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Postbases and Joining


While making subjects and verbs agree in number can be challenging for the inexperienced speaker, adding postbases to stems can be fun. The many Alutiiq postbases allow you to be creative with the language.

You can make an aikuq (dog, N) into an aikungcuk (little dog) or an aikull'raq (bad dog). You can also make nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns. For example, you can take the verb pisurluni (to hunt) and the postbase -sqaq (one who V[intransitive]'s) and make it into the noun pisusqaq (one who hunts - a hunter).

Joining Types

There are three types of suffixes, categorized by joining type. Joining types are the three types of suffixes, either plus (+) minus (-) and assimilating (~) suffixes. As illustrated below, each joining type joins stems in different ways:

Plus suffixes:

These are added directly onto stems.  However, some have a consonant in parenthesis at the beginning. For these, the consonant is included when the stem ends in a vowel.

For Example:

kenirluni(to cook) root: kenir- 

postbase: +wik (a place for [the preceeding word])

kenir- + +wik = kenirwik (place for cooking: hearth, kitchen)

For Example:

iqalluk(salmon) root: iqallug-

postbase: +(r)pakat (many/too many/so many [Noun])

iqullug- + +(r)pakat = iqallugpakat (many salmon)

Minus suffixes:

These will cause g and r to drop off the end of a stem as they attach. If the stem does not end in g or r, they attach directly to the stem.

For Example:

aikuq(dog, N) stem: aikur-

postbase: -ngcuk (little [Noun], small [Noun)

aikur- + -ngcuk= aikungcuk (little dog)

For Example:

qayaq (kayak) stem qayar-

postbase: -sinaq (big [Noun])

qayar- + -sinaq = qayasinaq (big kayak)

Assimilating suffixes:

These suffixes are more rare. The initial letter of the suffix will change in different ways depending on the ending of the stem.  If the stem ends in e, the e will drop, and the suffix will simply be added to the remainder of the stem. The only time the e will not drop is if the assimilating suffix begins with two consonants. If the stem ends with a g, and the assimilating suffix begins with k or q, the two will combine as a k. If the stem ends in a g, and the assimilating suffix begins with r, then they will combine as a g. For more on assimilating suffixes, see Jeff Leer’s Classroom Grammar of Koniag Alutiiq, page 110.

For Example:

kiak(summer) stem: kiag-

postbase: ~ku (later on this [Noun], next [Noun], the upcoming [Noun])

 kiag- + ~ku = kiaku (later this summer or next summer)

 For Example:

ugnerkaq (spring) stem ugnerkar-

postbase: ~ku (later on this [Noun], next [Noun], the upcoming [Noun])

ugnerkar- + ~ku = ugnerkaqu (later this spring or next spring)