A Grammar of The Miskito Language
THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION.........SECCION ESTA BAJO CONSTRUCCION.
 
MISKITO
Phonetics
a, e, i, o, u...................................................same as German vowels.
g, j, s, w, y................................................. as English, get, jet, set, wet, yet.
ch...............................................................as English, chest.
au, ai..........................................................same as German diphthongs.
h,.............................................................. is fully sounded.
f,............................................................... is absent.
                  English words in f change to p: pine ... fine.





 
General Observations:

The letters 1, m, n, r, t, are sometimes duplicated.

                        poli, polli.....................very

The vowel o when short is at times written a.

                      wol, wal..............................with, two

Miskito contains many English & Spanish  words, some of which have undergone spelling variations.

                          aras.............. horse
                  laik............   Like

For sake of euphony, vowels are sometimes added or omitted.
 

Letters such as kw and qu; x and ks; y and i, which have the same sound, are sometimes used indiscriminately:

                        sixa, siksa.......................banana;
                 quala, kwala....................clothes.

Two or more words are frequently united in order to express the exact meaning with greater clarity:

aisi kaikaia... to read ... to see, talking.
lalla watla... pocket book... money container
silak watla... prison ... iron house
aras watla... barn ... horse house
Note: watla...house, container

 
 
 


 
Accentuation:
The accent is usually placed on the first syllable, even if that happens to be a prefix.

 



 
Sentence Construction:
The general order of words in constructing sentences is:

                    Subject, adjective, nani, article, object, adjective, adverb and verb.
 

THE NOUN
Gender:
           Waikna.......man,  male;
       mairin.........woman, female.

       They follow the word they modify.
                  Tukta waikna...male child, boy,
                  Tukta mairin...female child, girl.

                    Note: wainka is used for male animals: Bip wainka ... bull
                                Como se dice chavalo en miskito ?

Number:
The noun is not inflected for number.
In the singular
the articles ba and kum meaning the and a respectively are used;

           They follow the noun and adjective they modify.
                                          Dus tara ba... the tall tree
                             Dus uria kum ... a small tree

           But in an unmodified position the words follow this order:

                                  Dus ba tara sika................the tree is tall
The plural is formed by inserting nani
                  which always remains unchanged. It is placed after the noun it modifies.
                                  upla nani .............. persons
However, nani precedes the article ba.
                            upla nani ba..........the persons

      Como se dice persona o gente en miskito ?


But if the adjective is present, it takes precedence.
tukta yamni nani ba.................................................the good children





 
 
States:
There are two states of the noun.
         The absolute state,
                     which is the ordinary state of the noun,
                     the noun as it is, a name of a person, place or thing.
                      There is also the construct state which is used after:
                                                           naha...........this;
                              baha...........that;
                                 ani...........which.
Many ignore this rule, and employ the use of the construct state without grammatical reason.
Frequently the construct state of the noun is identical with the absolute state.

Otherwise a, ka, or, ika, is added.

If the absolute state ends in a vowel,
             it must be dropped when adding the suffix ika:tukta (absolute) luktika (c) ...child

Most English words form the Construct by adding "ka". sin (Absolute) sinka (C.) ... sin

Declension:                               ulla..........................house; the Construct is watla.
Nom.                                         utla ba...................  the house
Gen.                                           waitla...................  my house
                                                  wamtla................... your house
                                                  aiwatla................... his house
Dat.                               utlara ba to............ for the house
Acc.                                            utla .................... the house
Abl.                                          utlara ba  in,......... at the house



Genitive:
is formed from the construct state, differing for each person designated.
Nouns are divided into four classes according to the way the Genitive is formed.
       The 3rd and .4th classes are reducible to the 1st.
The construct of each of these three classes ends in "a"
and the same rules govern the 3 formation of the three personal states.
The sole difference between these three classes is that the final "a" of the construct in Class III is preceded by "k", whereas in Class IV + the final "a" of the construct is preceded by "ik".
It is necessary to learn both the absolute and construct forms of the nouns, since it is impossible to determine to which of the four classes a noun belongs if one knows merely the absolute state. Some nouns belong to more than one class.

For a list of some common nouns in the absolute, construct and three personal states, see appendix.

