Demonstrative pronouns are words that refer to nouns such as ‘this, that, these, these, the one’. These pronouns are used in Mahican in many ways. They may be used to distinguish a noun that is closer to the speaker (this or these) from a noun that is more distant to the speaker (that or those). This idea of location or distance built into these pronouns explains why they may also used for the location words ‘here’ and ‘there.’
This dish (the one close to me) is old.
That dish (the one away from me) is new.
Demonstrative pronouns match the gender of the nouns to which they refer. There are animate pronouns for use with animate nouns and inanimate pronouns for use with inanimate nouns.
There must also be agreement for singular versus plural status so there are singular pronouns for use with singular nouns and plural pronouns for use with plural nouns, for both genders of nouns.
Inanimate nouns carry the designation of ‘it’ whereas animate nouns are designated as a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. When there is more than one animate noun in a phrase, they are distinguished from one another using a special ending called the obviative suffix. An obviative noun is thus set apart from the first mentioned noun which is called the proximate noun. This system resolves ambiguities related to which ‘he’ or ‘him’ one is talking about when multiple 3rd person animate people or nouns are involved. This makes more sense if one translates all nouns in terms of gender. Him the boy. It the chair. Him the father (obviative) of him the boy (proximate).
There are obviative versions of the demonstrative pronouns for use with nouns in obviative form.
Obviation is marked in Mahican using:
(noun)-an for obviative singular nouns
(noun)-ah for obviative plural nouns
Poosiis. He, a cat. Poosiisan. He (obviative), a cat. Niimanāāw. He, a man. Niimanāān. He (obviative), a man.
Obviative markers are used on possessed nouns in the 3rd person and in noun verb phrases that have more than one third person participant.
Obviative nouns and obviative demonstrative pronouns will be discussed more fully when we discuss possession of nouns (mine, yours, his etc).
Use of demonstrative pronouns
Mahican often uses demonstrative pronouns to denote emphasis to the noun.
|Animate Demonstrative Pronouns|
|Inanimate Demonstrative Pronouns|
*expected but not attested
Nah moonáxkāāw. That one, the groundhog. Niik moonaxkāāk. Those ones, the groundhogs. Uwah moonáxkāāw. This one, the groundhog. Nook moonaxkāāk. These ones, the groundhogs.
Nun xíikan. That one, the knife. Niin xíikanan. Those ones, the knives. Noh xíikan. This one, the knife. Noon xíikanan. These ones, the knives.