Read through this section a couple of times. Don't really study it in detail or try to memorize anything--just read through it slowly. By the end of a second casual reading, you will notice that you can already pick out certain patterns or easily predict them. If you later study this section in detail for a third time, we are sure you will amaze yourself with your progress and understanding. When you get through it, be proud of your self because this is a high level overview--much harder than the first Lesson. But, it is only an overview--familiarity brings ease of understanding, as you'll soon see.

CREEK: Grammatical Structure Review: AN OVERVIEW: Part I

Do you see Ē and ē, that is, an "e" with a long mark over it? If not, you may see one the following in its place on these pages. A plain capital E in the middle of a word, a strange looking symbol or an umlauted e, that is, an ë (with two dots over it). Simply replace these with the appropriate long "e." Ē -or- ē. Some browsers do not display the long e well.

Creek sentence structure--cardinal rule:

Subject -- Object -- Verb
(S.O.V.)

There are no articles (the, a or an) in Creek. You must supply these in translation.
Creek Nouns: Nouns end in a vowel. In fact, most Creek words end in vowels in their dictionary form. Examples:
 
 

Aha

potato, potatoes

Estē

Person (this word has a plural form)

Cato or Catu

stone, rock, stones, rock

Cuko or Coko

house, houses

Pvtu, Patu or Pato

mushroom, mushrooms

Ohliketv

chairs, chairs

Efv

dog, dogs

This is their raw or naked form, the way theyre found in a dictionary. Many Creek words can be spelled more than one way—they are spelled as they are pronounced in different Muskogee speaking communities. Most nouns are both singular and plural in meaning. Only kinship terms, body parts and a few personal terms have plurals. Most Creek plurals are indicated within the sentence verbs or modifiers and not by the nouns.

Nouns used as the subject of a sentence will be marked with a final "-t" added only to the final word of the subject phrase. It is as if the "-t" is saying "Thats all there is of the subject, folks; the next words function as something else." The "-t" closes the subject. Remember, there are not articles in Creek, supply them in translation.

Ahat

A potato, potato as a subject in a sentence

Catot

The stone, stone as a subject in a sentence

Estēt

The person, person as a subject in a sentence

Nouns used as the object of a sentence will be marked with a final "-n" added only to the last word of the object phrase. The "--n" closes the object portion of the sentence. Simple and practical grammar!

ahan

potato, as an object in a sentence

caton

stone, as an object in a sentence

cukon

house, as the object in a sentence

 

English nouns are generally very narrow or specific in their defined meaning. Creek nouns are more like giant suitcases. Each noun usually packs a lot of meanings within itself. With additions, such as another letter, syllable, or particle, (prefix, suffix, affix, infix and so forth), Creek nouns expand into broad categories that greatly enrich the language’s internal "feel." At the same time, this gives fits to English speaking students who are taught to use words in a narrow specific focus. Put another way, English often has many words to narrowly define an action, idea or object, while Creek often uses one word to define more than one action, idea or object. Creek nouns provide a whole new way of seeing, understanding and dividing up the universe and your experiences within it. Each language is well suited for its own culture. Each does an adequate job fulfilling communication needs.

Words may have a narrow, broad or collective focus of use or meaning:

cuko or coko

house

cuko or coko

house, building, structure, home, abode; that these are all man-made structures is the common feature.

estē

person

estē

person, someone, anyone, somebody, anybody; Estē also serves as the impersonal pronoun.

estvlkē*

people, humankind, humanity, mankind, nation, race

eto or ‘to

tree

eto or to

tree, trees, wood, lumber

etvlkē*

forest, woods; eto + -vlkē, the collective plural

cepvnvlkē

all the boys, cepvnē + -vlkē, a collective plural

* -vlkē is the collective ending, implying a group, category or related collection of items

Modifiers, such as adjectives and adverbs, will usually end in a long "-ē," which can be represented by a capital "E" in email or typed pages. This ending is their dictionary form. When modifiers become part of compound words the long "ē" relaxes and becomes a simple short "e" sound not requiring the long mark above it. A final long "ē" becomes an "a" when describing a characteristic of the noun modified. This is demonstrated later in the text.

catē red

hvtkē white

pvfne quick, quickly, fast, swift

vculē old, elderly

hērē good, well, beautiful

yekcē strong, loud, bold

hērēko not good, bad, unacceptable

hvlwē high, (directional/locational)

"-eko-," often reduced to just "-k-," negates modifiers and verbs.

