ᒧᐎᐙᐅ ᐅᔅᑭᑎᒧᐃᐦ᙮ muwiwaau uskitimuih. She eats apples.
ᒥᒧᐎᐙᐤ ᐅᔅᑭᑎᒧᐃᐦ᙮ mi-muwiwaau uskitimuih. She eats apples all the time, she stuffs herself with apples.

In the verb ᒥᒧᐎᐙᐤ mi-muwaau above, the first syllable mu- of the verb ᒧᐎᐙᐤ muwaau is copied and the vowel u is replaced with i, which gives us mi-. This new syllable is then prefixed to the verb to create mi-muwaau. This new word has the additional meaning of happening all the time or happening a lot.

Reduplication consists of repeating part of a word to create a new word with an additional meaning. In East Cree, this is done with the beginning of the word, on a part called the initial. It is usually the first syllable that is reduplicated and the first vowel of that syllable is replaced by a or i, aa, or aah. (There is no difference in meaning associated with the length of the vowel in East Cree, unlike in neighbouring languages, like Plains Cree.)

Not all words with a reduplicated initial have a corresponding word that is not reduplicated. For example there is a word ᓇᓇᒥᐸᔮᓐ ni-nimipiyiu or naa-naamipiyiu s/he trembles, where *ᓂᒥᐱᔨᐤ *nimipiyiu or *ᓈᒥᐱᔨᐤ *naamipiyiu do not exist. Speakers agree that the reduplicated form is often used but they cannot imagine what the non-reduplicated version would mean.


The following are different styles of reduplications in South East Cree:

1) If the word begins with a consonant, the first syllable is copied and the first vowel is replaced with an i, aa, or aah.

ᒧᐎᐙᐤ muwiwaau s/he eats it (anim)
ᒥᒧᐎᐙᐤ mi-muwiwaau s/he eats it(anim) all the time
ᒫᑯᓂᒻ maakunim s/he grabs, presses it
ᒫᒫᑯᓂᒻ maa-maakunim s/he kneads, presses it
ᐧᑳᐱᒑᐤ kwaapichaau s/he fetches water
ᐧᑳᐦᐧᑳᐱᒑᐤ kwaah-kwaapichaau s/he fetches water (more than once)
ᒀᑎᐱᓈᐤ kwaatipinaau s/he turns it (anim) over
ᒀᐦᒀᑎᐱᓈᐤ kwaah-kwaatipinaau s/he rolls it (anim)

Sometimes the reduplicated syllable is inserted in second position:

ᐱᒧᐦᑖᐤ pimuhtaau s/he is walking
ᐱᐹᒧᐦᑖᐤ pi-paa-muhtaau s/he walks around

2) If the word begins with a vowel (not u-), the vowel is copied, replaced by an i and a connector (-y-) is inserted between it and the main word.

ᐋᔓᐎᑭᒥᒑᔥᑭᒻ aashuwikimichaashkim she goes from one dwelling to the other
ᐃᔮᔓᐎᑭᒥᔖᔥᑭᒻ i-y-aashuwikimichaashkim she goes from dwelling to dwelling
ᐋᔑᐦᒀᐤ aashihkwaau she yells, screams
ᐃᔮᔑᐦᒀᐤ i-y-aashihkwaau she yells, screams repeatedly

3) If the word begins with a u-, the next syllable in the word is copied instead and inserted between the u- and the main word.

ᐅᑖᒥᐦᐊᒻ utaamiham she hits it with something
ᐅᑖᑖᒥᐦᐋᒻ u-taa-taamiham she hits it repeatedly with something

4) In a few cases, a larger part is copied.

ᑖᐱᐦᐊ taapiham she repeats what was said
ᑖᐱᑖᐱᐦᐊ taapi-taapiham she repeats it (over and over)

5) In a some cases, the reduplicated syllable is inserted after the first one:

ᐱᒧᐦᑎᑖᐤ ᐅᒦᒋᒻ pimuhtitaau umiichim she carries her food while walking
ᐱᐹᒧᐦᑎᑖᐤ ᐅᒦᒋᒻ pi-paa-muhtitaau umiichim she goes (walks) around while carrying her food


The meaning of reduplication is plurality, intensity or repetition. Reduplication also has an interesting effect on numerals.

