prefix, only the endings -o, -oa, or -a (or nothing), or for
plurals: -oak / -ak / -k.
***We will follow usual Algonquianist notation for the obviative: 3' for the
obviative. So the notations 3, 3' or 3(') tell us that these endings can
be used for obviative references as well as non-obviative (see section on
OBVIATIVE further on in these notes). Go back and look at the possessive
affixes. Notice the resemblances and the differences. It has been claimed that
WA does not distinguish the obviative in the third person forms in AI
Independent Indicative (GD64 GDms). But there are some examples that seem to
show separate forms for 3' in the AI independent indicative. Compare these
examples from Laurent (JL84: 46):
- Wibguigo n'-d-aasom. `My horse is grey.'
- Wibguigoa w'-d-asoma. `His (her) horse is grey.'
Here the noun for horse is in the obviative form, because it is possessed by a
third person wd- for `his' or `her.'
Here are examples with the AI verb abi meaning `sit' or `be in a place':
- ndabi I sit 1
- kdabi thou sittest* 2
- abo he/she sits 3('?)
- [aboa he/she sits 3']
- ndabibna we (excl) sit 1p
- kdabibna we (incl) sit 21
- kdabiba you (pl) 2p
- aboak they sit 3(')p
*We will use archaic English forms with `thou / thee / thy' in glosses to tag
the singular `you' (2 / second person singular) forms.
Because the verb starts with a vowel, you see the -d- forms of the
prefixes. The endings -o and -oak probably come from
combining a final -w with the -i of the verb. This
-w just drops out with verbs that end on other vowels.
There are two other types of verbs that show different forms:
in one, typified by aloka `work,' all the singular forms end on
- ndaloka `I work'
- kdaloka `thou workest'
- aloka `she/he works'
- alokak `they work'
The other special type, shows -ô in the first and second person
forms, but -a in the third person forms:
- nbaiô `I come'
- kbaiôbna `we (incl) come'
- baia `he/she it comes'
- baiak `they come'
- Paami nabi paiak pamekisgak ôdaki attoji paiô.
It seems like the a or ô just swallows up the
-w (or -o) as well as the -a of the -ak ending.
Here is an important point:
With some helping words that come before the verb the prefix
will go on that helping word instead of the verb, while the suffixes will go
on the verb itself.
This happens for example with kadi meaning `want to' and
wigi `like to (do something)' as in these examples:
`They arrived to-day sooner than they usually do.' (JL84:97)
- ngadi saossa `I want to go out'
- Kwigi-ba paiô spiwi nia? `Would you like to come with me?'
The main verb here is paiô `come' and the ba is a little
word ( particle) that conveys the idea of the English `would.'
Notice that the prefix k- `you' comes on the helping word
wigi. If we need an ending or suffix on the verb it will come on it:
- Kwigi ba paiôba spiwi nia? `Would you people like to come
with me?' (CW)
Sometimes several words come between the first word with the prefix and the
main verb. We will call these first helping words preverbs. (Some
people might call them auxiliaries, which means `helping verbs.')
Here's a list of some common preverbs:
- wigi `want to, like to'
- kadi `want to'
- achwi `must, need to, ought to'
- kizi `have already, finished'
The prefix usually k- combines with a k on kadi kizi to
make just a single k, but sometimes you will see "k'k."
The forms just given are used in making positive or affirmative statements.
If you want to make a negative statement with negative elements like
nda `not, n't' or `doesn't ... ' there are different, negative forms
which look like the ones given but with an addition or modification in the
AI Independent Indicative Negative:
- nda ndabiw I don't sit 1
- nda kdabiw you don't sit 2
- nda abiwi he/she doesn't sit 3('??)
- [nda abiwia he/she doesn't sit 3'??]
- nda ndabippna we (excl) don't sit 1p
- nda kdabippna we (incl) don't sit 21
- nda kdabippa you (pl) 2p don't sit
- nda abiwiak they don't sit 3(')
The characteristic mark here is -w, but it takes several other forms:
-wi or a doubling of a consonant, with bb going to pp.
We will represent this last form as -h in charts, for comparative and
historical reasons. From these examples we can see that the negative affix
comes before the plural endings like -bna, -ba, -ak.
TA independent indicative
With transitive verbs, we need to think about who is doing what to whom, that
is the subjects and objects.
Here and elsewhere in we have to consider several different situations:
Situation 1: the subject is a first or second person -- I, we, you -- and the object is
a third person -- her, him, them; or the subject is a proximate third
person -- 3 or 3p -- and the object is obviative. Then we have what are
called direct forms.
Situation 2: the subject is a third person and the object is first
or second or the subject is obviative (`other') and the object is third
person (`proximate'). Then we have inverse forms.
The inverse, Me-You, and You-Me forms are called `relative' by Joseph Laurent
(JL84). Some modern writers (about various Algonquian languages), call all
the same three sets of forms `inverse.'
Situation 3: the subject and object are first and second person (I,
we, you, you plural) then we have the socalled you-me forms. There
are two possibilities: the subject is second person (you, you all) and the
object is first person (me, us). Let's call these 2-on-1 or
you-on-me forms. In the other case, with first person subject, we have
1-on-2 or me-on-you forms.
In addition, in the TA direct forms (this hold also for Transitive Inanimate
form), we have two sets of forms, depending on whether the object is
Definite or Indefinite. More on this below where we give the
patterns. Definite forms are used with a noun object that is known already to
the speaker (and hearer?), where English would use the... or
without such an object, often referring to a definite person or animate being
in mind: him her them. Indefinite forms are used with an
indefinite noun object, roughly where English uses a / an ....
Now we will look at the patterns for these various situations, with examples
where possible. (Some of these forms are taken -- from Laurent 1884 or the
summary of that book in Goddard 1967 -- and need to be checked, look at the
examples to see which ones have been attested in other materials, chiefly
Situation 1: TA Direct Definite Object
The most noticeable mark for all the TA direct forms is the suffix
-ô. (Historical note: this corresponds exactly to
Proto-Algonquian -a:, that is, long a (ā)).
In the definite forms, there is a suffix -k / -ik / -ak marking
plurality of the third person object, or -i, -a for an
- n-...ô I...him/her 1-3
- n-...ôk I...them 1-3p
- k-...ô you...him/her 2-3
- k-...ôk I...them 2-3p
- w-...ô he/she...him/her/them 3-3'(p)
- n-...ôna we (excl)...him/her 1p-3
- n-...ônawak we (excl)...them 1p-3p
- k-...ôna we (incl)...him/her 21-3
- k-...ônawak we (incl)...them 21-3p
- k-...ôwô you all...him/her 2p-3
- k-...ôwôk you all...them 2p-3p
- w-...ôwô they ... him/her/them 3p-3'(p)
Notice that, quite expectedly, the 3 - 3' forms show no difference between
singular and plural obviative object.
Notice also the use of the third person prefix w-.
The direct forms are used for all situations with third person animate object
(`him, her, them'), EXCEPT when the subject is an obviative third
person form. For that situation, in the independent indicative, the indirect
or inverse forms are used (see below).
Examples (based on JL84: 139 f., lightly corrected by EB):
- N'wajônô ases. I have the horse.
- K'wajônô ases. Thou hast the horse.
- W'wajônô asessa. He has the horse.
- N'wajônônna ases. ** We have the horse.
- K'wajônônna ases. ** We (incl) have the horse.
- K'wajônôwô ases. You have the horse.
- W'wajônôwô asessa. They have the horse.
** JL84 has here ` tases' which I take to be a mistake..
I am not sure of the significance of the double -nn- in these examples
Plural object (constructed EB):
- N'wajônôk asesak. I have the horses.
- K'wajônôk asesak. Thou hast the horses.
- W'wajônô asessa. He has the horse(s).
- N'wajônônnawak asesak. We have the horses.
- K'wajônônnawak asesak. We (incl) have the horses.
- K'wajônôwôk asesak. You have the horses.
- W'wajônôwô asessa. They have the horse(s).
- K'-d-asamôwôk -ba alemossisak? `Would you feed the little dogs ? --
the puppies?' JL84:71
In the same set are forms with an indefinite subject, `they, people' and third
person object. These are often translated as English passives: `s/he is
found' etc. (Indefinite subject forms with first and second person objects
are formed differently with -ga, see below under Inverse.)
Indefinite subject, third person object:
- -ôn `they/someone ... him/her (X - 3)'
- -ôna `they/someone ... him/her/them (X - 3')
- -ônak `they/someone ... them' (X - 3p)
[are there any indefinite object counterparts?]
- N'kaozemji ônkohlôn. `My cow will be sold.' (JL84: 121)
- W'kaozemaji ônkôhlôna. `His cow will be sold.' (JL84:121)
- W'kaozemaji ônkohlôna. `His cows will be sold.'(JL84:124)
- N'kaozemakji ônkohlônak. `My cows will be sold.' (JL84:124)
Situation 1: TA Direct Indefinite Object
- n-...ô I...a...1-3(p)
- k-...ô you...a...2-3(p)
- -a he/she...a...3-3'[! obviative]
- n-...ôbna we (excl)...a...1p-3
- k-...ôbna we (incl)...a... 21-3
- k-...ôba you all...a...2p-3
- -ak they...a... 3p-3'[! obviative]...(p)
Notice: there are no prefixes on the third person subject forms! In various
sources forms like these (3rd person subject are given with prefixed
w-, for example, in Masta's paradigms, but not in texts. Either these
are mistakes, or in the time period of these sources, the prefix has spread by
influence of the possessive forms and some of the verbal paradigms where the
w- is historically there, for example, the subjunctive (subordinate)
independent indicative forms [check!!].
Notice: the general pattern here is like with AI forms: no third person
prefixes at all, instead something happening at the end of the word. Further,
the 1p, 21, and 2p forms show the same endings as AI forms. There is no
marking in the verb for plurality or obviation of the object. Also, the ends
of the words are exactly like the patterns with AI words ending on
-ô like baiyô `come' cf.:
Examples (based on JL84: 139 f., lightly corrected by EB):
- N'wajônô ases. I have a horse.
- K'wajônô ases. Thou hast a horse.
- Wajôna asesa.* He (she) has a horse.
- N'wajônôbena ases. We have a horse.
- K'wajônôbena ases. We (incl) have a horse.
- K'wajônôba ases. You have a horse.
- Wajônak asesa.* They have a horse.
*JL writes these with 'W.., I think a mistake or misanalysis. (Elsewhere we do
find explicit w'w...: (p. 132 (as `subjunctive' form): W'wôbiginô. `That they m[ay].
As noted, with a plural object, there is no difference:
- N'wajônô asesak. I have horses. etc.
- K'wajônôbena waligijik asesak? `Have we some good horses?' JL84:
A constructed example:
- [?? Wajôna waligiji asesa.] `she/he has a good horse / good
Situation 2a: TA Inverse -- third person subject - first and
second person object
(forms from Goddard, 1967), or obviative (3') subject,
proximate (3) object. Theme Sign 2a: -egw
The inverse, Me-You, and You-Me forms are called `relative' by Joseph Laurent
(JL84), and some modern writers (about various Algonquian languages), call all
the inverse and Me-You forms `inverse.'