VERBS – quick look

Verbs in the dictionary will end with "-etv." This is their general or infinitive form that merely means to do whatever the verb is, that is, "to (verb)." The infinitive (dictionary form) is always simply stated as a neutral "to _______." Verbs denote actions or states of being. Changes to a verb are necessary to indicate who is doing the action and to whom or what it is done and sometimes, how it is accomplished. This is just like English--go, goes, gone, went, have, had, has, etc.
 

Hecetv

"to see"

Pohetv

"to hear"

Ometv

"to be"

Lētketv

"to run" (one person or thing only)

Liketv

"to sit, to be" (one only)

Maketv

"to say, tell"

Hueretv

"to stand" "to exist" (one only)

Kerretv

"to know, learn"

yvhiketv

"to sing"

hompetv

"to eat" (general term)

 

Don't panic, but this is a good time to tell you that there are singular and plural infinitives in Creek -- they are so simply to recognize that we needn't even mention them here but we did anyway, now didn't we. When you find one, you'll know it, we're sure.

Drop the "-etv" from the verb and the stem/root will be left.

hec- see

huer – stand

poh- hear

yvhik – sing

lik- sit

homp eat, general term

lētk- run

pap eat, use for specific named food

mak- say

kerr know, learn

 

The "—ing" form of a Creek verb is as follows:

hecet – seeing

pohet – hearing

liket – sitting

lētket – running

maket – saying

hueret – standing

 

All modifiers used as adjectives go after the noun they modify. Modifiers retain the long "--ē" ending if they are connected to the noun by a form of the verb "to be" and are equal to the noun such as in the sentence, "The dog is white." White, hvtkē in Creek, retains the "--ē." However, in "The white dog runs fast," white merely describes a characteristic of the dog that is also fast and running. Hvtkē would take an "--a" ending and become "hvtkat" as in "Efv hvtkat pvfnēn lētkes." Although this may seem a strange practice at first, it insures clarity of meaning in Creek.

efv hvtkē

white dog

efv hvtkē yekcē

strong white dog

Cepvnē mahē

tall boy

aha catē

red potato

sutv holattē 

blue sky

cetto pvfnē 

fast snake

Modifiers used after nouns take the appropriate subject or object marker.

Efvt...

The dog... (subject of a sentence)

Efv hvtkēt...

The white dog... (subject of a sentence)

Efv hvtkē yekcēt...

The strong white dog... (subject of a sentence)

efv hvtkē yekcēn...

…the strong white dog... (object of a sentence)

aha catēn...

…the red potato... (object of a sentence)

Essē lanē 

green leaf, green leaves

 

Because verbs are last in Creek sentences, modifiers used as adverbs must come before verbs they modify. As adverbs, these modifiers also take an "-n" ending. Remember: verbs are last.

Yekcēn yvhikes

sings loudly, strongly

Pvfnēn lētkes

runs quickly (fast, swiftly)

hērēn heces

sees well, views carefully, takes a fine look at

hērēn hecvs!

look well! (command or imperative form "-vs") one only

There are two types of Creek verbs called TYPE I and TYPE II respectively.

Type I verbs are active/action verbs. These energetic verbs change forms to tell you who is doing what to whom. They do this largely by adding pronoun endings They also embed tense (time) markers to let you know exactly when the action occurred or will occur. English does this by adding words to the verb phrase or other parts of the sentence.

OMETV "To Be" TYPE I verb. The "root/stem" is OM-- when "--etv" is dropped.  
 

Singular

Plural

Omis

I am...

omēs (omēs)

we are...

Ometskes

you are (singular)

omatskes

you are (plural)...

Omes

s/he or it is...

omakes

they are...

