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Lenape Talking Dictionary

By English WORD or PHRASE

By Lenape WORD or PHRASE

Lenape Lesson #3

Alënixsitàm! 

Let's Talk Lenape!

Lesson  3

        

More on the Spelling System:

 

Some people have asked why we don’t write letters like B, D, G, etc. They say they can hear those sounds, so we will discuss that subject so you will be familiar with the spelling we are using.  The chart below is a chart of the international phonetic symbols used to write Lenape by linguists.  To make it easier to understand we have removed a number of symbols that are only used for other languages.  Notice that many of the letters like P and B; T and D; are in boxes where they are paired.  The reason is that in each case the first letter is voiceless – in other words when you say that sound you do not vibrate your vocal cords.  The second letter in each case is voiced which means you do vibrate your vocal cords. 

 

The location on the chart also indicates the part of the mouth where these sounds are produced.          What is important is that in the Lenape language the ONLY time you have a voiced consonant is when it follows the letter N or M.  In other words, if you have a Lenape word like Kahes meaning Mother you simply put the N- (my) in front of it and you have Nkahes = my mother.  The only thing you have to remember is that the K is pronounced like a G because it has an N in front of it.  That also means the basic form of the word does not change because if we wrote that as a G the word would become Gahes or Ngahes which looks quite a bit different from the basic form of the word.

 

 

Special Consonant Combinations

 

 

Letters

At the beginning of a word

At the end of a word, or in the middle of a word before a vowel or before -h- or -x-

In the middle of a word before any consonant except  -h- or -x-

m + p

like the -b- in English "back"

Lenape Example:

mpa = I come

mpisun = medicine

like the -mb- in English "ember"

Lenape Example: hèmpës = shirt

like the -mp- in English "hemp"

Lenape Example: aonhèmpse = she has a blue dress

 

n + ch

like the -j- in English "jungle"

Lenape Example: nchuski = I wade

nchu = friend (man speaking to man)

like the -ng- in English "engine"

Lenape Example: pënchi = he enters something through a small opening

like the -nch- in English "pinch"

Lenape Example: mpënchtunèna = I put my finger in his mouth

 

n + k

like the -g- in English "go"

Lenape Example:

nkata =  I want

nkwis = my son

like the -ng- in English "anger"

Lenape Example: winkàn = it tastes good

like the -nk- in English "tank" Lenape Example:

pëpankpe = it drips

 

n + s

like the -z- in English "zero" Lenape Example: nsùkwis = my mother-in-law

nsit = my foot

like the -ns- in English "answer"

Lenape Example: answikàn = a fish net [note that the n + s combination nasalize the preceding vowel]

like the -ns- in English "answer"

Lenape Example: anskan = last dance after a stomp dance [note that the n + s combination will nasalize the preceding vowel]

 

n + sh

Like Eng. -z- in Azure, or -s- in Measure,

Lenape Example:

nshis = my uncle nshimwi = I flee

like the -nsh- in English "kinship"

Lenape Example: manshapi = a bead [note that the n + sh combination nasalize the preceding vowel]

like the -nsh- in English "kinship"

Lenape Example:

panshpèkw = cantaloupe [note that the n + sh combination will nasalize the preceding vowel]

 

n + t

like the -d- in English "dip"

Lenape Example:

nta = I go

ntakohchi = I am cold

like the -nd- in English "wind"

Lenape Example:

ènta = when

like the -nt- in English "winter"

Lenape Example:

këntka = you dance

Stress

As stated in Lesson 1 in Lenape the stress normally falls on the vowel in the next to last syllable, as in the words salàpòn (frybread) and tipas (chicken).  If the vowel in the next to last syllable is an -ë- the stress will often be placed on the preceding syllable.  Here is an example nkëlënëmën (I carry it).  In these lessons we will underline the vowel if the stress falls on other than next to last syllable.

Some New Words:  Beyond regular greetings: 

 

If you see a person you consider a friend, there are special terms you can use to greet him.  It is important to understand that these terms are used only in speaking to a friend and not one speaking of a friend. 

 

[Note:  Among the Lenape the use of the term “friend” is not used as freely as it is in English.  You would not normally use the friendship terms for someone you had only met a few days before.]

 

In Lenape the terms for “friend” are used only as man-to-man or woman-to-woman, and they are as follows:

 

         Nchu                                    Friend!  (man-speaking-to-man)

         Nchutia                                Dear Friend!  (man-speaking-to-man)

         Ichu                                    Friend!  (woman-speaking-to-woman)

 

A man can greet his man friend as follows:

 

         Hè, Nchu! Kulamàlsi hàch?     Hi, Friend!  How are you?

 

or the words could be arranged as:

 

         Hè! Kulamàlsi hàch, Nchu?     Hi!  How are you, Friend?

 

If you meet a person whom you haven't seen for a long time, you may say:

 

         Kpaihàkwinakwsi                 I haven't seen you for a long time

 

Then you can add:

 

         Ta(ni) hàch kta?                   Where did you go?

         Ta(ni) hàch kum?                  Where have you been? (or)

Where are you coming from?

 

You can answer the question above by saying:

 

         Kamink nta.                         I went to Bartlesville.

         Kàpink num.                         I came from Coffeyville.

 

Some words you might find useful:

 

ahowtu                                         it is too expensive

apuwawtu                                     it is inexpensive

Kèku hàch ktite?                           What do you think?

konàch                                         so what!; who cares?!

mahchikwi                                    it is no good

mitsi                                             eat

mitsikw                                         you people eat

mitsitàm                                       let’s eat

nuchkwe                                       it is useless

kèpe hàch?                                   you too?

òk nèpe                                        me too

punitu                                          leave it alone

puniw                                           leave him/her alone

wanìshi                                         thank you

wëntaxa                                       come here

 

and some for people with children:

 

chitkwësi                                       be quiet

këlamahpi                                     sit still  (or)  behave

lëmatahpi                                     sit down

nuwi                                             come here (this is the most common

    way to say this to children)