Nouns inflected for Gender

Observation
ᓂᐧᐋᐸᒫᐅᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐊᔕᒡ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapamaauch anichii awaashach. I see those children.
ᓂᐧᐋᐸᐦᑌᓐ ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐᐦ᙮ Click here to hear this word niwaapahten aniyuuh maschisinh. I see those shoes.

In the examples above, ᐊᐧᐊᔕᒡ awashach ‘children’ and ᐊᐧᐊᔕᒡ maschisinh ‘shoes’ do not have the same plural endings: -ach and -h. Notice also that different verb forms are used.

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

Noun Animate (na)
ᐯᔭᒄ ᐊᐧᐋᔥ Click here to hear this word peyakw awaash one child
ᓃᔓ ᐊᐧᐋᔕᒡ Click here to hear this word niishu awaashach two children
Noun Inanimate (ni)
ᐯᔭᒄ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐ Click here to hear this word peyakw maschisin one shoe
ᓃᔓ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐ Click here to hear this word niishu maschisinh two shoes

The plural ending -ach is used with the animate stem ᐊᐧᐊᔥ awaash and the plural ending -h is used with the inanimate stem ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐ maschisin.

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.

ᐸᔨᒌᔅ Click here to hear this word payichiis pair of pants
ᐸᔨᒌᓴᒡ Click here to hear this word payichiisach 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:

ᓂᐧᐋᐸᒫᐤ ᐊᐧᐋᔥ Click here to hear this word niwaapamaau awaash (animate) I see a child
ᓂᐧᐋᐸᐦᑌᓐ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐ Click here to hear this word niwaapahten maschisin (inanimate) I see a shoe

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

ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐋᔕᒡ Click here to hear this word anichii awaashach (animate plural) those children
ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐᐦ Click here to hear this word aniyuuh maschisinh (inanimate plural) those shoes
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