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Mohegan Possession

On our parts of the body and kinship terms worksheets, you may notice that all the Mohegan words begin with N. N- or Nu- is a Mohegan prefix that means "my." Possessive prefixes can be used with almost any noun in Mohegan, but with some nouns-- particularly body parts and family members-- a possessive prefix is required, and the root word cannot be used without one. The Mohegan possessive prefixes are nu-, ku-, or wu- before most nouns that start with consonants, and n-, k-, or w- before most nouns that start with vowels.

manutá (a basket) numanutá (my basket) kumanutá (your basket) wumanutá (his or her basket)
*ohsh (root noun, not used alone) nohsh (my father) kohsh (your father) ohsha (his or her father)
*sit (root noun, not used alone) nusit (my foot) kusit (your foot) wusit (his or her foot)

Three things to take note of:

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

2) Notice that "his or her father" is ohsha in Mohegan, not wohsha. That's because w is not pronounced before an o in Mohegan. There are other exceptions to the prefix pattern on this page as well. Every language, including Mohegan, has irregular words. If you make a mistake, a Mohegan speaker would probably still understand you, just like an English speaker understands a person who says "fighted" instead of "fought."

3) Like many other Algonquian languages, Mohegan used to have another unusual difference between optional possessive prefixes and required possessive prefixes. When an optional possessive prefix was used with a word beginning with a vowel, an extra "t" was inserted. So although the word for "pumpkin" is áskot, the word for "my pumpkin" was nutáskot, not náskot. We do not know whether this distinction has been preserved in the revived language.


Click here for a pronunciation guide.
Click here for more Mohegan-Montauk language resources.
Learn more about the Mohegan and Montauk tribes.


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