VAIs or animate intransitive verbs are animate verbs which use an animate gender subject which is built into the verb. They are intransitive which means they do not include an object. In other words they take the form subject-verb. These verbs are also referred to as AI verbs.
The built in animate subject can be any one of the following nine subjects, and a unique pattern of prefixes and suffixes identify which subject is included in the verb.
Possible subjects of AI verbs include:
I, me You Him or her or animate noun We (exclusive) We (inclusive) We (collective plural) You (plural) They (or plural animate noun or two or more animate nouns) Indefinite subject (x-subject)
We exclusive is a way of saying ‘we’ excluding the listener.
We inclusive means ‘we’ including the listener and is commonly used to mean ‘you and I, us’.
We collective plural refers to ‘we’ all of us with reference to a larger group of individuals.
Indefinite subject or x-subject forms for these AI verbs make a statement about the action going on but the subject is ambiguous and unspecified. Since the subject could be one or many and could be animate or inanimate these forms are often translated using a participle such as ‘walking’ or ‘there is walking going on’.
Anahkāāw. He works. Ndanahkahnah. We (exclusive) work.
Animate nouns may be thought of as ‘he’ however ‘he’ could mean ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘something animate’. The 3rd person subjects or objects in verb forms also refer to ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘something animate’.
VOTIs are verbs which are like VAIs in that they have an animate subject and no object, but they are structurally related to another type of verb, the VTIs, and share some of the phonological quirks of the VTIs. VOTI stands for objectless transitive inanimate verb. Some of these verbs conjugate either as VOTIs or VTIs and in most cases it is easy to tell them apart based on the types of endings and context. These verbs will be integrated into the chapters pertaining to VAIs because they behave like VAIs.
Nuyah nsiiwāānŭtam. I am sad. (VOTI - no object) Nuyah nsiiwāānŭtamun. I am sad about it. (VTI - with an inanimate object)
VAIs may be conjugated into the independent indicative mode, the independent subordinative mode, all four conjunct modes, and the imperative Mode (commands).
VAIs are listed in the dictionary in the 3rd person singular independent indicative mode form. This follows the patterns used in the Munsee-Delaware dictionary familiar to Stockbridge Mohican tribal members. (Reference John O’Meara Munsee Delaware Dictionary)
Example of a dictionary entry for an AI verb with a stable stem:
anahkāāw vai-s work, do, make M alohkeew ind 1st sg ndanahkah conj 3rd sg anahkāāt imp anahkah ptcpl āānahkāāt intensive reduplication anunahkāāw Nan kiishih-anahkāān. It is done. It happened. (s77)=(s96) (xsubject form) Aānahkāāchiik. The workers. (s152) Niin āānahkāāt. He has worked (s152)
VAI Stem Types
To conjugate a VAI, one must learn the ways the prefixes interact with the verb stem (beginning patterns) and how to interpret those prefixes or the absence of a prefix. There are also patterns to the ways endings interact with the verb stem (endings patterns).
Verbs will be listed using the 3rd person independent indicative form which has no prefix. This allows one to easily see the beginning part of the verb stem. This form will be referred to as the listed form for convenience.
It is practical to think of VAI stems in terms of whether the stem ends in a vowel or a consonant.
AI Consonant Stems
Some AI Verbs with stems ending in a consonant do not use an ending in the listed form. In these cases the listed form is, in fact, the verb stem.
anahookw vai be lost, run away. The verb stem is anahookw
Other AI Verbs with stems ending in a consonant vocalize the consonant in the 3rd person independent indicative forms by adding -uw. These verbs are identified using the designation vai-cv.
mbuw vai-cv die. The verb stem is nup wunāāyuw vai-cv be good, do good (s22 63) The verb stem is wunāāy
So called vocalized consonant forms conjugate exactly the same as non vocalized consonant stems except for adding the -uw vocalization on third person indicative forms. This -uw ending makes it appear that the verb is a vowel ending stem with an unstable stem ending in ii. There are few other verbs with atypical vocalized endings on the listed form which be noted as we encounter them.
