Dene

Grammar Guide

Part A: The Simple Sentence

6. Postpositional Constructions
Ideas of time, place, direction, accompaniment, etc. , are often expressed in English by a prepositional phrase; e. g. , 'with the man', 'in the boat', 'towards the dog', etc. Denes¶øiné has a difference in word order. In English, the preposition occurs before the noun. In Denes¶øiné, the postposition occurs after the noun.

Deneyu hél 'with the man'
tßi yé
'in the canoe'
øü tßén 'towards the dog'

This construction, which has sometimes been called an indirect object, often occurs between the subject and predicate, but this order may vary.

Deneyu øü tsén ghegal 'The man is walking toward the dog’
Æodherí jú hél ghegal 'The boss is walking with Joe'

The noun in a postpositional construction may be replaced by the pronoun ye.

Deneyu ha nóréø¿ü 'He is waiting for the man'
yeba nóréø¿ü 'He is waiting for him'
or
tßi tßén ghegal 'He is walking toward the canoe'
yetßén ghegal 'He is walking toward it'
or
Samél ha eghálana 'He is working for Samuel'
Yeba eghálana 'He is working for him'

A class of words called the verbal adjective also occupies the predicate position, but does not have prefixes of any kind.

Edzah ‘it is cold’
Eduh ‘it is hot’

When constructions containing postpositions are combined with verbal adjectives and certain verbs expressing quality, the pronoun be is used, instead of pronoun ye.

beba edzah 'It is cold for him' (or 'He is cold')
beba horeyér 'It is hard for him'
beba nezñ 'It is good for him' (or 'He likes it')
beba nedáth 'It is heavy for him'
Note: ba is a fusion of be and ha.

We noted previously that when a noun is used in a postpositional construction, the pronoun is left out. That is, nouns and pronouns do not occur together. This rule is reversed with verbal adjectives and certain verbs of quality. Both the noun and pronoun will occur in the same sentence.

beba nedáth 'It is heavy for him'
deneyu beba nedáth 'It is heavy for the man'
or
deneyu beba nezñ 'It is good for the man' ('The man likes it')
deneyu beba edzah 'It is cold for the man' ('The man is cold')
deneyu beba horeyér 'It is hard for the man'

Note: The illustration denyu beba nóréø¿ü is not of this class. In this illustration beba is a postposition by itself. In the sentence deneyu beba edzah, ba comes from a fusion of be and ha, a pronoun combined with a postposition.

The pronouns ye or be, 'him, her, it' may be replaced by others; e.g. , se 'me', ne 'you', nuh 'us/you (pl)'.

yetßén ghegal 'He is walking towards him'
setßén ghegal ‘He is walking towards me'
or
neghq yaøti 'He is talking about you'
nuheba edzah 'it is cold for us' ('We are cold')

Postpositional constructions can be formed with interrogative words .

Edlághe hoghq hetsagh ¿á? 'What is he crying about?
Edláís® tsén héya ¿á? 'Which way did he go?'

Ideas of time, place, direction, manner, etc. , are often expressed with adverbs.

ejq nádher 'He is staying here'
ejq eghálana 'He is working here'
hotié yaøti 'He speaks well'

Adverbs occur frequently between the subject and verb, although this order may vary.

Deneyu ejq eghálana 'The man is working here'
tßékwi thá yaøti 'The woman is talking long'
tßékwi ¿aøç nádher 'The woman is still staying'

 
Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre