The Punctual Aspect and the Modals in Wyandot

Punctual and the Modals

The punctual is one of the four aspects of the Wyandot language, suffixes that follow every verb.  It refers to one occurrence (rather than a state, a repeated occurrence, a command/request or prediction/intention) of what is being referred to in the verb.  It appears after a verb root or a root suffix and usually occurs at the end of a word.  It takes several different forms: -a(ˀ), -ˀ-, -ę-, -h- or no representative morpheme (word part) at all.  This is signified by ø.  The punctual requires the presence of one of three different prefixes called modals: factual, future and optative.

Factual and Punctual

The factual generally refers to a single occurrence that happened recently.  It takes the form -aˀ- (-a- before an –h-), and usually is found at the beginning of a word.

aˀyaękw              She planted it.


aˀ-        factual prefix

-ya-      feminine-zoic singular agent ’she‘

-ękw-   verb root ‘to plant, to prepare a field’

-aˀ        punctual aspect

ahęhąǫˀ                  He said it


a-         factual prefix

-h-       masculine singular agent‚’he‘

-ęhąǫ-  verb root ’to say‘

          punctual aspect

aˀundahtawaˀ         They (f) failed, quit.


aˀ-        factual prefix

-und-    feminine-zoic plural patient ’they (f)‘

-ahtawa- verb root ’to fail, quit‘

          punctual aspect

Future and Punctual

As the name states, this prefix refers to something that will happen.  The form taken by the future prefix is -e-.  As with the other modals it usually occurs at the beginning of a word.

eurhęhąˀ                Day will dawn.


e-         future prefix ’will‘

-u-       feminine-zoic singular patient ’it‘

-rhę-    verb root ’to dawn‘

-hą-      inchoative root suffix (’coming into being‘)

          punctual aspect

ešateˀwah              You will flee, run away.


e-         future prefix ’will‘

-š-        2nd person singular agent ’you‘

-atewa- verb root ’to run away, flee‘

-h         punctual aspect

ehehšakarata You will take care of him.

e-         future prefix ’will‘

-hehš-  2nd  person singular agent + masculine patient (you-him)

-akarata- verb root ’to take care of‘

-ø-        no morpheme

Optative and Punctual

The optative modal is translated as ’would‘ or ‘should‘.  It takes the form -ai-, -aˀ- and -a-.  Although it shares forms with the factual, it is a little longer in pronunciation.

aˀyetsehąˀ               I should draw water


aˀ-        optative prefix ’should’

-ye-      1st person singular agent ‘I’

-tseh-   verb root ‘to draw water’

-hą-      inchoative root suffix

          punctual aspect

ahažaˀturęhąˀ          He would find me.


a-         optative prefix

-haž-    masculine singular agent + first person singular patient (he-me)

-aˀt-     noun root ‘body’

-urę-    verb root ‘to find’

-hą-      inchoative root suffix

          punctual aspect

aižayęhąˀ               They two (f) would go out.


ai-        optative prefix

-ž-        feminine-zoic dual agent ’they (feminine) two‘

-ayę-    verb root ’to go out‘

-hą-      inchoative root suffix

          punctual aspect



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