nouns in the Ottawa and Chippewa language are divided into two
classes, animate and inanimate. Animate nouns are those which signify
living objects or objects supposed to have life, as persons, animals and
plants. Inanimate nouns signify objects without life.
A third form of nouns is derived from these two
classes, called diminutive nouns. These are formed by the termination "ens"
or "na" placed upon other nouns.
The plural of animate nouns is usually formed by adding
the syllable "wog" to the singular; if the word ends in a vowel, only
the letter "g" is added; and sometimes the syllables "yog," "ag," or "og."
All words are pronounced with accent on the last
The plural of inanimate nouns usually terminates in an,
en, on, or n.
three cases, nominative, locative and objective. The locative case
denotes the relation usually expressed in English by the use of a
preposition, or by the genitive, dative and ablative in Latin.
Nom. Aw-kick, Kettle.
Loc. Aw-kick-ong, In the kettle.
Obj. E-naw-bin aw-kick-ong, Do look in the kettle.
This relation can be expressed by the word "pin-je," as
"Pin-je aw-kick,"--in the kettle; "E-naw-bin pin-je aw-kick,"--do look
in the kettle; but this form is seldom used. It is employed only for
great emphasis or formality.
The locative termination is "ong," "eng," or "ing."
The objective case is like the nominative when the
subject is in the 1st or 2d person, but when the subject is in the 3d
person the object takes the termination "won."
Example of locative and objective cases: Chicago is
derived from she-gog-ong, the locative case of the Ottawa word she-gog,
meaning skunk; nominative, she-gog; locative, she-gog-ong; objective,
she-gog or she-gog-won.
She-gog-ong ne-de-zhaw, I am going to Chicago.
She-gog-ong ne-do-je-baw, I come from Chicago.
She-gog-ong e-zhawn, Go to Chicago.
1st p.--She-gog ne-ne-saw, I kill the skunk.
2d p.--She-gog ke-ne-saw, You kill the skunk.
3d p.--She-gog-won o-ne-sawn, He kills the skunk.
Gender is distinguished by the word "quay," either
prefixed or added to nouns, to indicate the feminine.
Aw-ne-ne, pl. wog; Man. Aw-quay, pl. wog; Woman.
Aw-nish-naw-bay; Indian man. Aw-nesh-naw-bay-quay; I. woman.
Osh-kee-naw-way; Young man. Osh-kee-ne-ge-quay; Y. woman.
Que-we-zayns, pl. og; Boy. Quay-zayns, pl. og; Girl.
Aw-yaw-bay-pe-zhe-kee; Bull. Quay-pe-zhe-kee; Cow.
Proper names always form the feminine by adding "quay."
Ce-naw-day; Irishman. Ce-naw-day-quay; Irishwoman.
Some genders are irregular.
Aw-ke-wa-zee; Old man. Me-de-mo-gay; Old woman.
Aw-be-non-tchi, an infant, has no distinction of gender.
Os-see-maw, pl. g; Father. O-gaw-shi-maw, pl. g; Mother.
Me-kaw-ne-see-maw; Brother. O-me-say-e-maw; Sister.
O-me-shaw-mes-se-maw; Gr.father. O-kee-mes-se-maw; Grandmother.
O-me-shaw-way-e-maw; Uncle. O-nou-shay-e-maw; Aunt.
We-taw-wis-see-maw; Male cousin. We-ne-mo-shay-e-maw; Fem. cous.
Diminutive nouns take the same modifications as the
nouns from which they are derived.
Verbs and adjectives are modified to agree with the
animate or inanimate nouns to which they belong, as will be illustrated
Personal pronouns have no distinction of gender in the third person
singular. A peculiarity of this language is the two forms for the first
person plural. These two forms for pronouns, and for verbs in all moods
and tenses, are like each other except in the first syllable. In one
form the first syllable is always "Ke," and in the other "Ne." The form
commencing with Ke is used only when speaking to one person, and that
commencing with Ne, which might be called the multiple form, is used
whenever more than one person is addressed, even though no word may
appear in the sentence indicating how many. This is an idiosyncracy
which perhaps would never have been developed, certainly would not be
perpetuated, in any except an unwritten language. It is of no effect
except in a language always
colloquial. The multiple form will be given in this grammar as the first
person plural, and, whether indicated or not, the other may be
understood as being the same with the change of the first syllable from
Ne to Ke.
|1st. p.--Keen or nin, I
2d p.--Keen or kin, Thou or you
3d p.--Ween or win, He or she
|(Ne-naw-wind, (mult.), We
When these personal pronouns
are connected with other words, or when they become subjects or objects
of verbs, the first syllable only is used, or pronounced. In the third
person of verbs the pronoun is entirely omitted.
|Ne wob, I see
Ke wob, You see
Wo-be, He or she sees
|Ne wob-me, We see
Ke wob-em, You see
Wo-be-wog, They see
The whole pronoun is sometimes
used when the emphatic or intensive form is desired, as,
|Neen-ne wob, I myself see
Keen-ke wob, You yourself see
Ween wo-be, He himself, or she herself sees
|Ne-naw-wind ne-wob-me, We
Ke-naw-waw ke-wob-em, You yourself see
We-naw-waw wo-be-wog, They themselves see
Ne-daw-yo-em, Mine, Ne-daw-yo-em-e-naw, Ours.
Ke-daw-yo-em, Thine, Ke-daw-yo-em-e-waw, Yours.
O-daw-yo-em, His or hers, O-daw-yo-em-e-waw, Theirs.
Emphatic form--nin ne-daw-yo-em, etc., throughout all the different
persons. When these possessive pronouns are used with nouns, nearly all
the syllables are omitted, except the first, which is added to the noun
in the plural; as--
|Ne we-ok-won, My hat
Ke we-ok-won, Your hat
O we ok-won, His hat
|Ne we-ok-won-e-naw, Our hat
Ke we-ok-won-e-waw, Your hat.
O we-ok-won-e-waw, Their hat
The emphatic form, "my own
hat," is made by prefixing the personal pronouns, as--
|Neen ne we-ok-won
Keen ke we-ok-won
Ween o we-ok-won
|Ne-naw-wind ne we-ok-won-e-naw
Ke-naw-waw ke we-ok-won-e-waw
We-naw-waw o we-ok-won-e-waw
The Impersonal Pronoun
The impersonal pronoun "maw-got," plural "maw-got-on," may be
represented by the English impersonal or neuter pronoun It, but it has a
wider significance. The inanimate subject of a verb is also represented
by maw-got or maw-got-on. Wa-po-tchin-ga maw-got, or wa-po- tchin-ga-sa
maw-got, it strikes; plural, wa-po-tchin-ga maw-got-on, or
wa-po-tchin-ga-sa maw-got-on, they strike.
Au-no-ke maw-got, It works. Pe-me-say maw-got, It walks.
Ne-bo-we maw-got, It stands. Wo-be maw-got, It sees.
Pe-me-baw-to maw-got, It runs.
Au-nish, interrogative pronoun what; au-naw-tchi, relative pronoun what;
e-we, relative pronoun that.
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