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Verb-based Languages

Some Native American languages are said to be "verb-based" or "verb-centered" languages. This usually means one or both of the following things:

1) There is a lot of verbal morphology in this language (prefixes, suffixes, conjugated tenses, and a wealth of other information encoded into verbs,) but very little for nouns,
2) Base words or root forms are typically verbs, and noun forms often have to be expressed by adapting a verb or using a phrase.

The second scenario particularly stands out to English speakers because it is essentially the opposite of English. English abstractions, in particular, are frequently expressed as nouns: truth, joy, harmony, evil, etc. If we want to use them as verbs we have to adapt them to say "tell the truth," "enjoy," "harmonize," "wreak evil," and so on. A verb-based language such as Cree has just the opposite situation. "Tell the truth" is a simple verb in Cree, tapwew. The noun forms are tapwewin and tapwewiniwiwa.

Here are some examples of verb-based Native American languages:

Apache
Beaver
Carrier
Cayuga
Chipewyan
Cree
Mohawk
Navajo
Oneida
Onondaga
Seneca



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