Ge Binjegemen

Lesson 9:  Ge Binjegémen! Let’s Clean Up!

Ahau, ge binjegémen!Ok, let’s clean up!
Mnéschegén i dopwenStraighten up the table
Byédon i mbop mkwemitaswenek Bring the soup to the refrigerator
Byédon ni mskwéwnagnen taswenek Bring the red dishes to the cabinet
Ton zhi i zaskokwadék  Put the frybread there
Ni pi je ga wje toyen i ziwtagen?Where did you put the salt?
Ziwtagen ndeton shoteI have the salt here
Dopwenek étémget i waskekThe pepper is on the table
Ézhiwton mkwemitaswenek ga shotmegoPut away what we didn’t eat in the fridge
Zagjewébdon ni wabshkyagzidon’egnen Toss out those white napkins
Zigwébdon ni gzidon’egnen Throw away those napkins
Ni pi je ndo zawgzinwnagjegas?Where is my brown dish rag?
Zagech ézhiwton i zigwébnekek Put the garbage can outside
Zagech ézhiwton i mamgengéwkekPut the recycling bin outside
Majipton i wnagagzinjegéwen Start the dishwasher
Zhishchegén i mchik bwamshe égzizgengéyen  Sweep the floor before you scrub it
Bindon éjegzinjik bwamshe égzinwnagéyenClean the sink before you wash those dishes
Gégo pamséken shote njeshek ngi gzizgengén i mchikDon’t walk around here I just scrubbed the floor
Gégo pamsékék shote njeshek ngi gzizgengén I mchikDon’t walk around here (to more than one person) I just scrubbed the floor
Mamgenen ni mkekwen Recycle those boxes  (reuse those boxes)
Gégo ngetoken ode wizaw mkekwenDon’t lose this yellow box
Mamgenen ni skebygamodésen Recycle those green bottles (reuse those bottles)
Taswenek ézhiwton ni zhabwémodésenPut those see through bottles in the cabinet
Ggi gish gzinwnagé ne? Are you finished with the dishes?
Ahau, ge o nwéshmomenOk, Let’s go rest.

Our vocabulary matrix from these phrases:

NounsVerbsOther wordsParticles
Dopwen – tableBinjegé – to cleanAhau – ok, greeting, acknowledgementGe – something will happen in the near future
Mbop – soupMnéschegé – to straighten up, put in orderI – “that” when that is inanimateMskwé – red
Mkwemitaswen – fridgeByédon – bring a thingMkwemitaswenek – locative for fridgeZaw – brown
Taswen – a closet, cabinet, or cupboardByédonen – bring more than one thing. Not used for commands.Taswenek – locative for taswenWizaw – yellow
Wnagnen – dishesTon – put itZhi – thereNi pi je – particles meaning “where”
Zaskokwadék – frybread (participle)To – have it or put itShote – hereGa wje – past purpose or direction
Ziwtagen – saltTé – to be in a place if it is inanimateDopwenek – at/on the tableGa – something that happened
Waskek – pepper (participle)Ézhiwton – put something awayNi – those, if those are inanimateNdo – my
Ga shotmego – leftovers (participle – what we didn’t eat)Zagjewébdon – throw something outside, toss something outWabshkya – whiteZaw- brown
Gzidon’egnen – napkins, face clothsZigwébdon – discard something, pour something out, throw awayZagech – OutsideNgi – Nin did something in the past
Gzinwnagjegas – dishragMajipton – start something mechanicalBwamshe – beforeOde – wizaw
Zigwébnekek – garbage canZhishchegé – sweepGégo – stop, don’tZhabwé – something is clear or see-throughg
Mamgengéwkek – Recycling binGzizgengé – scrubNjeshek – just happenedGgi – Gin did something in the past
Wnagagzinjegéwen – dishwasherBindon – clean somethingSkebgya – greenNe – yes/no question marker
Mchik – floor, ground, horizonGzinwnagé – wash dishesGish – finished, already happenedO – in front of a verb, it means go do something
Éjegzinjik – sink (participle – where we was our hands)Pamsé – walk around  
Mkekwen – boxesMamgengé – recycle  
Modés – bottleNgeto – lose something  
 Nwéshmo – Rest  

What we can learn from these phrases:

  1. Mamgengé is a verb meaning to pick up something discarded to reuse it.  This is an old concept to Potawatomi folk, and is now used as a verb for “recycling.”
  2. Most commands listed here are for one person.  When assigning a chore to more than one person, be sure to use the plural form. 
  3. “To” is a unique verb in that it can mean “to have” or “to put.”  It is a relative of the verb “té,” which is the inanimate form of “to be in a place.” 
    1. Ton zhi is a command form – put something there
    1. Ndeton means I have it
    1. Ézhiwton is a command form – put something “away” (put it away is an idiom in English and is hard to translate into Potawatomi)
    1. Ni pi je ga wje toyen – Where did you put it?
    1. Étémget –  it is in a place
    1. Éték – it is in a place (a variant form)
  4. Notice the color prefixes.  There are two ways to express colors in Potawatomi, by prefix or by verb.  Yes, colors are verbs in Potawatomi.  Let’s explore this in further detail:

Colors in Potawatomi

SkebgyaGreen, sometimes blue

These colors can appear as verbs describing objects, or as prefixes attached to objects.

Mskoze o bnéshiThat bird is red
Mskwabnéshi nde wabmaI see a red bird
Mskwane i wnagenThat dish is red
Mskwéwnagen ndetonI have a red dish
Wabshkyamget i dopwenThat table is white
Wabdopwen gdebéndan ne?Do you own a white table?
Wizawamget i pkwakwetThat ball is yellow
Wizawapkwakwet ne gdeton?Do you have a yellow ball?
Zawamget i émkwanThat spoon is brown
Ni pi je i zawémkwan?Where is the brown spoon?
Wabshkyak gi penikThose potatoes are white
Wabshkyapenik ngi gishpnenakI bought white potatoes
Mkedémget i dabyanThat car is black
Medagwéndan i mkedéwdabyanI like that black car
Wjepkwamgetnon ni mkesnenThose shoes are blue
Shkwadémek éték ni wjepkwamkesnenThe blue shoes are by the door
Wjepkwadék i mkekwenThe box is purple
Gégo ngetoken i wjepkwadémkekwenDon’t lose the purple box

Other Chores….

Nda zibiyéngéI should do the laundry
Bkes atsek nda bindonI should clean the bathroom
Mchik nda zosopjegénI should vacuum the floor
Biskemwenen nda zhoshkwé’anI should iron the clothes
Dabyan nda gzibingé’anI should wash the car
Nemosh nda shemaI should feed the dog
Waboyan nda pe’egwadonI should patch up that blanket
Dawéwgemek nda zhyaI should go to the store
Wshkewmkesnen nda wzhetonenI should make new moccasins
Nda jigagwné’géI should shovel snow
Nda biske’anenI should chop wood (small pieces)
Nda msénkéI should chop wood (large pieces)

YOUR CHALLENGE:  identify the chores that need doing at your home….and who is going to do them!

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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