Learn these following embedded pronoun endings. They are used with all TYPE I verbs. Why are these endings important? Well, they tell you who is doing the action of the verb. They repeat, that is, restate the subject of the sentence as a pronoun buried within the verb ending. This linguistic arrangement is much easier than English whose flexibility allows many different ways to convey the very same information. Creek presents the information with great clarity to those who know their endings. 

 

--is

I am

--ēs or ēyēs *

we are

--etskes

you are (one)

--atskes

you all are

--es

s/he or it is

--ake

they are

 

s and "ēyēs" sound alike but "ēyēs” is best used when writing in order to insure the reader
understands that is it "we."

 

Some General Sentence patterns:

Simple Creek sentences can consist of one word, a verb, in which the subject and/or object are embedded or implied, in its ending. Study the following examples and note their endings.

 

Heces.

S/he sees. (observes, views) S/he sees it.

Hecvs!

Look! See! (one only) "--vs" is the imperative form.

Hecis

I see. I view. I observe.

Lētkis.

I run. (one only)

Lētketskes.

You run. (one only)

Likvs!

Sit! (one only)

Yvhikes.

S/he sings.

Yvhikvres.

S/he will sing (infix -vre- for general future II tense).

Like Creek nouns, Creek verbs are very expandable through the use of particles. Let’s examine some "verbal expansions" based on the verb Hecetv "to see."

Tvkheces. S/he looks on the ground.

Akhecvs! Look in the water!

Ohhecvs! Look on it (upon, over it, above it or toward it)

Raheces. S/he looks back.

Eheces. S/he sees him/herself.

Eshecvs! Find it!

Etehecetv "to see each other"

Yehecetv "to come and see, to come and visit"

Hecicetv "to show" (cause someone to see, "-ic-" is a causative infix

Verbs always repeat the stated subject as an embedded pronoun. See verb endings above.

Verbs (declarative) stating an action normally end with an "-s." These are TYPE I verbs.

Verbs (interrogative) asking a question usually end in a vowel: "--v? -tē? --o? or --a?"

Hecv?

S/he sees? Does s/he see? (observe? look?)

Lētketskv?

Do you run?

Yvhikvretē?

Will s/he sing?

The "-etē?" is the interrogative for the general or second future (II) tense
The "--v?" (sometimes written as "--a?") is used for the other tenses.

Second level sentences consists of a subject & verb or an object & verb. Subjects will be marked with a final "-t" and objects will be marked with the final "-n." The "-n" closes out (ends) the object word or phrase.
 
 

Efvt heces.

The dog sees. (it sees)

Canet lētkes.

John runs.

Canet lētkv?

Does John run?

Estonko?

How are you? How goes it? What’s happening with you? 

Cepvnēt pohes.

A boy hears.

Naken yvhikvnkv?

What did s/he sing (-vnk- for recently such as 2 days ago)?

Noricetonko?

She's cooking, isn't she? "O" indicates a rhetorical question


Or, second level sentences may consist of an object & verb. Objects will be marked but with an "--n." Efvn heces. S/he sees a dog. (She, he and it are built into the verb)
 

Efvn hecv?

Does s/he see a dog?

Efvn hecetskv?

Do you see the dog?

Efvt hecv?

Does the dog see? (the dog, does it see?)

Efvt heces.

The dog sees, (does see).

Cepvnēn pohv?

Does s/he hear the boy?

Cepvnēn pohvnkv?

Did s/he hear the boy (in recent days)?

Ehe,cepvnn pohvnnks.

Yes, we recently heard the boy.

 

 Third level (full form) sentences contain a subject, object and verb.
 

Canet efvn heces.

John sees a dog. (John, he sees)

Canet efv hvtkēn heces.

John sees the white dog.

Melet efvn heces.

Mary sees the dog. (Mary, she sees)

Efvt Melen heces.

The dog sees Mary. (The dog, it sees)

Efv hvtkēt Melen heces.

The white dog sees Mary.

Efvt Melen pohvnks

The dog heard Mary (recently).

 

Note the changes in the verb endings below

Canet efvn hecet os. (or)

John is seeing a dog. (contraction of omes) 

Canet efvn hecet omes.

