New Frontiers for the Lenape Language

One of the students in my Lenape class suggested writing Haiku’s in Lenape. Here’s my first effort,

Nkata machi a
Shekw ahpu wikewamink
Ahas. Ntalemi

I should want to go home
But in my house is
A crow. I am afraid.

We have also been learning subjunctive, conjunctive and subordinate forms of verbs. We were tasked to write a sentence using all of them.

Newichemane na nshxapaen eli newikwihelaan
If I help then I yawn because I am tired.

Enta paan ntalai kteli mitsihena kahesena xu wixenaote
When I come, I hunt so that we eat if our mother will cook it.

Next up in our studies was negatives. Negatives are complicated and difficult to use in Lenape. There are multiple ways to say yes in Lenape but its very hard to say no and not. Maybe there’s an overall worldview that goes along with that.

I also wrote a story using some of our newer vocabulary.

BuzzHouston knatumkuk lapi.Houston is calling you again.
NeilYo. Natunemen ope ahsentet. Mpa owiye.Alright. I am looking for a small white rock. I will come later.
BuzzLuweyok yukwe. Luweyok kteli kenihelachi telaihosin. Ku hatei lexeon.They say now. They say that it’s your fault. There is no air.
NeilKnuchkwewtunhe. Ktelaok nteli ulhatuna xaheli kekuna a lesin.You’re talking nonsense. You tell them that I have a great many things to do.
BuzzAhikta ku wshinkatamuweneyo.Ok. They won’t like it.
NeilKwetkich enta kishixenk. Hateyo kexenawki ahsena ok welante. Nelapentamen xu.I will return when it is finished. There are many kinds of rocks and the sun is shining. I will take advantage of it.
BuzzKpechehosi. Nta kishuxi wikewamink.You’re acting crazy. I’m going to the moon base.

The Lenape didn’t actually have a word for moon base, but moon house (kishuxi wikkewam) seems closest. In yesterday’s class we were discussing how sometimes the way Lenape use words is ambiguous English speakers. Kishux is the word for both sun and moon, and it seems the Lenape used the context around it to make it clear which they meant.

Categories: Lenape