Mahican Nouns 4 Other Noun Inflections


Diminutives, Locatives, Vocatives, and Absentatives

(1) Diminutives

The diminutive suffix () may be added to an animate or an inanimate noun in order to convey the idea of little, small, cute or fondness to the noun.

Mboosíiθum. My cat.  

Poosíisuθ. Little cat.  

Mboosíis'θum. My little cat.  

Mboosiis'θúmak. My little cats  

() precedes (um) possessive, (an) obviative and plural endings

One peculiar consequence of adding () is that all the instances of the consonant (t) in the word change to (ch) and optionally (θ) changes to (s).

This is called diminutive consonant symbolism.

Aθún. Stone.   
Asúnuθ. Little stone.  
Namąąθ. Fish.
Namąąsuθ. Little fish. 

Xíikan. Knife. 
Xíikanuθ. Little knife.
Xíikanuθan. Little  knives. 

Maxkw. Bear.
Maxkwuθ. Little bear.
Maxkwuθak. Little bears.

Anakwuθ. Star.
Anakwusuθ. Little star.

Amaxoon. Boat, canoe. (TM46)
Amoxoonuθ. Little boat.

Nŭmihtkwŭmak. My trees.  
Nŭmihchkwúθŭmak. My little trees.

The following table shows how the diminutive suffix combines with the other suffixes we have learned so far.

Diminutive Noun Paradigms

Noun Inflection Paradigm
diminutive (noun stem) – (uθ)
diminutive pl animate (noun stem) – (uθ)-(ak)
diminutive pl inanimate (noun stem) – (uθ)-(an)
diminutive obviative (noun stem) – (uθ)-(an)
diminutive plural obviative (noun stem) – (uθ)-(ah)
possessed diminutive (noun stem) – (uθ)-(um)*
possessed dimin. pl animate (noun stem) – (uθ)(um)(ak)*
possessed dimin. pl inanimate (noun stem) – (uθ)(um)(an)*

*(use (um) only on nouns which take the (um) possessive suffix)

Phonology quirks affecting the suffix () :

(stem-uw) + (us) => (stem-oos)
Θiipuw. River.
Θiipóoθ. Little river, brook.

Piiskwaaθuw Girl.
Piiskwaasooθ. Little girl.

Piinąąpaaθuw. A boy.
Piinąąpaasooθ. A little boy.

(stem-uy) + (ush) => (stem-iiθ)
Mahkamuy. Ice. (This large ice chunk)
Mahkamiiθ. Little ice. (This piece of ice)

(stem-ay) + (uθ) => (stem-eeθ)
Aąnay. That road.
Aąnaaθ. That little road.

Otaanay. Town.
Ochaanaaθ. Little town.

Mihtkwiinootay. Basket. (TM38)
Mihchkwiinoochaaθ. Little basket.
Numihtkwiinootay. My basket. (s25 88)
Numihchkwiinoochaaθ. My little basket.
Numihchkwiinoochaaθan. My little baskets.

Takwax. Bread.
Chakwaxooθ. Little bread.

Sookut. Sugar. (TM38)
Sooktii-takwax. Cake.
Sookchii-chakwaxooθ. Cookie.
Sookchii-chakwaxooθak. Cookies.
Sookuchuθ. Candy.

Contraction rules for (uθ)

Morphemes Contracted form
(ay) + (uθ) (aaθ)
(uy) + (uθ) (iiθ)
(uw) + (uθ) (ooθ)

(2) Locative forms of nouns

Mahican has a special locative suffix (uk) which turns the noun into a location.

The suffix adds location meanings such as:
“to the”
“at the”
“in the”
“on the”

Verb gender matches the subject, not the location.
Locative nouns can stand alone without a verb, and do not function as a verb object.

Wíikwahm. House.
Wiikwáhmuk. In, at the house.
Wiikwáhmuk niimanaaw apúw. The man is in the house.

Phonology quirks:

The locative suffix (uk) contracts its vowel just like (us) :

Mbuy áhtaaw. The water, it is there.   
Mbiik apúw. In the water, he is.   

apúw vai he is here, he is there.  
(stem-uy) + (ung) => (stem-iik)  
Aąnay. Road.  
Aąnaak ndápih. I am there, on the road. (On the road, I am.)  
(stem-ay) + (uk) => (stem-aak)  

A pronoun can represent a locative noun. As such it represents a location, but there are no locative forms of pronouns.

