lesson 4 - konkow noun

These are the new vocabulary words we introduce in this lesson.

noun roots
búlalàj black bear
c’á: tree, stick
c’íla:ka baby
jý:py woman, teenage girl
konoj girl
kýlate daughter
lá:se axe
léle red-tailed hawk
móm water
sý: dog
Ɂuj house
verb roots
símyhmyh talk
máhwo clap hands
Ɂỳno walk
noun suffixes
-beh, be: little (before k or k’, the h disappears and the vowel gets long.)
-c’ok’ two
-dyki rather close to (locative case)
-k’an with (comitative case)
-k’i possessor (“his,” etc.)
-kyto group of
-na: away from
-nak motion toward a goal
-nono plural (3 or more)
deletion object case, i object suffix disappears when it follows a vowel.
reduplication repeating part of a root or suffix twice in a row, usually to show that an action is occurring over and over.
part 1 - Parts of words

A word in Konkow may have several parts to it each of which contributes to the meaning of the word. We’ll call these parts “components.” (In Ultan’s work, they are called “morphemes.”)

The main component (the root) may be followed by one or two or many suffixes (that is, smaller parts that follow the root.)

word chart
Here are some examples of nouns, showing the way roots and suffixes work in Konkow.
two women
a group of hawks

Many of these suffixes are used with extended or metaphorical meaning as well.

-nak can be used to talk about time, as in

núktinàk 'for a little while' (núkti means 'little'),

or for numbers, as in

máhc'oknak sá:p'y 'thirteen' (literally 'toward 10, 3).

-na: can be used like an instrumental, as in
pétina:sa wó:non 'He died from poison'.

Note that in the second example, part of the root is “reduplicated” – that is, a part of it (or in this case all of it) is repeated. If it were a verb, this would make the word mean that the action is occurring over and over or continuously for a long time. As a noun, this repeated part just means ‘red tail hawk.’ But the hawk was probably named by the call that it makes over and over.

part 2 - Types of words

Words can be nouns or verbs, pronouns, demonstratives, adverbs, or what Ultan calls “minor words”. Which kind of word they are will determine what kinds of suffixes they can take. A noun, for example, can have “case” suffixessuffixes that tell us what the role of the noun is in the sentence.

Noun suffixes

We will talk about the suffixes that go on verbs in later lessons. In this lesson we will focus on noun suffixes.

The subject suffix -m (-im) and object suffix -i that were discussed in the lesson on simple sentences are case suffixes– the subject case and object case. Below are those and some other case suffixes

májdy man
májdym man, subject case
májdy man, object case (-i object suffix disappears when it follows a vowel.)
májdyk’i kýlate the man’s daughter -k’i, possessive case
májdyk’an with (accompanying) the man -k’an, comitative case “with”

And here are some more case suffixes, that go better with inanimate nouns:

-ni ‘instrumental' (use it to do something)

this also translates as “with” sometimes, so don’t confuse it with the ‘with’ that means ‘accompanying.’

c’á:ni with a stick (as in ‘he hit it with a stick')

**-di ‘in, on, at’
újdi in the house

-diky rather close to
újdiky close to the house

-nak motion toward a goal
újnak toward the house

-na: motion away from
újna: away from the house

Many of these suffixes are used with extended or metaphorical meaning as well. -nak can be used to talk about time, as in núktinàk ‘for a little while’ (núkti means ‘little’), or for numbers, as in máhc’oknak sá:p’y ‘thirteen’ (literally ‘toward 10, 3). -na: can be used like an instrumental, as in pétina:sa wó:non ‘He died from poison’.

Besides case suffixes, there are other suffixes that can go on nouns as well, that talk about number (two, many, a group) or special quality (little):

májdybeh little man, young man
májdyc’ok’ two men
májdynono many (3 or more) men
májdykyto a group of men

You can put more than one suffix together in a noun. The suffixes about number or quality will always come before the case suffixes.

kánojbe:k’an with a little girl
májdyc’ok’om símyhmyhton. Two men talked to each other.

