2. Vowel-Glide (VW) Inanimate Noun Stems – NI2
The second subclass of inanimate nouns (NI2) are known as “vowel-glide” stems because they end in a sequence of a vowel plus either a /w/ or a /y/. These two latter sounds are often referred to as semi-vowels or glides as they tend to occur next to vowels and either glide towards or away from the loudest part of a syllable, the vowel. Since there are seven Cree vowels and the two glides, we might expect that vowel-glide stems could end in one of fourteen different possible ways. However, not all combinations are actually attested and the possibilities are even more limited for inanimate nouns where only the following vowel-glide combinations are typically found in stem-final position:
(11) vowel-glide sequence example stem translation
aw mēskanaw– “road”
āw paskwāw– “prairie”
ēw iskotēw– “fire”
iw kihcikamiw– “sea, ocean”
ow waskow– “cloud”
ay mīkisasākay– “beaded jacket or dress”
iy sīpiy– “river”
oy mīcimāpoy– “soup”
This still leaves no inanimate nouns ending in the sequences /īw, ōw, āy, īy, ōy, ēy/. (In northern Plains Cree and in Woods Cree, the vowel-glide sequence /ēw/ will surface as /īw/, but this merely replaces one vowel with another, and there remain only eight attested vowel-glide sequences at the end of inanimate nouns stems.) Some of these can be found on animate noun stems (many of which are derived from verb stems), but others are simply not found. In two cases in particular, this is partially due to spelling convention. Whenever nouns end in sounds similar to the long vowels /ī/ and /ō/, they will be spelled as “iy” and “ow” respectively. Before /y/, it is not possible to tell the difference between long /ī/ and short /i/, so by spelling convention the “i” is always spelled short before “y” in noun stems. Similarly, before /w/, it is not possible to tell the difference between long /ō/ and short /o/, so the spelling convention is to always use short “o” before “w” in noun stems. For this reason, no nouns will ever end in an “īy” spelling, and “ōw” is almost as impossible (in fact, it is only possible if an animate noun is derived from one of the extremely rare /ō/-final verb stems).
The use of the “iy” and “ow” spellings, instead of simply using the long vowels, “ī” and “ō” respectively at the end of these nouns, has the added benefit of including the glide (/y/ or /w/) that would otherwise be needed in the spelling of the plural forms. As with regular stems, then, the spelling of vowel-glide stems are all identical to their singular forms. Thus, we can write a singular vowel-glide stem as a word by itself (as in (12)), or add the hyphen to indicate that we are referring to the stem form (as in (13)):
(12) mēskanaw “road”
(13) mēskanaw– “road”
2.1 Vowel-Glide Plural
As already mentioned above, vowel-glide stems, as aided by the conventions of “iy” and “ow” spelling, take the regular plural suffix without any complications whatsoever. Thus, the same chart introduced for Regular Stem (NI1) plurals (Table I.1.2) can also be used for Vowel-Glide plurals, and is given here at Table I.2.1.
Singular and Plural Forms of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stems
Following this pattern, there is no change required to the stem to form the singular, and the regular suffix –a is added to form the plural:
(14) stem plural inflected noun
mēskanaw– + –a → mēskanawa “roads”
sīpiy– + –a → sīpiya “rivers”
waskow– + –a → waskowa “clouds”
In contrast, if nouns like sīpiy and waskow were to be spelled with a final “ī” and “ō” respectively, all “ī”-final nouns would require a plural suffix of the form “–ya”, while all “ō”‑final nouns would require a plural suffix of the form “–wa”. With the spellings given above, the plural suffix –a remains consistent and NI2 stems act exactly as do NI1 stems with regard to pluralization. Thus, a completed frame for Number-marking of a vowel-glide stem will appear as follows:
Singular and Plural Forms of the Vowel-Glide NI2 Stem mēskanaw–
To this point, vowel-glide stems appear to be identical to regular stems. However, an important difference will be discussed in each of the following sections on the possessive, locative and diminutive which will justify treating vowel-glide stems as a separate subclass of Cree noun. The change involved happens whenever a suffix which regularly begins with /i/ (represented as “–i…”) is added to a vowel-glide stem. When this occurs, the vowel and glide of the stem and the suffix-initial /i/ merge or contract to a single long vowel. The quality of the resulting long vowel depends on the vowel preceding the glide in the original stem form. Thus, given the vowel-glide combinations present in NI2 stems, the following contractions are possible:
(15) vowel-glide + –i… → long vowel
aw + –i… → ā
āw + –i… → ā
ēw + –i… → ē
iw + –i… → ī
ow + –i… → ō
ay + –i… → ā
iy + –i… → ī
oy + –i… → ō
These contractions are most noticeable when the vowel is originally short, since it does become audibly longer through this process. However, the process remains the same even when the stem vowel is already long to begin with – it simply remains long, so that it appears as if the glide and suffix-initial /i/ have been dropped. This vowel contraction rule, which characterizes vowel-glide noun (and verb) stems, can be summarized by the following formula, where capital V stands for any vowel, capital W stands for either glide ([w] or [y]), and V followed by a colon (V:) stands for a specifically long vowel.
(16) VW + –i… → V:
Specific examples of this contraction will be given in the discussion of each /i/-initial suffix type below, and dotted lines between categories in the paradigms will indicate where the contraction rule takes effect.
2.2 Vowel-Glide Possessive
The paradigm for possessive marking of vowel-glide stems is identical to that for regular stems except for the incorporation of the contraction rule given in (16) above. This important modification must be made to reach the actual spoken form of vowel-glide possessives. An example of a vowel-glide stem is given in Table I.2.3, while the basic paradigm is in Table I.2.4.
Possessive Forms of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stem mīkisasākay–
|(–a)||nimīkisasākay(a)||“my beaded jacket(s)”|
|2s||ki–||mīkisasākay–||(–a)||kimīkisasākay(a)||“your beaded jacket(s)”|
|1p||ni–||mīkisasākay–||–inān||(–a)||nimīkisasākānān(a)||“our beaded jacket(s)”|
|21||ki–||mīkisasākay–||–inaw||(–a)||kimīkisasākānaw(a)||“our beaded jacket(s)”|
|2p||ki–||mīkisasākay–||–iwāw||(–a)||kimīkisasākāwāw(a)||“your beaded jacket(s)”|
|3s||o–||mīkisasākay–||(–a)||omīkisasākay(a)||“his/her beaded jacket(s)”|
|3p||o–||mīkisasākay–||–iwāw||(–a)||omīkisasākāwāw(a)||“their beaded jacket(s)”|
|4||o–||mīkisasākay–||–iyiw||(–a)||omīkisasākāyiw(a)||“another’s beaded jacket(s)”|
Possessive Paradigm for Vowel-Glide NI2 Stems
The blank paradigm includes the now-familiar optional [t] connector in case the stem begins with a vowel. Note also that for stems of the type which fit into this paradigm, the vowel contraction rule only applies to the plural and obviative possessor forms, since these are the only forms which require a suffix beginning with /i/. The singular forms need no modification and so act just as do all forms of the regular (NI1) stems.
It is in fact quite rare to encounter a vowel-glide stem marked for the possessive and, of those which are, many will take the optional –im suffix introduced in the discussion of NI1 stems. An example stem of this type is given in Table I.2.5 with the blank paradigm in Table I.2.6, where the –im suffix is introduced as Poss (for possessive). In the case that the optional –im suffix is added, however, it must be noted that all forms, singular, plural and obviative alike, will now undergo the vowel contraction since the /i/-initial suffix –im is now attached in all persons. In turn, the vowel contraction no longer occurs with the person suffixes which are once again added in their regular form following –im.
Possessive Forms of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stem mīcimāpoy–
Possessive Paradigm for Vowel-Glide NI2 Stems with –im
The –im suffix is displayed as optional in the general paradigm in Table I.2.6, but when it does occur the result appears as if an entirely different (dependent) stem has been derived from the original independent stem. In the case of the example stem mīcimāpoy–, the dependent form would be –mīcimāpōm–. (This possibility will be discussed further with regard to Dependent Stems in the appropriate sections of the grammar guide; see NDI and NDA.) Another pattern that the possessive –im resembles is the diminutive derivation. As will be seen subsequently, the possessive –im and diminutive –is(is) suffixes are sometimes ordered interchangeably. Thus, the position in which –im is added might best be referred to as a derivational slot in the paradigm, which is to say it is really not part of the paradigm at all, but simply creates a new stem which will then fit into the NI1 (or NDI1) paradigm.
2.3 Vowel-Glide Locative
Compared to the complexities of the possessive paradigms, the locative forms of vowel-glide stems are quite straightforward. When the locative suffix –ihk is added to a vowel-glide noun stem, the vowel contraction rule takes place, as demonstrated in Tables I.2.7 and I.2.8.
Locative Formation of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stem mēskanaw–
|locative||mēskanaw–||VW+i→V:||–ihk||mēskanāhk||“on the road”|
Locative Formation of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stems
Furthermore, the locative and possessive can combine, as previously shown for NI1 stems. However, when this occurs with NI2 stems, the vowel contraction rule will always take place, either when the locative is added directly to the singular stem, or when the complex person/locative suffix is added for plural or obviative possession. For the sake of completeness, charts are included here for possessive-locative forms without –im (Tables I.2.9 and I.2.10) and with –im (Tables I.2.11 and I.2.12). As above, the dotted line between categories shows where the vowel contraction rule is in effect. In Table I.2.9, for instance, dotted lines are used to show that the change incorporates the VW sequence of the stem with the initial /i/ of the person-locative or simply the locative (in the absence of any person suffix).
Locative-Possessive Forms of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stem mīkisasākay–
|–ihk||nimīkisasākāhk||“on my beaded jacket(s)”|
|2s||ki–||mīkisasākay–||–ihk||kimīkisasākāhk||“on your beaded jacket(s)”|
|1p||ni–||mīkisasākay–||–ināhk||nimīkisasākānāhk||“on our beaded jacket(s)”|
|21||ki–||mīkisasākay–||–ināhk||kimīkisasākānāhk||“on our beaded jacket(s)”|
|2p||ki–||mīkisasākay–||–iwāhk||kimīkisasākāwāhk||“on your beaded jacket(s)”|
|3s||o–||mīkisasākay–||–ihk||omīkisasākāhk||“on his/her beaded jacket(s)”|
|3p||o–||mīkisasākay–||–iwāhk||omīkisasākāwāhk||“on their beaded jacket(s)”|
|4||o–||mīkisasākay–||–iyihk||omīkisasākāyihk||“on another’s beaded jacket(s)”|
Locative-Possessive Forms of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stems without –im
Locative-Possessive Forms of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stem mīcimāpoy– + –im
|–im||–ihk||nimīcimāpōmihk||“in my soup(s)”|
|2s||ki–||mīcimāpoy–||–im||–ihk||kimīcimāpōmihk||“in your soup(s)”|
|1p||ni–||mīcimāpoy–||–im||–ināhk||nimīcimāpōmināhk||“in our soup(s)”|
|21||ki–||mīcimāpoy–||–im||–ināhk||kimīcimāpōmināhk||“in our soup(s)”|
|2p||ki–||mīcimāpoy–||–im||–iwāhk||kimīcimāpōmiwāhk||“in your soup(s)”|
|3s||o–||mīcimāpoy–||–im||–ihk||omīcimāpōmihk||“in his/her soup(s)”|
|3p||o–||mīcimāpoy–||–im||–iwāhk||omīcimāpōmiwāhk||“in their soup(s)”|
|4||o–||mīcimāpoy–||–im||–iyihk||omīcimāpōmiyihk||“in another’s soup(s)”|
Locative-Possessive Forms of Vowel-Glide NI2 Stems with –im
In light of the vowel contraction rule introduced for vowel-glide stems in this section, we can now look more closely at the forms which combine the plural (and obviative) persons with the locative. Straightforward combinations of the person and locative suffixes would yield the results give in (17) below. However, all but one of these combinations is affected by the exact same vowel-contraction rule exhibited through the vowel-glide paradigms, as shown in (18). This illustrates the fact that this vowel contraction rule is not specific to noun stems in Cree, but is instead a general rule that applies in a wide range of constructions throughout the language.
(17) Straightforward combination of
Person + Locative Uncontracted Form
1p –inān + –ihk → (*)–inānihk
21 –inaw + –ihk → *–inawihk
2p –iwāw + –ihk → *–iwāwihk
3p –iwāw + –ihk → *–iwāwihk
4 –iyiw + –ihk → *–iyiwihk
(18) Application of VW + i → V: Rule
Person + Locative Contracted Form
1p –inān + –ihk → (*)–inānihk >> –ināhk
21 –inaw + –ihk → –ināhk
2p –iwāw + –ihk → –iwāhk
3p –iwāw + –ihk → –iwāhk
4 –iyiw + –ihk → –iyihk*
*Please note that the contraction rule might be expected to create “–iyīhk”, but the vowel is generally written short, –iyihk.
