Nouns inflected for Gender

Observation
ᓂᐧᐋᐱᒫᐧᐃᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapimaawich anichii awaashishich. I see those children.
ᓂᐧᐋᐱᐦᑖᓐ ᐊᓂᐦᐄ ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapihtaan anihii mischinh. I see those shoes.

In the examples above, ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ awaashishich ‘children’ and ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ mischinh ‘shoes’ do not have the same plural endings: -ich and -h. Notice also that different verb forms are used.

Nouns in East Cree fall into two classes: ANIMATE (children) and INANIMATE (shoe).

Noun Animate (na)
ᐹᔨᒄ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔥ Click here to hear this word paayikw awaashish one child
ᓃᔓ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ Click here to hear this word niishu awaashishich two children
Noun Inanimate (ni)
ᐹᔨᒄ ᒥᔅᒋᓐ Click here to hear this word paayikw mischin one shoe
ᓃᔓ ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word niishu mischinh two shoes

The plural ending -ich is used with the animate stem ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔥ awaashish and the plural ending -h is used with the inanimate stem mischin.

Animate nouns are used for humans, animals, and in general all living creatures, including trees and some plants. Also included are some personal belongings such as pants and sleds. (animate)

ᐱᔨᒌᔅ Click here to hear this word piyichiis pair of pants
ᐱᔨᒌᓯᒡ Click here to hear this word piyichiisich pair(s) of pants
ᒥᔥᑎᒄ Click here to hear this word mishtikw tree
ᒥᔥᑎᑯᒡ Click here to hear this word mishtikuch tree(s)
ᐅᑖᐹᓈᔅᒄ Click here to hear this word utaapaanaaskw sled
ᐅᑖᐹᓈᔅᑯᒡ Click here to hear this word utaapaanaaskuch sled(s)

However, unless you are a fluent speaker, you can never know for sure if something is going to be animate or inanimate in the language. This is why we say that GENDER is a grammatical distinction. It is a distinction made in the language, not necessarily always in the outside world.

Animate and inanimate nouns are used with different verbs:

ᓂᐧᐋᐱᒫᐤ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔥ Click here to hear this word niwaapimaau awaashish (animate) I see a child
ᓂᐧᐋᐱᐦᑖᓐ ᒥᔅᒋᓐ Click here to hear this word niwaapihtaan mischin (inanimate) I see a shoe

Animate and inanimate nouns also have their own sets of demonstrative pronouns:

ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ Click here to hear this word anichii awaashishich (animate plural) those children
ᐊᓂᐦᐄ ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word anihii mischinh (inanimate plural) those shoes
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