By Justin Neely, Director of the CPN Department of Language

The Potawatomi language is mainly in the form of verbs. Even many of our nouns come from verbal forms. Here are a few ways of conjugating verbs in Potawatomi:

Jiptebwen – chair
Jiptebe – he/she sits
Debwewen – truth (the concept)
Debwe – he/she tells the truth
Dopwen – table
Dopo – put food on something he/she does
Waskonenjegen – lamp/light
Waskone – light it shines
Gwabegen – dipper or cup
Gwabege – to dip something out/scoop something out
Gbegojgen – curtain
Gbe – all the time
Gojgen – it hangs (verb)

There are four main types of verbs in Potawatomi: VAI — animate intransitive, VII — inanimate intransitive, VTI — transitive inanimate, and VTA — transitive animate. Potawatomi is very specific. Even things that are considered adjectives in English are verbs in Potawatomi. Red, big and long are all verbs.

Mskwa – it is red
Mskoze/ mskwewze – he/she is red
Msha – it’s big
Mgegno – he/she is big
Gnaw – it’s long
Gnoze – he/she is long/tall