AI Vowel Stems
The listed forms which end with the sequence vowel-w have stems which end in a double vowel, with the exception of the vocalized consonant forms, labeled in the listing as vai-cv.
Vowel stems may be stable or unstable. Stable stems consistently use the stem ending vowel in all conjugated forms. Unstable stems use the true stem vowel for most forms but will shift the vowel for some forms, including the listed form.
An unstable stem:
aníhnāāw vai-ąą run to a place (JE) M lihleew ind 1st sg ndunihlah conj 3rd sg anihnąąt imp anihnah ptcpl āānihnąąt
Note how the listed form uses the vowel āā but other forms use the nasalized vowel ąą. The verb is labeled as a vai-ąą indicating the true stem vowel.
A stable stem:
anahkāāw vai-s work, do, make M alohkeew ind 1st sg ndanahkah conj 3rd sg anahkāāt imp anahkah ptcpl āānahkāāt intensive reduplication anunahkāāw
Note how the listed form and all other forms use the vowel āā. Such verbs will be labeled, whenever necessary, as a vai-s indicating a stable stem vowel.
There are theoretically three types of stable stems based on whether the stem ending vowel is ii, āā or ąą however I did not find any stable stems in Mahican that end in ąą. The stems I found which end in ąą all appear to be unstable stems
Stable stems ending in —-āā add a -w to the stem in the 3rd person indicative forms. These verbs are identified using the abbreviation vai-s.
Example: anahkāāw vai-s work, do, make
Verb stem: anahkāā
Stable stems ending in —-ii also add a -w to the stem in the 3rd person indicative forms.
Example: ąąmiiw vai rise, get up (P mlh31)(HA37)
Verb stem: ąąmii
Since stable stems ending in ii are easily identified, they are labeled using the abbreviation vai and are not specifically labeled using vai-s.
Unstable stems may be found which have a true stem vowel of either ąą or ii.
This true stem vowel characteristically changes to a different vowel in the 3rd person indicative forms. Because the vowel changes, the stem is considered to be an unstable stem.
Unstable stems ending in ąą change to the vowel āā when the w of the 3rd person indicative is added. These verbs are identified using the designation vai-ąą.
Example: aniitahāāw vai-ąą think so, lit. feel in one’s heart, hope (s19 38) (s80)
Verb stem: aniitahąą
Unstable stems ending in ii change to the vowel u when the w of the 3rd person indicative is added.
Example: kiiθpuw vai be full (s16) have enough (s62) (Prince)
Verb stem: kiispii
Theses stems use the same classification as do the VTIs. VOTI stems are classified based on the type of class marker which is added to the stem.
VOTIs using the class marker -am are designated as voti1a and those using the class marker -um are designated as voti1b. Their conjugation patterns differ only slightly from those of consonant ending VAIs.
VOTIs ending in āāw designated as voti2 and conjugate as a stable stem VAI. The class marker here is -aw which evolved over time to āā. These stems conjugate exactly the same as if he stem was a stable stem ending in āā. In this case the VOTI designation is of theoretic interest more so than of practical interest.
Below is a list summarizing the VAI and VOTI stem types.
VAI or Animate Intransitive Verb Stems
|Verb ending||Stem||Stem type||Example||Meaning|
|–uw||(stem-ii)||vai unstable||apúw||be there|
|–n||(stem-n)||vai consonant||anaxakiixiin||lie down|
|–āāw||(stem-āā)||voti2||pąąkwiitāāw||shoot a gun|
VAI Conjugation Pardigms
VAIs conjugate using a set of prefixes and endings called the ’m endings‘.
Phonology rules affect in characteristic ways. Beginning patterns affect the way the prefixes attach to the verb stem. Vowel ending stems add some endings differently than consonant ending stems.
