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Working with Verb Stems

Creating a verb stem is like creating a noun stem. You must find the stem of a verb before you can add the proper suffix (or suffixes) and construct a sentence. Verb stems cannot stand on their own like a full word, and are written with a dash after them to show that a suffix is needed for completion.

Transitive and Intransitive verbs

In the Alutiiq language there are two types of verbs: transitive, andintransitive. The more simple verbs are intransitive, and have a subject but no object. For example, the sentence “He is eating,” has “he” as the subject. Transitive verbs are more complex because they have subject AND an object. The sentence “He is eating it” contains a transitive verb, with “he” as the subject, and “it” as the object. The subject is the one the sentence/verb is about, while the object (if there is one) is the thing being acted upon. Some verbs like eating have a transitive and an intransitive version. In the dictionary, intransitive verbs are often written with a luni suffix, while transitive verbs will often have a luku suffix.

Intransitive  nerluni  to eat
Transitive nerluku to eat it

These verbs have the same root, but different endings. There are slightly different rules for finding their stems (see charts below). Intransitive and transitive verbs have their own set of endings for eachmood, be it a statement, a command, and past or present tense.

These designations (transitive and intransitive) were created by linguists to study the structure of languages, but a fluent Alutiiq speaker could provide you with the proper way to say a verb for any situation without ever learning about verb types.

Verbs have different endings depending on their mood - that is, depending on the type of sentence they are used in. A command sentence like "sit down!" is in the optative-imperative mood. There are many moods, but it is not important to memorize their names. The verbs you will find in the Jeff Leer's 1978 Kodiak Alutiiq Dictionary are listed with subordinative mood endings (such asluni or luku). This is the form most often used when naming a verb, such as with reference materials. Other subordinative endings are also used when there are two verbs in a sentence; one verb is the main goal of the sentence, while one describes how it occurs.

Finding the Stem

If you want to make a sentence with a verb you find in the dictionary, you must strip it to its stem. Just as with noun stems, verb stems cannot stand alone. You must add the proper suffix, but you must find the stem. The guide below will help you figure out how to strip a subordinative verb to its stem.

Intransitive Stems
If the Subordinative mood
ends in...
For Example...

a vowel + luni

simply drop luni

qikiluni (to be shy) stem: qiki-

g or r + luni, and has only one

syllable before luni

drop the luni, and add e

agluni (to go away) stem: age-

g or r + luni, and has more than

one syllable before luni

simply drop the luni

atrarluni (go to the beach to get

seafood) stem: atrar

any consonant except g or r + luni

drop the luni, and add e

aqumluni (to sit down) stem:



drop the lluni, and add te

quinglluni (to walk by) stem:


Occasionally, some intransitive verbs ending in lluni will have a stem ending in a different consonant and e-. As these are rare, dictionary citations will provide the stems for these verbs. Some rare intransitive verbs end in ll'uni. With these, you will drop the ll'uni and add either t'e, or llte. As these are unpredictable, the dictionary citations for these verbs will provide the stem.

Transitive Stems
If the Subordinative mood
ends in...
For Example...

a vowel + luku

drop the luku

canaluku (to make it) stem: cana-

g or r + luku and has only one

syllable before luku

drop luku, & add e

rurluku (to inflate it) stem: rure-

g or r + luku, and has more than

one syllable before luku

drop the luku

imegluku (to fold it up) stem: imeg-

a consonant other than

g or r + luku

drop the luku and add e-

nuqlluku (to invite him/her) stem:


a vowel or consonant + lluku

Drop lluku and add

either te- or e-

(no strict pattern)

kumlalluku (to freeze it) stem:


keglluku (to bite it/him) stem kege-

There are a few verbs that do not conform to these rules, or have the rare ll'uku ending. In these cases, the dictionary citation will identify the stem.

Now you should be able to strip both nouns and some verbs down to their stems. The suffixes section will show you how to put a verb ending on a verb, but to find the right ending for a specific kind of sentence, you will need to consult a more detailed source.