Lesson 3 – What are you doing?


Lesson Overview and Goals

By the end of Lesson 3, you should be able to

  • ask someone else what he/she is doing, and respond to the same,
  • recognize the indicative, conjunctive, and imperative moods in Unangam Tunuu,
  • recognize 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person singular forms on verbs,
  • recognize the independent personal pronouns, and 4) use the diminutive suffix to show friendly relations.


headphonesTunun / Vocabulary  

Listen to  the vocabulary words and helpful phrases – Sound Lab Lesson 3 Tracks 1-2. Work on learning the words by sound and by sight. See also the vocabulary flip cards in the ‘Test Your Knowledge’ section.

If the audio above does not play, download the .mp3 file here

latux̂‚ (latuĝing) grandfather (my grandfather)
kukax̂‚ grandmother
chitaayalix to read
aluĝilix to write
ix̂‚talix to say
awalix to work
ukux̂‚talix to see, look at
maqaĝilakan to be fine
malix to do
achigalix to teach
…nung achigaasakux̂‚…nung achigaas(a)kuqing He/she is teaching me…I am studying/teaching myself (something)
aygagilix[1] to walk
mikalix to play
kayux and, too, also
wayaam today, nowadays
aang yes

Helpful phrases

If the audio above does not play, download the .mp3 file here

Alqutaadaltxin? How are you? (to someone you know)
Alqutalix? How is he/she?
Maqaĝil(a)kaqing. I am all right, I am fine.
Maqaĝilakax̂‚. He/she/it is all right; He/she/it is fine.
Ukuĝaan ix̂‚am(a)nakux̂‚. It’s nice to see you.
Ting kay(ux) Me too
…alqutal(ix) Unangam Tunugan ilan ix̂‚tadatxin? How do you say…in Unangam Tunuu?
… alqutal(ix) Unangam Tunugan ilan iĝadalix?[2] How is … said in Unangam Tunuu?
Nung ix̂‚taadada Please tell me

Expand your vocabulary

Once you have mastered the vocabulary given in this lesson, learn the following additional vocabulary, for the purposes of the exercises and in-group conversations.  The words can be found in the Lexicon at the end of the textbook, or in the Aleut Dictionary (Bergsland 1994):

To cook, to rest, to drink coffee, to drink tea, to visit (a friend), to listen, to be quiet, to sit, to sing, to dream

Vocabulary notes

Some words vary in predictable ways in their pronunciation. In this lesson, there are two new vocabulary words that ‘end’ in consonants; those consonants change from voiceless to voiced depending on the sounds that follow.

Both the noun stem latux̂‚ ‘grandfather’ (notice the stress is on the second syllable!) and the verb stem alux̂‚-/aluĝi- ‘to write’ are what is known as an old consonant-final stems; in the older language, the endings they took were sometimes different than stems that ended in vowels. For example, the conjunctive form of the verb base alux̂‚- was alux̂‚six ‘is he or she writing?’ as opposed to aluĝilix today; likewise, the consonant stem is used for some other forms of this word: alux̂‚sxalix ‘it is written’. In the indicative mood, the form aluĝi- is used: aluĝikux̂‚ ‘he or she is writing.’ In the possessed form of latux̂‚ ‘grandfather,’ the form latuĝi- is used, as in latuĝing ‘my grandfather.’

Whether or not a stem ends in a vowel or a consonant is something that is not predictable; it must be learned when you learn the word. In Bergsland (1994), nouns which end in vowels are cited with the final -x̂‚ ending: asxinu-x̂‚ ‘daughter’ whereas nouns which end in consonants do not have a dash to indicate the ending: latux̂‚ ‘grandfather.’ In this textbook, alternate forms, such as latuĝix̂‚, will be included in the vocabulary.

In addition to their origins as a consonant base, however, words like aluĝi- ‘to write’ also undergo regular changes in pronunciation depending on what sounds follow the final consonant. If a voiced sound follows, such as a vowel, or an /m/, /n/, or /l/, then the final consonant is pronounced /ĝ/:

aluĝikux̂‚ – ‘he or she is writing’

aluĝilix̂‚ ee? – ‘is he or she writing?’