In the first sentence, the suffix is -be: instead of -beh because the (h) is dropped before some consonants, leaving an elongated vowel. In the second sentence above, the subject marker is -om. Why isn’t it -im? There is a process called vowel harmony that changes i to be like the vowel that precedes it.

This only happens when the consonant between the two vowels is k or k’.

Exercises - 1-3

review lesson points


Put the correct suffix on each of the nouns below, using the English sentence to guide you.

The tree is rather close to the house.
The the house.

The two red tail hawks are courting.
The are courting.

Many women have jobs nowadays.
have jobs nowadays.

He cut the wood with an axe.
He cut the wood .

The woman walked with her dog.
The woman walked .

The tree is rather close to the house.
c’a-diky the house.
tree-close.to the house.

The two red tail hawks are courting.
lele-c’ok’o-m are courting.
red.tail.hawks-two-subject are courting.

Many women have jobs nowadays.
jy:py-nono have jobs nowadays.
woman-many have jobs nowadays.

He cut the wood with an axe.
He cut the wood lá:se-ni
He cut the wood axe-with.

The woman walked with her dog.
The woman walked sý:-k'an
The woman walked dog-with.


Translate these words and phrases into Konkow, using noun roots from this and earlier lessons.

little house
a group of crows
two fish (object of sentence)
many deer

little house Ɂuj-be:

a group of crows ʔá:k’-kyto

two fish (object of sentence) má:ko-cok’o

many deer sými-nono

Translate the following sentences into Konkow, using the right suffix or suffixes for each noun. Remember that the typical word order is Subject Object Verb. And don’t forget to put the -n on the verbs.

The fish swam toward the woman.

The young man walked with Coyote.

The woman’s daughter grabbed the acorn.

The group of deer watched the river.

The two girls saw many deer.

The little bear clapped his hands.

Using the vocabulary you know so far (including from lessons 1, 2 and 3), see if you can make your own sentences using these suffixes on other nouns.

This one may have been pretty hard. Did you remember to use Subject-Object-Verb order? Did you remember that these suffixes go on the verbs, not the nouns?

The fish swam close to the deer.
máko-m jý:py-nak pípa:-n.
fish-subject woman.toward swim-verb.final

The man walked with a coyote.
májdy-(i)m hénoj-kan ʔýno-n.
man-subject coyote-with move.along-verb.ending

The woman’s daughter grabbed all the acorns.
jý:py-k’i kýla:te-m mé:-n ú:tinono.
woman-possessive daughter-subject grab-verb.final acorn-many (object)

The group of deer watched the river.
sými-kyto-m sewi c’e-n.
deer-group-subject river (object) look-verb.final

The two girls saw many deer.
jý:py-c’ok’ sými-nono c’e-n
girl-dual deer(object)-many see-verb.final

Two girls clapped their hands.
jý:py-c’ok’ máhwo-n
girl-dual clap.hands-verb.final

part 3 - verb suffixes

Using the vocabulary you know so far (including from lessons 1 and 2), see if you can make sentences using these suffixes on other nouns.

Verbs have their own kinds of suffixes, such as tense (e.g. past, future), commands, negatives, questions, etc. You saw the verb ending -n (-in) in the previous lesson. Some verb suffixes come before the -n, and some (like the commands) come instead at the end.
Tree for c’ekyn ‘cause to see’ goes here

You can see a complete set of all noun and verb suffixes in the Noun Endings and Verb Endings charts on the website. If you thought there were a lot of noun endings to learn, wait til we get to verbs!

exercises - 4-7

Identifying words in the Turtle Girls story.
Go through “Coyote and the Turtle Girls”, and find ten individual nouns that have at least one of the suffixes described in this chapter. You can listen to recordings of the story line-by-line and follow along with the written text. Two examples from “Turtle Girls Analysis” are given in the chart below. See if you can complete the rest of the chart with different nouns, underlining the suffix(es) you recognize. How many of the noun endings you saw today can you find? Always try to say out loud the words and passages that you read or write.

mómim -im 'subject'
Ɂo:di -di 'on'

Identifying roots and suffixes in nouns
Navigate to the CHARTS page on konkow.org. Click on the link for NOUN SUFFIXES. Scroll through the chart and click on suffixes that interest you, to see a sample word or sentence using it. (Try to say those sentences out loud.) In each case, write the noun that has that suffix below (you don't have to write the whole sentence.)

The first one is completed for you, with suffixes seperated by dashes. In the example, the rule for vowel harmony applies. If you find nouns that exhibit vowel harmony or h- dropping.

c’íla:ka-c’òk’o baby-dual (twins) (object)
májdyk’i kýlate
clap handsUPDOWN
talking to each otherUPDOWN
the waterUPDOWN
It’s a cradle basketUPDOWN
Old Man CoyoteUPDOWN
the man’s daughterUPDOWN
many menUPDOWN
Hit Check to see if you have them all correct

Some nouns (and verbs too) have reduplicated roots (a syllable repeated twice). Go to the Audio dictionary under SEARCHES and scroll through the alphabetic listings and see if you can locate any examples of reduplication. Write the examples below. The first is completed for you. Underline any affixes you recognize.

tutu-m cradle basket-subject
  • 1. In general, the Konkow word consists of a root and one or more suffixes.
  • 2. We talked about three types of noun suffixes:
    • case suffixes;
    • suffixes about number or quality;
    • suffixes that change a verb into a noun.
  • 3. Some suffixes can be put on verbs to turn them into nouns.
  • 4. The case suffixes are:
    -(i)m subject
    -i (or ∅) object
    -k’i possessive case
    -k’an comitative case (“with”)
    -ni instrumental
    -di in, on, at
    -dyki rather close to
    -nak motion toward a goal
    -na: motion away from
  • 5. Suffixes about number or quality
    -beh little, young
    -c’ok’ two
    -nono many (3 or more)
    -kyto a group
  • 6. Suffixes that change a verb into a noun
    -ky one that does the action of the verb
  • 7. Order of suffixes: A noun can have more than one suffix. Case suffixes occur last in the word. The other suffixes are close to the root, preceding the case suffix.
  • 8. (h)-dropping and vowel harmony: two rules that can change the shape of a suffix.
    -beh little, young

    changes to -be: at the end of a word or before the last consonant in a word, and before certain suffixes. This same rule applies to other suffixes that have an h at the end.

    -(i)m subject

    the vowel changes to whatever the previous vowel is

Mary Jones
The wonderful Mary Jones videos have lessons organized by topic rather than grammar, and are very good for learning conversational speech.

Click the arrow to start the video. Once started, moving the curser off the image causes the controls to disappear. Move the curser over the image to return the controls.

Want to learn more? All the Mary Jones videos lessons are available HERE

or you can download a PDF of the lesson here DOWNLOAD - LESSON 4
Each lesson has a set of flashcards that can be printed and used for practice. As you work through the lessons, the sets can be combined to create more advanced sentences. There are several fun games you can play using these flashcards. The cards can be printed either single or double sided depending on what and how you want to play. Three games will be outlined below.

Go Fish
This is a multiple player game. It can be played from a basic level with simply the vocabulary words, to a more advanced game where all the questions are asked in the language. At the most basic level, you can play with an open hand. The object is to get pairs and practice the vocabulary. You will need to print two or four copies of each card to play Go Fish and Concentration.

This can be played individually or as a multiplayer game. Cards can be double sided or single sided. Pictures can be facing up or hidden. You can match pictures and/or words.The object is to find matches and pronounce the vocabulary.

Flashcard Drills
This can be played individually or as a two player game. One person shows the image to their partner, who says the Konkow word. This is repeated until each player can identify and pronounce each card in the stack. The amount of cards in the stack can be increased as needed.