[some discussion below: this section needs more updating and amplification, as the
topic is still under investigation]
- n-...-egw he/she...me 3-1
- n-...-egok they...me 3p-1
- k-...-egw he/she...you (sg) 3-2
- k-...-egok they...you (sg) 3p-2
- n-...-egonna he/she...us (excl) 3-1p
- n-...-egonnawak they...us (excl) 3p-1p
- k-...-egonna he/she...us (incl) 3-21
- k-...-egonnawak they...us (incl) 3p-21
- k-...-egwô he/she...you (pl)3-2p
- k-...-egwôk they...you (pl)3p-2p
- N'-d-amisji k'sagamegw. `My dog will bite thee.' (JL84: 125)
- N'kezalmegok. `They love me.' (JL84: 180)
- N'kezalmegonna. `He loves us.' (Ibidem.)
- N'kezalmegonnawak. `They love us.' (Ibidem.)
In addition to the forms just given, there are special forms for an indefinite
subject, `one' or `they' with a first or second person object, and for an
inanimate subject with the same kinds of objects.
The indefinite subject ending with 1st and 2nd person objects is -ga
(corresponds to Penobscot -əke cf. Voorhis 1979):
- N'-d-ilhega ali môjahlôg kwaskuai nônômkipodaga.
`I am told that she leaves at five o'clock sharp.' JL84:111
- K'kizi wlômawaldamikhoga. `You have been imposed upon.' JL84:93
As here, such examples are often translated by an English passive.
Situation 2b: TA Inverse with 3' obviative subject - proximate 3 or 3p
- w...go(n)* 3' - 3
- w...gonô 3' - 3p
(*On the optional (n). I haven't been able to figure out if this
n is just a free option. The examples with n do not seem to be
subordinative forms, as one might think from the form.)
There are no examples of these forms
in Laurent 1884. In other sources (as noted), we find examples like these:
- wdihlgo `he said to him' (3' - 3) Mark 1.40
- odilegon `he told him' (3' - 3) Day ms
- wdilgonô (wdilgon8) `he told them' 3' - 3p Masta 27
- wdihlgonô `he said unto them' 3' - 3p Mark 16.6
Situation 3: You-Me forms: 2-1 Theme Sign 3: -i
- k-...-i you (sg)...me 2-1
- k-...-iba you (pl)...me 2p-1
- k-...-ibena thou/you...us 2/2p-1
- knamii `you see me'
- K'kezalmiba. `You (pl) love me.' (JL84: 180)
- K'kezalmibena. `Thou lovest us' (ibid.)
- K'kezalmibena. `You love us.' (ibid.)
Situation 3: Me-You forms: 1-2 Theme Sign 4: -el
- k-...-el I...you (sg) 1-2
- k-...-elba I...you (pl) 1-2p
- k-...-elbena we...thee/you (sg/pl) 1p-2/2p
CW likes to use and write -ol in these forms. (This may just be a
- Knamiolji saba. `I'll see you tomorrow.'
- Knamiolbaji saba. `I'll see you all tomorrow.'
- Knamiolbenaji saba. `We'll see you (all) tomorrow.'
- K'kezalmelbena. `We love thee.' (JL84:179)
- K'kezalme[l]bena. `We love you.' (ibid.)
Interlude: Theme Signs
We need to begin to look inside the verb forms and do a little more analysis
before going on. An inflected verb in WA (more generally in Algonquian) has
potentially this much structure at least:
Prefix...STEM - FINAL - THEME-SIGN - inflections
(For the time being we will ignore further layers of structure inside the
STEM. I am using STEM in a not very traditional and temporary fashion here.)
The theme-signs include those suffixes that differentiate the
situation forms given before in the TA paradigms for direct, inverse, and
you-and-me forms, to wit: -ô, -egw,-ga, -i,
-el. The finals are more lexically determined -- that is you have to more or
less learn them as part of a word or vocabulary item -- and are involved in
making different forms in the AI - II, TA - TI pairings, as well as often
contributing some concrete part of the meaning of a verb. In practice the
various suffixed items get smooshed together in complex ways.
|Prefix...|| STEM || FINAL || THEME-SIGN
|k-|| nami || -el
|| -b -na
||knamielbena `we see you'
|k- || nami || -i
|| ||knamii `thou seest me'
|n-|| nami- || -t || -o
|| || n'namito `I see something' |
|w-|| nami- || -t || -o
||-n -al || w'namitonal `she/he sees them (IN)' |
|n|| wajôn ||
||-n(a) -na(w) || n'wajônônana `(that) we
may have' |
| || || || || || |
TI independent indicative: definite (finite) (as listed in
The following forms all are built on one of the TI Theme Signs -em.
Another common TI is made with -d ( -t) plus the theme sign
- n-...-emen I...it 1-3in
- n-...-emenal I...them 1-3inp
- k-...-emen thou...it 2-3in
- [k-...-emenal] thou...them 2-3inp
- w-...-emen he/she...it 3-3in
- [w-...-emenal] he/she...them 3-3inp [??]
- n-...-emenana we (excl) it 2p-3in*
- k-...-emenana we (incl)...it 21 - 3in*
- k-...-emenô you...it 2p-3in*
- w-...-emenô they...it 3p-3in*
*No forms given for plural inanimate object in Goddard, 1967.
Here are examples given by Joseph Laurent (JL84: 145):
- N'wajônemen awighigan. `I have the book.'
- K'wajônemen " `Thou hast &c.'
- W'wajônemen " `He has &c.'
- N'wajônemenana " `We have &c.'