Class I:
                                1st person drops final "a" of construct and substitutes "i".

                                                         nina............name;
                               nini............my name

                                2nd person adds "m" to final "a" of construct.

                                                        nina.................... name;
                             ninam ................ your name

                                3rd person prefixes "ai" to construct.

                                                         nina..................name;
                             ainina...............his name
 

Class II:
                              1st person insets after the first "a".
                                                            watla ... house;
                                                            waitla ... my house

                             2nd person inserts "m" after the first "a".
                                                            watla...hóuse;
                                                            wamtla...your house

                               3rd person prefixes "ai".
                                                            watla...house;
                                                           aiwatla...his house

Class III:
The construct of this class of nouns ends in "ka".
The same rules govern the formation of the three personal states as in class I.
            Anriska...........orange;
             anriski...........my orange;
           anriskam... .....your orange ;
            aianriska....... his orange.

Class IV:
The construct of this class of nouns ends in "ika".
The rules given under class I are likewise applied here.
                       Damika...grandfather;
                       damiki...my grandfather;
                      damikam. .... your grandfather;
                      aidamika...his grandfather.
 
 
FORMATION MY YOUR HIS
1 i am ai (prefix)
2 (a)i a(m) ai (prefix)
3 ki kam ai  (prefix)  ka
4 iki ikam ai  preix)  ika

   Dative:
           is formed by adding the suffix "ra" to the noun or pronoun.
                                    witin utlara wan. .. he went to the house.
                                     yangra marikaia...to show me.
                                     manra smalkaia... to teach you.
 

Accusative:
is formed by the insertion of witin between the noun and article.
                    Yang utla witin ha kaikisni ... I see the house.
                             Note: witin is frequently omitted.

The form of the Acc. is then identical with the Nom

.
Ablative:
is formed in the sane manner as the dative.
                 Witin utlara katta...He was in the house.
 

THE VERB
The intricate forms of the verb are used only by the more educated class;
ordinary Miskito-folk limit themselves to the present, imperfect, perfect and future tenses.

Observations
Nouns are sometimes used as verbs:

yang bili...my word, discourse. . .1 say, or, said.
The future tense is frequently used for the present. .

Transitive verbs are all those ending in "baia" or, "kaia".
Intransitive verbs end in ."waia".
 

Verb endings are identical in singular and plural.
The plural is designated by the insertion of nani.

yang daukisni...................................I do;
yang nani daukisni............................we do


There is only one conjugation and one infinitive. The infinitive ends in "aia". y
Besides the auxiliary verb kaia...to be, balaia, waia, and yaia are slightly irregular.

The "i" and the "a" of the 1st and 3rd persons are often interchanged in the present and imperfect tenses.
                                       Yang sni, or, yang sna.............I am;
                                         witin sa, or, si........................he is.

Lika, sika, and, mika are three words frequently used with,
                                        or in place of the forms of kaia......to be.

Yang lika...I am; yang lika sni..-.I -am.

Verb roots ending in "i" drop the initial "a" of the future ending. ~,

Briaia........to have;
brimni.......I will have.


Verb roots ending in "w" frequently change to "u" in the future, imperfect and perfect tenses.

waia..................to sit
man iuma.........you will seat
witin iuan........he sat

The regular verb:
                      Dukaia.........to do, make

Present:                    yang  (nani)   daukisni...............I (we) do.
                            man      "       daukisma.............you (you) do.
                            witin     "       daukisa................he does (they do)

Imperfect:            yang     "       daukatni..............I (we) did
                             man     "        daukatma...........you (you) did
                             witin    "        daukattá............he (they) did

Perfect:                yang     "       daukri................I (we) did
                             man     "        daukram............you (you) did
                             witin    "        daukan..............he (they) did

Future:                 yang    "        daukamni...........I (we) will do
                             man     "       daukma..............you (you) will do
                             witin    "       daukbia.............he (they) will do

Participle:             present.........dauki
                             past...............daukan
                             negative........daukras

Imperative:           2nd. person.....................dauks; daukram; dauka
                             2nd person negative.......daukpara; daukprama
                             1st person plural.............daukpi
                             1st person plural negative..... daukpi apia

infinitive:              daukaia......to do

The irregular verbs:
                                        Balaia....to come | Waia...to go | Yaia...to give
PRESENT                   aulna                         aunia                  yakisna
                                      Aulma                       auma                  yakisino
                                      Aula                          auya                   yakiso

