But they do have words like “that.” They are called demonstratives.
Looking through the transcriptions of the stories, you can see lots of those words. Here are a few from Coyote and the Turtle Girls. Let’s just look at two of the common ones for now and see how they interact with nouns.
(“to” is indicated by the –di. We’ll discuss that later.)
The -m on the demonstratives in the examples above is the same -m that connects other describing words to nouns, that we talked about in lesson 4.
So the roots of the demonstratives would be:
We introduced my in Lesson 5 as the 3rd person pronoun (most often translating as “he” or “she”). Adding the -je suffix makes it the demonstrative.
Ultan calls mỳje a “general” demonstrative, which would mean that it doesn’t differentiate by distance from speaker, whereas English “this and that” do. (So if mỳje was referring to something close by, an English translation might use “this”.) And Ultan calls ‘àma an “anaphoric”, which means you are referring to someone or something you have mentioned before. A third demonstrative is like “that guy” (or “this guy”) does in English. Anyway, both mỳje and ‘àma usually translate as “that”.
The third demonstrative, mo, mòje, is less common in the stories. Ultan calls it a “deictic,” meaning it “points” to something. The examples in his dissertation all involve referring to something that is in sight of the speaker or narrator.
More than one demonstrative is used in same sentence sometimes:
If we look at that sentence in context, it may be a clue as to when you might choose one of those words over the other:
Now those two girls were talking to one another, those two were chatting. "I'm going to go in again." said one to the other on the rock. That (ʔàmam) girl grabbed that (mỳjem) boy.
Both the girls and Coyote (referred to in this sentence as “that boy”) have been given the myje demonstrative throughout the story. In this case, the narrative is pointing out that of the two girls, it was the one who had spoken who grabbed the boy. The use of ʔàma in that case is referring to the girl just mentioned (the “aforementioned girl”).
If you skim through the whole text of Coyote and the Turtle Girls or other stories, you’ll see that the demonstratives are used a great deal. In some cases mýje can just translate as “he” or “she”, or “that.one”, if it is not followed by a noun.
Line 15 is an example.
Maybe it was those two (i.e. standing over there)