ᒧᐧᐁᐤ ᐧᐋᐸᒥᓐᐦ᙮ muweu waapaminh. She eats apples.
ᒧᐧᐁᐤ ᐧᐋᐸᒥᓐᐦ᙮ ma-muweu waapaminh. She eats apples all the time,
she stuffs herself with apples

In the verb ᒪᒧᐧᐁᐤ ma-muweu above, the first syllable mu- of the verb ᒧᐧᐁᐤ muweu is copied and the vowel u is replaced with a, which gives us ma-. This new syllable is then prefixed to the verb to create ma-muweu. 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, aa, or aah. (There is no difference in meaning associated with the length of the vowel in East Cree, unlike in neighbouring languages.)

Not all words with a reduplicated initial have a corresponding word that is not reduplicated. For example there is a word ᓇᓇᒥᐸᔫ na-namipayuu s/he trembles, but *ᓇᒥᐸᔫ *namipayuu does 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 a, aa, or aah.

ᐧᐯᐦᒋᔥᑑ pwechishtuu s/he farts
ᐧᐯᐦᐧᐯᐦᒋᔅᑑ pweh-pwechistuu s/he keeps farting
ᐧᐁᐱᓀᐤ ᑑᐦᓈᓐᐦ wepineu tuuhaanh s/he throws a ball (once)
ᐧᐊᐧᐁᐱᓀᐤ ᑑᐦᐋᓐᐦ wa-wepineu tuuhaanh s/he throws one or more balls, many times
s/he keeps throwing the ball(s)
ᒫᑯᓇᒻ maakunam s/he grabs, presses it
ᒫᒫᑯᓇᒻ maa-maakunam s/he kneads, presses it
ᐲᐦᑑᐙᐤ piihtuuwaau there is one on top of another
ᐹᐦᐲᐦᑑᐙᐤ paah-piihtuuwaau it is layered

Sometimes the reduplicated syllable is inserted in second position:

ᐱᒧᐦᑌᐤ (ᐸᒧᐦᑌᐤ) pimuhteu (pamuhteu) s/he is walking
ᐸᐹᒧᐦᑌᐤ pa-paa-muhteu s/he walks around

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

ᐊᔑᒣᐤ ashimeu she feeds him/her
ᐊᔭᔑᒣᐤ a-y-ashimeu she feeds him/her again and again
ᐃᑌᐤ iteu she talks about it
ᐊᐃᑌᐤ᙮ a-y-iteu. she gossips about it

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.

ᐅᑖᒧᑯᐦᐧᐁᐤ u-taamukuhweu she cuts it with an axe
ᐅᑕᑖᒧᑯᐦᐧᐁᐤ u-ta-taamukuhweu she chops it with axe

4) In a few cases, more than the first syllable is copied.

ᑌᐧᐯᐤ tepweu she calls
ᑌᐱᑌᐧᐯᐤ tep(i)-tepweu she calls and calls and calls
ᒋᐱᐦᒋᐸᔫ chipihchipayuu it stops
ᒋᐱᐦᒋᐱᐦᒋᐸᔫ chipih-chipihchipayuu it stops and starts, continuously


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

1) Plurality: In the following examples of verbs of states describing size, reduplication is used when things exist in pairs or are grouped with many more of the same thing. When there is only one thing, the non-reduplicated form is used.

ᒪᐦᒑᔅᑯᑳᑌᐤ᙮ mahchaaskukaateu. She has one big leg.
ᒫᒪᐦᒑᔅᑯᑳᑌᐤ᙮ maa-mahchaaskukaateu. She has big legs.
ᒫᒪᐦᒋᓯᑌᐤ᙮ maa-mahchisiteu. She has big feet.
ᒫᒪᐦᑳᐦᐊᓐ᙮ maa-mahkaahan. ‘There are big waves.
ᒫᒪᐦᑳᑯᓂᒋᐸᔫ᙮ maa-mahkaakunichipayuu. It is snowing big snowflakes.
ᒫᒪᐦᑳᐱᑌᐤ᙮ maa-mahkaapiteu. He has big teeth.
ᐋᐱᔖᔥᑯᐱᑐᓀᔔ᙮ aapish-aashkupituneshuu. She has one very thin arm.
ᐃᔮᐱᔖᔥᑯᐱᑐᓀᔔ᙮ iy-aapish-aashkupituneshuu. She has very thin arms.
ᐃᔮᐱᔑᑳᒉᔔ᙮ iy-aapishi-kaacheshuu. She has very thin legs.
ᐃᔮᐱᔑᒥᓂᑳᔔᐦ᙮ iy-aapishi-minikaashuuh. These are tiny berries.
ᐃᔮᐱᔑᐯᒥᒌᐤ ᙮ iy-aapishi-pemichiiu. (This tree) has very small leaves.
ᐃᔮᐱᔑᔥᑲᔔ᙮ iy-aapishi-shkashuu. His/her tracks are very small.

