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Pronouns

Updated: 6-28-2011 7:25 AM

Pronouns typically stand in the place of nouns. However, in Ojibwemowin, the equivalent concept is often expressed in the form of an affix on nouns or verbs. Pronouns corresponding to English equivalents of personal pronouns, such as me or you, are often used for emphasis purposes in Ojibwe.

There are three basic types of pronouns in Ojibwemowin: Nominal, Demonstrative and Personal.

Nominal Pronouns

Nominal pronouns refer to nouns or stand in place of nouns. Nominal pronouns can be inflected in some varieties of Ojibwe.

There are five types of nominal pronouns: Interrogative, Indefinite, Dubitative, Pausal and Pronouns of Kind.

 Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used in questions that aim to ascertain the identity of a person or thing. In some varieties of Ojibwe, interrogative pronouns may be animate or inanimate, depending on whether the question refers to a person or thing, and can be inflected for number and obviation. Interrogative pronouns are also cross-classified as interrogative adverbs.

 

Animate

Inanimate

awenen
who

awegonen
what

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns refer to unspecified persons or things. In some varieties of Ojibwe, indefinite pronouns may be inflected with basic suffixes showing number and obviation.

 

Animate

Inanimate

awiiya
someone

gegoo
something

Dubitative Pronouns

Dubitative pronouns express doubt or uncertainty about the identity of a being or thing. In some varieties of Ojibwe, dubitative pronouns are inflected with basic suffixes showing number and obviation.

 

Animate dubitative Pronoun

Inanimate dubitative Pronoun

awegwen
whoever

awegodogwen
whatever

 Pausal Pronouns

Pausal pronouns are used as substitutes for nouns that the speaker cannot momentarily recall. Pausal pronouns are inflected like nouns.

 

Animate

Inanimate

aya'aa
some being
"what's-his-name"

aya'ii
some thing
"whatchamacallit"

 

Pronouns of Kind

These pronouns express notions of similarity or kind.

Awegonen dinowa?  =  What kind?

Not all speakers or dialects inflect pronouns of kind for gender, number and obviation.

 

 Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns can be used with nouns or can stand in place of nouns, and are used to point out or designate specific persons or things. They agree with with nouns to which they relate in gender, number, and obviation.

The two demonstrative pronouns most often used designate two distinct degrees of distance, corresponding roughly to the distinction between the English this and that. Further degrees of distance (this one over here, that one over there, etc.) can be expressed in some varieties of Ojibwe by other forms. The charts below are not comprehensive; they show the main forms, with some common variants.

 

 

Animate Singular

Inanimate Singular

this

wa’aw

o’ow

that

a’aw

i’iw

 

Animate Plural

Inanimate Plural

these

ongow

onow

those

ingiw

iniw

 

Obviative Singular

Obviative Plural

this/these

onow

onow

that/those

iniw

iniw

Another degree of distance may be expressed by the following forms:

 

 

Animate Singular

Inanimate Singular

this over there

wa’awedi

o’owedi

that over there

awedi

iwedi

 

Animate Plural

Inanimate Plural

these over there

ongowedig

onowedin

those over there

ingiwedig

iniwedin

 

Obviative Singular

Obviative Plural

this/these over there

onowedin

onowedin

that/those over there

iniwedin

iniwedin

 

 

 Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns stand in place of persons or nouns and indicate the various roles taken in speech. The three grammatical persons represented by personal pronouns – the first person (I), the second person (you) and the third person (he/she/it) – indicate the relationship in which the person referred to stands with respect to the speaker. The first person is the person speaking, the second person is the person spoken to, and the third person is the person spoken of.

 

First-Person Singular

niin

I, me

Second-Person Singular

giin

you

Third-Person Singular

wiin

s/he

There are two first-person plurals: the exclusive plural, which excludes the person addressed, and the inclusive plural, which includes the person addressed.

 

First-Person Exclusive Plural

niinawind

we/us, but not you

Second-Person Inclusive Plural

giinawind

we/us, including you

The other plural forms are the second- and third-person plural.

 

Second-Person Plural

giinawaa

you

Third-Person Plural

wiinawaa

they/them

 

 

Personal Pronouns of Precedence

There is also a set of personal pronouns, called pronouns of precedence, that are used to express the concepts of x-first or x’s turn. These are formed as conjunctions with an adverbial-like base.

niinitam          me first, my turn