Vowel Ending VAI Stems
VAI Stable Vowel Stem Independent Indicative Mode
|I —||nu(stem)m||nu(stem-short vowel)h|
|You —||ku(stem)m||ku(stem-short vowel)h|
|He or She —||—-(stem)w||—-(stem-long vowel)w|
|We — (exclusive)||nu(stem-short vowel)hnąą||nu(stem-short vowel)hnah|
|We — (exclusive collective)||nu(stem-short vowel)hnookw||nu(stem-short vowel)hnookw|
|We — (inclusive)||ku(stem-short vowel)hnąą||ku(stem-short vowel)hnah|
|We — (inclusive collective)||ku(stem-short vowel)hnookw||ku(stem-short vowel)hnookw|
|You (pl) —||ku(stem-short vowel)hmąą||ku(stem-short vowel)hmah|
|They —||—-(stem-long vowel)wak||—-(stem-long vowel)k|
|There is —||—-(stem-long vowel)n||—-(stem-long vowel)n|
*Note: the stem long vowel shortens to a short vowel and adds h
**Note: the sequence (long vowel)(wak) contracts to (long vowel)(k)
It is a rule in Mahican that word ending long vowels shorten and are followed by h pronounced as a breathy h sound.
Example: anahkāāw vai-s he works
ndanahkah I work ktanahkah anahkāāw ndanahkahnah ktanahkahnah ktanahkahnookw ktanahkahmah anahkāāk X anahkāān There is working
Stable stems ending in (ii) or (āā) and VOTI2 stems ending in (āā) are conjugated using this paradigm. Unstable stems exist and will be discussed later.
Consonant ending stems
VAI Consonant Stem Independent Indicative Mode
|I —||nu-(consonant stem)m||nu-(consonant stem)|
|You —||ku-(consonant stem)m||ku-(consonant stem)|
|He or She —||—-(consonant stem)w||—-(consonant stem)|
|We — (exclusive)||nu-(consonant stem)-hnąą||nu-(consonant stem)-hnah|
|We — (exclusive collective)||nu-(consonant stem)-hnookw||nu-(consonant stem)-hnookw|
|We — (inclusive)||ku-(consonant stem)-hnąą||ku-(consonant stem)-hnah|
|We — (inclusive collective)||ku-(consonant stem)-hnookw||ku-(consonant stem)-hnookw|
|You (pl) —||ku-(consonant stem)-hmąą||ku-(consonant stem)-hmah|
|They —||—-(consonant stem)-wak||—-(consonant stem)-āāk|
|There is —||—-(consonant stem)-un||—-(consonant stem)-un|
ndanahookw I am lost ktanahookw anahookw ndanahookwuhnah ndanahookwuhnookw ktanahookwuhnah ktanahookwuhnookw ktanahookwuhmah anahookāāk* X anahookwun Being lost. *phonology rule: kw + āāk => kāāk
VAIs ending in consonants all follow this paradigm, including the VOTIs which use their characteristic class marker (am) and (um) when conjugated in this mode.
1) Regarding the indefinite x-subject forms: anahkāān
The subject ‘X’ is indefinite such that it could be someone (s.o.) or a group, therefore one cannot translate anahkāān as ‘’someone is working’‘ because it could be misleading. Working is going on but the working is being done by an indefinite subject which could be a person or more than one person or animal. The verb does not specify that information.
2) Exclusive and Inclusive and Collective Version of We.
We exclusive ‘excludes’ the listener, and is used for of group subject of several including the speaker. It is formed with the 1st person prefix (nu) with a 1st plural subject ending.
We inclusive ‘includes the listener’ and is used for a group subject that includes the speaker and the listener and perhaps others as well. It is formed by the 2nd person prefix (ku) with a 1st plural subject ending.
We collective is used for a larger group subject that includes the speaker and everyone present and could include people not present. This form of we may exclude or include the listener. It is formed by the 1st person prefix (nu) with the hnookw ending if it excludes the listener and uses the 2nd person prefix (ku) with the hnookw ending if it includes the listener.