- K'wajônemenana "
- K'wajônemenô " `You have &c.'
- W'wajônemenô " `They have &c.'
Elsewhere we find examples with plural objects in Laurent, 1884:
- W'namitonal kchi nebesal. `He (she) sees the great lakes.'
- K'kiz'ônkolhônal maseguikwkil kikônal.
`Have you (thou) sold the large fields?' (JL84:71)
TI independent indicative: indefinite (Goddard, 1967):
- n-...em I...a;/some...1-3in(p)
- k-...em thou...a/some...1-3in(p)
- -em he/she...a/some...3-3in(p)
- n-...emebena we(excl)... a/some...1p-3in(p)
- k-...emebena we(incl)... a/some... 21-3in(p)
- k-...emeba you...a/some... 2p-3in(p)
- -emok they...a/some... 3p-3in(p)
These are forms given by Joseph Laurent (84: 141):
- N'wajônem awighigan. `I have a book.'
- K'wajônem &c. `Thou hast &c.'
- wajônem &c. `He has &c.'
- N'wajônemebena &c. `We have &c.'
- K'wajônemebena &c.
- K'wajônemeba &c. `You have &c.'
- wajônemok &c. `They have &c.'
All of the categories -- TA, TI, definite, indefinite -- have negative forms
also, mostly with a visible or concealed -w-. Here are some examples from
Laurent (all with third person object, direct forms for TA):
- O'daaba n'wajônôw tmakwa. `I shall have no beaver.'
- O'daaba 'wajônawi &c. `He will have no &c.'
- O'daaba n'wajônôppena &c. `We shall have no &c.'
- O'daaba k'wajônôppa &c. `You will have no &c.'
- O'daaba 'wajônawiak &c. `They will have no &c.'
- O'da n'wajônôwi ases. `I have not the horse.'
- " k'wajônôwi &c. `Thou hast not &c.'
- " w'wajônôwia `He has not &c.'
- " n'wajônôwinna `We have not ..'
- " k'wajônôwiwwô `You have not &c.'
- " w'wajônôwiwwô. `They have not &c.'
- O'da n'wajônemowen ôbagawataigan. `I have not the
- O'da w'wajônemowen &c. `He has not &c.'
- O'da n'wajônemownana &c. `We have not &c.'
- O'da k'wajônemownô. `You have not &c.'
- O'da n'wajônemownô. `They have not &c.'
- O'da n'wajônemo awighiganebi. `I have no ink.'
- O'da k'wajônemo &c. `Thou hast no &c.'
- O'da 'wajônemowi &c. `He has no &c.'
- O'da n'wajônemoppena &c. `We have no &c.'
- O'da k'wajônemoppa &c. `You have no &c.'
- O'da 'wajônemowiak &c. `They have no &c.'
More negative forms for transitive verbs:
These examples from JL84 are Indirect (1st and 2nd person object) and
You--and- -Me forms (JL's `relative' forms):
- O'da k'kezalmelo. `I don't love thee.'
- " k'kezalmeloppena. `We don't love thee.'
- " k'kezalmegowi. `He does not love thee'
- " k'kezalmegowiak. `They don't love thee.'
- " k'kezalmeloppa. `I don't love you.'
- " k'kezalmeloppena. `We don't love you.'
- O'da k'kezalmegowiwwô. `He does not love you.'
- O'da k'kezalmegowiwwôk. `They don't love you.'
- O'da k'kezalmiw. `Thou doest n. love me.'
- " k'kezalmippa. `You don't love me.'
- " n'kezalmegowi. `He does not love me.'
- " n'kezalmegowiak. `They don't love me.'
- " k'kezalmippena. `Thou doest not love us.'
- " k'kezalmippena. `You don't love us.'
- " n'kezalmegowinna. `He does not love us.'
- " n'kezalmegowinnawak. `They don't love us.'
Some Past Tense forms
The forms for an explicit past tense (called `Imperfect' by JL, `preterite' in
the Algonquianist literature) are mostly formed by tacking on
-b(an) ( -p(an)) for the affirmative forms or -za / -ssa
nonfinal -shan, with a few wrinkles (marked with !! to call your
attention to them); you should compare these with the present tense forms. The
past tense suffix shows up in the short form -b if final, if followed
by anything it has the form -ban (from this the plural forms ending
with -banik) and obviative object forms with -bani.
- N'okaozemib. `I had a cow.'
- Okaozemob. `He had a cow.'
- N'okaozemibenob. !! `We had a cow.'
- K'okaozemibôb.!! `You had a cow.'
- Okaozemobanik.!! `They had a cow.'
Past Negative forms:
- O'da n'okaozemib. `I had no cow.'
- " 'okaozemiwib. `He had no cow.'
- " n'okaozemippenop. `We had no cow.'
- " k'okaozemippôp. `You had no cow.'
- " okaozemiwibanik. `They had no cow.'
- N'wajônôb kaoz. `I had a cow.'
- K'wajônôb &c. `Thou hadst &c.'
- Wajônab. `He had &c.'
- N'wajônôbenob. &c. `We had &c.'
- K'wajônôbenob. &c.
- K'wajônôbôb &c. `You had &c.'
- Wajônabanik. `They had &c.'
TA Past: Definite:
- N'wajônôb kaoz. `I had the cow.'
- W'wajônôbani... `He had &c.'
- N'wajônônnôb &c. `We had &c.'
- K'wajônôwôb &c. `You had &c.'
- W'wajônôwôbani... `They had &c.'
Some TA Past Definite Negative forms:
- O'da n'wajônôwib kaoz. `I had not the cow.'
- O'da w'wajônôwibani ... `He had not &c.'
