Dene

Grammar Guide

Part B: The Verb

10. Optative Mode
We have now considered two basic modes in Chipewyan verbs, imperfective, which means the action or condition is being carried on, and perfective, which means the action has been completed. There is a third mode, the optative, which means the action will or ought to begin.

The optative is indicated in two ways:

1. The addition of a prefix.
2.The addition of a prefix and an alteration in the form of the stem.

This system is similar to the formation of the perfective. There is only one optative prefix, wa , but the stem changes are unpredictable as are the perfective sterns. The prefix wa occurs just before the subject pronoun, replacing imperfective or perfective prefixes.

In third or first person forms, this prefix appears as wa, if the imperfective of the verb is indicated by he or the , or if the syllable just before the optative marker ends with a vowel / a / .

Hejen 'He is singing'
Wajen 'Let him sing'
or
Theda 'He is sitting'
Wadá 'Let him sit' (stem change)
or
Nada 'He is going'
nojä 'Let him go' (stem change)

If the conditions mentioned do not prevail, the optative prefix wa will combine with the preceding syllable.

hegha 'He is going'
huyá 'Let him go' (stem change)
or
eret´ís 'He is writing'
erut´ís 'Let him write'
or
holni 'He is telling a story'
hulni 'Let him tell a story'

Third person forms may occur alone, or in special contexts.

hejen horés¿ü 'I want him to sing'
yawaøti horés¿ü 'I want him to talk'

In second person singular forms, optative wa requires the subject pronoun to be marked by nasalization.

wajen 'Let him sing'
w¶jen 'You will sing'
or
yawaøti 'Let him talk'
yaw¶øti 'You will talk'
or
huyá 'Let him go'
h¶yá 'You will go'

Note that when nasalization is added to wa it becomes .

The most frequent use of the optative in second person is with negative imperatives.

W¶jen sänä 'Don't sing.' '
W¶tsagh sänä 'Don't cry.' '
Yaw¶øti sänä 'Don't talk.' '

In first person singular forms, optative wa requires the subject pronoun to be marked by s . The rules of fusion for third person optative wa forms also apply to first person singular.

yawalti 'Let him talk'
yawasti 'I will talk'
or
watsagh 'Let him cry'
wastsagh 'I will cry'
or
wayü 'Let him stand'
wasyü I will stand'
or
erut´ís 'Let him write’
erust´ís ‘I will write'

In first person dual forms, wa combines with the subject pronoun íd to form wúd .

náwadher 'Let him stay'
náwúddher 'We (2) will stay'
or
wajen 'Let him sing'
wújen 'We (2) will sing'

These are most frequently translated as 'Let's stay' or 'Let's sing'.

In second person dual forms, wa combines with the subject pronoun uh to form wuh .

yawalti ‘Let him talk’
yawulti ‘You (2) will talk’
or
watsagh ‘Let him cry’
w¶tsagh ‘You (2) will cry’

As with the second person singular, the most frequent use of the optative in second person dual is with negative imperatives.

W¶tsagh sänä ‘Don’t (you 2) cry.’ ‘
Er¶t´ís sänä ‘Don’t (you 2) write.’

 
Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre