Indefinite Pronouns

Observation
ᓂᐧᐋᐸᒫᐤ ᓀᑌᐦ ᐊᐧᐁᓐ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapimaau naataah awaan. I can see someone over there. animate
ᓂᐧᐋᐱᐦᑖᓐ ᓈᑖᐦ ᒑᐧᑳᓐ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapihtaan naataah chaakwaan. I can see something over there. inanimate

ᐊᐧᐋᓐ awaan and ᒑᐧᑳᓐ chaakwaan in the examples above are called “indefinite pronouns”. The words ᐊᐧᐋᓐ awaan and ᒑᐧᑳᓐ chaakwaan are polysemic between three English meanings: 1) ‘someone’ and ‘something’, 2) ‘a person’ and ‘a thing’, 3) ‘who’ and ‘what’ (see interrogative pronouns)’.

Proximate
Obviative
singular plural singular plural
Animate Click here to hear this word ᐊᐧᐋᓐ Click here to hear this word ᐊᐧᐋᓂᒌ Click here to hear this word ᐊᐧᐋᔨᐤᐦ Click here to hear this word ᐊᐧᐋᔨᐤᐦ
awaan awaanichii awaayiuh awaayiuh
Inanimate Click here to hear this word ᒑᐧᑳᓐ Click here to hear this word ᒑᐧᑳᓂᐦᐄ Click here to hear this word ᒑᐧᑳᔨᐤ Click here to hear this word ᒑᐧᑳᔨᐤᐦ
chaakwaan chaakwaanihii chaakwaayiu chaakwaayiuh

ᐊᐧᐋᓐ awaan and ᒑᐧᑳᓐ chaakwaan can sometimes be the equivalent of the English nouns ‘person’ or ‘thing’. Compare the sentences below where they can be translated either by an English pronoun or an English noun.

ᓂᐧᐋᐱᒫᐤ ᐊᐧᐋᓐ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapimaau awaan. I see someone/a person.
ᓂᐧᐋᐱᐦᑖᓐ ᒑᐧᑳᓐ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapihtaan chaakwaan. I see something/a thing.

Like a noun, ᒑᐧᑳᓐ chaakwaan takes nominal inflection in possessive constructions.

ᓂᒑᐧᑳᓂᒻᐦ Click here to hear this word nichaakwaanimh my things

(see also quantifiers)

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