- O'da n'wajônôwinnob kaoz `We had not the cow.'
- O'da k'wajônôwiwwôb &c. `You had not the cow .'
- O'da w'wajônewiwwôbani kaoza. `They had not the cow.'
- N'wajônemob pilaskw. `I had some paper.'
- K'wajônemob &c. `Thou hadst &c.'
- wajônemob &c. `He had &c.'
- N'wajônemebenob &c. `We had &c.'
- K'wajônemebôb &c. `You had &c.'
- wajônemobanik &c. `They had &c.'
- N'wajônemenab pilaskw. `I had the paper.'
- W'wajônemenab " `He had &c.'
- N'wajônemenanob " `We had &c.'
- K'wajônemenôb " `You had &c.'
- W'wajônemenôb " `They had &c.'
Some Past TI Negative forms:
- O'da n'wajônemowenab ôbadahon. `I had not the
- O'da w'wajônemowenab &c. `He had not &c.'
- O'da n'wajônemownanop &c. `We had not &c.'
- O'da kwajônemownôp &c. `You had not &c.'
- O'da w'wajônemownôp &c. `They had not &c.'
Verbs in the Conjunct Order are used in a variety of different contexts. What
the contexts seem to have in common is that they are not simple main clause
affirmative statements. The conjunct is used in some questions, and maybe
most typically in various kinds of subordinate uses, including what would be
expressed by a relative clause ("...a man who lives in Odanak") or participle
("...someone living in Odanak"). For this reason they are sometimes called
"participles' (Day, Prince). Unlike verbs in the Independent Order,
conjunct forms never have prefixes for subjects and objects. Also the function
and meaning of the theme signs differs somewhat from their function and
meaning in the independent order. Here are some examples, for a first pass:
- Tôni alosaan? `Where are you going?' (sing.) JL84:94
- Chiga paiôan? (sing.) `When did you come? (arrive?)'
- Tôni wadosaakw? [Where do you come from?]( pl.) JL84:96
- Tôni ait? `Where is he?' JL84:109
- Kakaswi almi alokaa, kakaswi n'olôwzi.
The more I work, the better off I am.' JL84:97
Compare the verbs in these examples with the Independent Indicative forms:
It is not possible to give complete paradigms for the various conjunct forms
at this point. I give a selection from what I have found (and understood!)
so far. As a check, I include what appear to be related affixes from
Maliseet/Passamaquoddy (from Sherwood, 1986).
AI Conjunct Indicative
*Unclear data about the parenthesized vowels in all the forms cited.
| ||WA ||Mal/Pass |
|1 ||-a ||-ə |
|2 ||-(a)n* ||-ǎn |
|3 ||-d/-id/-(e)k** ||-t/-k |
|1p ||-(a)g ||-ek |
|21 ||-(a)gw ||-akw |
|2p ||-(a)gw ||-ekw |
|3p ||-Vdit *** ||-htit |
|3' ?? ||-lid ||-htit |
**The forms with -(e)k or -(e)g are chosen when the verb base ends on a consonant.
But this ending consonant can disappear by a special rule that deletes
m or n from a final bit consisting of m,n followed by k or
g (compare the forms given below for the conjunct forms for the TI verb
***V stands here for a copy of the preceding vowel: ..ô + V ==>
..ôô. In older texts such forms appear with h between
the two identical vowels: ..ihi.. etc.
Independent Order: subordinative (= Laurent's `subjunctive')
Some forms in the independent order are also used in special situations of
subordination and other circumstances.
INDEPENDENT ORDER, SUBORDINATIVE MOOD
ANIMATE INTRANSITIVE from Laurent: :
- N'okaozemin. `That I may h[ave]. a cow.'
- K'okaozemin. `That thou mayest h[ave]. a cow.']
- Okaozemin. `That he may h. a cow.'
- N'okaozeminana. `That we may h. a cow.' [excl]
- K'okaozeminana. `That we may h. a cow.' [incl]
- K'okaozeminô. `That you may h. a cow.'
- Okaozeminô. `That they may h. a cow.'
The bracketed forms are added by EB and need to be queried and checked.
These forms correspond to the Independent Subordinative forms of Maliseet
Note the 3sg form with -in, compare Mal. wikin `s/he lives '
(subordinate), Sherwood gives this word (= WA wigi as wik+i, with unstable -i, the indicative form is wiko, which
exactly matches WA wigo. Unstable -i in Mal. appears as
ə (shwa), which combines with w into -o .
If we compare these forms with the Independent Indicatives, we can extract the
inflections as given:
- 1 nokaozemi -- nokaozemin n-...-n
- 2 kokaozemi -- kokaozemin k-...-n
- 3 okaozemo -- okaozemin ...n *
- 21 kokaozemibena -- [kokaozeminana] k-...-nana
- 1p nokaozemibena -- nokaozeminana n-...-nana
- 2p kokaozemiba -- kokaozeminô k-...-nô
- 3p okaozemoak -- okaozeminô ...-nô *
*With -i instead of -o (from i -w or e -w ).
The constant mark of the subordinative/subjunctive forms is -n(a)- . The
-na/-ana in the first two plural forms is to be compared to the
-na in the indicative forms -b(e)na and the possessives, the
-ô in the last two plural forms is to be compared to the vowel of
-wô in the corresponding possessives and definite TA indicative
Imperfect. (Past / Preterite
- N'okaozeminaza. `That I might h. a cow.'
- Okaozeminaza. `That he might h. a cow.'
- N'okaozeminanossa. `That we might h.a cow.'
- K'okaozeminôssa. `That you m. h. a cow.'
- Okaozeminôssa. `That they m. h. a cow.'
