describing nouns
new vocabulary words
Verb roots
káto to play
mé: to grab
c'e to see
ʔetitin (it) is green
Noun roots
týtyk grove
ʔákc’olma turtle
ʔo rock
séwi river
býsa: cane
kóle: boy
Describing words
hél, hélpe big
jábe: young
ʔétiti green
ʔékylkyl bluish
síʔypè playful
wýkte one
péne two
Noun suffixes
-m shows that the word describes the “star” noun
-ka with
Demonstratives
ʔáma that
myje that
(distinctions between these two thats will be described in lesson 6)
compounding suffix

In Dr. Ultan's dissertation on Konkow, he talks about a "compounding suffix." The Mountain Maidu grammar book, by Karen Anderson who we are grateful to for sharing this concept, talks about it this way:

In [a previous lesson], we talked about the –m subject marker on nouns. There is another type of –m that is used to tie all describing and specifying words together in a phrase. Instead of just saying “coyote,” you might want to say “that coyote,” or “that big, bad coyote.” Or instead of just saying “a woman,” you might want to say “those three other hungry women.” Think of the noun as the star of the phrase. “Coyote” is the star of the phrase “The big bad coyote”. All the other words are just saying what kind of coyote it is.
In Maidu, all the describing words leading up to the noun (the star of the phrase) have to be linked together with -m suffixes, even if the noun is not the subject of the sentence.

Here are some examples from Coyote and the Turtle Girls: What they say about Mountain Maidu also holds true for Konkow. So the words that lead up to the "star" of the phrase can be called "describing words". We’ve been calling the suffix the “relational” suffix because it relates the describing words to the star noun.
pé:nem   jábe:m   jý:pyc'ok'om   kátosam,   ʔo:di.
two young girls were playing on the rock.
pé:ne
two
-m
relational
   
jábe:
young
-m
relational
   
jý:pyc'ok'
girl
-om
subject
   
káto
play
-sa
dual
-m,
pluperfect
   
ʔo:
rock
-di.
locative
   
“Girls” is the star of the sentence, so that -m is the subject marker. The two words before that have the -m that describe what kind of girls. (kátosam is the verb of the sentence, so that -m is yet a different kind of -m, so you can ignore it for purposes of this lesson.)
ʔàmamjý:pym   mé:nkani,   mỳjemkóle:kan
that girl grabbed that boy (Coyote).
ʔàmam
that
-jý:py
girl
-m
subject
   
mé:
grab
-n
neutral
-kani,
and.​then
   
mỳjem
that
-kóle:
boy
-kan
with
   
noun chart
This sentence has two noun phrases – the first one is the subject so “girl” is marked with the -m subject marker. The second noun phrase is the object, so “boy” does not have an -m. But in both cases, the words for “that” have the -m that ties it to the noun.
Note: if either the describing word or the “star” noun ends in a consonant, add -im instead of -m. The -m on the describing words acts the same way as the subject marker.

Another note: kóle:kan means “with (the) boy”.

kole:-kan boy-with

So if you use the verb root mé: which has been translated as “grab”, the object of grab has to have that suffix -kan. (Remember that in the exercises.)

In the sentence above, the object noun phrase comes after the verb. Remember that in Chapter 2, we showed objects before the verb. So you see that it is fine to do it either way.

Some describing words can be made into verbs, too. For example, ʔetiti “green” with the verb final suffix -n on it becomes ʔetitin “(It) is green.”


exercise 1

This is directly from the story of the Lost Swimmer. Ultan always puts the describing words together with the noun as a single word. We think it is easier to read if we write them separately. But as you study the texts, you will see them as Ultan wrote them; so this exercise is to help you learn how to pick the words apart.

wỳktemhèlpemmájdymà nìk jániton, "sòhnokì:n."

A big (i.e. important) man told me, “(I) will let (you) go.”

See if you can rewrite that noun phrase with the words separated, and put dashes between the roots and suffixes. You can label the parts of each word if you want to. In the text analyses we are calling the suffix a " relational," because it serves to relate the descriptive words to the star noun. 
wỳktemhèlpemmájdymà   nìk   jániton,   "sòhnokì:n."
A big (i.e. important) man told me, “(I) will let (you) go.”
wỳk
one
-te
contrastive
-m
relational
-hèlpe
big
-m
relational
-májdy
man
-mà
subject
   
nìk
me
   
jánito
tell
-n,
verb.​final
   
"sòhno
let.​go
-kì:
will
-n."
verb.​final
   

Exercise 2

Here are some describing words that you can use to make noun phrases. We are also adding the corrected words for “girl” and “girls.” Combine these with the vocabulary from Lesson 1 to do this exercise.

Descriptive Words
hél, helpe big
jábe: young
ʔetiti green
ʔékylkyl bluish
ʔáma that
wýkte one
péne two
siʔympe playful
Nouns
jý:py girl
jý:pyc’ok’o girls (two)
býsa: cane
ákc’olma turtle
ʔo rock
séwi river
kóle boy
Translate these sentences into Konkow. Make sure that the subject of the sentence gets an -m suffix, and that all the describing words get an -m even if the noun is not the subject. (You don’t need to separate the suffixes with a dash when you write the sentence, but you can if you want to.)

a. The green turtle ate the big cane.


b. That young boy grabbed the big, bluish rock.


c. The two young girls looked at the green river.


Word order is variable. These answers each have one of the possible orders, but others are okay too.


ʔetitim   ákc’olmam   hélim   býsa:   pen.
The green turtle ate the big cane.
ʔetiti
green
-m
relational
   
ákc’olma
turtle
-m
subject
   
hél
big
-im
relational
   
býsa:
cane
   
pe
ate
-n.
verb.​final
   

ʔámam   jábe:m   kóle:m   mé:n   ʔekylkylim   ʔo.
That young boy grabbed the bluish rock.
ʔáma
that
-m
relational
   
jábe:
young
-m
relational
   
kóle:
boy
-m
subject
   
mé:
grabbed
-n
verb.​final
   
ʔekylkyli
bluish
-m
relational
   
ʔo.
rock
   

pénem   jý:pyc’ok’om   c’en   ʔétitim   séwi.
The two young girls looked at the green river.
péne
two
-m
relational
   
jý:py
girls
-c’ok’
twin
-om
subject
   
c’e
looked.​at
-n
verb.​final
   
ʔétiti
green
-m
relational
   
séwi.
river.​
   

matching game
ʔetitim ákc’olmam
hélim býsa: pen.
ʔámam jábe:m kóle:m
mé:n ekylkylim ʔo.
pénem jý:pyc
c’en ʔétitim séwi.
The green turtleUPDOWN
ate the big caneUPDOWN
that young boyUPDOWN
grabbed the bluish rock.UPDOWN
The two young girlsUPDOWN
looked at the green river.UPDOWN
Hit Check to see if you have them all correct
summary

These are the concepts you should be familiar with from Lesson 4

  • 1. Describing words describe something about the “star” noun of a noun phrase.
  • 2. All the describing words before the star noun take an -m/-im suffix, which we call a “relational” because it relates the describing words to the nouns. Ultan calls this suffix the “compounding” suffix.
  • 3. Like other suffixes we have discussed, if the root ends in a consonant, this suffix is -im after a consonant and -m after a vowel.
  • 4. Ultan puts the describing words together with the noun without spaces between. For purposes of these lessons, we like to separate them for ease of reading.
flash cards
Printable worksheets and puzzles.
use these extras for reference and to practice what you have learned