Blackfoot/Grammar

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Nouns

Nouns in Blackfoot can be inflected for grammatical gender (animacy), number particularity, and XXXXX

Noun Inflections

Grammatical Gender

Blackfoot has two noun classes: animate and inanimate.

Inanimate Nouns

Singular inanimate nouns whose stem ends in a vowel take the suffix «ᔪ»

  • ᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾᔪ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᔪ
  • ᒉᒧᐧᖹ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᒉᒧᐧᖹᔪ

«ᔪ» is realized as «ᖱ» after consonants.

  • ᑫᒣᘁ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᑫᒣᖽ
  • ᒍᐡ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᒍᖹ
  • ᓴᔭᑲᘁ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᓴᔭᑲᖽ

Animate Nouns

Singular animate nouns whose stem ends in a vowel take the suffix «ᖷ»

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᖷ
  • ᑲᖺᖿ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᑲᖺᖿᖷ
  • ᖿᖾ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖿᖾᖷ

«ᖷ» is realized as «ᖳ» after consonants

  • ᖳᒣᑯᐢ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖳᒣᑯᒉ
  • ᑲᔈ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᑲᓭ
  • ᖲᑊᖾᒪᘁ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖲᑊᖾᒪᖽ

Number

Blackfoot distinguishes between singular and plural nouns.

Inanimate Plurals

Inanimate plurals take the suffix «ᖱᔈᒧᐧ»

  • ᓴᔭᑲᖽᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾ<n><pl><nn> ↔ ᓴᔭᑲᖽᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾᐟᔈᒧᐧ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><pl><nn> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᐟᔈᒧᐧ
  • ᖲᒉᖽᐧᘁᔈᖾᔪ<n><pl><nn> ↔ ᖲᒉᖽᐧᘁᔈᖾᐟᔈᒧᐧ

Animate Plurals

Animate plurals take the suffix «ᖱᖽᐧ»

  • ᖻᒣᔭᖷ<n><pl><an> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᐟᖽᐧ
  • ᑲᖺᖾ<n><pl><an> ↔ ᑲᖺᖾᐟᖽᐧ
  • ᖿᖾ<n><pl><an> ↔ ᖿᖾᐟᖽᐧ

Particular vs. Non-Referring

If a noun refers to a specific entity, such as in the sentence 'I like this dog,' it is said to be particular. If it refers to a more general class of entities, such as in the sentence 'I like dogs,' it is said to be non-referring. Particular nouns do not change their form, but non-referring nouns take the suffix «ᖱ»

Non-Referring Nouns

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an><nr> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᐟ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><pl><nn><nr> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᐟ
  • ᖻᒣᔭᖷ<n><pl><an><nr> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᐟ

Major Third Person vs. Minor Third Person

When a sentence has two or more animate nouns, one must be marked major, which indicates that it is more prominent in the current portion of the discourse, and the others must be marked as minor third person, which indicates that they are less prominent. Any animate noun marked by a possessive must by default be demoted to minor third person status. The minor third person may also be referred to as the obviative or the fourth person. For my purposes, I will tag major third person as <p3> and minor third person as <p4>.

Major Third Person

The animate singular suffix «ᖷ» doubles as the major third person suffix.

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an><p3> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᖷ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><pl><nn><p3> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᖷ
  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><pl><an><p3> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᖷ

Minor Third Person

The minor third person suffix is «ᔪ» , which is realized as «ᖱ» after consonants.

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an><p4> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᔪ
  • ᑲᖺᖾ<n><pl><an><p4> ↔ ᑲᖺᖾᔪ
  • ᓴᔭᑲᘁ<n><sg><nn><p4> ↔ ᓴᔭᑲᖽ

Verbs

Intransitive Verbs

Agreement

The person and number of a verb's subject are marked on the verb. These person markers serve the same function as pronouns do in more isolating languages. Independent pronouns do exist in Blackfoot, but they are typically only used for emphasis. (See section X)

Verb agreement affixes
Subject person <sg> English <pl> English
<p1> ᖹᐨ- 'I' ᖹᐨ-...-ᑊᑯᖻᖻ 'we(excl)'
<p2> ᖽᐨ- 'you' ᖽᐨ-...-ᑊᑫ=ᖷ 'you(pl)'
<p21> -- -- -ᖲ'ᑫ 'we(incl)'
<p3> -ᖷ '(s)he' -ᔪ 'they'
<p4> -ᔪᖹ '(s)he' -ᔪ 'they'
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><sg><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᐠᔪ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><sg><p2> ↔ ᖽᒣᐠᔪ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><sg><p3> ↔ ᖳᐠᔪᔦᖷ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᐠᔪᑯᖻᖻ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><p2> ↔ ᖽᒣᐠᔪᑊᑫᙿᖷ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><21> ↔ ᖳᐠᔭ'ᑫ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><p3> ↔ ᖳᐠᔪᔦᖷ

Predicate adjectives and nominatives as intransitive verbs

In Blackfoot, intransitive verbs can serve the same function English's predicate adjectives and nominatives. For example, the qualities of being tall and being a woman are both expressed through verbs.

Adjectival verbs

  • ᔈᑯᒣ 'tall' <vblex><sg><p1> ↔ ᖹᐨᔈᑯᒣ 'I am tall'
  • ᓴᖿ'ᑯᐧ 'nice' <vblex><sg><p2> ↔ ᖽᒪᐧᖿ'ᑯᐧ 'You are nice'
  • ᓱᖽᐧᖻᒧᐧ 'black' <vblex><nn><sg><p1> ↔ ᓱᖽᐧᖻᒧᐧᖷ 'It[inanimate] is black'

Verbs derived from nouns

Intransitive verbs are derived from nouns by adding the suffix «ᔪ», along with the appropriate subject agreement markers, to the noun stem.

  • ᖳᖽ 'woman' <n><pl><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᖽᔪᑊᑯᖻᐡ 'we are women'
  • ᖱᖻ 'chief' <n><sg><p2><fut> ↔ ᖽᒣᖳᖽᐧᖻᔪ 'you will be chief'
  • ᖳᐟᖿᙿ 'girl' <n><sg><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᐟᖿᙿᔪ 'I am tall'

Tense and Aspect

Future tense

Future tense is marked by the prefix «-ᔦᘁ». As is the case with all semivowels in Blackfoot the initial [j] is deleted when the prefix appears directly after a consonant.

  • ᖱᑯ <vblex><sg><p2><fut> ↔ ᖽᒣᖽᐧᑯ
  • ᖱᒧᐧᖹᖽ <vblex><sg><p1><fut> ↔ ᖹᒣᖽᒧᐧᖹᖽ
  • ᖱᖻᖾ <vblex><neg><sg><p3><fut> ↔ ᖳᖿᐧᔪᖻᖾᖷ