With the application of the contraction rule, the results given in (18) for all but the 1p forms match the actual attested possessive-locative suffixes as shown in the paradigms. The first person plural form thus presents the only problem. Why does the straightforward combination of –inān + –ihk not (usually) occur. This is actually a question for historical linguistics, for it appears that the 21 ending, –ināhk, has analogically replaced (>>) the expected *–inānihk. Since the prefixes of the 1p and 21 forms differ, there is no pressure for the suffixes to remain distinct and thus, the contracted 21 suffix appears to have been extended for use as the 1p suffix as well. (Please note that it is possible that the straightforward combination of –inān + –ihk resulting in –inānihk is used in some dialects. It would then be a question for historical linguistics whether the analogical restructuring has been undone or whether a dialect simply represents an example where the replacement never occurred in the first place). All of the other forms are now explained in the context of this consistent vowel contraction rule, which thus takes place twice in many of the locative-possessive forms of vowel-glide stems.
2.4 Vowel-Glide Diminutive
The derivation of the diminutive of vowel-glide stems follows the regular pattern, as described earlier, with the exception of our familiar vowel contraction rule. Thus, the initial /i/ of the diminutive suffix –is(is) will contract with the vowel-glide sequence of the stem to again yield a long vowel. Table I.2.13 charts one example of this derivation, but others are given in (19) to show the consistency of the rule with all vowel-glide sequences possible in inanimate noun stems, as well as the occurrence of the t→c alternation (cf. iskotēw and iskocēs). Finally, Table I.2.14 gives the general chart for NI2 diminutive formation.
Diminutive Formation from Vowel-Glide NI2 Stem mēskanaw–
|diminutive||mēskanaw–||VW + i→V:||–is||mēskanās||“path, trail”|
(19) vowel-glide example + –is(is) diminutive translation
mēskanaw + –is mēskanās “path, trail”
paskwāw + –is paskwās* “small prairie; park”
iskotēw + –is iskocēs “small fire; spark”
kihcikamiw + –is kihcikamīs “small sea”
waskow + –is waskōs “small cloud”
mīkisasākay + –is mīkisasākās “small beaded jacket”
sīpiy + –isis sīpīsis “stream”
mīcimāpoy + –is mīcimāpōs “small amount of soup”
*For those who may reject the formation of such a diminutive as paskwās, it is likely that paskwā– is treated solely as a verb stem, in which case it is then unlikely that any inanimate noun stem ends in /āw/ at all.
Diminutive Formation from Vowel Glide NI2 Stems
|diminutive||VW + i→V:||–is(is)|
As indicated above, the diminutive derivation creates new, regular stems which can then be further inflected by the regular NI1 patterns.
2.5 Summary of Vowel-Glide (NI2) Stems
At this point, we can now summarize the above discussion by combining all of these forms into a single comprehensive paradigm for vowel-glide inanimate noun stems. Table I.2.15 gives a full example paradigm for maskihkiy–, while Table I.2.16 repeats this as a blank table into which any NI2 can be inserted.
NI2 example paradigm: maskihkiy- “medicine; medicinal herb”
|form||Cree word||English translation|
|2s||kimaskihkiy||your (sg) medicine|
|1p||nimaskihkīnān||our (excl) medicine|
|21||kimaskihkīnaw||our (incl) medicine|
|2p||kimaskihkīwāw||your (pl) medicine|
|2s||kimaskihkiya||your (sg) medicines|
|1p||nimaskihkīnāna||our (excl) medicines|
|21||kimaskihkīnawa||our (incl) medicines|
|2p||kimaskihkīwāwa||your (pl) medicines|
|locative||maskihkīhk||in the medicine(s)|
|1s||nimaskihkīhk||in my medicine(s)|
|2s||kimaskihkīhk||in your (sg) medicine(s)|
|1p||nimaskihkīnāhk||in our (excl) medicine(s)|
|21||kimaskihkīnāhk||in our (incl) medicine(s)|
|2p||kimaskihkīwāhk||in your (pl) medicine(s)|
|3s||omaskihkīhk||in his/her medicine(s)|
|3p||omaskihkīwāhk||in their medicine(s)|
|4||omaskihkīýihk||in (an)other’s medicine(s)|
|dim||maskihkīs||pill; candy; small amount of medicine|
Note: many will prefer to add -im to all possessive forms, in which case all possessive forms ending in /iy(a)/ become /īm(a)/ and all others will have [mi] inserted immediately after /kī/.
NI2 blank paradigm frame
|VW + i→V:||
You can now continue exploring NI patterns with consonant-/w/ stems (NI3) and Single-Syllable Stems (NI4).