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Animate and Inanimate Nouns In Mi'kmaq
On our Mi'kmaq colors worksheet, you can see that some color verbs
have two different forms in Mi'kmaq--for example, the green rock is stoqonamúk,
but the green bird is stoqonamuksit.
That's because there is a distinction in Mi'kmaq between animate and inanimate nouns.
If you're familiar with a European language like Spanish or French, nouns in those languages are divided by gender. In those European languages, adjectives describing
masculine and feminine nouns have different endings. So if you want to use the word "old" to
describe a man in Spanish, you say viejo, but if you want to describe a woman, you say vieja.
For men and women, this is easy to remember, but for other nouns, you just have to remember their grammatical gender. In
Algonquian languages like
Mi'kmaq, you use the same adjective and verb forms
regardless of whether the subject is male or female. Instead, there are different word forms depending on whether the subject is animate or inanimate. All people and animals
are considered animate in Mi'kmaq, but for other nouns, you just have to remember whether they are animate or not--you probably wouldn't be able to guess that "feather" is
animate and "river" is inanimate in Mi'kmaq any more than you would be able to guess that "feather" is feminine and "river" is masculine in Spanish.
(the rock is green)
(the bird is green)
(the rocks are green)
(the birds are green)
(the rock is big)
(the bird is big)
(the rocks are big)
(the birds are big)
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