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Lenape Talking Dictionary

By English WORD or PHRASE

By Lenape WORD or PHRASE

Lenape Lesson #9 - Sentences & Location


Let's Talk Lenape!

Lesson #9


Constructing Sentences in Lenape:


         In order to be able to speak Lenape, or any language, it is necessary to learn the construction of the language.  You cannot say “I speak Lenape” if all you can do is to point at things (nouns) and say the words for these things.  How much of a conversation can you have just saying, “Mwekane, èmhònës, wikëwam!”  (Dog, spoon, house)?


         Lenape is quite different from English in the way things are expressed, and in the way morphemes are joined.  A morpheme is the smallest unit in a language that has meaning.  For example, the English word “doghouse” is two morphemes, dog + house, because each has a meaning. The plural form, doghouses, has three morphemes, dog + house + s, because each has a meaning.  Of course if you went up to someone and just said “-s “ it wouldn’t make sense, but we know that the –s can be placed on other nouns to make them plural.


         Unlike English, Lenape frequently has two forms for nouns.  One is called the Free Form, and the other is the Bound Form.  The Free Form is just that, it is free and can stand there all alone.  An example is the word used above, wikëwam = house.  The bound form for house is –ikaon.


The Bound Form MUST be attached to something that modifies it.   You might think that to say “Doghouse” in Lenape you just use the two words, mwekane + wikëwam, together, but you do not.   For “doghouse” you say, “mwekaneikaon” using the bound form “ –ikaon.”  In these Lessons you might see Lenape words with that dash in front of them.  That means it is a Bound Form and cannot be used alone.


         Here are samples of words which have “ –ikaon” added to them.  Some are based on words we have already had in previous Lessons.


        Sound Icon tipasikaon                            chicken house

           [tipas = chicken + -ikaon = house]


        Sound Icon chulënsikaon                        bird house or bird cage

           [chulëns = bird + -ikaon = house]


       Sound Icon xalahputisikaon                    cobweb  (lit. “spider-house”)

           [xalahputis = spider + -ikaon = house]


        Sound Icon alëwikaon                             porch

           [alëwi = more + -ikaon = house]


        Sound Icon ahsënikaon                           rock house

           [ahsën = rock + -ikaon = house]


       Sound Icon màxkahsënikaon                   house made of bricks

           [màxk- = red + ahsën = rock + -ikaon = house]


        Sound Icon amëweikaon                         beehive

           [amëwe- bee + -ikaon = house]


       Sound Icon  patamweikaon                      church

           patamwe = pray + -ikaon = house]



Some Sentences Using the Words Just Covered:


Sound Icon Mwekaneikaonink e.

         He went to the doghouse.


        Sound Icon Mwekane e mwekaneikaonink.

         A dog went to the doghouse.


        Sound Icon Tipasikaonink nta.

         I am going to the chicken house.


        Sound Icon Na tipas tipasikaonink e.

         That chicken went to the chicken house.


        Sound Icon Pushis lëmatahpu alëwikaonink.

         A cat is sitting on the porch.


        Sound Icon Na lënu wiku ahsënikaonink.

         The man lives in a rock or stone house.


Location or Locative Form:


The locative in Lenape is indicated by the addition of –nk to the end of a noun, and it designates the place or the state or action denoted by the verb. It indicates the place where something happens. Usually these are verbs in English that are followed by adverbs or prepositions such as; to, from, in, on, at, into, etc.  Some examples would be:


Sound Icon Konaèt utènink nta.                          Maybe I'll go to town.

Town-LOC  + I go to                   [LOC = locative ending]


Sound Icon Sipunk num                         I came from the creek

Creek-LOC  +  I come from


The locative is also used sometimes to form place names in Lenape, such as:


Sound Icon Pahsayunk – In the valley (Passyunk, part of Philadelphia)


Sound Icon Kitahtënink - On the great mountain


Sound Icon Kamink – Place to cross the river (Bartlesville).


Conversations:  It has been suggested that we need to show more

conversations in the lessons.  What follows in blocks are short conversations based on words and sentences we have already had in the lessons. 


            1.  Sound Icon Kulamàlsi hàch?                                Do you feel well? (How are you?)


2.  Sound Icon Osòmi.  Kèpe hàch?                           Fine.  And you?


1.  Sound Icon  Nulamàlsi.                                        I feel well.


 2. Sound Icon  Nulelìntàm.                                       I am glad.




1.   Sound Icon Kèku hàch kuwatu?                           What do you know?


2.  Sound Icon Xaheli kèku.                                     Many things.


1.  Sound Icon Ktite hàch xu sukëlan?                      Do you think it will rain?


2. Sound Icon  Wèchi èt.                                          Perhaps.




1.  Sound Icon Tani hàch kahès?                              Where is your mother?


2.  Sound Icon Ntite utènink è.                                 I think she went to town.


1.  Sound Icon Kamink hàch è?                                Did she go to Bartlesville?


2. Sound Icon E-è, Kamink è.                                  Yes, she went to Bartlesville.




1.  Sound Icon Naxans sipunk è.                              My older brother went to the creek.


2.  Sound Icon Kèku hàch wënchi sipunk è?              Why did he go to the creek?


1.  Sound Icon Kahta ame.                                       He wanted to go fishing.


2.  Sound Icon O, kxans kahta ame.                         Oh, your brother wanted to fish.




1.  Sound Icon Tani hàch kum?                                Where did you come from? / Where have you been?


2.  Sound Icon Kàpink num.                                     I came from Coffeyville.


1.  Sound Icon Kèku hàch wënchi Kàpink kta?           Why did you go to Coffeyville?  

        [The three words Keku hach wenchi mean Why, or, What is the reason].   

2.  Sound Icon Nkiikàma nshis.                                 I went to visit my uncle.