ᐧᐋᐦᑖᔨᐦᑎᒻ waahtaayihtim s/he thinks it is easy
ᐅᐧᐋᐦᑖᔨᐦᑎᒻ uwaahtaayihtim s/he thinks it is really easy
ᐙᐹᔑᐤ waapaashiu she, it (anim) is blown away
ᐙᐙᐸᔑᐤ waa-waapaashiu she, it (anim) sways in the wind
ᐲᔂᐱᔨᐤ piiswaapiyiu it is bubbling, fluffs up
ᐱᐲᔂᐱᔨᐤ pi-piiswaapiyiu it is bubbling up, continuously
ᐋᐱᐦᐄᐱᔨᐤ aapihiipiyiu it opens
ᔮᔮᐱᐦᐄᐱᔨᐤ yaay-aapihiipiyiu it opens and closes
ᐧᐄᐦᐧᑳᐤ wiihkwaau s/he swears
ᐧᐋᐧᐄᐦᐧᑳᐤ waawiihkwaau s/he keeps on swearing
ᐧᐃᓂᐦᐋᐤ winihaau s/he loses it (anim)
ᐅᐧᐃᓂᐦᐋᐤ uwinihaau s/he’s always losing it (anim)

Reduplicated numerals are used to express distributivity. Numeral particles are used to express concepts translated by each in English.

ᓃᔓ ᐅᔅᑭᑎᒧᐃᐦ ᒌᐦ ᒧᐎᐙᐅᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐙᔑᔑᒡ᙮
niishu uskitimui-h chiih muwiwaau-ch anichii awaashishich.
The children ate two apples.
ᓈᓃᔓᐦ ᐅᔅᑭᑎᒧᐃᐦ ᒌᐦ ᒧᐎᐋᐅᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐙᔑᔑᒡ᙮
naa-niishu-h uskitimui-h chiih muwiwaau-ch anichii awaashishich.
The children ate two apples each.

With ith the addition of the suffix –waau, they express distributivity in time:

ᓃᔣᐤ niishwaau two times
ᓈᓃᔣᐤ naa-niishwaau two times each

The reduplicated numeral can be used as an initial to create intransitive verbs.

ᒌ ᓃᔓᑭᒧᒡ᙮ chii niishukimuch. Two of them were doing it.
ᒌ ᓈᓃᔓᑭᒧᒡ᙮ chii naa-niishukimuch. They were doing it in groups of two.
ᒌ ᓀᐅᐦᑌ ᐅ ᒡ᙮ chii niishuhtaauch. Two of them were walking.
ᒌ ᓈᓀᐅᐦᑌ ᐅ ᒡ᙮ chii naa-niishuhtaauch. They were walking in groups of two.

Note on Exceptions

There are reduplications that are not as obvious as others. They look like the following:

ᒌᐦᒑᔮᐤ chiihchaayaau it is a corner
ᑭᒌᐦᒑᔮᐤ ki-chiihchaayaau it is square (has corners)
ᒋᓄᑳᑖᐤ chinukaataau s/he has a long leg
ᑭᑳᓄᑳᑖᐤ ki-kaanukaataau s/he has long legs

These non-reduplicated forms begin with chi but the reduplication takes the form of ka. This occurs because historically the word initials began with ka, not chi, and although that has changed in the non-reduplicated version of the word, the reduplication has remained faithful to its original form. In the second example, reduplication has caused even the main word to retain its original pronunciation when reduplicated.


To find out more about reduplication, see the following papers:

  • Junker, Marie-Odile and Louise Blacksmith (1994). Reduplication in East Cree. In W. Cowan (ed.) Actes du vingt-cinquième Congrès des Algonquinistes, 265-273.
  • Junker, Marie-Odile (2007) La réduplication en cri de l’Est: quantification et distributivité. Faits de Langue, 29. La réduplication. A. Morgenstern & A. Michaud (eds.) 160-175.