IMPERFECT    balatni                       watni                   isatni
                                     Balatma                     watma                 isatma
                                     Balata                        watta                   isatta

PERFECT         balri                           wari                    yari
                                                      Balram                       waram                yaram
                                      Balan                         wan                    yan

FUTURE           balamna                    wamna                yamni
                                                     Balma                        wama                  yama
                                     Balbia                        wabia                 yabia

IMPERATIVES
2°d person                     bal                            was                     yas
                                                      balram                      waram                 yaram
                                      balka                        warka                  yarka
2nd person negative       balpara                     wapara                yapara
1st. person plural           balpi                         wapi                   yapi
1st. person plural negative       balpi apia                  wapi apia           yapi apia
 

PARTICIPLES
PRESENT                              bal                                    wi                              I
PAST                                     balan                                 wan                           yan
Negative                                balras                               waras                         yaras
 

INFINITIVE             kaia .................to be

The passive voice:
The passive voice is formed by using the third person of the verb with the accusative form of the pronoun; the tense being indicated by the verb.

                                                 sunaia... to lift up
                                                   ai sunisa..............I am lifted up. (It lifts me)
                                                   mai sunisa...........you are lifted up
                                                   witin ba sunisa....he, it is lifted up
                                                  yang nani ai sunatta.......we were lifted up
                                                  walpa nani ba sunan ..... the stones were lifted up
 

Many verbs adopt a passive meaning,
                   merely by changing the final "b" or "k" of the' root to " ".

angkaia...to burn 
baikaia...to split 
bangkaia ... to fill 
blakbaia...to entangle 
dakbaia ... to take off 
daskaia...to extinguish 
dringbaia... to break down 
kabaia...to put on 
karbaia...to roll 
klakaia...to cut 
kraukaia...to bore 
krikaia...to break 
lakaia...to dry 
laikaia...to pour out 
langkaia...to untie 
pakaia...to rear 
piakaia...to cook 
prakaia...to close 
quakaia...to open
rakaia...to heal 
slingbaia... to take down 
tikaia...to lose
angwaia...to be burned 
baiwaia ... to be parted 
bangwaia... to be filled 
blakwaia...to be entangled 
dakwaia...to be removed 
daswaia....to be extinguished 
dringwaia...to be broken down 
kawaia...to be put on 
karwaia ... to be rolled 
klakwaia...to be cut 
krauwaia... to be bored 
kriwaia...to be broken 
lawaia...to be dried 
laiwaia...to be poured out 
langwaia... to be untied 
pawaia...to grow 
piawaia...to be cooked 
prawaia...to be closed 
quawaia...to be opened
rawaia...to be cured 
slingwaia...to be taken down 
tiwaia... to be lost

The second person  has three forms:
The imperative proper which is formed by adding "s" to the stem.
                                                              sunaia...to hoist;
                                  Suns ... hoist!

The form in "ram" is considered formal and polite.
                                                                    sunram ... you may hoist

The form "ka" expresses more a suggestion than a command.
                                                                    sunka...hoisting might be done

Verbs whose root ends in two consonants, drop the last consonant and add "s".

atkaia...to buy; ats...buy !
sikbaia ... to wash; siks ... wash !
dakbaia... to take; daks... take!

Verbs whose root ends in two consonants, and the first is "s",
                            form the imperative by dropping the second consonant.

takaskaia...to stop; takas...stop!





Verbs whose root ends in a consonant drop it and add "s".

sibaia...to shake hands; sis...shake!
pabaia...to sweep; pas ... sweep!
kaikaia... to see ; kais ... see!






Some verb roots are the imperative.

aikaia...to give me; aik...give!
 balaia...to come; bal...come!






The negative imperative is formed by adding " para.", or, "prama" to the stem of the verb for the second person, and
  "pi apia" for the first person plural.

 diaia... to drink
dipara...don't drink
  dipi ápia...let us not drink

The infinitive:
There is only one infinitive; it has a variety of uses: Its most frequent use is that of subject.

 School dimaia yamni sa ..To go to school is good.