If, however, the vowel i- disappears (e.g. as a result of syncopation) and voiceless sound follows, it is pronounced x̂‚-; it is thus indistinguishable from the old form with the final consonant:

aluĝ(i)kuqing => aluĝ’kuqing = alux̂‚kuqing     ‘I am writing’

For more on the pronunciation of consonant bases, see the pronunciation notes below.

[1] aygax-six in Bergsland (1994).
[2] This is the preferred version according to some speakers; using ix̂‚tadatxin seems to mean ‘what is your version of…’

Pronounciation - Vowels


Listen to Sound Lab Lesson 3 Tracks 3-5

If the audio above does not play, download the .mp3 file here

If the audio above does not play, download the .mp3 file here

If the audio above does not play, download the .mp3 file here

Vowel assimilation

In Unangam Tunuu, new words are often created from existing words through suffixation, or in other words, by adding suffixes to a stem. We have seen a little of this in Lessons 1 and 2, with the person endings on nouns and verbs and the diminutive suffix –ada-.

Word structure – stem-suffix(es)-endings


  • kuka-ada-ng
  • grandmother-diminutive-1sg.possessive
  • ‘my dear grandmother’

When a suffix is added to a stem, the pronunciation of the suffix may be influenced by the stem’s final sound; and likewise, the pronunciation of the stem’s final sound may be influenced by the suffix’s initial sound. In this section, we will only look at the pronunciation of the suffix, and we will look at suffixes that begin with vowels (as in ada- vs. the other diminutive suffix kucha-, which begins with a consonant).

Suffixes beginning with a vowel can attach to stems that end either with a vowel or with a consonant. We look at each of these in turn:

The stem ends in a vowel

If the stem ends in a vowel, then a suffix beginning with a vowel takes on the vowel quality of the stem vowel it is now next to:

  • kuka- >> kuka-ada-x̂‚  =  ‘dear grandmother’
  • asxinu- >> asxinu-uda-x̂‚ =  ‘dear daughter’
  • umni- >> umni-ida-x̂‚  =  ‘dear nephew, niece’

The stem ends in a consonant

If the stem ends in a consonant, then a suffix beginning with a vowel generally has a preferred vowel that must be learned. For example, the preferred vowel of the familiar Vda/-aada- diminutive suffix before a consonant stem is a (other vowel-initial suffixes may have other preferred vowels, such as -i– or –u-):

  • latux̂‚ >> latuĝ-aada-x̂‚ =  ‘dear grandfather’

Note that the final consonant of the stem, -x̂‚, changes to -ĝ-; we will discuss this at another time.

As a result of the changes in pronunciation in point 1, and the unpredictability of the preferred vowel in point 2, there is a common convention in citing vowel-initial suffixes. The abstract symbol V is used to refer to a vowel that can assimilate to a neighboring vowel (in this case, the preceding vowel). Thus, vowel-initial suffixes will be cited first with the initial V and then with the preferred vowel used after consonants. So the diminutive suffix is cited as -Vda-/-aada.

With the exception of latux̂‚ (latuĝix̂‚) ‘grandfather’, we have not seen examples of stems ending in consonants; the final -x̂‚ in most nouns is a citation Many words ending in consonants have either been reinterpreted to end in vowels, or have a variant form ending in a vowel, to which suffixes beginning with vowels are added. For example, the word latux̂‚ also alternates with the form latuĝi-x̂‚, which ends in a vowel and includes the final -x̂‚ in citation form. Person endings attach to the form latuĝi-x̂‚, as in latuĝing ‘my grandfather.’ However, latux̂‚ is still a consonant-ending stem, as you see from the addition of the diminutive suffix.

Note: The word latux̂‚ is stressed on the second syllable, a departure from the expected pattern of penultimate stress on an Unangax̂‚ word (see Pronunciation, Lesson 2). This may be a result of a multi-step process in Eastern, and particularly the Pribilovian dialect of Unangam Tunuu:

  1. a consonant stem latux̂‚ is reinterpreted as a vowel stem latuĝix̂‚ (with stress pattern l -tº-ĝix̂‚)
  2. it is then subjected to either
    1. vowel dropping, called syncope, as in latuĝ’x̂‚ or to
    2. syllable dropping, as in latu’x̂‚
  3. if only the vowel is dropped, then ĝ is assimilated to the very similar consonant x̂‚. The stress on the second syllable, however, remains, and with the effective loss of part of final syllable, it appears as if it is actually on the final syllable.

