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Lenape Talking Dictionary

By English WORD or PHRASE

By Lenape WORD or PHRASE

Lenape Lesson #4 - Numbers & Weather


Let's Talk Lenape!

Lesson 4


Categories of Words in Lenape


      In using the Lenape language (or any other Algonquian language) the world is divided into two categories:  ANIMATE  and  INANIMATE.   It is important to learn in which category the words are placed.  For the most part this is a fairly simple choice since nearly all living things will be ANIMATE and non-living things will be INANIMATE.


     Nearly all languages divide their words into categories (which linguists usually refer to as GENDER).  In French or Spanish everything is either masculine or feminine, so in learning the language you must also learn that a table is considered feminine while a book is masculine.  In many Germanic languages there are three categories, and in some African languages as many as ten.


     You might wonder why this is important.  The nouns [remember that a noun “names a person, place or thing”] must be classed as either Animate or Inanimate, but so are the words that go with them.  For example, if you say, “I have a dog?” you say, Sound Icon “Nulhala mwekane” which is literally “I-have-him dog.”    On the other hand if the noun is Inanimate, such as Lokèns = Dish, then the verb changes.  “I have a dish” is  Sound Icon “Nulhatu lokèns” literally I-have-it dish.



The Articles in Lenape


     In English the Articles are the words  A  -  AN  -  THE,  as well as the words  THIS  -  THAT  -  THESE  -  THOSE.  In Lenape there is no word for the English  A  or  AN.  For example:


     Sound Icon mili tipas           - means -         give me a chicken


     There is no word in Lenape which exactly matches the English word THE because in English THE can be used for one thing, several things, and even for people.  Lenape is more specific.  The Article will tell you if the subject is Animate or Inanimate, nearby or far away, and if there is one or more than one.  In many ways the Articles in Lenape are more like the English words THIS, THAT, THESE or THOSE.   The articles are as follows:





         Not Nearby 

(or)  Not Present 

 Animate Singular

   Sound Icon wa    (this)

   Sound Icon na       (that)

 Animate Plural

   Sound Icon yuki  (these)

   Sound Icon nèki     (those)

 Inanimate Singular

   Sound Icon yu     (this)

   Sound Icon në       (that)

 Inanimate Plural

   Sound Icon yuli   (these)

   Sound Icon nèl      (those)


   To give a better idea how these are used, here are some short sentences in Lenape.  First the Animate forms.


       Lenape                                             English


  Sound Icon sëksu wa pushis                                          this cat is black

  Sound Icon seksuwàk yuki pushisàk                              these cats are black

  Sound Icon sëksu na pushis                                           that cat is black

  Sound Icon sëksuwàk nèki pushisàk                              those cats are black


Note how the verb ('to be black') and the Article change to match the subject ('cat').  Now here are some Inanimate forms.


  Sound Icon sëke yu ahsën                                             this rock is black

  Sound Icon sëkeyo yuli ahsëna                                      these rocks are black

  Sound Icon sëke në ahsën                                             that rock is black

  Sound Icon sëkeyo nèl ahsëna                                      those rocks are black


     As with ('cat') in the first set of sentences, here too the verb and the Article change to match the subject ('rock').  English does this somewhat also, because you know you would not say, "Look at the rock, he is black" for the simple reason that it does not sound correct.

The Numbers in Lenape

Lenape                                                               English


Sound Icon kwëti                                                         one

Sound Icon nisha                                                         two

Sound Icon naxa                                                          three

Sound Icon newa                                                         four

Sound Icon palenàxk                                                   five

Sound Icon kwëtash                                                    six

Sound Icon nishash                                                     seven

Sound Icon xash                                                          eight

Sound Icon pèshkunk                                                  nine

Sound Icon tèlën                                                         ten


Pointing  -  One interesting old tradition among the Lenape was the custom of pointing with the lips.  It was considered very impolite to point at a person using your finger, and it was also considered very bad to ever point at a grave with your finger.  Instead the Lenape pointed with their lips by slightly pursing the lips in the direction you wish to indicate.  The Lenape word for this custom is Sound Icon Shètunèxin. 


The Weather in Lenape


Sound Icon wëli kishku                                         It is a good day

Sound Icon mushhakòt                                         The sky is clear

Sound Icon lëlëwàxën                                           There is a breeze

Sound Icon kshëlànte                                           It is a hot day

Sound Icon kùmhòkòt                                           It is cloudy

Sound Icon sukëlan                                              It is raining

Sound Icon kshilan                                               It is raining hard

Sound Icon sasapëlehële                                     There is lightning

Sound Icon pèthakhòn                                          It is thundering

Sound Icon aon                                                    It is foggy

Sound Icon kshàxën                                             It is windy

Sound Icon kaoxën                                               Tornado

Sound Icon thapàn                                               It is cool

Sound Icon thè                                                    It is cold

Sound Icon thupàn                                               There is frost

Sound Icon wine                                                  It is snowing