The infinitive also expresses intention, duty or task.

Yang waia...I must go... I intend to go.

Tenses are determined by the use of the various forms of kaia.

Witin waia kan ... He had to go.

The irregular verb yaia...to give, when used with infinitives of other verbs, means "about to".

Yang waia isni...I am about to go.

A noun, the means by which an action expressed by the verb is done, is formed by inserting "k" into the infinitive ending.

alkaia...to hold;
alkaika...a handle
wakaia...to steer;
wakaika...a rudder
dimaia...to enter;
dimaika...a door




The participle:
The participles are made frequent use of.
The present participle is formed by adding "i" to the verb root.

daukaia... to do; dauki ... doing

If the verb root ends in "i" it remains unchanged.

swiaia...to leave; swi...leaving

The past participle is formed by adding "an" to the root.

daukaia... to do;    daukan ... done
But if the verb root alfeady ends in "i", merely add "n".
swiaia...to leave; swin...left
Rules:
The present participle may be followed by a tense of kaia.
The forms of kaia are omitted in the present tense.
salkaia...to dig. Witin sálki katta...He was digging.
pullaia...to play. Tukta nani pulli ... The children are playing.
Tukta nani pulli kan...The children were playing.
aiwonaia... to sing. Yang aiwoni kamni... I will be singing.
Witin nani aiwoni kabia...They will be singing.







The present participle expresses continued action.
The past participle expresses completed action.
The past participle is often used with man...only:

       aiwonaia... to sing.
       yang aiwonan man ...all I did was sing.
                                       I only sang.
                                       I did nothing but sing.

The present and past participles are followed by the noun in the construct: (relative clause in English)
aiwoni uplika ba... the singing person.
aiwonan uplika ba... the having sung person; the person who sang.
kwala sipan mairinka... the having sewn garment woman; the woman who sewed the garment.
 

The present and past participles are also combined with ya ba and ya na to express an abstract idea, or to form an exclamation
aisi ya ba... the being spoken, that which is being spoken.
aisin ya ba... that which was spoken, the having been spoken. plapi ya ba!...how it runs!
tukta ini ya na! ... how the child cries!
 

The verbal noun:
The verbal noun is closely allied to the participle; it has different uses and meanings.
With the suffix "ra" added to the root of the verb, it expresses the action as taking place.

awaia...to drift; awra..a drifting.

With the suffix "an", or "in", it expresses the action as completed.

paskaia...to create; paskanka...the creation

With a prefix, varying according to the following rules, and the suffix "ra", the verbal noun denotes the agent who performs the act.
The rules for the prefix are:
If the verbal noun begins with a consonant, redouble the consonant and add 'a' + prefix  'ra`

sunaia...to hoist; sasunra...one who hoists
kaikaia...to see; kakaikra...an observer
daukaia...to do; dadaukra...doer
paskaia...to build; papaskra...builder
sakaia...to save; sasakra...savior
buaia...to lift; babura...lifter
diaia...to drink; dadira...drinker
piaia...to eat; papira...eater
wiaia ... to speak ; wawira ... speaker

When the word begins with two consonants, both are reduplicated and "a" is inserted.

krikaia...to break; krakrikra...one who breaks
smalkaia... to teach ; smasmalkra... teacher

Verbal nouns beginning with "wl" or "wr" use the "wl" or "wr" in the first syllable, but drop the "w" in the second.

wrangaia...to murmur; wrarangra...a murmurer

Verbal nouns beginning with a vowel and having no consonant to duplicate, prefix "a", or "ai". The resulting vowel does not form a diphthong.

alkaia...to catch; aalkra...one who catches.
inaia...to weep; ainra...one who weeps
ulbaia...to write; aulbra...a writer
iwaia ... to dwell; aiiura... a dweller
implikaia...to steal; aiimplikra...thief
impakaia... to travel ; aiimpakra... traveler

Verbal nouns beginning with the diphthong "ai" usually reduplicate the second syllable.

aiwonaia ... to sing; aiwowonra ... a singer
aisaia...to speak; aisasara...a speaker

Meanings and uses of daukisa:
The verbal noun in "an" used in connection. with the third person of the present tense of daukaia...to do, expresses a wish or a desire.
The person desiring is placed in the accusative.

