Nuapaten akunishkueun. I see a hat.
Uapatamᵘ akunishkueunńu. S/he sees a hat.

The ending or suffifix -ńu on akunishkueunńu is the OBVIATIVE. The non-obviative form akunishkueun is called the Proximate. Only one third person in a discourse can be proximate. All other third persons must be obviative.

Obviation is a grammatical category that distinguishes between multiple third persons, where at least one is animate.


Uapameu matsheshua ne auass. The child sees a fox.
Uapatamᵘ akupińu ne auass. The child sees a coat.

The form auass is PROXIMATE, while matsheshua and akupińu are OBVIATIVE.

For animate nouns, the obviative suffix is -a, as in matsheshua. The distinction in number is erased: matsheshua can refer to one or many foxes.

Animate nouns
proximate obviative
singular matsheshu matsheshua a fox
plural matsheshuat matsheshua foxes


For animate nouns, the obviative singular has a different suffix: –(i)ńu. The obviative plural is the same as the proximate plural.

Inanimate nouns
proximate obviative
singular akup akupińu a coat
plural akupa akupa coats


In the following sentences, Mani is proximate and Puna is obviative (marked with the suffix -a).

Uapameu Mani Puna. Uapamiku Mani Puna.
Mani sees Pun. Pun sees Mani.

Regardless of the word order, the agreement between the noun and verb forms indicates which noun (Mani or Pun) is the subject/agent of the sentence. With the direct form uapameu, Mani is the subject/agent, and with the inverse form uapamiku, the subject/agent is Pun (Puna).
See TA Verb Inflection: direct and inverse

Animate nouns possessed by a third person are always obviative.

tapishkakan utapishkakana
a scarf her/his scarf/their scarves

Inanimate nouns possessed by a third person do not take a visible obviative marking, but this hidden obviative becomes visible on the verb with which it agrees.

mashinaikan umashinaikan
a book her/his book
Tshishpakau mashinaikan. The book [proximate] is thick.
Tshishpakańu umashinaikan. Her/his book [obviative] is thick.

See Possessed Nouns. (page in progress)
See also Dependent Nouns.