John is seeing (observing) a dog.

Melet yvhiketvn yvhiket os.

Mary is singing a song.

Lētket omv?

Is s/he running? "Omv?" (question form)

Henka, lētket os.

Yes sir, she is running. Yes, she runs.

Efvt fonen hompet omv?

Is the dog eating a bone? (or bones)

Efvt fonen hompv?

Does the dog eat bones? (or bone)

 

If sentences included a main verb and an auxiliary (helping) verb, the helped main verb will end with "-t" and procede the helping verb that will be final in the sentence. The final declarative verb (one that makes a statement) will end with "-s" and an interrogative verb (one that asks a question) will end with a vowel: "-v? -te? -o? or a?" and occasionally, a question will in with "-onko?" if it is a rhetorical question not really requiring an actual answer.

Verbs stating a condition or state of being, also end with an "--s." These are TYPE II verbs. They all seem to have "to be" in their infinitive (raw dictionary form) such as Hotosetv "to be tired," Lauwetv "to be hungry," Eyacetv "to be in need of, or wanting," Vculetv "to be old," or Wvhnketv "to be thirsty." They do not change their forms in the same way as TYPE I verbs do. They change by adding personal pronouns at the front of the verb--as a prefix. A few verbs can function as both TYPE I, and TYPE II. The "vk," a universal plural marker, is only inserted (infixed) where needed for clarity. Now, let's look at a model of a TYPE II verb, Lauwetv (also as Lowetv) "to be hungry," to see how pronouns are used to show who is being or doing the verb.

 

LAUWETV "to be hungry" (also as Lowetv)
   

Cvlauwes

I amhungry

Pulauwes

we are hungry

Celauwes

You are hungry

Celauwvkes

you all are hungry

Elauwes

s/he or it is hungry

Elauwvkes

they are hungry

Less formally, one may drop the "e-" in the third person of TYPE II verbs and just say:
Lauwes - s/he or it is hungry. Lauwvkes - they are hungry..
Learn these personal pronouns. They're used with all TYPE II verbs.
 
 

cv-

I am

pu

we are (also as po)

ce-

you are (singular)

ce- -vk-

you are all

e-

s/he or it

e- -vk-

they are

Time words such as now, soon, yesterday, tomorrow, last week or other general terms such as exclamations (ælah), usually come at the beginning of a sentence followed by a comma (kamv) or exclamation mark.
 There are many casual forms in Creek that really consist of reductions or contractions of fuller words. The most common is "os" for "omes" and "tos" for "tomes." Another common reduction derives from "ometskes and ometskv" (you are, are you?). There is much variation in the way speakers contract these words such as: -ontskes or -ontskv? unckes or -unces, -unckv? "Hecet ometskes" might come out as "Hecet ontskes." "Hece tunckes." or "Hece tunces." Each community has its own preference as to which casual or colloquial form to use. Follow local custom. Whoever said the rigid structure of Creek grammar doesn't allow for variety was mistaken--badly!

 

Analyze and translate:(Vocabulary is taken from examples in this overview.)
First, try your hand at translating the Creek sentences into English.
 
 

Efvt os.

Efv hvtkēt os.

Efvn hecetskv?

Efv hvtkan hecetskv?

Efvt ceheces.

Cemahes. 

Efvt ahan heces.

Aha catēt os.

Efv hvtkat aha catan heces.

Efvt elauwes.

Efvt ehotoses.

Efv hvtkat aha catan hompes. 

Aela, aha catat efv hvtkan hompes.

Efvt ahan eyaces.

Ahan ceyacv?

 

 

Then, translate these silly English sentences below into Creek.

It's a white potato.
The potato is red.
A red dog sees.
The red dog sees you.
"You wanna dog?"
The white potato eats a red potato.
A dog eats the white potato.
Do you see a white potato?

Vocabulary Hints:
 
 

Ælah, aelah!

a general exclamation such as Good Grief! or even "^&*!@"

ce

you

hompetv

"to eat" (type I)

mahetv

"to be tall" (type II)

yacetv 

"to want" (type II)