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Word Parts

Updated: 6-28-2011 7:46 AM

Word Parts

Many Ojibwe words are complex in construction, consisting of several parts, each of which has a meaning or function. In nouns and verbs, the core part of a word – the part that carries the basic meaning of the word – is called a word stem. To this stem may be added inflectional affixes, known as inflections, which give additional grammatical information about the word. (Such grammatical information can include, where applicable, gender, person, number, and the relationship in which the inflected word stands to other words or phrases in the sentence.) Affixes that are added to the front of the stem are known as prefixes; those that are added after the stem are known as suffixes. The suffices merge together to form an ending. The overall pattern of an inflected noun or verb is shown in the following word diagram:

inflectional prefixes + WORD STEM + inflectional suffixes (word ending)

In the following examples, the stem is preceded by a prefix and followed by two suffixes:

giijiimaaniwaan  =  gi  +  jiimaan  +  iwaa  +  n  =  your boats

you (gi)  +  boat (jiimaan) +  more than one of you (iwaa)  +  more than one thing (n)  = giijiimaaniwaan (your boats)

In this case, the word stem can also occur as an independent word – the singular form of boat:

Jiimaan =  boat

A word stem does not always constitute an independent word. The following examples is made up of a prefix, a stem, and an ending, but the stem does not constitute a word that can stand alone:

Niwaabandaan       I see it  =  ni  +  waaband  +  aan