daukaia...to do (affect); daukisa...it affects
yapan ai daukisa...I wish to sleep. (sleep affects me)
wan al daukisa...I want to go.
iwan ai daukisa...I wish to sit.
aisidflmai daukisa?...Do you wish to speak?
balan mai daukisa?...Do you wish to come?
aitnikan mai daukisa?... Do you wish to lie down?
witin swaktaban daukisa...He wishes to escape.
aras plappan daukisa... The horse wants to run.
witin tuban daukisa...He wants to wash.
witin swin daukisa... He wishes to leave.
The negative is expressed by using daukras.
walan ai daukras...I don't want to hear.
witin iwan daukras...He does not wish to sit.
kaikan mai daukras? ... Don't you wish to see?
bip pin daukras...The cow does not wish to eat.
tukta nani pullan daukras... The children don't wish to play.

The verb daukisa also connotes concrete objects as desired, when used with verbal nouns and nouns, especially in relation to food and drink.

pin ai daukisa... (food affects me) I am hungry.
plan ai daukisa...I am hungry.
diran mai daukisa?...Do you want a drink?
diran mai daukisa?...Do you want a drink?
           (Note: plun, and diran are nouns.)

Verbal nouns denoting sickness or sensation follow the same rules as given above, but do not express a wish or desire.

urika ai daukisa...I have a fever. (fever affects me)
kaulka mai daukisa...You are chilly.
witin kaulka dauki....-.He is cold.

Note. the position of the personal pronouns in the above examples; also the omission of ba (the sign of the accusative case) after witin. Verbs whose root ends in "i" form the verbal noun (same as participles) by adding "n".
 

THE ADJECTIVE
The adjective follows the noun it modifies, but precedes the sign of the plural nani.

takta yamni nani.. -the good children
 

Whenever the adjective , precedes the noun, the noun must be placed in the construct state.
upla karna...a strong person; karna uplika

Any adjective may be used as a noun. It then denotes an abstract quality and usually forms its construct in "ka" or "ika"
pini...white; pinka...whiteness
yamni ... good ; yamnika ... goodness

If the adjective ends in "a" it is changed to "ira".
karna ... strong; karnira...strength

Nouns may be made into adjectives by adding "ira" or "kirra".

pata...fire;
patira...fiery
lalla... money;
lallakirra... rich
sins ... sense;
sinskirra...wise
lillia... joy;
lilliakirra... joyful

Many nouns are simply used as adjectives.
waikna...man, manly, brave
kyamda...carpenter, skilful

Some adjectives in "ni" drop this ending.

pauni ... pau ... red
lamni ...lam ... calm
sitni...sit...close together
pamni ... pain. .. tight

Negative adjectives are formed by adding "s" or "kas" to the noun.

lupya...child; lupyas...childless
bila...speech; bilas...dumb
nakra...eye; nakras...blind
tnata...end; tnatas...endless
aisa...father; aisikas ... fatherless

Comparison of adjectives:
The Miskito tongue does not make a pronounced distinction between the comparative and superlative.
There are four words that denote a higher degree.

kanra, and, kan mapa... more.
Both are placed before the adjective.
 kanra yamni...better; kanra tara ... greater
polli...very. It is placed after the adjective.
Naha tukta tara, -wala lika kanra tara, sakuna James tara polli sika...
This child is tall, the other is taller, but James is the tallest.

saura ...very. Tukta nani saura lilliakirra sa...
                 The children  are very happy.

wol is employed when forming the comparative; it is placed after the noun with which the comparison is made.
Martha kanra almuk Mary wol. . Martha is older than Mary.

Diminutives of adjectives:
The word ninara... behind, is used.
Witin yang ninara tukta...
     He is younger than I...He is a child behind me.

This tree is smaller than that one ...
          Naha dus sika baba dus tara ninara.

Ninara is inflected like the construct of the noun.

ninira...behind me;
ninamra...behind you.
aininara...behind him;
won ninara...behind us.



Exclamation:
An adjective followed by ya ba, or ya iza, expresses an exclamation.

Pain ya ba!...How beautiful!
Saurka ya na!...How ugly!
 






continua:
Miskito Grammar, Miskito Grammar 2, Miskito Grammar 3, Miskito Grammar 4.