mishta-mishkumi iceberg
akami-shipu on the other side of the river
minu-tutamᵘ s/he does something good

The first part of these words (mishta-, akami-, minu-) are called preforms (or lexical preforms). Preforms are always written with a hyphen.

Preforms can be added before a noun (mishta-mishkumi), a verb (minu-tutamᵘ) or a particle (akami-shipu) to form a new stem. In the following example, the personal prefix ni is placed before the preform minu-.

Niminu-tuten. I do good (things).
Preforms vs. Initials

Use the following test to tell the difference between verbal preforms and initials: if you take out the component (preform/initial) and what’s left is a verb, it’s a preform. If you take it out and what’s left does not form a verb on its own, it’s an initial (sometimes also called a root).

For example, tshitshi begin to… can be combined with the verb tshimuan rain to form tshitshi-tshimuan it starts to rain. Here tshitshi- is a preform since, if we remove it, we’re left with the verb tshimuan.

In the word tshitshipanu it starts, we can’t remove tshitshi, since panu is not a verb on its own. So in this case tshitshi- is an initial.

Tshitshi, therefore, can be used as either a preform or an initial.

In standard spelling, preforms are written with a hyphen, while initials are written as one word combined with the rest of the verb. More examples:

Preforms Initials
miku-ashini brick mikuapu s/he has red eyes
miku-ashiniu it is brick-coloured mikutau s/he colours or dyes it red

See also preverbs