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By English WORD or PHRASE

By Lenape WORD or PHRASE

Lenape Lesson #8 - Kin 2 & Imperatives


Let's Talk Lenape!

Lesson #8


More Kinship Terms:


In lesson 7 we discussed some basic kinship terms and here are some more:


Note:  All the following terms for brother or sister are also used for cousins of all degrees.  The ones ending with an exclamation mark (!) are vocative forms used in speaking to your relative:


Older Brother  -(na)xans


Sound Icon naxans                        my older brother

Sound Icon kxans  [Sound Icon kënaxans]        your older brother

Sound Icon xònsa                          his/her older brother

Sound Icon xansa                          Older brother!


Older Sister    -mis


Sound Icon nëmis                          my older sister

Sound Icon këmis                          your older sister

Sound Icon mwisa                         his/her older sister

Sound Icon mësa                           Older sister!


Younger Sibling (Brother or Sister)   -(na)xisëmës


Sound Icon naxisëmës                            my younger brother or sister

Sound Icon kxisëmës [Sound Icon kënaxisëmës]       your younger brother or sister

Sound Icon xwisëmësa                           his/her younger brother or sister

Sound Icon xisëmësa  ~  Sound Icon xata  ~  Sound Icon xatash  ~   xatas   Younger brother! or Younger sister!


Aunt   -kahètët  (literally:  “little mother”)


Sound Icon nkahètët                             my aunt

Sound Icon kahètët                               your aunt

Sound Icon kohètëta                             his/her aunt

Sound Icon kahèti  ~  Sound Icon nkahèti                Aunt!


Uncle   -shis  (mother’s brother only)


Sound Icon nshis                                  my mother’s brother

Sound Icon kshis                                  your mother’s brother

Sound Icon wshisa                                his/her mother’s brother

Sound Icon shësa                                  Mother’s brother!  Uncle!



Uncle    -uxtët  (father’s brother only) (literally:  “little father”)


Sound Icon nuxtët                                 my father’s brother

Sound Icon kuxtët                                 your father’s brother

Sound Icon uxtëta                                 his/her father’s brother

Sound Icon nuxtëta                               Father’s brother!  Uncle!


Grandchild   -uxwis  (male or female)


Sound Icon nuxwis                              my grandchild

Sound Icon kuxwis                              your grandchild

Sound Icon uxwisa                             his/her grandchild

Sound Icon nuxwiti                            Grandchild!


And one strange Lenape kin term:


Sound Icon nuxwisxàm                  my child’s pet (literally: “my grandchild animal.”  Mainly used when speaking of a dog.)


Imperative Forms:


Some of the verb forms are classed as Imperative which often means they are a command but depending on how they are said they could also be considered as a request. 


All Delaware verbs are built around a ROOT, which carries the basic meaning of the verb.  A verbalizing suffix is added to the root to form a STEM.  In the examples below the basic root of the verb is shown by the third person imperative which takes no prefix or suffix.  We will begin with a very simple one and that is the Lenape verb, To Give, and the basic form is, Mil.  In Lenape that is the form that is called third person imperative and what it literally is saying is, Give it/them to Him or Her. That could be written something like:


         VERB + -0  =  VERB him or her.


Sound Icon Mil             Give him/her


The imperative form for, VERB me, could be written as


         VERB + -i   =  VERB me


Sound Icon Mili             Give me



And the imperative form for, VERB us, could be written as:


         VERB + -inèn   =  VERB us


Sound Icon Milinèn        Give us


 Now that we know the root of the verb we can look at other words that can be added on in this imperative format.  Sample usage:


Sound Icon Mili në shukël.              Give me the sugar. 

Sound Icon Mili në ahpon               Give me the bread.


You can also say:


Sound Icon Mili ahpon                   Give me some bread.

Sound Icon Mil ahpon                    Give him some bread.


Other examples:


Sound Icon Wichëm                       Help him

Sound Icon Wichëmi                      Help me

Sound Icon Wichëmikw                  Help me, you people

Sound Icon Wichëminèn                 Help us


Sound Icon Witkèm                       Dance with him/her

Sound Icon Witkèmi                      Dance with me

Sound Icon Witkèmikw                  Dance with me, you people

Sound Icon Witkèminèn                 Dance with us


These forms might be useful to you:


Sound Icon xàm                            Feed him

Sound Icon xami                           Feed me

Sound Icon xamikw                     Feed me, you people                    

Sound Icon xaminèn                    Feed us


In Lenape it is often common to use a verbal form which includes the noun which it is built around.  An example might be taking the word, Sound Icon Alukwèpi = Hat, and using it in a verb.  An example would be:


Sound Icon alukwèpisu                        He is wearing a hat


Another example using a word that we have already had is the word, Sound Icon Hèmpës = A shirt or a dress.  In Lenape you can combine different word elements into a single word because Lenape is what linguists call a polysynthetic language. 


If we take the prefix Aon- which means, Blue, we can combine it with the Lenape word for a shirt or a dress and make it is: 

Sound Icon aonhèmpës                   blue dress or shirt                                                

         And it can be made into a verb:

Sound Icon aonhèmpse                 She is wearing a blue dress, or He is wearing a blue shirt


You might think that it is confusing whether that can mean a shirt or a dress and wonder why it can be used that way.  Remember that at the time the Lenape people adopted the word Hèmpës their clothing was made of deerskin so this was somewhat of a catchall term for something made of cloth.  If you have to be specific in Lenape about it being for a man you can say:

Sound Icon lënuwahèmpës             A man’s shirt