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principally to age and consanguinity ; such as, father and mother, son and daughter, man and woman, boy and girl, &c.; and also distinct names for the male and female of various animals. But, if the grammatical distinction of gender be understood, as applying exclusively to the varied inflections by which it is designated, the Eskimaux, the Choctaws, the Muskhogees, and, it is believed, the Sioux, having no inflection of that description, may, in that sense, be said to make no distinction between genders. And the languages of the Iroquois family afford the only instance, as yet discovered, of such a distinction between the masculine and the feminine.
Father Brebeuf pointed it out,* in the third person of both the singular and the plural of the Huron, or Wyandot: ihaton, " he says'; iouaton, she says'; ihonton, they say (the men)'; ionton, they say (the women'. The same distinction and applied to the same person is found in Zeisberger's Grammar of the Onondago, a language of the same family: waharrie, 'he beats'; iagorrie, 'she beats’; hottirrie, 'they (the men) beat’; guetirrie, they (women) beat.'. And we find it again in the specimen of the conjugation of the verb “to eat,” in the Mohawk, another Iroquois language.t In all these cases the inflection is that of the pronoun of the third person. Zeisberger also discovered it in some Onondago nouns, where, as well as in the pronoun of that dialect, it is generally expressed by prefixing or inserting the sound g: sajadat, “a male’; sgajadat, “a female.'
A much more prevailing distinction is that between animate beings and inanimate things. It is not, however, universal, since it does not exist in the Eskimau, the Choctaw, the Muskhogee, and the Caddo, and has not, as yet, been discovered in any other of our Indian languages than the Iroquois, the Cherokee, and the Algonkin-Lenape.
Our information respecting the Iroquois is very limited ; and we can say little more than that the distinction is made. The only notice taken of it in Zeisberger's Onondago Grammar is (when speaking of the prefixed letters by which, in some cases, the feminine are distinguished from masculine nouns), in these words, “ Nouns of inanimate objects have no prefixes and
* See his letter of July, 1636, in the Appendix. t See Appendix, verbal forms; and do. and grammatical notices of Zeisberger.
accept none. In our Seneca vocabulary, as well as in another printed in London, a word is given for the pronoun it, distinct from those for he or she. And Father Brebeuf, in the letter already alluded to, amongst the most remarkable features of the Huron verbs, says, “ that they have some for animated beings, and others for things without life.” *
In the Cherokee language, Mr. Pickering has pointed out the prefixed particles, used to designate the plural, which are commonly assigned to inanimate nouns, and those belonging to the animate class : kutusi, 'a mountain'; tikutusi, mountains'; atsutsu, 'a boy’; anitsutsů, “boys’; a distinction which, in various cases, extends to adjectives. And it will be seen amongst Mr. Worcester's answers to grammatical queries, that the same distinction prevails, both in the third person of intransitive verbs, and in the inflections of transitive verbs, according as they govern the noun of an animate, or of an inanimate object.
But it is in the languages of the Algonkin-Lenape family, that the distinction is most remarkable, and may be considered as one of its specific characteristics. It was first pointed out by Father Le Jeune in the Algonkin, † and distinctly stated by John Eliot in the Massachusetts, is repeatedly alluded to in Father Rasle's Dictionary of the Abenaki, specially mentioned in Father Maynard's notes on the Micmac, and explained in Mr. Heckewelder's correspondence with Mr. Du Ponceau respecting the Delaware dialect. “ The principle,” Mr. Schoolcraft observes in his lectures on the Ojibway (Chippeway) language, “ has been grafted upon most words and carries its distinction throughout the syntax. It is the gender of the language, and of so unbounded a scope, as to give a twofold character to the parts of speech.” We find accordingly that the inflection, which designates the plural of nouns, varies according to the class to which the noun belongs. According to the dialect or different language, it is og, aig, or ak for the animate; ain, ash, or all for the inanimate gender : but the vocal sound which precedes the characteristic consonant varies, according to euphony, or
* Charlevoix, a faithful compiler, who derived his information respecting Indian languages from the writings of Brebeuf and other early historians, has inserted the observation in his journal. But he assigns erroneously to the Huron the exclusion of the distinction between masculine and feminine. It is the Algonkin, instead of the Iroquois languages, which do not make that distinction.
† See above, Section II., under the head of Algonkins,
usage. Zeisberger seems to confine the use of the Delaware animate termination ak to substantives without the prefixed pronoun.
Adjectives, when susceptible of a plural form, are subject to a similar variation of inflection, according as the noun, with which they are connected, is of the animate or inanimate class. Numerals and demonstrative pronouns appear to follow the same rule as adjectives. The distinction seems to be wanted in the personal and possessive pronoun of the third person; or, at least, it has not, if it does exist, been distinctly pointed out. But the inflection of the verb varies in reference to the nature of the noun it governs. Thus, in the Massachusetts; 'I keep him,' Noowadehan; “I keep it,' Noowadchanumun: in the Delaware; 'I see a man,' Lenno newau; “I see a house,' Wiquam nemen: in the Chippeway'; 'I see a man,' n'wabima; • I see a house,' n'wabindan. We are not however informed, whether the terminations or inflections of the verb, which distinguish, whether its regimen belongs to the animate or inanimate class, are always the same, or, if they vary, whether the variations are due to euphony, or usage, or may be traced to some other principle? It appears also that there are some cases, where the termination of the noun governed by the verb is altered on account of the class to which it belongs.