These forms do not correspond to the Independent Subordinative Preterite in
Maliseet (Sherwood 1986), which show the characteristic -p(ən)
found in the Indicative Preterite forms. As far as the forms go, they may be
derived from the present subjunctive forms by tacking on -aza or
-(o)ssa (with drop of final -a in the first plural forms (or
changing it to -o and adding -ssa . The closest I have come to
finding any cognates in Mal. is an ending -as / -ss in dubitative
preterite forms. (Recall that Laurent calls `dubitative' what appear to be
conjunct forms.) This suffix appears as -shan when not final
(distribution like -b and -ban, notated here as -b(an).
- O'da n'okaozemiwwen. `That I may have no cow.'
- " okaozemiwwen. `That he may have no cow.'
- " n'okaozemiwnana. `That we may have no cow.'
- " k'okaozemiwnô. `That you may have no cow.'
- " okaozemiwnô. `That they may have no cow.'
- O'da n'okaozemiwnaza. `That I might have no cow.'
- O'da 'okaozemiwnaza. `That he might have no cow.'
- O'da n'okaozemiwnanossa. `That we might have no cow.'
- O'da k'okaozemiwnôssa. `That you might have no cow.'
- O'da 'okaozemiwnôssa. `That they might have no cow.'
TRANSITIVE ANIMATE (indefinite):
- N'wajônôn azibak. `That I may have some sheep.'
- K'wajônen &c. `That thou mayest have'
- W'wajônôn. * `That he may have &c.'
- N'wajônônana &c. `That we may have &c.'
- K'wajônônôc. `That you may have &c.'
- W'wajônônô. * `That they may have &c.'
[the * is to a footnote reminding the reader to use the obviative form for the
- N'wajônônaza. `That I might have.'
- K'wajônônaza. `That thou mightst have'
- W'wajônônaza. `That he might have.'
- N'wajônônanossa. `That we might have.'
- K'wajônônôssa. `That you might have.'
- W'wajônônôssa. `That they might have.
TA Conjunct Indicative These examples from JL84:156 seem to be TA
Conjunct Indicative (indefinite) forms [I don't know if there are contrasting
Theme Sign 1: -ô
- Wskebi wajônok telaps. `Perhaps I have a trap.' [??]
- Wskebi wajônôan &c. ` " thou hast &c.'
- " wajônôd [telapsa]. ` " he has &c.'
- " wajônôak &c. ` " we have &c.' **
- " wajônôakw &c. ` " you have &c.'
- " wajônôôdit [telapsa]. ` " they have &c.'
** exclusive? There may be no contrast, see examples below in illustrations of
* That the final stops in -d, -og, -ag, -agw, -ôdid are really
d 's and g 's is shown by the subjunctive forms given below.
| || ||Maliseet/Passamaquoddy
|1 ||-og * ||-ok |
|2 ||-an ||[-ǎt] |
|3 ||-d ||-at |
|1p ||-ag * ||[-okət] |
|21 || ?? ||-akw |
|2p ||-agw * ||-ekw |
|3p ||-ôdid ||-ahtit |
|3' ?? || ?? || |
Theme Sign 2a: -(e)gw
In the conjunct, the Theme Signs carry a different import. Theme Sign 3 is
used whenever the object is a first person form, and Theme Sign 4 whenever the
object is a second person form, not just when we have you - me and me - you
situations. Therefore with Theme Sign 2a, the only situations will be
obviative on proximate forms (3' - 3 and 3' - 3p). The number encoded in the
ending will pertain to the object, that is, the 3 or 3p form. The endings are
- -god obviative on proximate (singular)
- -go(h)odid obviative on proximate (plural)
The h appears in older texts (cf. remark above).
[These examples from JL84:158 appear to include conjunct
TI (indefinite) forms:]
- Wskebi wajônema môni. `Perhaps I have some money.'
- " wajôneman &c. ` " thou hast &c.'
- " wajônek &c. ** ` " he has &c.'
- " wajônemag &c. ` " we have &c.'
- " wajônemagw &c. ` " You have &c.'
- " wajônemoodit &c. ` " They have &c.'
The -em is a TI theme, note its lack in the 3 forms, coming about
by regular changes (FRH): the underlying sequence is -em -k with
-k the regular variant to go after a consonant, then the -mk
sequence loses the m (Warne, 1975: 48).
Prince (1901: 358) give the following set of forms he calls "The Participle"
for the verb stem naam- `see' [I have spread out the examples and
added tags in place of his column and row headings and represented his long
vowels (ā ō) with double vowels:
| || ||Maliseet/Passamaquoddy
|1 ||-(em)a ||(-əm) |
|2 ||-(em)an ||-(əm)ən |
|3 ||-ek ||-ək |
|1p ||-(em)ag ||-(əm)ek |
|21 || ?? ||-(əm)əkw |
|2p ||-(em)agw ||-(əm)ekw |
|3p ||-(em)oodit *** ||-(əm)ohtit |
|3' ?? ||?? || ?? |
- naamiolan I - thee
- naamiook I him (an)
- naamiho-an I him (an) ? [linked by } with preceding ]
- naamitook I - it (in)
- naamito-an I - it (in) ? [linked by with preceding]
- naamihian thou - me
- naamiho-an thou - him (an) [sic]
- naamito-an thou it (in) [sic]
- naamiyit he - me
- naamiog-an he - thee
- naamiod he - him (an)
- naamitok he - it (in)
- naamiolak we (excl) - thee
- naami-ok we (excl) - him (an)
- naamito-ak we (excl) - it (in)
- naamihiba you - me
- naamionkw you - him (an)
- naamitowokw you - it (in)
- naamiidit they - me
- naamioodit they - him (an)
- naamitoodit they - it (in)
Uses of the Conjunct Indicative
In questions: apparently there is a choice between conjunct and
independent forms in many questions, possibly with some difference in meaning:
- Tôni alosaan? `Where are you going?' (sing.) JL84:94
- Chiga paiôan? (sing.) `When did you come? (arrive?)'