Noh ndápih. Here I am.     

Θíipuw. River.  
Θíipook ndah. I am going to that river.  
(stem-uw) + (uk) => (stem-ook)  

Amóxoon. Boat.  
Amoxóonuk ktápih. You are here, in the boat.  

Contraction rules for (uk)

Morphemes Contracted form
(ay) + (uk) (aak)
(uy) + (uk) (iik)
(uw) + (uk) (ook)

The locative plural suffix -ihkook is found in Mahican and optionally used. Western Abenaki has a similar suffix, but Munsee does not.

Matahkuyihkook In graves. (H)
Matahkuy. Grave. (lit. bad ground)
Matahkiik. In the grave.

Mihtukw. Tree.
Mihtkwuk. In the tree.
Mihtkwak. Trees.
Mihtukwihkook In the woods. (Wm Dick)

Nanánuw. Cheek.
Nananook. On my cheek.
Wananook. On his cheeks.
Wananuwuwąąk. On their cheeks. (s48)
Kananuwuwąąk. On your (pl.) cheeks. (–)uw-uwa-uk

Θtaaw. Fire.
Θtaak. In the fire.


Word order in phrases with a locative noun:

Locations are almost always mentioned first, before the verb.  

Θíipook wŭnaawąąn. At the river I saw him.   

Locative suffix on a possessed noun:

The locative suffix (uk) is a ‘final’ suffix, i.e. no other endings may follow it.
Plural, locative, vocative, absence and obviative endings are all final suffixes and therefore may not co-exist on the same word.
The ‘non-final’ suffixes including () diminutive and (um) possessive may precede (uk), in the order specified:



Nuθk.My hand.  
Nuθkuk. On my hand.  
Nuθkuk. On my hands.  
Kŭnuθkuk. On your hand(s).  
Wŭnuθkuk. On his hand(s).  

Nuθkŭnąąk. On our hand(s). *  
Kŭnuskŭwąąk. On your (pl) hand(s). **  
Wŭnuskŭwąąk. On their hands. **  

Alternatively, the plural locative forms may be used

Locative versions of kinship words are used to refer to one’s relative’s place of residence:

Nooxuk ndah. I'm going to my father's.   

Wkukuk. At his mother's.  

The table below shows how the locative suffix combines with other suffixes, if present.

Locative Noun Paradigms

Noun Inflection Paradigm
locative (noun stem) – (uk)
dimin. locative sg or pl (noun stem) – (uθ)-(uk)
possessed locative (noun stem) – (um)*-(uk)
possessed dimin. locative (noun stem) – (uθ)-(um)-(uk)*
plural possessor locative (noun stem)-(uwąą)-k
collective possessor (noun stem)-(unąą)-k

*(um) is only used on nouns known to use the (um) possessive suffix

(3) Nouns marked for absence

The absence suffix (ah) may be added to a noun in order to convey the idea of ‘’recently deceased’‘.

Absence endings are mainly used on person names and kinship words.

The plural absence suffix is (-ak)

Numaxóom. My grandfather.  
Nŭmaxoomah. My late grandfather.  
Nohŭmáh. My late grandmother.  

Kooxah. Your late father.  (s26 98)
Kąakwayah What? (inaccessible)
Maxkw. Bear.
Maxkwah. Bear (inaccessible) (not appeared in a long time) (s27) footnote 11

Kuhchąąyθumnąąkak. Our parents (absent) (HA); ku-(--)un-una-ak - ak  absent

(5) Hierarchy of noun affixes:

Prefixes precede the noun stem.

The diminutive suffix () precedes all other suffixes present.
Possessive (um) precedes all suffixes except ().
1st plural and 2nd plural (unah) and (awah) may combine with some final suffixes using the full endings forms of (unąą) and (uwąą).

Final suffixes: plurals (ak) (an) , obv (an, ah), locative (uk) may not coexist on the same noun and no other suffix may be added after a final suffix.

Absence markers (ah) and plural (ak) are attested as following plural endings

Hierarchy of Noun Inflections

Prefixes Stem type Dimin Possessive Final
ak, an
nu uk
ku NOUN um an, ah (obv)

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