Mahican VII Independent Indicative

Mohican VIIs or Intransitive Inanimate Verbs

Intransitive inanimate verbs (VIIs or II verbs) are the most simple kind of verb.

VIIs say things like:

It rains. It is good. It is nightime.

Mohican verbs include the subject, so one word can form a complete sentence.

It rains.

The verb sooknąąn can be used to mean phrases such as:

It rains. It is raining. It rained.

Grammatical description of a VIIs:

VIIs use an inanimate third person subject (it or they) and do not take a verb object.


Matut. Mtut.
It is bad, it is good for nothing. (JE)

It is big.

Mohican verb stems are made of smaller elements which contribute to the meaning of the verb.
Adding suffixes to the verb stem using phonology rules or sound laws modify the word for use in actual speech.

For example the verb mxāāw (it is big or great) is made of the verb stem (maxāa) and the 3rd person ending (-w)

The initial stem vowel is a short vowel such that it is hardly pronounced, hence the final form : mxāāw.

Matut (it is bad) however has a stem which ends with the consonant (t) and the third person ending (-w) is not pronounced or written.

matutw => matut

Verb stem practical guide:

Start with the listed form, the indicative independent form in the singular. I use this form in the lexicon .

VIIs ending in vowel-w: delete w to find the stem

VIIs ending in a consonant: the listed form is the verb stem


mxāāw vii-s be big
stem: mxāā

wunut vii be good, nice
stem: wunut

The VII stem can usually be easily deduced once one becomes familiar with the endings and the ways the endings are modified by phonology rules.

I will explain the specifics of different stem types as we encounter them.

Conjugation Paradigm Independent Indicative

The Independent Indicative Mode is used for simple direct statements. VIIs also use other types of conjugation when the verb is part of a complex two verb phrase such as the subordinative mode and the conjunct order which includes several sub-modes.

It is convenient to consider whether the stem ends in a consonant or a vowel when conjugating VIIs.

VII Independent Indicative Mode (Vowel ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
(vowel ending stem)-(w) it
(vowel ending stem)-(w)-(an)* they

* In Stockbridge Mohican, when the sequence (āā+wan) is formed by conjugation processes, the (āāwan) contracts or shortens to (āān)

It is big.

It is big.

Negative forms are constructed using the negative particle ustah and endings which incorporate the negative suffix (wii)

VII Negative Independent Indicative Mode (Vowel ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
ustah (vowel ending stem)-(wii) it — not
ustah (vowel ending stem)-(wiin)* they — not

* contracted from –wiiwan
Ustah mxāāwih.*
It is not big.

Ustah mxāāwíin.
They are not big.

* Long vowels at the end of a word shorten and add (h) in the Mohican language. Hendrick Aupaumut and Jonathan Edwards both very carefully wrote words this way, but Moravian source materials usually did not record the word final (h) probably because an (h) in the German writing system indicated a long vowel. (Ref Goddard2008)


It is split in half.

Ustah pasihnāāwih.
It is not split in half.

They are split in half.

Ustah pasihnāāwiin.
They are not split in half.

Nih ahtāāw.*
It is there. (lit. That one it there.)

* Use of demonstrative pronoun is optional but is very often noted in attested examples of speech.

Niin ahtāān.
They are there.

Ustah ahtāāwih.
It is not there.

Ustah ahtāāwiin.
They are not there.

It fell.

Nih wiikwahm ustah kiipihnāāwih.
That house did not fall. (JS Matt 7.25)

It is cold during the day.

*Some verbs have stems that are called unstable stems. Unstable stems change the stem ending vowel when the the indicative mode ending (w) is added. In this case the stem ending vowel (ii) shifts to (u) when (w) ending is added. Negative forms do not shift the ii to u and the negative affix (wii) is added to the stem vowel (ii).

(unstable stem-ii) + (w) => (stem)-uw
(unstable stem-ii) + (wii) => (stem)-iiwii

We have seen a verb stem (pasii-) ending in (ii) that does not shift its vowel when the neutral mode ending (w) is added. Such stem are called stable stems and will be labeled ‘vii-s‘.

Ustah tahaθiiwih.
It is not cold.

Just because a Mohican verb in the indicative mode ends in (-uw) does not mean the underlying verb stem ends in (-ii). Many such verbs are consonant ending verbs which ‘vocalize’ the ending and all forms other than the indicative singular and plural conjugate using consonant ending patterns.

Such verbs will be labeled as ‘vii-cv

wuskāāyuw vii-cv it is new

They are new.

Ustah wuskāāyoowih.*
It is not new.

Ustah wuskāāyoowiin. *
They are not new.

*negative forms using consonant stem pattern.

Consonant ending VII stems

These stems theoretically use the exact same endings as the vowel ending stems, but they undergo phonology modifications from sound laws such that the end result looks different.

(1) A word ending (w) ending drops off when preceded by a consonant except for the consonant (k)

(consonant stem)-w => (stem)

(2) The 3rd plural ending (consonant stem)-(w)-(an) is changed to (consonant stem)-(ah)

(3) Negative forms insert (oo) before the negative suffix (wii)

VII Independent Indicative Mode (Consonant ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
(consonant stem) it —
(consonant stem)ah they —

VII Negative Independent Indicative Mode (Consonant ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
ustah (stem)-(oowih) it — not
ustah (stem)-(oowiin)* they — not

*contracted from –wiiwan

Example: the verb wunut vii be nice, good

It is nice.

They are nice.

Ustah wunutóowih
It is not nice.

Ustah wunutoowíin.
They are not nice.

More consonant stem examples:

It is hard.

It is not hard.

They are hard.

Ustah aθunāāyoowiin.
They are not hard.

Xáskwiimiin piht āāt matut.
The corn might be no good.

3rd sg (w) ending deletes after all consonants except (k)
piht pc maybe
āāt pc maybe
piht āāt often occur together

Pāāxoot āāt sóokŭnąąn.
Soon perhaps it rains
Pāāxoot pc soon, nearly
āāt pc maybe

Ustah sookunąąnoowih.
Its not raining.

It is frozen.

Niin mahksúnan wunutah.
Those shoes are pretty.

Niin mahksúnan ustah wunutoowiin.
Those shoes are not pretty.