Mahican VAI Conjunct Basics


Review of conjunct order basics

Some types of speech contain ideas that reference back to something said earlier. We have already discussed clauses which use a special narrative mode called the subordinative mode. Another way verbal clauses relate to one another uses verbs in the conjunct order. In comparison to the subordinative mode, conjunct phrases bear a stronger relationship to the main clause. Conjunct sub-phrases tend to puts a spin or twist to the story. Timing and location information are often involved in conjunct phrases. Explanatory phrases seems to be more the domaine of the subordinative, whereas causative phrases are conjunct territory. The subordinative mode narrates and delivers information to be added on to the existing storyline whereas the conjunct loops back to the main clause with snippets of information that modify the original content.

Subordinative mode:

That’s the place where I waited.

This subordinative phrase tells us more of the story, a descriptive, explanatory matter of fact statement about a place mentioned in the prior part of the narrative.

Conjunct mode:

I waited there because it rained.

The conjunct part of this phrase (because it rained) loops back to the main clause and joins with the idea expressed there in a way that blends the two thoughts together. The two clauses once joined together say something different than if each clause was separate. Subordinative mode style speech simply adds more data to the narrative. Conjunct style speech not only tells ‘more’ of the story, it ‘changes’ the story. Common uses of the conjunct involve things like the relative time frames of the two phrases, cause and effect relationships, or location data.

Preverbs are very often involved in conjunct mode phrases. Preverbs with meanings like “when” or “while” or “everytime” bring the concept of time or the timing of the action between the two clauses and help create a certain kind of relationship between the two clauses such that certain preverbs are always followed by conjunct sub-clauses. For instance location related clauses introduced by the preverb meaning ‘where’ (aatan-) almost always use the conjunct, in part because the information about ‘where’ adds a dimension to the first or main clause that goes beyond a continuation of a narrative. Preverbs with meaning related to cause and effect such as ‘because’ also use conjunct secondary phrases.

Conjunct modes

Changed Conjunct Mode

When the time frame of the action in the conjunct sub-phrase is simultaneous to that of the main phrase the “Changed Conjunct Mode” is used.

Changed Subjunctive Conjunct Mode

Action that occurs before the time frame of the main uses the “Changed Subjunctive Conjunct Mode” and this mode adds a modal suffix (ah) to the usual conjunct ending to clearly set it apart.

Subjunctive Conjunct Mode
Conditional or hypothetical ideas are expressed uses this mode and it is how one expresses ideas that in English would start with “if…”

Participle Mode
Lastly there are the participles. These are verbs conjugated using conjunct endings and are used as nouns or to modify nouns as if adjectives.

Personal prefixes are not used in any of the four conjunct modes.

A basic set of conjunct endings (described below) is used in all modes. An extra “modal ending” (ah) is added in some modes (Changed Subjunctive and Subjunctive) and a shift in the initial vowels called the ‘’Initial Change’‘ is used in all modes except the subjunctive. When a preverb is present, as is often the case, the initial change will affect the preverb’s initial vowel instead of the verb’s initial vowel. This change only applies if the initial vowel of the verb or preverb is (a) or u. This may all sound complex but will be much easier to understand using examples.

Initial Change

(a) => (aa) 
(u) => (aa)

For example: ápuw he is there aapiit the one there

Conjunct Order Overview

Conjunct Mode Schema
Changed (initial change)-(conjunct endings)
Changed Subjunctive (initial change)-(conjunct endings)-(ah)
Subjunctive (no initial change)-(conjunct endings)-(ah)
Participles (initial change)-(conjunct endings)


Conjunct Conjugation Paradigms

VAIs use a set of endings called the an-endings. This set of endings is also used in other verb types such as the VTI conjunct and some sub-modes of the VTA conjunct.

Consonant ending stems will be described first then vowel ending stems will follow.

