Konkow does not have words for “a” or “the.”
jý:py can mean “a girl” or “the girl.”
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 look at just two of the common ones first and see how they interact with plural for non-human 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
which would mean that it doesn’t differentiate by distance from speaker,
whereas English “this and that” do. We translated
mỳje as "that," above,
but if it was referring to something close to the speaker,
we would have translated it as "this."
And Ultan calls ʔàma an “anaphoric”, which means you are referring to someone or something you have mentioned before.
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 the same sentence sometimes:
If we look at that sentence in context,
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.
If you are talking about more than one person or thing, the demonstrative will take one of the following suffixes:
In Exercise 1 at the end of this lesson, we will give you practice doing that separation yourself.
Here are some examples with the demonstrative as the subject of the sentence:
and commonly with locative suffixes to refer to a place:
The “distal demonstratives” translate with words like “here,” “there,” “yonder.” (what Ultan calls proximal, medial and distal.) An interesting fact about them is that the vowels of the word change depending on how far away the object is.
he, ho, hu are the distal demonstratives
Now these words are more like the English words “this” and “that” or “here” and “there”, depending on context. It can also be used to talk about time (see third example below).
- Demonstratives are words that normally translate as “this or “that”
- The main demonstratives are:
- mỳje general demonstrative
- ama anaphoric demonstrative
- mòje deictic demonstrative
- A demonstrative before a noun is a describing word, and will have the -m suffix just like other describing words do. (See Lesson 4.)
- Demonstratives take
suffixes to talk about more than one person (or non-person)
- -sa dual
- -paj, -pa: plural human
- -nono plural non-human
- Ultan often writes demonstratives as connected to the following noun without a space. He does this because of stress patterning.
- Distal demonstratives refer to space and time.
The distal demonstratives are:
- héde proximal this, here, now
- hódo medial that, there, then, later
- húdu distal yon, yonder, much earlier or later
Want to learn more? All the Mary Jones videos lessons are available HERE