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Lenape Talking Dictionary

By English WORD or PHRASE

By Lenape WORD or PHRASE

Lenape Lesson #5


Let's Talk Lenape!

Lesson 5


Building sentences -  While one word in Lenape can mean a whole sentence in English here are a few small words to help create sentences:


alëmi                                            to begin

hàch  (some speakers said hèch)    (indicates a question)

konaèt                                          maybe

ktite                                             you think

ntite                                             I think

xu                                                will; shall (future marker)


Now let’s put some short sentences about weather together:


Alëmi sukëlan                                It’s beginning to rain

Sukëlan hàch?                              Is it raining?

Wine hàch?                                   Is it snowing?

Xu sukëlan                                    It will rain

Ntite xu sukëlan                            I think it will rain

Ktite hàch xu sukëlan?                   Do you think it will rain?

Konaèt xu sukëlan                         Maybe it will rain


More sentences can be made by replacing sukëlan with kshëlànte (hot day), kùmhòkòt (cloudy), and most of the words above.  This should give you a possibility of 90+ sentences.

Making Plurals of Lenape Nouns:


         It is important in any language to learn how to form the plural forms for the words, and that is what we will discuss at this point for Lenape.  Formation of the plurals is fairly regular and simple in Lenape, and here are the basic rules.  We will try to use some of the nouns that we have already gone over in previous classes.

         One thing to understand in the formation of plurals in Lenape is that you need to remember which words are Animate and which are Inanimate.  As stated in earlier lessons this is usually pretty straightforward in that anything living is animate, while anything not living is inanimate.  We say “usually” because as with any language there are exceptions to the rules.  An example would be the Lenape word for bucket, hus, which is borrowed from Dutch and is considered animate, as are many of the early loanwords.


Animate Nouns:


1.  The regular plural ending for Animate Nouns is [-àk].  Examples:


Singular                              Plural                                 English


pushis                                  pushisàk                              cats

tipas                                    tipasàk                                 chickens

ahas                                    ahasàk                                 crows

hus                                      husàk                                  buckets


2.  For words ending with –e the Animate Plural is [-yok].  Examples:


mwekane                             mwekaneyok                        dogs       

uche                                    ucheyok                               flies

chinkwe                               chinkweyok                          bobcats


3.  When the plural ending is added to a word which ends in [–w], the [–w] and the [–àk] combine to make [-ok].  Examples:


xanikw                                 xanikok                                squirrels

òpinkw                                 òpinkok                               opossums


4.  For words ending with –m the Animate Plural is [-uk].  Examples:


chikënëm                             chikënëmuk                          turkeys

aihàm                                  aihàmuk                               golden eagles


5.  For words ending with –im (usually the names for fruits and nuts) the word takes no plural.  Examples:


wisahkim                              wisahkim                              grape(s)

wtehim                                wtehim                                strawberry(s)

Inanimate Nouns:


1.  The regular plural for Inanimate Nouns is [-a]. Some examples are:


ahsën                                  ahsëna                                 rocks        

ahpòn                                  ahpòna                                bread(s)

lokèns                                  lokènsa                                dishes

salàpòn                                salàpòna                              frybread(s)


2.  For words ending with –e the Inanimate Plural is [-yo].  Examples:


kitahtëne                             kitahtëneyo                                  big mountains


3.  When the plural ending is added to a word which ends in [–w], the [–w] and the [–a] combine to make [-o]. For example:


skikw                                   skiko                                    blades of grass

hàkhàkw                              hàkhàko                               bottles


Some Lenape Loanwords From Dutch:


Some of the earliest Europeans to meet the Lenape were the Dutch, and some of their words for things new to the Lenape people were borrowed.  Here are some examples:


 Lenape                              Dutch                                 English


halpànkël                             half anker                            barrel

hèmpës                                hemd                                   shirt; skirt

kënup                                  knoop                                  button

mòkël                                  moker                                  hammer

pan’kuk                               pannekoek                           pancake

putël                                    boter                                   butter

shëmìt  (or)  shmìt              smid                                    blacksmith

shkëp                                 schop                                   playing card

shukël                                  suiker                                  sugar


The Swedes settled in the southern area of the Lenape homeland (Lënapehòkink) and at least one word was borrowed by the Lenape:


tipas                                    tippa (word to call chickens)  chicken