VAI Conjunct – Consonant stems

Basic paradigm Meaning
(consonant stem)-ah I —
(consonant stem)-an You —
(consonant stem)-uk He or She —
(consonant stem)-aak We — (exclusive)
(consonant stem)-akw We — (inclusive)
(consonant stem)-aakw You (pl) —
(consonant stem)-htiit They —
(consonant stem)-umuk There is —


aatan-wunaayah when I am good
aatan-wunaayan when you are good
aatan-wunaayuk when he is good
aatan-wunaayaak when we are good (just us)
aatan-wunaayakw when we are good (us including you)
aatan-wunaayaakw when you (pl) are good
aatan-wunaayhtiit when they are good
aatan-wunaayumuk when good happens

1st person plural forms:

We exclusive and we inclusive forms are identical in the conjunct because no prefixes are used, but context can help to distinguish between them.

Special Cases:

(1) Stems with nasalized endings
When the final consonant is (n) or (m) the 3rd person ending merges with the stem to form a nasal sound cluster which resolves in Mahican by deleting the n or the m.

VOTI stems ending in (-m) drop the m before (k) and before the x subject ending -(u)muk 

Stems ending in (-n) drop the n before  (k) 


(2) Stems ending in (-xiin)
These may be conjugated in two different ways for the 3rd person conjunct sg:

    (1) like a consonant stem with a final (n)  => (n)(k)  => anaxakiixiik  

    (2) with omission of the final (n) => (ii)(t)       => anaxakiixiit  
             i.e. conjugates like a vowel ending stem   

VAI Conjunct – Consonant stems

Form (—m) (—n) (—xiin) (consonant stem)
1st sg (—m)-ah (—n)-ah (—xiin)-ah (consonant stem)-ah
2nd sg (—m)-an (—n)-an (—xiin)-an (consonant stem)-an
3rd sg (—)-k (—)-k (—xiik) or (stem-xiit) (consonant stem)-uk
1p (—m)-aak (—n)-aak (—xiin)-aak (consonant stem)-aak
12p (—m)-akw (—n)-akw (—xiin)-akw (consonant stem)-akw
2nd pl (—m)-aakw (—n)-aakw (—xiin)-aakw (consonant stem)-aakw
3rd pl (—m)-htiit (—n)-htiit (—xiin)-htiit (consonant stem)-htiit
x subj (—)-umuk (—n)-umuk (—xiin)-umuk (consonant stem)-umuk

The relevant forms to the discussion above are in bold type.


Examples to illustrate each stem type:

(1) Stem ending in (-xiin): anaxakiixiin lie down

aatan-anaxakiixiik or aatan-anaxakiixiit  

(2) Stem ending in (m): wum come from


(3) Stem ending in (consonant) : wunaayuw be good



modal endings

The modal ending ah is used in some conjunct modes and is added to the usual conjunct ending. For the first person singular the conjunct ending ah becomes ąąn before the modal ending ah

(1) Stem ending in (-xiin): anaxakiixiin lie down

aatan-anaxakiixiikah or aatan-anaxakiixiitah 

(2) Stem ending in (m): wum come from


(3) Stem ending in (consonant) : wunaayuw be good



Vowel ending VAI stems

VAI verb stems ending in a vowel use a different 3rd sg ending : (t)
whereas consonant ending stems use (uk)

To prevent adjacent vowels from running together when adding conjunct endings, a (y) gets intercalated before the vowel initial conjunct endings

=> -y-ah -y-an -y-akw -y-aak -y-aakw

Each stem type shifts its stem ending vowel when followed by the inserted (y) :

Stems ending in (ii) become stems ending in (uy)  
(---uy)  -(ah) -(an) -(akw) -(aak)  -(aakw)

Stems ending in (ąą) become stems ending in (ąąy)  
(---ąąy) -(ah) -(an) -(akw) -(aak)  -(aakw)

Stems ending in (aa) become stems ending in (ay)  
(---ay) -(ah) -(an) -(aak) -(akw) -(aakw)

All other conjunct endings are added directly to the verb stem

=> (---) - (t)  
=> (---) - (htiit)  
=> (---) - (muk) for the X subject


VAI Conjunct – Vowel stems

The paradigm below illustrates a VAI with a stem ending in (aa).

