|nimin||I drink||niminnan||we drink|
|nutapan||my car||nutapannan||our car|
|shiuenu niminushim||my cat is hungry||shiuennua uminushima||his/her cat is hungry|
|nimashinaikan||my book||nimashinaikannan||our book|
|uikan nuiashim||my meat is good||uikannu uiashim||his/her meat is good|
|tshitakun||you (sg) photograph me||tshitakunnau||you (pl) photograph me|
Description of the Problem
In Innu, there aren’t many double consonants; a vowel is often written between two consonants, even if the vowel isn’t pronounced. For example, pimi lard, nuapamimau I see the other one, niteniten I think something. However, an unpronounced vowel is not written between two n consonants.
This spelling difficulty can be illustrated in two parts:
- double n consonants that are part of the lexical spelling, that is, found within the word;
- double n consonants that result from the addition of a suffix that begins with n to a word or root ending in n.
Double n as part of the word
When Innu spelling was being standardized, the decision was made for two n consonants pronounced without a vowel between them to be written nn. Here are some examples.
|innu||human, Innu, First Nations person||inniminan||blueberry|
|manneu||s/he takes something away||uinnueu||s/he hates to see him/her|
|uinnakuan||something is dirty||uinn||subcutaneous fat|
|utenni||his/her language||tatipanneu||s/he sorts things|
|shinneu||s/he gets the contents out by pressing on it||atimunnish||monkey|
|In most dialects, we hear both n consonants when the words are pronounced. However, in the Mamit dialects, we only pronounce one n. Speakers of these dialects must therefore pay attention to words that are spelled with two n consonants.|
The Innu Dictionary is the best tool for learning how to write a word that contains the double n. It’s even possible to run a search in the dictionary to find most of the words that contain these doubled consonants.
Learning Strategy for Double n
A good way to learn the spelling of words that have the double n is to identify roots that contain them, and to learn these spellings. This is a good technique for learning the spelling of many words in the same root family, such as words related to innu human, First Nations person, to live, etc. to uinn fat, dirty.
It can be useful to create lists of words that contain two n consonants that don’t come from the addition of a suffix.
Double n created by the addition of a suffix
|shiueń–||+||ńuaobviative||=||shiueńńua||the other one is hungry|
|apu papań–||+||ńitiobviative||=||apu papańńiti||the other one can’t manage/the other one isn’t coming|
|nutapan–||+||nan1st person plural||=||nutapannan||our car|
|nimin–||+||nan1st person plural||=||niminnan||we drink|
|tshitakun–||+||nau2nd person plural||=||tshitakunnau||you (pl.) photograph me|
|tshimiń–||+||nan1st person plural||=||tshimińnan||you (sg.) give us something|
In order to write inflected words (words that take a grammatical marker) correctly, we must be aware that we are adding a suffix beginning with the letter n to a word that already contains an n at the end. This can be noted in the examples below where the words in the right-hand column (in grey) take a suffix that begins with an n:
|utapana||cars||utapanńu||the other car|
|shiueńu||s/he is hungry||shiueńńa||the other one is hungry|
|nimukumana||my knives||nimukumannan||our knife|
|tshimińauau||you (pl) give him something||tshimińnau||you (pl) give me something|
|nikańanan||we hide something||tshikańnan||you (pl) hide something from us|
|unipańu||s/he is mistaken||unipańnanu||we are mistaken|
|atussenanu||we work||atussenanńu etati||we work (obviative) when s/he is there|
|petakanu||we hear something||petakanńu unikamun||we hear his/her song|
|auen||who, someone||auenńua||someone (else)|
|eukuan||here is…||eukuanńu||here is…(the other one)|
Here are the main suffixes that begin with an n and which can be added to a word or stem ending in n:
- the obviative -ń suffix which can be added to nouns, pronouns and verbs:
neńua umassinńua these shoes; the other’s shoes takushinńipani ute auenńua someone (else) came here; shiueńńua neńua that one (the other one) is hungry; apu unipańńiti neńua that one (the other one) is not mistaken; atussenanńu etati we work (obviative) when s/he is there;
- -nan and -nan suffixes of the 1st and 2nd person plural, which we use with possessive nouns and conjugated verbs:
nimashinaikannan tshimashinaikannan tshimashinaikannuau our book our book (yours and mine) your (pl) book nuńakannana tshuńakannana tshuńakannuaua our glasses our glasses (yours and mine) your (pl) glasses nishiueńnan tshishiueńnan tshishiueńnau we (without you) are hungry we (with you) are hungry you (pl) are hungry niminnan tshiminnan tshiminnau we (without you) drink we (with you) drink you (pl) drink tshikańnan tshikańnau tshikańnanitshe you (pl) hide me,
you (sg) hide us
you (pl) hide me you (pl) must hide us tshitakunnan tshitakunnau you (pl) photograph us,
you (sg) photograph us
you (pl) photograph me
- suffixes for indefinite subject verbs: -nanu, -nanipan, -nanishapan, etc., in the independent; -nanut, -nanuti, etc., in the conjunct; the obviative forms of these indefinite suffixes: -nannu, -nannipan, -nannishapan, etc., in the independent; -nannut, -nannuti, etc., in the conjunct.
shiueńnanu shiueńnanikupan apu shiueńnanut we are hungry we should be hungry we are not hungry minnanu minnanipan apu minnanut we drink we drank we don’t drink
Double n consonants that result because of the addition of a suffix beginning with n to a word or stem ending in n should be a specific topic of instruction, especially for the Mamit dialects, where double n consonants are not pronounced.