Dene

Grammar Guide

Part B: The Verb

19. The Theme Prefix
This is the last of the verb prefixes. It is similar to the adverbial prefixes and is most easily learned as part of the verb. If this prefix is present, it occurs between the plural and the dual he . Some of these prefixes are of unknown meaning; some are nouns incorporated into the verb.

dáyaøti ‘They are each talking’
the theme prefix is ya .
jéth theda is fishing’
the theme prefix is jéth , meaning ‘hook’.
eghálahena ‘They each worked’
The theme prefix is la , meaning ‘job’.

Theme prefixes seem to be of indefinite number, there being as many as needed for meanings.

This chart will show all of the prefix positions, with their order and content.

Besides this mechanical agreement with certain prefixes, the classifiers perform other functions.

a. Classifier I has a causative effect.

øeghänüdher ‘He died’
øeghäyüøtther ‘He killed him’ (caused him to die)
or
hebes ‘It is boiling’
yéøbes ‘He boils it’ (causes it to boil)

b. Classifiers 1 and d have a passive meaning.

deneyu ghe¿ü ‘He sees the man’
deneyu gheþü ‘The man is seen’
senayéle ‘He is fixing it’
senalye ‘It is being fixed’

Note that classifier 1 changes the first consonant / 1 / in the stem to / y /. The exact manner in which the classifier system functions is not clearly understood.

 
Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre