Lesson 2: Singular Subject VAI Verbs, Positive & Negative

This page links you to the individual components of your second lesson, and provides a bit of commentary on topics that we'll be studying.

Navigation. At the top of each page, below the title, is a navigation bar containing links to various pertinent pages. Remember that you can also use your browser's navigation buttons to move around as well. Some links, such as Grammar ToC (Table of Contents), above, open a new browser window. The link Home should always take you back to the index for this entire site -- if it doesn't please let me know.

Overview. This lesson continues our introduction to simple verbs.

Practice in 1, 2, 3 Singular Verb Forms

Go here to practice simple sentences using the verbs and nouns you learned in Lesson 1. Caution! This program was developed using a pedagogical program called Hot Potatoes. Macintosh users -- this program does not seem to work in Safari, in that the sounds do not play properly. And Macintosh Omniweb (an otherwise wonderful browser) crashes spectacularly. But it works just great with Internet Explorer, of all things, on my Macs running OS 10.3.5. Windows users -- this program works in Internet Explorer, but the sound display is somewhat annoying, as you will see. But it works, which is a happy consolation. But I've only tested it on XP, so be prepared to crash and burn if you're running an older version of Windows. Next time I'll try making the exercise in XP, and this may work better - the Mac version of Hot Potatoes is very old.


A table with the vocabulary set for week 2 can be found here. IMPORTANT NOTE. I have found a very tiny flash player that will allow me to put in-line audio into all of our web pages. This is a wonderful improvement over the existing system, however, you will need to do certain things in order to get this to work on your computer. First, you must have the free Flash Player installed. If you don't have it, click here, to go Macromedia's website, find the Downloads, and download the Flash Player for your OS.

Okay. If you are using Windows (and I've only tested with XP), the player works with Internet Explorer. If you use Mac OS X, it does not work with Safari or Internet Explorer. It does work with Mozilla FireFox, an outstanding open-source browser which you can download by clicking here.

The following links take you to flashcard pages that allow you to practice vocabulary. You should also be able to right-click on the link below in order to download the html page, which has embedded javascript, and have a working flashcard set independently of being connected to the internet. Also, be sure to practice writing words, too, in order to be good spellers.

English to Ojibwe flashcard practice
Ojibwe to English flashcard practice

Download mp3 of Lesson Vocabulary. Right-click (Mac users, control-click) on this link to download an mp3 of Lesson 2 vocabulary.

Spelling and Pronunciation

Go here to find the notes on Anishinaabemowin spelling and pronunciation that you looked at last week. Read these notes carefully again, until you feel comfortable with the many concepts introduced.

Go here to find practice material in transcription, this time a few sentences from a story by Nancy Thompson on her learning to dig seneca root.

Grammar: VAI Verb Forms

You can find a lengthy handout on the person prefixes here (it's a pdf). Please read only pages 1 and 2 of this handout, as the rest is too advanced for us at this point. A verb conjugation chart for VAI verbs ending in long vowels can be found here. A similar chart for VAI verbs ending in short vowels (which are only minorly different from those ending in long vowels) can be found here. Please print these three handouts out and bring them to class for next Tuesday. Keep your handouts organized in a booklet of some sort so that you can make ready use of them. These verb conjugations will seem very daunting to you when you first see them - don't be daunted, they represent the bulk of the forms that we'll be learning over the whole first semester, so you'll have plenty of time to learn them, and I will guide you along, taking you through each group systematically.

Grammar: Gender, Animate and Inanimate

Please download and read this pdf as well, on the gender distinction of animate and inanimate in Ojibwe. Bring it to class on Tuesday.

Ricing Narratives (continued)

Continue to listen to Mrs. Thompson's narrative (which can be found here), as a means of beginning to learn Anishinaabemowin pronunciation. (here is the mp3, a link you can right-click on [control-click on Mac] to download). Note that the audio is presented with a Shockwave audio player. To start the narration over, just click the player to stop it, if it is playing, and then click the refresh button for your browser. Listen to the whole story in Anishinaabemowin a few times, and read the English so that you know what Mrs. Thompson is talking about.

Wild Rice

Since we are in the season in which Anishinaabe people harvest wild rice, we will continue to learn about this very important activity. Go here to learn more about wild rice, on a web page produced for the University of Minnesota-Mankato's emuseum.

Another wonderful resource for learning about Ojibwe life is the on-line autobiography of Paul Buffalo, which was compiled with the assistance of Prof. Tim Roufs of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and represents over 3500 pages of transcription. Go here to read the introduction to Mr. Buffalo's autobiography, and then here to read his chapter on wild rice. The chapter is titled Mah-no-min-i-kay Gii-siss, which in the orthography (writing system) that we are using would be Manoominike-Giizis. The word for wild rice is manoomin (ni). A verb of making, processing, or harvesting can be made from many nouns by adding /-ike/, in this case giving manoominike (vai), 'process/harvest wild rice.' Recall that Mrs. Kegg's narrative was called Manoominikeng, which contains the same verb, with an ending that indicates general activity, i.e., might be translated as "Ricing." The second element of Mr. Buffalo's title, which we write as Giizis, is the word for the sun and moon in Ojibwe, and also, derivatively, month (note the correspondence of English moon and month, which show a similar relationship). Traditionally, as with many cultures around the world, Ojibwe people used a lunar calendar. These traditional lunar-system names for months are now used to designate their closest correspondences with English month names. The word for sun and the moon in Ojibwe is animate (i.e., an na), as is the derivative meaning, 'month.'

Wild Rice Reaction Assignment

Please write some reaction notes to Mr. Buffalo's commentary on wild ricing. Pay particular attention to the place that he gives to it in traditional Ojibwe life, and what the experience of wild ricing meant to him. You can also think a little about the process. This assignment is due at the beginning of class next Thursday.

This will conclude our brief look at wild ricing, through narratives by Ojibwe people. If you have a further interest, an excellent book has been written on it, by Thomas Vennum, Jr., called Wild Rice and the Ojibway People (1988 Minnesota Historical Society Press).

A Note on Ojibwe and Anishinaabemowin

Prof. Tim Roufs correctly points out that many Ojibwe people call their language Anishinaabemowin, as I have done in class. The term Ojibwemowin is also used in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The word Anishinaabe is the common word for an Ojibwe person. To make a verb of speaking of a given people, the verbalizing suffix /-mo/ is added to words, e.g., Anishinaabemo, 's/he speaks the language of an Anishinaabe person.' A noun can be formed from such a verb by adding the nominalizing suffix /-win/, giving Anishinaabemowin. Now can you see where the term Ojibwemowin comes from?

The term Anishinaabemowin is used quite generally by Ojibwe-speaking people across a wide range of dialects. But other terms are found regionally as well, for example, the name of the northernmost dialect in Ontario is Anishininiimowin (called Oji-Cree in English because it has some Cree elements in it); in Michigan and the Lake Huron area of Canada, the language is called Nishnaabemwin (which is just Anishinaabemowin with certain short vowels deleted due to a pronunciation rule); on the prairies of western Canada, the language is often called Nakawemowin (in Engish, Saulteaux, pronounced so-doe). In our class, in reference to Minnesota and Wisconsin dialects, I will use Ojibwe and Anishinaabemowin interchangeably.

The word Ojibwe is also spelled in English as Ojibwa and Ojibway. The word Chippewa, also used to identify Ojibwe people, is from a historical English mispronunciation of the word Ojibwe (drop the initial /o/; the final letter <a> of Chippewa was originally pronounced as /ay/, but has now become pronounced as /ah/).

Grammar Drill Sheet

Grammar Drill Sheet PDF for Lesson 2. Right-click (Mac, control-click) the link to the left to download a pdf drill to help you master the vai verb inflections that we have been learning this week.

Grammar Drill Lesson 2 MP3. Right click (Mac, control-click) the link to the left to download an MP3 file of every sentence on the drill sheet. This is only for those interested in going the extra mile.