"Speak same!"

Lesson 2

Plural Nouns

Let us now look at how we can make our nouns plural. All the objects we looked at in lesson 1 were in the singular. But first there is something you need to know. It is a part of how the people of the time saw things in everyday life.

In English we are well aware of the concept of grammatical 'Gender'. We attach to nouns a gender of 'male', 'female' or 'neuter'

The original inhabitants of Southern New England were part of a linguistic and cultural group called 'Algonquian'. In their linguistic world, gender consisted of nouns being either animate or inanimate.

Animate objects were usually living things such as people, animals and their names, spirits, full sized trees, certain parts of the human or animal body, animal hides, maize, wheat and their parts-including bread, shells, a bow, beads, moving machines, the sun. moon and stars. Any noun relating to a person, especially when it is used as a name is considered animate. Raspberry, blackberry and other plants. Some articles of clothing. Any object which has lifelike properties, especially in the way of understanding, speech and speaking. Any noun which primarily designates a person. Things which contain water, but surprisingly, not water itself.

Inanimate objects were everything else. However, like many other languages, there were things in the one set which seem oddly placed in the other, and vice versa. Usually one can guess which category a noun falls into, but only by consulting in the vocabulary, can you be sure. In the vocabulary, nouns are labeled either 'NI' - noun Inanimate or 'NA' - noun Animate.

In English the common practice to make a noun plural is to add the letter 's' to the singular noun. In our language you have to know if the noun is 'animate' or 'inanimate'. For animate nouns we add the ending '-ak' and for inanimate nouns, the ending '-ash'.


But there are many nouns which in the singular have an ending which is only seen when there is an additional ending to the noun, like the plural suffix. There is no apparent rule as to which nouns have or have no additional ending. The only way to be certain is to check in the dictionary and the best way to determine the ending is to look for the plural form.


Here are some more nouns for you to learn. Try to say the words out loud, first the singular and then the plural version.

kidney beanNItuppuhquamkidney beanstuppuhquamash

Previous    Next    Index