Pagaiyawal Mhagak


When we talk about the parts of the body in the Abenaki language, we see that most of the words begin with the letter (m). Some speakers have taken it upon themselves to drop the (m) from our words and just use the root word. Many speakers will use the third person singular to express a body part. However, when doing so they are actually saying his/her head, arm, leg, etc.

Please note: the majority of the body parts are considered inanimate. Some speakers have chosen to use an animate format. To make a body part animate would be incorrect, unless one is using a multitude of words or parts of an animate noun to express a body part. The Abenaki consider the body and all it's parts to be a part of the animate creation (all living things). Therefore, to show reverence to all that we are related to we bow ourselves to the state of inanimate.

Another unique thing happens when we apply the adjective possessive (n', k', or w') to all the body parts that begin with the letter (m).

Please note: we must first suppress the letter (m) and prefix it with (n, k, or w). Do not use the apostrophe sign. Examples:

mezid = a foot/the foot
mzabi = a hip/the hip

nezid = my foot
nzabi = my hip
kezid = your foot (one person)
kzabi = your hip (one person)
wezid = his/her foot
wzabi = his/her hip
kezidw˘ = your foot (more than one person)
kzabiw˘ = your hip (more than one person)
wezidw˘ = their foot
wzabiw˘ = their hip

nezidal = my feet
nzabial = my hips
kezidal = your feet (one person)
kzabial = your hips (one person)
wezidal = our feet
wzabial = our hips
nezidnawal = our feet
nzabinawal = our hips
kezidnow˘l = your feet (more than one person)
kzabinow˘l = your hips (more than one person)
wezidnow˘l = their feet
wzabinow˘l = their hips

body part words that do not begin with the letter (m) will be declined as follows:

(remember to use the apostrophe sign.)

zigwada = a/the skeleton
azibaskedon = a/the lip

n'zigwada = my skeleton
nd'azibaskedon = my lip
k'zigwada = your skeleton (one person)
kd'azibaskedon = your lip (one person)
w'zigwada = his/her skeleton
wd'azibaskedon = his/her lip
n'zigwadana = our skeleton
nd'azibaskedonna = our lip
k'zigwadaw˘ = your skeleton (more than one person)
kd'azibaskedonw˘ = your lip (more than one person)
w'zigwadaw˘ = their skeleton
wd'azibaskedonw˘ = their lip

n'zigwadaal = my skeletons
nd'azibaskedonal = my lips
k'zigwadaal = your skeletons (one person)
kd'azibaskedonal = your lips (one person)
w'zigwadaal = his/her skeletons
wd'azibaskedonal = his/her lips
n'zigwadanawal = our skeletons
nd'azibaskedonnawal = our lips
k'zigwadanow˘l = your skeletons (more than one person)
kd'azibaskedonnow˘l = your lips (more than one person)
w'zigwadanow˘l = their skeletons
wd'azibaskedonnow˘l = their lips

Please remember, do not become overwhelmed with the above information. Simply use it as a road map to construct your words/phrases.

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