Noun plurals

When we examine Cheyenne noun plurals, our first impression is that there are quite a few different suffixes used to change singulars to plurals. But when we look more closely we see that most animate plurals end with -o or -ne and most inanimate plurals end with -stse or -tse. We notice that many inanimate plurals include -n, so it looks like there are plurals ending in -nstse and -ntse. Further investigation allows us to see the basic patterns of Cheyenne pluralization even more clearly. In this investigation we can use some techniques of linguistics that enable us to posit more "abstract" forms (phonemic spelling) of nouns. The result is that what initially appears as a rather large number of plural suffixes condenses to a short list of one, or at most, two, plural suffixes for each of the two animacy categories, animate and inanimate nouns. This shorter list is affirmed by reference to the developmental history of Cheyenne sounds, as seen, especially, through comparison with nouns in other Algonquian languages. Following is a brief outline of Cheyenne noun pluralization, with a few representative nouns:


Plurals ending with -o

ant		htseke	htskeho

baby		m'evtse	m'evoto

bear		nhkohe		nhkheo'o

bee		hhnoma		hhnomaho

bird		v'kse		v'kseho

cat		pso		pesono

child		ka'kne	ka'kneho

duck		'e		'eo'o

feather		mee'e		meno

man		hetane		hetaneo'o

shirt		stse'he	stse'heno

woman		he'e		he'eo'o

Plurals ending with -ne

meaning	singular		plural

animal		hova		hovhne

chicken		kokhxa	kokhaxne

deer		vtsva	votsevhne

sheep		kosa		ksne

skunk		xao'o		xane

turtle		ma'eno		ma'enne


Plurals ending with -ntse

meaning	singular		plural

bone		he'ko		he'kontse

book		mxe'stoo'o	mxe'stontse

house		mheo'o		mheontse

road		meo'o		meontse

shoe		mo'keha		mo'khantse

Plurals ending with -tse

meaning	singular		plural

airplane	ame'hahttse	ame'hhtottse

axe		hohkxe		hohkxehtse

bed		eesttse	estottse

chair		txe'sesttse	txe'sestottse

knife		motke	mtkehtse

Plurals ending with -nstse

meaning	singular		plural

belt		hoestto	hoesttnstse

bowstring	ma'tano		ma'tannstse

coin		ma'kaeta	ma'kaetnstse

Plurals ending with -stse

meaning	singular		plural

bead		onhavo'ke	onhavo'kstse

hat		hhkha'e	hhkh'stse

fishhook	nonn'e	nonn'stse

river		'he'e		o'he'stse

(To be continued)

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