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Lenape Talking Dictionary

By English WORD or PHRASE

By Lenape WORD or PHRASE

Lenape Lesson #5 - Sentences & Nouns


Let's Talk Lenape!

Lesson 5


Building sentences -  While one word in Lenape can mean a whole sentence in English here are a few small words to help create sentences:


Sound Icon alëmi                                            to begin

Sound Icon hàch  (some speakers said hèch)    (indicates a question)

Sound Icon konaèt                                          maybe

Sound Icon ktite                                             you think

Sound Icon ntite                                             I think

Sound Icon xu                                                will; shall (future marker)


Now let’s put some short sentences about weather together:


Sound Icon Alëmi sukëlan                                It’s beginning to rain

Sound Icon Sukëlan hàch?                              Is it raining?

Sound Icon Wine hàch?                                   Is it snowing?

Sound Icon Xu sukëlan                                    It will rain

Sound Icon Ntite xu sukëlan                            I think it will rain

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

Sound Icon Konaèt xu sukëlan                         Maybe it will rain


More sentences can be made by replacing sukëlan with Sound Icon kshëlànte (hot day), Sound Icon kùmhòkòt (cloudy), and most of the words above.  This should give you a possibility of 90+ sentences.

Making Plurals of Lenape Nouns:


         It is important in any language to learn how to form the plural forms for the words, and that is what we will discuss at this point for Lenape.  Formation of the plurals is fairly regular and simple in Lenape, and here are the basic rules.  We will try to use some of the nouns that we have already gone over in previous classes.

         One thing to understand in the formation of plurals in Lenape is that you need to remember which words are Animate and which are Inanimate.  As stated in earlier lessons this is usually pretty straightforward in that anything living is animate, while anything not living is inanimate.  We say “usually” because as with any language there are exceptions to the rules.  An example would be the Lenape word for bucket, hus, which is borrowed from Dutch and is considered animate, as are many of the early loanwords.


Animate Nouns:


1.  The regular plural ending for Animate Nouns is [-àk].  Examples:


Singular                              Plural                                 English


Sound Icon pushis                     Sound Icon pushisàk                              cats

Sound Icon tipas                        Sound Icon tipasàk                                 chickens

Sound Icon ahas                        Sound Icon ahasàk                                 crows

Sound Icon hus                          Sound Icon husàk                                   buckets


2.  For words ending with –e the Animate Plural is [-yok].  Examples:


Sound Icon mwekane                  Sound Icon  mwekaneyok                     dogs       

Sound Icon uche                          Sound Icon ucheyok                             flies

Sound Icon chinkwe                     Sound Icon  chinkweyok                      bobcats

When the plural ending is added to a word which ends in [–w], the [–w] and the [–àk] combine to make [-ok].  Examples:


Sound Icon xanikw                      Sound Icon xanikok                             squirrels

Sound Icon òpinkw                      Sound Icon òpinkok                            opossums


4.  For words ending with –m the Animate Plural is [-uk].  Examples:


Sound Icon chikënëm                 Sound Icon chikënëmuk                      turkeys

Sound Icon aihàm                      Sound Icon aihàmuk                            golden eagles


5.  For words ending with –im (usually the names for fruits and nuts) the word takes no plural.  Examples:


Sound Icon wisahkim                 Sound Icon wisahkim                           grape(s)

Sound Icon wtehim                    Sound Icon wtehim                               strawberry(s)

Inanimate Nouns:


1.  The regular plural for Inanimate Nouns is [-a]. Some examples are:


Sound Icon ahsën                      Sound Icon ahsëna                                 rocks        

Sound Icon ahpòn                      Sound Icon ahpòna                                 bread(s)

Sound Icon lokèns                      Sound Icon lokènsa                                dishes

Sound Icon salàpòn                    Sound Icon salàpòna                              frybread(s)


2.  For words ending with –e the Inanimate Plural is [-yo].  Examples:


Sound Icon kitahtëne                  Sound Icon kitahtëneyo                          big mountains


3.  When the plural ending is added to a word which ends in [–w], the [–w] and the [–a] combine to make [-o]. For example:


Sound Icon skikw                        Sound Icon  skiko                                    blades of grass

Sound Icon hàkhàkw                   Sound Icon hàkhàko                               bottles


Some Lenape Loanwords From Dutch:


Some of the earliest Europeans to meet the Lenape were the Dutch, and some of their words for things new to the Lenape people were borrowed.  Here are some examples:


 Lenape                              Dutch                                 English


Sound Icon halpànkël                   half anker                            barrel

Sound Icon hèmpës                      hemd                                   shirt; skirt

Sound Icon kënup                         knoop                                  button

Sound Icon mòkël                         moker                                  hammer

Sound Icon pan’kuk                      pannekoek                           pancake

Sound Icon putël                           boter                                   butter

Sound Icon shëmìt  (or)  shmìt        smid                                 blacksmith

Sound Icon shkëp                          schop                                 playing card

Sound Icon shukël                         suiker                                 sugar


The Swedes settled in the southern area of the Lenape homeland (Sound Icon Lënapehòkink) and at least one word was borrowed by the Lenape:


Sound Icon tipas                            tippa (word to call chickens)  chicken