Lakota/Grammar

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This is a general documentation of Lakota Grammar.

Sources include Lakota Basic Structures, the Wikipedia on the Lakota language Wikipedia and David V Kaufmann's Lakota Grammar Handbook.

Parts of Speech

Nouns

Nouns <n> in Lakota appear in <subj><obj><v> order.

  • pȟasù<n> ↔ pȟasù (nose)
  • tȟahù<n> ↔ tȟahù (neck)
  • pȟanȟté<n> ↔ pȟanȟté (forehead)
  • igmú<n> ↔ igmú (cat)
  • šún<n> ↔ šún (dog)
  • maká<n> ↔ maká (skunk)
  • čhuŋwíyapehe<n> ↔ čhuŋwíyapehe (grapes)
  • tȟaspáŋ<n> ↔ tȟaspáŋ (apple)
  • zíškopela<n> ↔ zíškopela (banana)
  • wažúšteča<n> ↔ wažúšteča (strawberry)
  • bló<n> ↔ bló (potato)
  • pšíŋ<n> ↔ pšíŋ (onion)
  • wanúŋ<n> ↔ wanúŋ (accident)
  • wóyazaŋ<n> ↔ wóyazaŋ (pain)
  • úta<n> ↔ úta (acorn)
  • ziŋtkázi<n> ↔ ziŋtkázi (canary)
  • mniwáŋca<n> ↔ mniwáŋca (ocean)
  • waŋyéca<n> ↔ waŋyéca (firefly)
  • magáju<n> ↔ magáju (rain)
  • skelúta<n> ↔ skelúta (oriole)
  • míla<n> ↔ míla (knife)
  • waskúyeca<n> ↔ waskúyeca (jam)
  • wówapi<n> ↔ wówapi (book)
  • isákhib<n> ↔ isákhib (pencil)

Verbs

Verbs <v> are an essential part of the Lakota language in that they are the only part of speech necessary in forming a sentence. There are 3 types of verbs: Active <av>, Stative <sv>, and Transitive <tv>. Present tense verbs <pres>.

  • šíčA<v><sv><pres><inf> ↔ šíčA (to be bad)
  • máni<v><av><pres><inf> ↔ máni (to walk)
  • waŋyáŋkA<v><tv><pres><inf> ↔ waŋyáŋkA (to look at)

Adverbs

  • Adjectives do not seem to exist per se; the syntactical structure is better described as "topic and comment."
  • Adverbs, however, do not seem to be strictly defined and have wide applications. There are two types of adverbs: primitive and derived, but there is no specific place for the adverb in the sentence, thought it will often precede verb.

Postpositions

Lakota uses postpositions <post> rather than prepositions; they work in a similar way to English prepositions though they follow their noun complement. Adpositions occur after the head <n>.

  • él<post> ↔ él (at)
  • akáŋl<post> ↔ akáŋl (on)
  • oȟláthe<post> ↔ oȟláthe (under)
  • isákhib<post> ↔ isákhib (beside)
  • itȟókab<post> ↔ itȟókab (in front of)

Conjunctions

  • čhaŋké<cnjcoo> ↔ čhaŋké (and)
  • yuŋkȟáŋ<cnjcoo> ↔ yuŋkȟáŋ (and)
  • k’éyaš<cnjcoo> ↔ k’éyaš (but)
  • na<cnjcoo> ↔ na (joins nouns/phrases)

Articles

The definite article "kiŋ"<def> is used to denote "the", while the indefinite article "waŋ"<ind> is used in cases where "a" would be used in English.

  • kiŋ<det><def> ↔ kiŋ (the)
  • waŋ<det><ind> ↔ waŋ (a)

Demonstratives

There are nine demonstratives <dem> in Lakota, and they can function as either determiners <det> or pronouns <prn>. They are dependent on plurality and distance from speakers and listeners.

  • <prn><dem><sg> ↔ lé (this)
  • <prn><dem><pl> ↔ lená (these)
  • <prn><dem><du> ↔ lenáos (these)
  • <prn><dem><sg> ↔ ká (that)
  • <prn><dem><pl> ↔ kaná (those)
  • <prn><dem><du> ↔ kanáos (those)
  • <prn><dem><sg> ↔ hé (this)
  • <prn><dem><pl> ↔ hená (these)
  • <prn><dem><du> ↔ henáos (these)

Verb Conjugations

Below are example conjugations of active <av>, stative <sv>, and transitive <tv> verbs.

