When I’m teaching in the community I often get the question, “why are Myaamia words so long?” So, what is it that makes them so different from English? Why are they longer? Let’s dig into Myaamiaataweenki and find out.
When we think about English words and how they turn into sentences it normally goes like this: we have a lot of small words that combine into a sentence. Simple enough, right? An example of that could be “I am eating.”
In Myaamiaataweenki, that same sentence would be made up of one longer word: weehsiniaani. So, why is it just one word? Well, the reason for that is because Myaamiaataweenki puts all the necessary information into one word that, in English, needs multiple words. The different pieces of that word equal all the same pieces of the English sentence, it just shows up differently. Let me show you how it breaks down:
Weehsini + aani
Eating + I am
And, if you count out the syllables for each of these sentences they are not too far off from each other. “I am eating” is four and “weehsiniaani” is five. So, the Myaamia word is actually not that much longer than its English translation.
Let’s take another example, like the other Myaamia word I’ve been using in this post: Myaamiaataweenki. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it means “the Miami language.” So how does this word break down?
myaamia + atawee + nki
miami + the language of + (this is just a grammatical piece)
This word would literally translate as “the language of the Miami people.” In plain English that would just be “the Miami language.” Once again, if we compare the syllables of the Myaamia word and its English translation, we find that they both have six syllables.
There are a finite number of these small pieces in Myaamia but they can be combined in an infinite number of ways (as long as they follow the grammatical rules) to create a highly complex language that lets us express any complicated thought we need to.
This is a simplified overview of how Myaamia words come together. But there are many other complex factors that I will save for another post. So let’s think of this as a good starting point.