- Tôni wadosaakw? [Where do you come from?]( pl.) JL84:96
- Tôni ait? `Where is he?' L84:109
- Tôni aik w'-d-alômsagom, ala w'wigwôm?
`Where is his office, or his house?' (JL84:109)
- Awani askawiaan. `Who are you waiting for?' (CW)
CW does not like to use question marks when writing her language.
- Kagwi askawitoan. `What are you waiting for?' (CW)
In subordinate constructions for example with the particles
kwani `while, when, during the time that...', waji `so that,
in order to...', possibly the examples from JL84 with wskebi belong
- Tôniji kwani wlideb'alokaa n'kezalmegwziji.
`As long as I shall behave well, I will be loved.' (JL84:97)
- Kakaswi almi alokaa, kakaswi n'olôwzi.
`The more I work, the better off I am.' JL84:97 (repeated from
beginning of these notes)
As a modifier or relative clause:
- Nidôba, k'kiziba lhin tôni li ao u ktolagw alosaik
`My friend, can you tell me if there is a ship in the harbour going to
In this usage, frequently there is no head noun, and the conjunct form means
`one who....' or can simply be rendered by an appropriate noun.
Conjunct Subordinative (Subjunctive) forms
These forms are given as "Dubitative Subjunctive" in Laurent (JL84: 157-58):
In GD64 examples are given with glosses "if ..." (but I think some of them are
- Wskebiji wajônoga. `Perhaps if I have.'
- " wajônôana. ` " if thou hast.'
- " wajônôda. ` " if he has.'
- " wajônôaga. ` " if we have.'
- " wajônôagua. ` " if you have.'
- " wajônôôdida. ` " if they have.'
These forms can be straightforwardly derived from the Indicative forms by
adding the ending -a.
- Wskebiba wajônogeshana. `Perhaps if I had.'
- Wskebiba wajônôashana. ` " if thou hadst.'
- Wskebiba wajônôshana. ` " if he had.'
- Wskebiba wajonôageshana. `Perhaps if we had.'
- Wskebiba wajônoagueshana. ` " if you had.'
- Wskebiba wajônôôdishana. ` " if they had.'
Here the ending seems to be -shan -a with dropping of final n
d before it, and interpolation of e after final -g
-gw. The preterite marker here -- -shan appears only in
TI Conjunct Subjunctive forms
as given as "Dubitative" in
Laurent (JL84: 160 ff):
- Wskebiba wajônemôna. `Perhaps if I have.'
- " wajônemana. ` " if thou hast.'
- " wajônega. ` " if he has.'
- " wajônemaga. ` " if we have.'
- " wajônemgua. ` " if you have.'
- "wajônemoodida. ` " if they have.'
- Wskebiba wajônemôshôna. `Perhaps if I had.'
- Wskebiba wajônemashana. ` " if thou hadst.'
- Wskebiba wajônegeshana. ` " if he had.'
- Wskebiba wajônemageshana. ` " if we had.'
- Wskebiba wajônemagueshana. ` " if you had.'
- Wsk[b]ebiba[?] wajônemoodishana. ` " if they had.'
VERB FORMS: IMPERATIVE
Imperatives are forms for giving commands or suggestions:
- Pidiga! `Come in!'
- Saossida! `Let's go out.'
- Kita! `Look!'
- Askawii! `Wait for me!'
- Bestawikw! `(you all) Wait for me!'
I include here forms for expressing `let's (do some-thing),' and `Let him/ -them
do something,' which are not always called imperatives (you may see these
forms sometimes referred to as `jussives' or `injunctives').
- Saossada! `Let's go out! '
- Mitsida! `Let's eat! '
Here are the forms for AI verbs:
- -ZERO 2
- -j 3
- -da 21
- -gw 2 pl
- -dij 3 pl
Examples (Laurent, 129) for the verb okaozemimek `to have a cow':
- Okaozemi! `Have a cow!'
- Okaozemij! `Let him have a cow!'
- Okaozemida! `Let us have a cow!'
- Okaozemigw! `Have a cow!' (plural)
- Okaozemidij! `Let them have a cow!'
Here are forms for abimek `to sit'
- Abi! `Sit!'
- Abij! `Let her sit'
- Abida! `Let us sit!'
- Abigw! `Sit!' (plural)
- Abidij! `Let them sit!'
Notice: the first form is just the plain base or stem of the verb. Because the
ending for the `he/she' (3 ) statement form (Independent) is -ZERO for AI
verbs ending on -a there will be no difference between the 2
imperative and the 3 form, as in these examples in Laurent, 84:95:
- Sôsasagosatta ( imp. and ind.) `Go straight
along'; `he (she) goes straight along.'
- Wazwassa tagasiwi, ( imp. and ind.) `Go
back a little' (sing.); `he (she) goes back a little.'
Negative imperatives start with a special negative imperative particle
akwi. The verb forms themselves appear to be mostly identical to the
positive forms. Laurent gives these examples (JL84: 134):
- Akui 'okaozemi. `Have no cow.
- " okaozemij. `Let him have no cow.'
- " okaozemida. `Let us have no cow.'
- " okaozemikagw. `Have no cow.' !!
- " okaozemiidij. `Let them have no cow.' !!
