Nouns 1 Gender and Plurals
Lunaapeew nouns are either animate or inanimate in gender. Animate and inanimate nouns use different grammatical rules.
(noun animate abbreviated as ‘na’) : Most living things are animate in gender but there are exceptions such nouns describing different kinds of fruit. Also, some animate nouns are not at all alive such as the words for spirit, ball, fingernail and snow.
Examples of animate nouns:
|Animate Noun Examples||Meaning|
|míhtukw||tree /MEE tohk w /|
|nóohum||my grandmother ; pronounced as /know whom/|
(noun inanimate abbreviated as ‘ni’) : Most non-living things are inanimate: however some berries, nuts, vegetables are inanimate even though one might think of them as living, these include the words for strawberry, corn and pumpkin.
Examples of inanimate nouns:
|Inanimate Noun Examples||Meaning|
Nouns in plural form indicate that the noun is more than one in number and
plurals are formed differently for each gender:
|Inanimate Nouns||Animate Nouns|
|(noun) + (al)||(noun) + (ak)|
(pámbiil) + (ak) => pambíilak = books (áhpapoon) + (al) => ahpapóonal = chairs
Adding the plural ending often shifts the accents on the word, so weak vowels may drop
moonáhkeew (sg) ; moonahkéewak (pl) : accent shift oxkwéesus (sg); oxkwées'sak (pl) : weak vowel (u) drops wíisakiim (sg) ; wiiskíimal (or wiisăkíimal) (pl) : weak vowel (a) drops
Other parts of speech like verbs and pronouns exist in sets specific for one gender or the other, and one must take care to use the matching gender word for the gender of the noun involved. An animate noun will thus use the animate version of the pronoun and the verb will need to match the noun in gender as well.
An animate noun may be thought of in terms of ‘he’ and and an inanimate noun may be thought of in terms of ‘it’. Plural animate nouns represented by ‘they’ could be thought of as ‘more than one he’ the plural inanimate ‘they’ is like ‘more than one it’
There is no way to say ‘‘she’’ distinctly from ‘‘he’’ in Delaware. Historically, when Native speakers began to learn English they would refer to both male and female subjects as ‘‘he’’ (Reference Jonathan Edwards; Observations on the Mahican Language)
Demonstrative pronouns are words that represent nouns. They can be used alone to replace a noun or may be used with a noun in which case they reinforce the noun with extra emphasis. The pronoun must match the noun’s gender and plurality.
|Animate Demonstrative Pronouns|
|ya ; wa ; wan||this|
|na ; nan||that|
|Inanimate Demonstrative Pronouns|
|yu ; yoon||this|
|nu ; nun||that|
Na moonáhkeew. That groundhog. Niik moonahkéewak. Those groundhogs. Wan moonáhkeew. This groundhog. Yook moonahkéewak. These groundhogs.
Nu paxkshíikan. That knife. Niil paxkshíikanal. Those knives. Yoon paxkshíikan. This knife. Yool paxkshíikanal. These knives.
Examples in phrases:
Nun eet ha. That must be it. (eet) is a particle (a stand alone word independent of gender, number and inflection. (eet) = 'perhaps' and is used to express uncertainty, not knowing for sure. Na ha! Thats it! Wan ha meexalapóotiis. This is a spider.
When learning new nouns, pairing them with a demonstrative pronoun can help memorizing the gender. Learning nouns in plural form may also be helpful.
Demonstrative pronouns may be used to point out objects:
|Wan ha ….||This is a …. + (animate noun)|
|Yook ha ….||These are …. + (animate plural noun)|
|Yoon ha ….||This is a … + (inanimate noun)|
|Yool ha ….||These are …. + (inanimate plural noun)|
|Na ha …||That is a … + (animate noun)|
|Niik ha …||Those are …. + (animate plural noun)|
|Nu ha …||That is a …. + (inanimate noun)|
|Niil ha …||Those are …. + (inanimate plural noun)|
Memorization aid for the demonstrative pronouns:
The animate singular pronouns: (ya), (wa), (wan) and (na), (nan) all contain an 'a' The inanimate
singularpronouns: (yu), (nu) and (nun) contain an 'u' The animate plurals (yook) and (niik) end in (k) like the animate noun plural (ak) The inanimate plurals (yool) and (niil) end in (l) like the inanimate noun plural (al)
Some speakers insert (h) before the plural suffix, only on some nouns which end in (o) or (oow).
Ngútko nad My knee Ngutkóohak vs ngutkúwak My knees
Most nouns ending in (uw) add the plural suffix directly.
Pakíinjuw ni plate Pakíinjŭwal plates
Go to the Noun Practicum 1