The Structure of Cree Words

Initial, Medial, and Final

Observation
ᔖᐳᓂᑲᓐ Click here to hear this word shaapunikan a needle for sewing
ᔖᐳᒎ Click here to hear this word shaapuchuu s/he is cold because the cold is coming through
ᔖᐳᓇᒻ Click here to hear this word shaapunam s/he puts it through by hand
ᔖᐧᐹᔥᑌᐤ Click here to hear this word shaapwaashteu it shines through
ᔖᐧᐹᐸᐦᑌᐤ Click here to hear this word shaapwaapahteu it is smoked through


The stems of these words have a meaning that includes the idea of through and they have a common element ᔖᐳ shaapu. Most stems are made of smaller building blocks that can be recognized. An element like ᔖᐳ shaapu that is typically found at the beginning of the word, is called an initial. Other elements can be found in other positions, like in the middle of the word stem, or at the end of it.


An element found in the middle position like -aapech string-like, is called a medial.

ᐧᐄᐹᐯᒋᓲ Click here to hear this word wiipaapechisuu it (anim, string-like) is black
ᐋᔖᐯᒋᓇᒻ Click here to hear this word aashaapechinam s/he lowers it down (string-like)
ᒋᔅᐸᑳᐯᒋᓲ Click here to hear this word chispakaapechisuu it (anim, string-like) is thick


An element found in the final position of the stem, before the inflection, like -n by hand, is called a final.

ᐋᔥᑐᐧᐁᓀᐤ Click here to hear this word aashtuweneu s/he extinguishes, puts it (animate) out, by hand
ᒋᒥᓀᐤ Click here to hear this word chimineu s/he breaks off a piece of something (animate) by hand
ᐸᑯᓀᓀᐤ Click here to hear this word pakuneneu s/he makes a hole in it (animate) by hand
ᑕᔓᓀᐤ Click here to hear this word tashuneu s/he spreads it (animate) out straight by hand from being bent
ᔒᐹᓀᐤ Click here to hear this word shiipaaneu s/he pushes him/her under by hand

Stem, Derivation, and Composition

The process of assembling word stems can be done in three ways by: primary derivation, secondary derivation, and through composition.

A stem formed by primary derivation, called a primary stem, is made up of one or more elements that are not word stems themselves. For example, the verb ᐱᓱᐸᔫ pisupayuu, s/he/it goes slow is made up of an initial pisu- and a final –payi that are not words themselves.

pisu payi u
INITIAL FINAL personal suffix
STEM INFLECTION

A stem formed by secondary derivation, called a secondary stem, is made up of an underlying word stem and at least another stem-building element. For example, the verb ᐱᓱᐸᔨᐦᑖᐤ pisupayihtaau s/he makes it go slow is made up of the stem of the existing verb ᐱᓱᐸᔫ pisupayuu and the causative final -htaa.

pisu payi htaa u
INITIAL FINAL
INITIAL FINAL personal suffix
STEM INFLECTION

A stem formed through composition contains independent elements, like two existing word stems, or a preform and another word stem. For example, the noun ᒥᔥᑎᑯᓈᐯᐤ mishtikunaapeu carpenter is made by conjoining two other noun stems: ᒥᔥᑎᒄ mishtikw wood and ᓈᐯᐤ naapeu man.

ᒥᔥᑎᒄ + ᓈᐯᐤ
mishtikw naapeu
wood man
STEM STEM
ᒥᔥᑎᑯᓈᐯᐤ
mishtikunaapeu
carpenter
STEM

The verb ᒥᔪᒌᔑᑳᐤ miyuchiishikaau it is a nice day is made by conjoining the preverb ᒥᔪ miyu and the verb ᒌᔑᑳᐤ chiishikaau.

ᒥᔪ + ᒌᔑᑳᐤ
miyu chiishikaau
good it is day
PREVERB Verb STEM
ᒥᔪᒌᔑᑳᐤ
miyuchiishikaau
it is a nice day
STEM
Click here to go back to Word Formation Word Formation Click here to go to the top Top