Particles showing a clear separation in the words.

Potawatomi Personal Pronouns

Potawatomi pronouns are indeed words, but they are very seldom used in whole form. When they appear with verbs, they most often appear in particle form.  The words are listed here, but the pronoun particles will be used for each type of verb. 

NinI, me, my,  mine
GinYou, your, yours
WinHe, she, him, her, it
NinanWe but not you, ours but not yours, us
GinanWe including you, all of ours, us
GinwaY’all, you (if you are plural), yours
WinwaThey, them, their

These pronoun words can be used in whole form in phrases, such as “Nin ashtek” (my turn).  But when used with verbs, they appear in particles. 

For example:  I will leave

            Nin becomes “N”

            N+wi+maji  = N wi maji

            I + will + leave                     

Noun Possession

The English way of expressing possession of something by using my, your, our, etc., is accomplished in Potawatomi through particles.  Possession can be shown simply through a paradigm of pronoun particles.  There are also ways to indicate possession in a statement or by using emphatic particles.  When owning things, one must consider whether they are alienable or inalienable.

Inalienable Possession

These are things that you cannot give away.  Most of these nouns are either relatives or body parts.  In this language, even if you are separated from a relative or a body part, it is still linguistically yours. 

N kat My leg
G kat Your leg
W kat enHis/her leg
N kat menanOur leg (not yours)
G kat menanOur leg (+you)
G kat mewaYour leg (pl.)
W kat mewaTheir leg
N gyéMy mother
G gyé Your mother
W gyé yenHis/her mother
N gyé nanOur mother (not yours)
G gyé nanOur mother (+you)
G gyé waYour mother (pl.)
W gyé wanTheir mother

The pattern looks slightly different when the noun is plural.  Remember, body parts are inanimate, while relatives are animate:

N tog enMy ears
G tog enYour ears
W tog nenHis/her ears
N tog menanenOur ears (-you)
G tog menanenOur ears (+you)
G tog mewanYour ears (pl.)
W tog mewanTheir ears
N meshom sekMy grandfather
G meshom sekYour grandfather
W meshom senHis/her grandfather
N meshomse nanekOur grandfather (-)
G meshomse nanekOur grandfather (+)
G meshomse wakYour grandfather (pl)
W meshomse wanTheir grandfather

Relatives and Friends

Here are some commonly used terms for relatives and friends.  Note that some terms are only used by men, while some terms are only used by women.

My maternal auntN oshé           
My paternal auntN shegwes
My nephewNegwenes
My nieceN zhemes
My cousinNitawes
My parentsN getsimek
My daughterN danes
My younger siblingN shimé
My sonN gwes
My brother or my friend (men)N nikan
My grandmotherN’ okmes
My daughter in lawNe’agnekwé
My childNijanes
My sister (women) Nidgeko
My grandchildN osés or N osemé  
My sister (men)N dekwem
My uncleN zheshé       
My son in lawNe’angesh
My elder brother of maleN sezé
My elder brother of femaleN dewéma
My brother in law of femaleNita
My brother in law of maleNiji
My elder sister of maleN mesé
My sister in law of maleNinem

Alienable Possession

These are things that you can give away. This includes most nouns that are not your relative or a part of your body.

Inanimate Objects  
N koman emMy knife 
 N komanenMy knives
G koman emYour knife 
 G komanenYour knives
W koman emHis/her knife 
 W komanenHis/her knives
N koman menanOur knife (not yours) 
 N koman menanenOur knives
G koman menanOur knife (yours too) 
 G koman menanenOur knives
G koman mewa                             Your knife (pl.) 
 G koman mewanYour knives
W koman mewaTheir knife 
 W koman mewanTheir knives

Animate Objects  
N gazho yemMy cat 
 N gazho mekMy cats
G gazho yemYour cat 
 G gazho mekYour cats
W gazho men         His/her cat 
 W gazho menHis/her cats
N gazho menanOur cat (not yours) 
 N gazho menanekOur cats
G gazho menanOur cat (yours too) 
 G gazho menanekOur cats
G gazho mewaYour cat (pl.) 
 GgazhomewakYour cats
W gazho mewanTheir cat 
 W gazho mewanTheir cats

There are other ways to show possession of this type:

Ndo koman em : My knife

Nin ma ode koman : This is my knife (emphatic)

Nin ndeben dan ode koman : I own this knife

Nin ma o nemosh : That is my dog (emphatic)

Nin ndeben ma o nemosh : I own that dog

G do koman : Your knife

Gin ma ode koman : This is your knife (emphatic)

Gin g deben dan ode koman : You own this knife

N do koman menan : Our knife

N do koman menanen : Our knives

Ninan nde benda men ode koman : We own this knife

G do koman menan : Our knife

G do koman menanen : Our knives

Ginan nde benda men node koman en : We own these knives

Some special Possessive words:

N da’i                          My pet dog

            N dokyan                   My pet cat             N déygwam               My pet

Author: neaseno

I was born on Powers Bluff in Wood County, Wisconsin, into a traditional community of Neshnabek. I was raised speaking only native languages, and learned to speak English upon entering school at the age of 6. As of this writing, I am one of 5 remaining Heritage Fluent Speakers of Potawatomi.

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