By their nature the only imperatives for Inanimate Intransitive verbs will be
third person forms; The next batch from Laurent (JL84: 132) include II forms:
- Wôbigi. `Be white.'
- Wôbigij. `Let him be white.'
- Wôbigej. `Let it be white.' II!!
- Wôbigida. `Let us be white.'
- Wôbigigw. `Be white.'
- Wôbigiidij. `Let them be white.'
- Wôbigej. `Let them be white, (things.)' II!!
TA Imperatives: Direct forms
Here are forms (indefinite [and definite*]) from Laurent (JL84: 138):
*According to the statement on p. 141:
The remaining [moods] and [tenses] are to be
conjugated as in the foregoing [indefinite] conjugation.
TI: Indefinite (JL84: 141):
- Wajôna. `Have (thou).'
- Wajônej. `Let him have.'
- Wajônemoda. `Let us have.'
- Wajônemogw. `Have (ye or you).'
- Wajônemoodij. `Let them have.'
- Wajôna. `Have (thou.)'
- Wajônôj. `Let him have.'
- Wajônôda. `Let us have.'
- Wajônogw. `Have (ye or you.)'
- Wajônôôdij. `Let them have.'
TI Indefinite [and definite, same statement by JL here]:
- Wajôna. `Have (thou).'
- Wajônej. `Let him have.'
- Wajônemoda. `Let us have.'
- Wajônemogw. `Have (ye or you).'
- Wajônemoodij. `Let them have.'
What's missing: imperative forms for the inverse and you-and-me forms.
Laurent doesn't give any. I have a few in my notes, and will try to comb up
more before the next time around on this sketch.
For TA and TI verbs I have found:
you (sg) - me:
- askawii `wait for me'
you (pl) - me:
- tbestawikw `(you all) wait for me'
Notice these two forms have the -i suffix that regularly marks You-Me
Here's a position-class chart for Western Abenaki Verbs:
Items in [ ] are from Conjunct paradigms.
prefixes: n(d)- 1st person
k(d)- 2nd person
[CHANGED CONJUNCT operation]
(possibly other syntactic junk flanked by preverb and verb)
Verb Base: (with internal structure)
-hedi (a multiplural marker)
-am / -em / etc.
(V here = copy of preceding vowel)
-w / -wi (-h)
(h for doubling)
? -n(a) subordinative/subjunctive/IN subject
-w third (+i - w > -o) / -ZERO
[person endings for conjunct:
-a, -og,-an , -d / -g] (-g / C_)
(note -mg/-ng => g)
(note also -d + -i(k) => -ji(k))]
-wa(w) / -(w)ô non-first pl
-na(w) / -no 1st plural (w persists before vowels)
-za / -ssa / -shan
(-shan if not final in a word)
(Ind Sub / Conj)
-b(an) (-ban if not final)
(Ind not Subordinate)
-Vk AN plural*
-Vl IN plural
(* V = i or a depending on morphological environment)
-a conditional (Ind and Conj)
||word and gloss
||ndabi `I sit'
|| -na (w)
||ndabibena `we (excl) sit'
|| -wa (w)
||kdabiba `you (pl) sit'
||abo `s/he sits
||wibgwigoa `it (AN) obviative is grey'
||okaozemobanik `they had a cow'
||w'wajônôbani `s/he had it/them(AN obviative)'
||w'wajônôwôbani `they had it/them (AN obviative)
||n'okaozemippena `we have (no) cow'
||wnodnegonô `she (obv) ministered to them (prox)'
||abitôgojik `it (AN obviative) possessing them (prox)'
||n'kezalmegonnobanik `they loved us'
Day, Gordon M. 1964. A St. Francis Abenaki Vocabulary. IJAL 30:
371--392. [IJAL = International Journal of American Linguistics]
Day, Gordon M. 1994. Western Abenaki Dictionary Volume 1:
Abenaki-English. [Hull] Canadian Museum of Civilization. Mercury Series Paper
Day, Gordon M. 1995. Western Abenaki Dictionary Volume 2:
English-Abenaki. [Hull] Canadian Museum of Civilization. Mercury Series Paper
Day, Gordon M. Ms. That was the Way it Was. Manuscript of tales and
interviews with Western Abenaki consultants. Museum of Civilization, Hull,
Laurent, Joseph. 1884. New familar Abenakis and English dialogues.
Quebec: Leger Brousseau. (JL84)
Prince, J. Dyneley. 1901. The modern dialect of the Canadian Abenakis. In
Miscellanea Linguistica in Onore di Graziado Ascoli (Turin), pp.
Sherwood, David F. 1986. Maliseet-Passamaquoddy verb morphology. (Canadian
Ethnology service paper no. 105.) Ottawa: Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Voorhis, Paul. 1979. Grammatical Notes on the Penobscot Language from Frank
Speck's Penobscot Transformer Tales. Brandon University typescript.
Warne, Janet. 1975. A historical phonology of Abenaki. McGill University
M.A. thesis. JW75
Wzôkhilain, P.P. n.d.o.p. [Translation of the Gospel according to Mark.] 58
pp. (I'll refer to this as Mark.) Here is a transcription of first page of the
This Gospel is translated from the English Testament into the the language
spoken by the Indians of the Abenaquis Tribe of St. Francis. P.P. O'Sun
Kr[blotched out] [different hand or pen:] Translated by Peter Paul O'Sunkerine, an Indian who
was educated at "??iors Charity School" Hanover N.H.
Full title page: KIMZOWI AWIGIHGAN P. P. WZŁKHILAIN,
([handwritten:] Masta, Peter) KIZITOKW. BOSTON: PRINTED BY CROCKER AND