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Working with Noun Stems

To add a suffix such as a postbase to a word you must be able to first convert the word to its stem. A stem is the basic unit of a word, but it is not a word on its own. A steam can only be paired with one or a number of suffixes to create a word. There are noun and verb stems. We need to be able to determine the root of a noun in order to add endings to it such as number, location, possession, and modifying postbases.

Once the word is converted to its root, suffixes can be added to add or change meaning. As an example, "sit" becomes "sitting" in English by adding a suffix.

Rules for Noun Stems

For Example...

noun ends in q

drop the q and add an r-

patuq (lid) stem: patur-

noun ends in k

drop the k and add a g-

iqalluk (salmon) stem: iqallug-

noun ends in n

No strict formula, but it will

have a stem that ends in te-

igarsuun (writing tool) stem: igarsuute-

noun ends in ta

drop the a and add e-

piugta (dog, S) stem: piugte-

any other

consonant plus a

No regular pattern. But these

nouns are rare, so they can

be remembered individually.

nuna (land) stem: nuna-

neqa (food) stem: neqe-


Now that you know how to find a noun's stem, you can begin adding suffixes. A suffix can be as short as a single letter that reveals the number of that noun, making guuteq (tooth) into guutet (teeth). Suffixes can also be more complex postbases that can change a word like suk (person) to sugt’stun (like a person). For more on these word parts, read the Postbases and Suffixes lessons.