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August 27, 2020
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August 31, 2020

Language update: August 2020

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