Making Verbs into Nouns in O’otham Ñeo’ok
August 19, 2016
Huhugam Heritage Center
Gila River Indian Community
On July 20, the Huhugam Heritage Center held a Language Class Appreciation Event at the District 6 Learning Center to celebrate the completion of the first Introductory Akimel O’otham language class. On that day, sixteen e mamshchamtham (students) were given certificates of completion, celebratory gifts, and shared a meal together to commemorate the ending of the 15 week course. The class, taught by Mrs. Barbara Parsons from Santa Cruz, was titled “Thoth Gegos” and focused on teaching everyday language used in the home for cooking and eating. During the course the class learned how to say useful phrases like Upam ha thoa:in hegam huasa:’a (put away the dishes) but also learned the importance of eating together as a family. The Heritage Center is working towards creating more Community-based classes like this one in the future for District 6 as well as for the other districts.
In O’otham ñeo’ok there is often a relationship between verbs and nouns that identifies the person that performs the action. For example, the word “to teach” is mashcham and can be used as an action word like in the sentence Mañ ha mashcham hegam a’al “I am teaching the children.” This verb can be turned into a noun simply by adding the suffix –tham at the end and a prefix e before the word. By adding these two pieces to the word you change it from an action word to a noun that identifies a student, or the person who is being taught. The suffix – tham changes a verb or action word into a noun and is used in O’otham to identify the person who does the action of the verb. For example the word meaning “to play” is chichvi, and this can be turned into a noun chichivitham just by adding –tham at the end. This new word chichvitham is no longer an action word but identifies a player or teammate. If you want to be more specific you can add another word to identify the type of player like a thoka chichivitham or bo:l chichvitham. Another example is vachvi “to swim” that becomes vachvitham, or swimmer, simply by adding the suffix at the end.
Keep in mind that not all words follow this pattern, especially when another word exists in O’otham ñeo’ok that identifies the person. For example, the verb “to heal/cure” is kulañmath but there is no such person as a kulañmath’tham. That’s because O’otham already has a perfectly good word for a doctor/healer which is makai. Another example is the verb “to cook”, which is hithoḍ. There is no such person as a hithoḍatham as O’otham already has a word for a chef which is kosñil. There is however a similar word for someone who likes or is skilled in cooking and that is a s-hithoḍkam, but that is a different example of how to form a noun from a verb in O’otham.
For this month’s puzzle we’re giving six professions that come from six action words. Take a look at the word match and try to identify the person who does the action. Below are six action words that should help you solve the puzzle. Try to think of other words that end in –tham that come from verbs and remember to O’othamaj ñe’ñokath!
heg’gia - “to fight”
gagda - “to sell”
chu:sh - “to put out/turn off”
o’itham - “to hunt”
hi:k - “to cut
vaila - “to dance”