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Meskwaki-Sauk Possession

On our parts of the body and kinship terms worksheets, you may notice that all the Meskwaki-Sauk words begin with N. N- is a Meskwaki-Sauk prefix that means "my." Possessive prefixes can be used with almost any noun in Meskwaki-Sauk. 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.

chimāni (a boat) nechimāni (my boat) kechimāni (your boat) ochimāni (his or her boat)
onākani (a bowl) netonākani (my bowl) ketonākani (your bowl) otonākani (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 Meskwaki-Sauk. That means you must use a possessive prefix with one of those words. You cannot say *kya, "a mother," or *tni, "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 ow- before nouns beginning with a vowel.

*kya (root noun, not used alone) nekya (my mother) kekya (your mother) okyani (his or her mother)
*tōni (root noun, not used alone) netōni (my mouth) ketōni (your mouth) otōni (his or her mouth)
*ōhkometha (root noun, not used alone) nōhkometha (my grandmother) kōhkometha (your grandmother) ōhkomethawani (his or her grandmother)
*īshi (root noun, not used alone) nīshi (my tooth) kīshi (your tooth) owīshi (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 Meskwaki-Sauk noun will exactly fit this pattern. Every language, including Meskwaki-Sauk, has irregular words. If you make a mistake, a Meskwaki-Sauk 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 Meskwaki-Sauk language resources.
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