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Kickapoo Possession

On our parts of the body and kinship terms worksheets, you may notice that all the Kickapoo words begin with N. N- is a Kickapoo prefix that means "my." Possessive prefixes can be used with almost any noun in Kickapoo. The possessive prefixes are ne-, ke-, or o- before most nouns that start with consonants, and net-, ket-, or ot- before most nouns that start with vowels.

meθooni (a boat) nemeθooni (my boat) kemeθooni (your boat) omeθooni (his or her boat)
onaakani (a bowl) netonaakani (my bowl) ketonaakani (your bowl) otonaakani (his or her bowl)


However, certain nouns (including most body parts and kinship terms, and some words for personal objects like clothing) have inalienable possession in Algonquian languages like Kickapoo. That means you must use a possessive prefix with one of those words. You cannot say *kya, "a mother," or *tôni, "a mouth." It isn't grammatically correct.

For these words, the possessive pronouns are slightly different. The prefixes are still usually ne-, ke-, and o- before nouns beginning with a consonant, but they are n-, k-, and o- before nouns beginning with a vowel.

*kya (root noun, not used alone) nekya (my mother) kekya (your mother) okyani (his or her mother)
*tooni (root noun, not used alone) netooni (my mouth) ketooni (your mouth) otooni (his or her mouth)
*oohkomeθa (root noun, not used alone) noohkomeθa (my grandmother) koohkomeθa (your grandmother) oohkomeθaani (his or her grandmother)
*iipici (root noun, not used alone) niipici (my tooth) kiipici (your tooth) oiipici (his or her tooth)

Two things to take note of:

1) When animate words use the third person form ("his or her"), there is not only a prefix (o-) but also a suffix (-ani) at the end of the word. This is not true for inanimate words.

2) Not every Kickapoo noun will exactly fit this pattern. Every language, including Kickapoo, has irregular words. If you make a mistake, a Kickapoo speaker will probably still understand you, just like an English speaker understands a person who says "fighted" instead of "fought."


Click here for a pronunciation guide.
Click here for more Kickapoo language resources.
Learn more about the Kickapoo tribes.


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