‘To Be’ in Wyandot

The Verb ‘to be’ in Wyandot

The verb root -yę- ‘to be’ is unique among Wyandot verbs.  It carries the aspects punctual, habitual and stative for nouns, particles (such as ǫdaeˀ  ‘that’ and trǫndiˀ ‘much’) in the examples given below) and sometimes for verbs that do not carry a full set of aspect suffixes.  These can include people’s names (for example when you are talking about someone who is recently dead), animal names and kinship terms.

The Verb ‘to be’ with Different Aspects

Stative Aspect

This form typically goes with particles (such as ǫdaeˀ) and nouns.

Positive

inęh             It is.

[ee-nen-h]

in-        partitive prefix ‘such’

-(y)ę-   feminine-zoic ‘it’ + verb root ‘to be’

-h         stative aspect

ǫdaeˀ           inęh    It is that one.

that one

[on-da-eh-eh]

uˀndawędaˀ   inęh    It is a potato.

uˀndawędaˀ            potato

[oo-oon-dah-wen-dah-ah]

u-                     feminine-zoic singular patient ‘it’

ˀndawęd-        noun root ‘potato’

-aˀ                    noun suffix

Negative

teˀyęh          It is not.

[teh-eh-yenh]

teˀ-       negative

yę-       feminine-zoic singular agent ‘it’ + verb root ‘to be’

-h         stative aspect

tąˀą[1]             anyǫnyęˀ       teˀyęh          It is not a bear.

not                   it is a bear

[tan-an-an]   [an-yon-yen-en]

tąˀą      trǫndiˀ            teˀyęh             It is not much.

not       much

[tron-dih]

tąˀą      uˀndawędaˀ   teˀyęh          It is not a potato.

not       potato

Punctual Aspect

The punctual aspect goes with the pre-pronominal prefixes of the future and the optative but not the factual with this verb.

Future

Positive

eˀyęhk          It will be.

[eh-eh-yenk]

eˀ-        future

-yę-      feminine-zoic singular agent ‘it’ + verb root ‘to be’

-hk       punctual aspect

yandaˀtsaˀ    eˀyęhk          It will be a pot.

yandaˀtsaˀ              pot

[yan-dah-ah-tsah-ah]

ya-                   feminine-zoic singular agent ‘it’

-ndaˀts-            noun root ‘pot’

-aˀ                    noun suffix

šemędižu                                           eˀyęhk          You will be in charge.

You are great in voice, in charge            it will be

šemędižu       You are great in voice, in charge.

[sheh-men-dee-zhoo]

še-       2nd person singular agent ‘you (s)’

-męd–  noun root ‘word, voice’

-ižu      verb root ‘to be large, great’ + stative aspect

Negative

teˀeyęhk                          It will not be.

[teh-eh-eh-yenk]

teˀ-       negative

-e-       future

-yę-      feminine-zoic singular agent ‘it’ + verb root ‘to be’

-hk       punctual aspect

yandaˀtsaˀ    teˀeyęhk       It will not be a pot.

huki               teˀeyęhk         He will not be a spirit.

huki             He is a spirit, has a spirit.

[hookee]

hu-       masculine singular patient ‘he’

-ki-      verb root ‘to be a spirit’ + stative aspect

Optative

ayęhk           It would be.

[ah-yenk]

a-         optative

-yę-      feminine-zoic singular agent ‘it’ + verb root ‘to be’

-hk       punctual aspect

ayǫmeh                 ayęh            One would be human.

one (ind) is human         it would be

[ah-yon-meh]

ayǫmeh        One is human.

ay-       indefinite agent ‘one’

-ǫme–  verb root ‘to be human’

-h         stative aspect

Habitual Aspect Plus Past Aspect Suffix

This was traditionally used after the name of a person who recently died, like how the word ‘late’ is used before a name in English.

yehęh           It used to be.

[yeh-henh]

ye-       feminine-zoic singular agent + verb root ‘to be’

-hę-      habitual aspect

-h         past aspect suffix

yežaˀhaˀ       yęhęˀ           I was a child

I – child            it used to be

yežaˀhaˀ       I (am a) child

[yeh-zhah-ah-ha-ha]

ye-       1st person singular agent ‘I’

-žaˀh-   noun root ‘child’

-aˀ        noun suffix                              

Wendake yehęˀ                          Wendake that used to be (i.e., Huronia in Ontario)

anduˀmęh                  yehęˀ              She is my mother that used to be (i.e., she is no    she is mother to me            used to be        longer alive).

[an-doo-oo-menh]

Stative Aspect: With the Cislocative Prefix and the Past Aspect Suffix

kenęˀ              when it was in the past

[keh-nen-en]

ke-       cislocative prefix ‘when’ + feminine-zoic singular agent ‘to be’ + stative aspect

-nęˀ      past aspect suffix

yendrawahs  kęnęˀ                          I used to dance

I often dance    when it was in the past

yendrawahs           I often, frequently dance.

[yen-drah-wahs]

ye-                   1st person singular agent ‘I’

-ndrawa-          verb root ‘to dance’

-hs                   habitual aspect

[1] This part is not absolutely necessary all the time.

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