Why and How in Wyandot

Why and How in Wyandot.

Questions are asked in Wyandotte using question words that come at the beginning of a sentence.  A term used for question words that ask the questions what, why, where, when, who and how is wh-questions (wh-q for short).  That is because most of those questions are asked in English with a word beginning with -wh-.  What follows is a discussion of the question word hateˀ [hah-teh-eh], which asks the questions How and Why.  The usual position in the sentence for this word is at the beginning.  It is usually followed by nǫndaeˀ which means ‘that (one).

hateˀ  nǫndaeˀ       de      tąˀą    teskatendutǫndi

why?    that one    the     not       you didn’t tell me

Why didn’t you tell me?

teskatendutǫndi               You didn’t tell me


te-                                negative

-sk-                              2nd person singular agent + 1st person singular patient you-me

-ate-                             semi-reflexive voice

-ndutǫ-                        verb root ‘to tell’

-ndi                              dative root suffix + stative aspect

When the question is ‘why?’, the answer often begins with daižuh [dah-eeh-zhooh] followed by de or nǫndaeˀ

daižuh         de                taˀyehǫˀ                     Because that is not what I wanted.

because            that which         I did not want it

taˀyehǫˀ                           I did not want, wish it.


t-         negative

-aˀ-      factual

-y-       1st person singular agent ‘I’

-eh-     verb root ‘to wish, think’

-ǫˀ        punctual aspect


hateˀ  nǫndaeˀ       d        ahšežu         de      skęhšu

why?    that                   the        you killed it       the        fox


Why did you kill the fox?

ahšežu         You killed it


a-         factual

-hše-    2nd person singular agent ‘you (s)’

-žu       verb root ‘to kill’ + stative aspect


daižuh         nǫndaeˀ       awužu                   skęhšu         kwehsęˀ

because         that one      it killed it               fox               chicken


Because that fox killed a chicken.

awužu                             It killed it.


aw-      factual

-u-       feminine-zoic singular agent + feminine-zoic singular patient it-it

             -žu       verb root ‘to kill’ + stative aspect


hateˀ  ne      ežamęh

how?    the        it will happen

How will it happen?

eyandurey    ežamęh        It will happen quickly.      

eyandurey            It will be quick.


e-                    future

-ya-                  feminine-zoic singular agent ‘it’

-ndure-        verb root ‘to be fast, quick’

-y                     punctual aspect

ežamęh       It will happen.


e-         future

-žam-   feminine-zoic singular patient ‘it’

-ę-        verb root ‘to happen’

-h         inchoative root suffix + punctual aspect                                                                        –

hateˀ  wažamęh

how?    it would happen

How would it happen?

wažamęh    It would happen


wa-      optative

-žam-   feminine-zoic singular patient ‘it’

-ę-        verb root ‘to happen’

-h         inchoative root suffix + punctual aspect

aˀuhšaęˀ       wažamęh      It would happen slowly.

aˀuhšaęˀ                                    It would be slow


aˀ-        optative

-u-       feminine-zoic singular patient ‘it’

-hšaę–  verb root ‘to be slow’

-ˀ          punctual aspect

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