white people

White People -nyǫʼmąhaʼ


hatinyǫʼmąhaʼ     They (m) are white people, characterized by iron.


hati-                 masculine plural agent – they (masculine and mixed)

-nyǫʼmąha-      verb stem – be a white person

[nyǫˀ] – be iron

[mąha] – characterizer root suffix]

-ˀ                      stative aspect


atinyǫʼmąhaʼ       They (f) are white people, white women.


ati-                   feminine-zoic plural agent – they (f)

-nyǫʼmąhaʼ-     verb stem – be a white person

-ˀ                      stative aspect


yanyǫʼmąhaʼ        She is a white woman.


ya-                   feminine-zoic singular agent – she

-nyǫʼmąhaʼ-     verb stem – be a white person

-ˀ                      stative aspect


hanyǫʼmąhaʼ       He is a white man.


ha-                   masculine singular agent – he

-nyǫʼmąhaʼ-     verb stem – be a white person

-ˀ                      stative aspect


This word has an interesting history.  I believe it came originally from the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, who gave us the word ‘Canada’ (‘village, community, camp). They were the first Iroquoian-speaking people to encounter Europeans, beginning in the 1530s. Their communities had disappeared by the early 17th century, but there were still speakers in that time. The original literal meaning for the verb form was ‘characterized by iron, metal’.  This meaning and construction still continues in the Cayuga and Seneca languages.  Among the Wendat and probably the Wyandot it was originally used to refer just to the French.



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