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Western Abenaki Adjectival Endings

Shape-Classifiers (medials/2nd position)
prepared by Jesse Bruchac and Conor Quinn

1. -akw-

1D object that is rigid

metal, wood

2. -tag-

1D non-rigid object

cord, string

3. -ag-/-ak-

2D non-rigid object

skin, peel, hide, cloth

4. -apsk-

3D object/lump

rock

5. -lag-

-D open, hollow, removed

a hole, a hollow, a valley

6. -mk-

3D granular mass

sand, gravel, earth

7. -bag-

A liquid object

water, damp, moist, wet

8. -jag-

A soft and sticky mass

dirt, mud, clay, shit


Examples from Gordon Day Dictionary:

1. -akw- 1D object that is rigid (examples: metal, wood)

alna-hl-akw iron

tas-akw-abon a chair, the rigid object one sits on

kpaga-akw-ika thick deep woods

mso-akw-tegw dry wood river

mso-akw-bagw dry wood pond

adel-akw-esen it lies blocking the way, it lies across the path

adel-akw-asin he lies across the path, he lies blocking the way (as in a tree)


2. -tag- 1D non-rigid object (cord, string)

ahaza-tag-ia transparent material, lacey, a screen

piw-tag-a it is a stringlike thing, it is thin

piw-tag-haga he is thin bodied, thin wasted

kwena-tag-igamigw a long house

la-tag-eniga pull out, spin thread

msa-tag-ak it is coarse strong (or webbing)

skwzon-tag-w thread

wikw-tag-hozi pull self by rope

zow-tag-abo he sits with legs stretched out

almesak-tag a corridor, literally a stretch of floor ahead


3. -ag-/-ak- 2D non-rigid object (skin, peel, hide, cloth)

wb-ak-s a shirt

wb-ak-sis a little cloth

wb-ak-s-igamigw a tent

pl-ag-na peel, skin, or scale (by hand)

pl-ag-niga peel, skin a fruit or fish

pl-ag-za peel with a knife

pkal-ag-enigan crooked knife, take off peeling by hand tool

l-ag-enigan a scraped or worked skin

wlipl-ag-igen it is well skinned (said of a cache which has been robbed)

sib-ak-higan a sail

bem-ak-si sail along

nod-ak-sid a sailor

4. -apsk- 3D object/lump (rock)

bem-apsk-wadena a rocky mountain place Mt Ascutney, VT

l-apsk-ahigan hewn stone

l-apsk-anigan a stone structure, a foundation, or a fireplace

mamad-apskw-ijoan it is a bad rocky current

nod-apsk-enigad a stone worker

wl-apsk-a a hollow in a rock



5. -lag- something open, hollow, removed

w-lag-w a hole

nj-lag-w a nostril

adeb-lag-w a rifle

agaskw-lag-w a woodchuck hole

asp-lag-w a hole of such a width, a wide open hole

asp-lag-w-don a wide open mouth

taw-lag-a-higan an instrument for making a hole, a drill

ms-lag-w-don-a he is big mouthed

ms-lag-w-don-asin his mouth lies wide open

azig-lag-igen it is full of holes

bezeg-lag-ata it is a very dark hole

wad-lag-ezid beaver house door

baskh-lag-i-gwa-taha shoot someones eye out

zb-lag-ezo it is bored through from end to end (as in a pipe stem)


6. -mk- 3D granular mass (sand, gravel, earth)

ben-mk-ahla sand falls

ben-mk-ipoda sand falls down

pkwa-mk-ihla sand runs down

segwesk-mk-i-podo he grinds something to a powder

daw-mk-a it is over a sand bank

gwa-mk-wid Ogunquit, Maine, sand dunes

wb-mk-aik it is white sand, Point-du-lac, Quebec

wb-mk-ategw white sand river

sizig-mk-i-joazid a trickle, a current like a steady trickle of tears or sand


7. -bag- liquid object (water, damp, moist, wet)

azi-bag-hi dip water to me, splash me with a paddle

ali-bag-taha pound it, ash splints

kottli-bag-enem mix by hand, stir up

azow-bag-ihla water changes directions

bada-bag-a water comes to us, tide comes in

mena-bag-i-lmsen rain a few drops with wind

mkazaw-bag-i-sibo dark water river


8. -jag- a soft and sticky mass (dirt, mud, clay, shit)

adaw-jag-enigamek what one works dough in, a wooden pan for baking bread

agwe-jag-elja it is a dirty hand

agwed-jag-ezid it is a dirty foot

agwe-jag-igwa a dirty face

agwe-jag-ikezen a dirty shoe

agwe-jag-i-n-gwad it appears dirty

plage-jag-igek a wound or a sore

boskwe-jag-takawa to smash all up

kedaw-jag-ihla to sink in the mud

kiz-jag-na to finish roasting something as in bread

kottle-jag-po it precipitates mixed rain and snow

le-jag-niga to make bread

nod-jag-enigad a clay worker

zelig-jag-ena he crushes someone by hand to mush

zokwe-jag-taham he smashes by striking

agwed-jag-a-ozo he shits himself


Combininations of Shape-Classifiers


shape-classifier with a noun:

mkazaw-bag-i-sibo black water river


shape-classifier with a body part:

agwe-jag-igwa a dirty face


multiple shape-classifiers together:


-jag- + -bag-

agwed-jag-e-bag-a dirty water


-ag + -akw

pl-ag-akw-ada peel bark


-akw- + -tag-

ahdaw-akw-tag a groove


shape-classifier and a sense:

agwe-jag-i-n-gwad it appears dirty


tri-part medial/2nd position order:

1. shape-classifiers

2. body parts-nouns

3. senses-verbs





... more lessons coming soon!


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