2) Intensity:

ᐁᒄ ᑮᐹ ᐃᔅᑲ ᓈᔅᑯᒧᐧᐋ ᐊᓂᔮ ᑳ ᐅᐦᑖᐧᐄᐧᑖᐤ᙮
ekw kiipaa iska naaskumuwaa aniyaa kaa uhtaawiitwaau.
And so, their father thanked them.
ᐁᒄ ᑮᐹ ᐃᔅᑲ ᓇᓈᔅᑯᒧᐧᐋ ᐊᓂᔮ ᑳ ᐅᐦᑖᐧᐄᐧᑖᐤ᙮
ekw kiipaa iska na-naaskumuwaa aniyaa kaa uhtaawiitwaau.
And so, their late father thanked them profusely.

3) Repetition:

ᐧᐄᓈᑯᐦᑖᐤ ᐅᑕᑯᐦᑉ wiinaakuhtaa-u u-takuhp he dirties his coat
ᐧᐋᐧᐄᓈᑯᐦᑖᐤ ᐅᑕᑯᐦᑉ wa-wiinaakuhtaa-u u-takuhp he keeps dirtying his coat
ᐋᓂᔅᑯᑖᐱᐦᑳᑕᒻ aaniskutaapihkaatam she ties them together
ᐃᔮᓂᔅᑯᑖᐱᐦᑳᑕᒻ i-y-aaniskutaapihkaatam she won’t stop tying them together
ᒋᐸᐦᐄᐸᔫ chipahiipayuu it closes
ᒋᐸᐦᒋᐸᐦᐄᐸᔫ chipah-chipahiipayuu it opens and closes

4) Numerals:

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

ᓂᐤ ᐧᐋᐃᒥᓐᐦ ᒌ ᒧᐧᐁᐅᒡ ᐊᓐᒌ ᐊᐋᔑᒡ᙮
neu waapimin-h chii muwe-uch anchii awaashich.
The children ate four apples.
ᓈᓂᐤ ᐧᐋᐃᒥᓐᐦ ᒌ ᒧᐧᐁᐅᒡ ᐊᓐᒌ ᐊᐋᔑᒡ᙮
naa-neu waapimin-h chii muwe-uch anchii awaashich.
The children ate four apples each.

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

ᓀᐅᐧᐋᐤ neu-waau four times
ᓈᓀᐅᐧᐋᐤ naa-neu-waau four times each

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

ᒌ ᓀᐅᐦᑲᒻ ᐅ ᒡ᙮ chii neuhkamuch. Four of them were doing it.
ᒌ ᓈᓀᐅᐦᑲᒻ ᐅ ᒡ᙮ chii naa-neuhkamuch. They were doing it in groups of four.
ᒌ ᓀᐅᐦᑌ ᐅ ᒡ᙮ chii neu-hteuch. Four of them were walking.
ᒌ ᓈᓀᐅᐦᑌ ᐅ ᒡ᙮ chii naa-neuhteuch. They were walking in groups of four.

Note on Exceptions

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

ᒋᒥᐱᑕᒻ chimipitam s/he tears it up
ᑲᒋᒥᐱᑕᒻ ka-chimipitam s/he tears it up piece by piece
ᒋᓄᑳᑌᐤ chinukaateu s/he has a long leg
ᑲᑳᓄᑳᑌᐤ ka-kaanukaateu 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.