Infinitive Verbs

Here, verbs are unchanged from the lemma when they are in infinitive form <inf>.

  • ištíŋmA<v><av><inf> ↔ ištíŋmA (to sleep)
  • íyotakA<v><av><inf> ↔ íyotakA (to sit down)
  • čhéyA<v><av><inf> ↔ čhéyA (to cry)
  • ípuzA<v><sv><inf> ↔ ípuzA (to be thirsty)
  • heyÁ<v><tv><inf> ↔ heyÁ (to say that)
  • lol'iȟ'aŋ<v><av><inf> ↔ lol'iȟ'aŋ (to cook)
  • íŋyaŋkA<v><av><inf> ↔ íŋyaŋkA (to run)
  • škátA<v><av><inf> ↔ škátA (to play)
  • ičháǧA<v><av><inf> ↔ ičháǧA (to grow)
  • watúkȟa<v><sv><inf> ↔ watúkȟa (to be tired)
  • k'ú<v><tv><inf> ↔ k'ú (to give to)
  • ičú<v><av><inf> ↔ ičú (to take)
  • oyúspe<v><tv><inf> ↔ oyúspe (to catch)
  • yaŋkÁ<v><av><inf> ↔ yaŋkÁ (to sit) //remove??

Active and Stative Verbs

Active verbs are conjugated based on subject. They can be first, second, or third person, and singular, dual, or plural.

  • máni<v><av><s_sg1> ↔ mawáni (I walk)
  • máni<v><av><s_sg2> ↔ mayáni (you walk)
  • máni<v><av><s_sg3> ↔ máni (they walk)
  • máni<v><av><s_du1> ↔ uŋmáni (we two walk)
  • máni<v><av><s_pl1> ↔ uŋmánipi (we all walk)
  • máni<v><av><s_pl2> ↔ mayánipi (you all walk)
  • máni<v><av><s_pl3> ↔ mánipi (they all walk)

Stative verbs are conjugated based on subject. They can be first, second, or third person, and singular, dual, or plural.

  • watúkȟa<v><sv><s_sg1> ↔ mawatúkȟa (I am tired)
  • watúkȟa<v><sv><s_sg2> ↔ niwatúkȟa (you are tired)
  • watúkȟa<v><sv><s_sg3> ↔ watúkȟa (they are tired)
  • watúkȟa<v><sv><s_du1> ↔ uŋwatúkȟa (we two are tired)
  • watúkȟa<v><sv><s_pl1> ↔ uŋwatúkȟapi (we are tired)
  • watúkȟa<v><sv><s_pl2> ↔ niwatúkȟapi (you all are tired)
  • watúkȟa<v><sv><s_pl3> ↔ watúkȟapi (they all are tired)

Transitive

Transitive verbs are conjugated based on object. They can be first, second, or third person, and singular, dual, or plural.

  • waŋyáŋkA<v><tv><s_sg1><o_sg3> ↔ mawaŋyáŋkA (I look at it)
  • waŋyáŋkA<v><tv><s_sg2><o_sg3> ↔ niwaŋyáŋkA (you look at it)
  • waŋyáŋkA<v><tv><s_sg3><o_sg3> ↔ waŋyáŋkA (they look at it)
  • waŋyáŋkA<v><tv><s_pl1><o_pl3> ↔ uŋwaŋyáŋkepi (I look at them)
  • waŋyáŋkA<v><tv><s_pl2><o_pl3> ↔ niwaŋyáŋkepi (you look at them)
  • waŋyáŋkA<v><tv><s_pl3><o_pl3> ↔ waŋwíčhayaŋkA (they look at them)

Use of Postpositions

  • Wówapi kiŋ wáglutapi kiŋ akáŋl<post> yaŋké. The book is sitting on the table.
  • Wóžuha kiŋ oyúŋke kiŋ oȟláthe<post> yaŋké. The bag is sitting under the bed.
  • Šiyútakaŋ kiŋ akáŋwowapi kiŋ isákhib<post> yaŋké. The laptop is sitting beside the desk.
  • Wíčazo kiŋ oákaŋke kiŋ itȟókab<post> yaŋké. The pencil is sitting in front of the chair.
  • Mas'óphiye él <post>. At the store