Basic paradigm Meaning
(stem)-ay-ah I —
(stem)-ay-an You —
(stem)-aa-t He or She —
(stem)-ay-aak We — (inclusive)
(stem)-ay-akw We — (inclusive)
(stem)-ay-aakw You (pl) —
(stem)-a-htiit They —
(stem)-aa-muk There is —


VAI Conjunct – Vowel stems

The paradigm below illustrates a VAI with a stem ending in (ąą).

Basic paradigm Meaning
(stem)-ąąy-ah I —
(stem)-ąąy-an You —
(stem)-ąą-t He or She —
(stem)-ąąy-aak We — (exclusive)
(stem)-ąąy-akw We — (inclusive)
(stem)-ąąy-aakw You (pl) —
(stem)-a-htiit They —
(stem)-ąą-muk There is —



VAI Conjunct – Vowel stems

The paradigm below illustrates a VAI with a stem ending in (ii).

Basic paradigm Meaning
(stem)-uy-ah I —
(stem)-uy-an You —
(stem)-ii-t He or She —
(stem)-uy-aak We — (exclusive)
(stem)-uy-akw We — (inclusive)
(stem)-uy-aakw You (pl) —
(stem)-ii-htiit They —
(stem)-ii-muk There is —

Examples to illustrate each stem type:

(1) Stem ending in (ii): míitsuw eat


(2) Stem ending in (ąą): aniitahaaw think


(3) Stem ending in (aa): anahkaaw work


Stems ending in (-kwii) do not drop the (w) before (u) as they do in 3rd person indicative mode forms.
masihkuw vai-kwii color or dye in red

Naakmah masihkuw.  He colors red. 

Masihkuwak.  They color red.

Non 3rd person forms retain the original stem ending (-kwii)

 Nuyah numasihkwih.
I am color red.       
Aātan-masihkwuyah. When I am red. 
Aātan-masihkwiit. When he is red. 

VOTI stems and the conjunct

(1) VOTI1a and VOTI1b Stems

These stems end in (am) and (um) conjugate like a consonant stem ending in (m)
See consonant ending paradigm chart.

(2) VOTI2 Stems

These stems end in (aa) and conjugate like AI stable stems.


Negatives are formed in the regular way, (w) is intercalated between the stem and the endings. Vowel ending stems simply add (w), but consonant ending stems insert (oo) before (w). The 3rd person ending -t is replaced by -kw for negative forms, and -uk becomes -ukw for negative forms. The 3rd person plural -htiit becomes -htiikw in negative forms.

VAI Negative Conjunct Mode

Vowel stem paradigm Consonant stem paradigm Meaning
ustah (vowel stem)-wah ustah (consonant stem)-oowah I — not
ustah (vowel stem)-wan ustah (consonant stem)-oowan You — not
ustah (vowel stem)-kw ustah (consonant stem)-ookw He or She — not
ustah (vowel stem)-waak ustah (consonant stem)-oowaak We — not (exclusive)
ustah (vowel stem)-wakw ustah (consonant stem)-oowakw We — not (inclusive)
ustah (vowel stem)-waakw ustah (consonant stem)-oowaakw You (pl) — not
ustah (vowel stem)-htiikw ustah wu-(consonant stem)-htiikw They — not
ustah —-(vowel stem)-mookw ustah —-(consonant stem)-umookw There is not —

míitθuw vai he eats

Ustah aatan-miitθíiwah
Ustah aatan-miitθíiwan
Ustah aatan-míitθiikw
Ustah aatan-miitθiiwaak
Ustah aatan-miitθíiwakw
Ustah aatan-miitθíiwākw
Ustah aatan-miitθíhtiikw
Ustah aatan-miitθiimookw


wmah vai he comes from a certain place

Ustah aatan-wumoowah
Ustah aatan-wumoowan
Ustah aatan-wumookw
Ustah aatan-wumoowaak
Ustah aatan-wumoowakw
Ustah aatan-wumoowaakw
Ustah aatan-wumhtiikw
Ustah aatan-wumumookw


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