According to Eliot, “there seemeth to be one cadency of the form animate, which endeth in oh, uh, ah, when an animate noun followeth a verb transitive. Thus anogqs, 'a star,' (which by the Indians is considered as animate) in the plural is anogqsog, 'stars.' But in the sentence, 'He made stars,' this last word must be anogqsoh, because it followeth (is governed by) the verb agim,
he made.'" This it would seem, if I have not mistaken Mr. Schoolcraft's meaning, is confined to the case when the verb is in the third person. There is in that person no distinction between the singular and the plural; and its termination, oh, ah in the Massachusetts, un, in, &c. in the Chippeway, is given not only to the verb, but to the regimen when this belongs to the animate class. It appears, that, in the Chippeway, that termination (un, in, &c.) is also that of the plural of inanimate things; but why these are not, in all the languages of that family, subject to the same rule as animate beings, does not appear; and all that relates to regimen, with respect both to nouns and pronouns of the third person, requires further investigation and explanation.
The class of animate beings is not in the Algonkin languages confined to animals. In the Massachusetts, it embraces certainly the stars and probably several other personified objects ; but, according to Eliot, all vegetables belong to the inanimate, whilst forest trees, both in the Delaware and the Chippeway, are included in the animate class. Various other objects, not probably always the same in every dialect, are also considered as belonging to it, on account of peculiar properties belonging or ascribed to them. Such are, at least in the Chippeway, a stone, a bow, a kettle, a pipe, &c.* It was probably in reference to this, that the French Missionaries have designated the two classes by the names noble and ignoble.
It will be easily perceived, that, if this distinction constitutes an essential character of the Algonkin-Lenape languages, it is not on account of the principle itself, but of its extensive application, which pervades the whole language, and affects the termination of every part of speech without excepting the adverbs. The existence of the neuter gender, in the classical languages, renders it almost certain, that it had its origin in the same distinction. But, by a deviation, much more extensive than any found in the Indian tongues, the greater number of inanimate objects came to be designated by the masculine and feminine genders. In the French, the neuter has been altogether excluded; and the arbitrary distinction of masculine and feminine is one of the great difficulties of the language, one also, of which the application is very extensive, on account of the change of termination to which not only the pronouns but the adjectives are subject. In the English, the natural distinction between inanimate and animate, and the subdivision of the last class, according to sex, have been preserved or adopted : but adjectives are indeclinable ; and the distinction appears only in the third person singular of the personal and possessive pronouns and in the relative; so that, if the words her, it, hers, its, who, whom, and whose were expunged from the language, it might be said of it, as of the Eskimau, that it had no genders. But the distinction has been preserved, in the English, in the case where it was most needed, for the purpose of correcting the ambiguity inherent in the third person of the pronoun; whilst, in the Algonkin, this is the very case which appears not to be provided for, the characteristic sign of the third person being
either omitted altogether, or the same for the animate and inanimate genders.
Nice distinctions may, in a purely oral language, escape the notice of the inquirer, if their application should happen to be limited to a few particular cases; and of this at least one instance in point may be given.
We have, in order to institute a useful comparison, inserted, amongst the grammatical notices, an extract of Father Febre's Grammar of the language of Chili.* The distinction between animate and inanimate, which was not adverted to by Molina, is there pointed out, but incidentally and only in a single case. The particle pu, prefixed to nouns, is the common sign of the plural, and is properly applicable to animate, though sometimes used for inanimate objects. But the proper designation of the plural for the inanimate class, is the termination ica, substituted for the pu prefixed.
The plural number of the nouns is in most Indian languages designated by the addition of a particle prefixed, inserted, or affixed. It is affixed, or an inflection of the termination in the following:
Eskimau, et, it, ut; innuk, ‘man’; innuit, 'men'; iglo, 'a house’; iglut, 'houses.'
Sioux, pee; weetshashtah, 'man'; weetshashtahpee, 'men'; wahtah,' a canoe'; wahtapee, 'canoes.'
Algonkin, as already stated, g, k for the animate ; sh, n, Il for the inanimate:
Massachusetts ; nunksqau, ' a girl'; nunsqauog, 'girls'; hussun, 'a stone'; hussunash, stones':
Delaware; okhgua,' a woman'; okhquewak, 'women'; akhsin, 'à stone'; akhsinall, 'stones':
Chippeway; pinai,' a partridge'; pinaiwug, 'partridges'; ossin, ' a stone'; ossineen, 'stones.'
Cheppeyan (Athapasca), thlang; dinné, 'a man'; dinnéthlang, men’; tsakhulley, a hat’; tsakhulleythlang, ‘hats.'
In the Cherokee the plural is designated by the prefixed particles t, ts, generally though not universally used for inanimate, and ni for animate nouns.
In the language of Chili, by pu prefixed, or ica affixed, as above stated.
In the Iroquois languages by particles generally affixed,
* I am indebted to Judge Davis of Massachusetts for having pointed out that excellent grammar, and loaned to me the only copy, I believe, in the United States.