Grammar Guide

Part B: The Verb

20. Classificatory Verbs
In Denes¶øiné a system of classification has been developed whereby the entire creation is divided into several major categories. This means that with ideas of giving, putting, picking up or otherwise handling objects, the appropriate verb must be used. These verbs are called classificatory verbs. These may be illustrated as follows:

Round or hard niyerí¿á ‘He is picking it up’
Stick – like neyer®¿q ‘he/she is picking it up’
In a cup neyer®kq ‘he/she is picking it up’
Fabric – like neyer®øchúth ‘he/she is picking it up’
In a pail neyer®kq ‘he/she is picking it up’
Loose textured neyer®dzaí ‘he/she is picking it up’
Mushy neyer®tøéhh ‘he/she is picking it up’
Plural neyeríle ‘he /she is picking it up’

These Verbs should be used with nouns; e.g.,

Dechen nerítü ‘he/she is picking it up’
Tßeréh neríøchuth ‘he/she is picking up a blanket’

It is probably immaterial whether these are considered as nie verbs, or as one verb with nine stems.

All of the forms which are listed above in the imperfective, have perfective, aptative, and progressive forms as well. Note the plural objects stem as follows:

dathesøe ‘I am hanging them up’
dathila ‘I put them up’
dawasøel ‘I will hang them up’
naghesøel ‘I am carrying them’

Or the round or hard object stem, as follows:

Dzoø bet´aghé hes¿á ha ‘I will give him/her the ball’
Dzoø bet´aghé ghi¿q ‘I gave him the ball’
Dzoø bet´ághé was¿aø ‘I will give him/her the ball’
Dzoø naghes¿aø ‘I am carrying the ball’

A second series of classificatory verbs has been developed, similar to the previous one, but with a different type of meaning. The first refers to objects being handled; the second, to objects being handled violently or suddenly.

tthe hushúl ha ‘He/she will throw the stone’
øuwe heneh ha ‘He/she will throw a fish’
dechen heøhhál ha ‘He/she will throw a stick’
idí henil ha ‘He /she will throw the tea’ (in a cup)
yú he¿er ha ’He/she will throw the cloth’
t´ogh hetthi ha ‘He /she will throw the grass’
tøes hechúø ha ‘He/she will throw the lard’
¿asié øq heødél ha ‘He/she will throw lotsof things’
nqøchéth heøhhes ha ‘He /she will throw the bag’(full)

These classifications arc not quite identical to the previous series as there is no illustration of the classification “something in a pail” available for this grammar. Also there is an extra classification added here, ‘something in a bag”, as seen in the last illustration.

The above forms are all in the imperfective mode. They also occur in the perfective and optative. Note the two forms of the inceptive prefix, ti and fit , apparently used arbitrarily in the above illustrations.

A third series has been developed with similar classifications to the two previous series. This type refers to action that takes place without human assistance, and the stem always refers, in its classification, to the subject of the sentence .

The following forms are all in the perfective mode. They also occur in the imperfective and optative.

The náhéøttver ‘The stone fell’
Øuwe náhéøttver ‘The fish fell’
Dchen náhéketh ‘The log fell’
Lidí náhét´i ‘The tea fell’(in a cup)
Yú nahénagh ‘The cloth fell’
Tili náhéøketh ‘The pail fell’ (full)
T´ogh náhédzes ‘The hay fell’
T´es náøketh ‘The lard fell’
¿asié øq náhét´i ‘Lots of things fell’

The nine or ten classifications that these three series of verbs fall into need some further explanation as to their function. For example, certain items such as radios which are not native to the primitive Denes¶øiné culture, are described by the round or hard object class. On the other hand certain items, such as containers and hunting weapons, because they were formerly made of wood, are found in the stick-like class, even though they are now constructed of china or metal. The plural classification refers to all of the other classifications except the loose textured and mushy classifications. Books and flexible things such as rope and wire are also described by the plural stems.

Some items may be described by more than one stem, depending on their immediate condition. Single blankets are described by the fabric- like classification. Blankets rolled up are described by the stick-like classification. Blankets done up in a bundle are described by the round or hard object classification.

Some verbs will use stems from all three series; e.g.,

yohodárütq ‘He/she closed the door’
yohodár®øhhel ‘He/she slammed the door’
yohodár®keth ‘The door went shut’

All three of the above stems are of the stick-like classification.

Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre