IV.  Indeclinable Nominals (INM)

There are times when other parts of speech or entire phrases are used in place of Nouns in order to name people or things. When something other than a Noun or a Pronoun is used for this purpose, it typically acts something like an indeclinable particle (IPC) in that it has one fixed form and cannot be inflected (e.g. like a regular Noun, etc.).  As such, these constructions are referred to as Indeclinable Nominals (INM).

Among the most common INMs are those formed through verbal constructions. This is especially prevalent in the formation of personal names, which frequently include a preverb of the form kā- preceding a verb ending in either Independent or Conjunct third person inflection (see Verbs).  Some examples are given in (1):



Chief Loud Voice [literally: “One who Speaks Loudly”]



Walks like a Wolf [male personal name]



Missouri River Indians [literally: “Ones who have earth lodges”]


acāhkosa kā-otakohpit

Chief Starblanket [literally: “One who has Stars as a Blanket”]


piyēsiwa kā-kanawēyimikot

Protected by Thunderbirds [literally: “One whom Thunderbirds look after”]


In each of these cases, the name consists minimally of a verb marked for third person (singular or plural) plus the conjunct marker kā-.  In some cases, additional elements, especially nouns, are included as part of the name. Unlike other nouns, which can be marked for all of the nominal inflectional categories introduced in our discussion of nouns, these INMs typically only occur in the single (indeclinable) form as cited in the dictionary entry.

In addition to names of people, this construction can also be used for naming items, occurrences, etc. as in (2):

(2) kā-āýimahk the Depression [literally: “when it was difficult”]
  kā-nikamōmakahk record player, phonograph, radio [literally: “that which sings”]
  acāhkos kā-osōsit comet [literally: “tailed star”]
  asiniy kā-kīsisot calcium oxide [literally: “cooked stone”]
  cīpayak kā-nīmihitocik Northern Lights [literally: “when the ghosts are dancing”]


In these examples, the person agreement can be adjusted for third person singular or plural reference (cf. plural -cik on cīpayak kā-nīmihitocik), but this is the preferred and invariant form and nominal inflection is not used. However, other verbal inflections are also possible, especially unspecified actor forms, as in (3).

(3) kā-kotikonamihk double-barrelled shotgun [literally: “that which is dislocated”]
  kā-tipahamātohk Treaty Day, at Treaty time [literally: “when there is mutual payment”]
  kitohcikan kā-natohtamihk radio [literally: “that which is listened to”]
  wāwikanihk k-ōtāmahoht Strike Him on the Back [literally: “One who is struck on the back”]


Another very common means of creating INMs is through the formation of locatives through the addition of (4) the basic locative suffix -ihk or (5) the distributive locative suffix -ināhk.

(4) asinīwacīsihk Rocky Boy, MT [literally: “at the little rocky hills”]
  āmaciwēspimowinihk Stanley Mission, SK [literally: “at the shooting-arrows-uphill place”]
  kinēpiko-maskotēhk Mistawasis First Nation, SK [literally: “at snake plain”]
  maskēko-sākahikanihk Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, SK [literally: “at muskeg lake”]
  maskwacīsihk Maskwacis, AB [literally: “at the little bear hills”]


(5) asinīwipwātināhk Piapot First Nation, SK [literally: “among the Stoney-Sioux”]
  ayahciýinīnāhk Blackfoot country [literally: “among the Blackfoot”]
  kihci-mōhkomānināhk (in) the USA [literally: “among the great-knives”]
  mostosonāhk in buffalo country [literally: “among the buffalo”]
  nēhiýānāhk Cree country [literally: “among the Cree”]


In these cases, the INMs are really locative-inflected forms of nouns, but they are used specifically as place names and so recorded in the dictionary under their own entry.

In exceptional cases, it is even possible to mix these strategies, as in (6) where a kā- marked name of a chief has been converted to distributive locative in reference to his people’s reserve.

(6) kā-pitikow Chief Thunderchild [literally: “One who rumbles (i.e. as rolling thunder)”]
  kā-pitikōnāhk Thunderchild First Nation, SK [literally: “among Thunderchild’s people”]