Personal Pronoun use
All forms of conjugated VAIs may be used with or without personal pronouns.
Kāāchih ndanahkahnah. We're working now. [we exclusive as indicated by the nu- prefix and the (hnah) suffix] (anahkāāw he works) Kāāchih nŭyāānah ndanahkahnah. We're working now. (with personal pronoun) Nuyah ngatāāw-anahkah. I want to work. Ngatāāw-anahkah. I want to work.
Beginning pattern (k-)
(nu) + (k-) => (ng-) (ku) + (k-) => (k-) (wu) + (k-) => (kw-)
All negative forms add (-wii-) before the verb conjugation ending.
Certain rules apply to negatives but this basic pattern holds true.
Ustah anahkāāwih. He is not working.
Rules for negative endings:
1. -wii- is the only ending for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular forms. The final long vowel of -wii- shortens and adds h to form the ending -wih. The ending -wii- is shortened to -w for the 1st, 2nd but not for the 3rd person singular forms.
Ustah ndanahkāāw. I am not working. Ustah ktanahkāāw. You are not working. Ustah anahkāāwih. He is not working.
2. The non-truncated ending -wih may be used as a Western Mahican variant if desired for the 1st and 2nd person singular forms.
Ustah ndanahkāāwih. I am not working. Ustah ktanahkāāwih. You are not working.
3. Consonant stems add (oo) before the negative ending (wii):
chiikaniixiin vai lie still Ustah njiikaniixiinoowih. I am not lying still. Ustah njiikaniixiinoow. I am not lying still. (truncated negative)
4. Special rules apply to unstable stems.
Stems ending in ąą shift the stem vowel to āā in 3rd person negative forms. Unstable stems ending in ii do not shift vowels in any of the negative forms. See the unstable stems chapter for a full discussion of this topic.
VAI Negative Independent Indicative Mode
|Paradigm Vowel Stems||Paradigm Consonant Stems||Meaning|
|ustah nu-(stem)-w*||ustah nu-(stem)-oow*||I — not|
|ustah ku-(stem)-w*||ustah ku-(stem)-oow*||You — not|
|ustah —-(stem)-wih||ustah —-(stem)-oowih||He or She — not|
|ustah nu-(stem)-wíhnah||ustah nu-(stem)-oowíhnah||We — not (exclusive)|
|ustah ku-(stem)-wíhnah||ustah ku-(stem)-oowíhnah||We — not (inclusive)|
|ustah ku-(stem)-wíhmah||ustah ku-(stem)-oowíhmah||You (pl) — not|
|ustah —-(stem)-wíik**||ustah —-(stem)-oowíik**||They — not|
|ustah —-(stem)-wun||ustah —-(stem)-oowun||There is not —|
*optionally may use the non-truncated form ustah —-(stem)-(oo)wih
** contracted from ustah —-(stem)-(oo)wíiwak
Example – vowel stem
Ustah nuyah ndanahkāāw. I work not. Ustah kuyah ktanahkāāw. Ustah nāākmah anahkāāwih. Ustah nuyāānah ndanahkāāwihnah. Ustah nuyāānookw ndanahkāāwihnookw. Usah kuyāānah ktanahkāāwihnah. Ustah kuyāānookw ktanahkāāwihnookw. Ustah kuyāāwah ktanahkāāwihmah Ustah nāākmāāwah anahkāāwiik anahkāāwun
(wii) shortens to (wih) in word final position, as is the case for most other word ending long vowels.
Consonant stem negative example:
Ustah njiikaniixiinoow. I am not lying still. Ustah kchiikaniixiinoow. Ustah chiikaniixiinoowih. Ustah njiikaniixiinoowihnah. Ustah njiikaniixiinoowihnookw. Ustah kchiikaniixiinoowihnah. Ustah kchiikaniixiinoowihnookw. Ustah kchiikaniixiinoowihmah. Ustah chiikaniixiinoowiik. Ustah chiikaniixiinoowun.