More studies need to be undertaken to determine if this is indeed the process whereby latux̂‚ has word-final stress in the speech of the Pribilof Islanders; however, preliminarily, it appears as if syncope and assimilation is indeed occurring, rather than syllable dropping.


Self-Study Oral Exercises


For speaking practice:  

  1. Practice the following words (focus on q):
  • qaĝaalakux̂‚
  • maqaĝ(i)lakax̂‚
  • alqutax̂‚
  • akuqing
  • aqatal(a)kang
  1. Practice the following words (focus on ĝ):
  • tayaĝux̂‚
  • qaĝaalakux̂‚
  • ukuĝaan
  • maqaĝ(i)lakax̂‚
  • latuĝing
  1. Practice the following words (focus on long ii vs. short i):
  • ukuchx̂‚iidada
  • Stipaniidax̂‚
  • Mariiyax̂‚
  • sistrax̂‚





Grammar Lessons

Listen to Sound Lab Lesson 3 Tracks 6-19

1. The structure of an Unangax̂‚ verb:

Look at the following verb:



‘I am reading.’

Verbs in Unangam Tunuu consist of several parts. The example above has:

  • a verb stem chitaaya- ‘read’, which gives the primary meaning of the word
  •  a mood ending ku- ‘indicative’, which gives information about the kind of speech; in this case, it is a statement, as opposed to a question, a wish, a command, etc.
  • a person ending qing ‘I’, which gives information about the person and number involved in the discourse.

In addition, a verb might have one or more suffixes. Suffixes are parts of words that are added after the base. You already know the diminutive suffix Vda-:


‘I am reading a little.’


2. Person and Number Inflection on the Verb

Look at the following examples:


‘I am reading.’


‘He/she is reading.’

The person ending in Unangam Tunuu indicates ‘who’ is doing the action of the verb in simple sentences.

-qing indicates ‘I’; this is called ‘1st person singular’

-x̂‚ indicates ‘he, she, or it’; this is called ‘3rd person singular’

These endings are singular, because they each refer to only one person doing the action.

You might be wondering what happened to 2nd person. 2nd person refers to ‘you’:

-x̂‚txin indicates ‘you’; this is called ‘2nd person singular:’


‘You are reading’

2nd person indicative is less commonly heard in everyday conversation; we tend to speak in first person when talking about ourselves and in 3rd person when talking about others. We will focus on 2nd person singular indicative in Lesson 4.


3. Indicative, conjunctive, and imperative verb moods

Look at the following examples:

Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚talix?                                     ‘What is her name/what is she called?’

Anfiisaa asax̂‚takux̂‚.                               ‘She is called Anfesia.’

There are different mood endings for asking questions and making general statements.


3a. To ask questions, the conjunctive mood ending lix is used. This ending has many uses; one of the most common is to ask questions. It is an irregular mood.

It is shortened to -l- before 2nd person, and the 2nd person ending is txin:

Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚ta-lix-txin? = Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚ta-l-txin? ‘What are you called?’

It is used without any other special person ending for 3rd person forms:

Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚talix?                                     ‘What is he/she called?’

In yes-no questions (questions for which the answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’), the conjunctive verb is followed by the particle ee (often pronounced e):

Mariiyax̂‚ asax̂‚taltxin ee?                   ‘Are you called Mary?’

Since the form of the answer is a little different in questions that are answered with ‘no’, you will only be introduced to ‘yes’ answers for now:

Mariiyax̂‚ asax̂‚taltxin ee?                                         ‘Are you called Mary?’

Aang, Mariiyax̂‚ asax̂‚takuqing. ‘Yes, I am called Mary’

There are 1st person forms of the conjunctive, as in Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚talting?’ ‘What am I called?’ but these are not common in conversation.  We will discuss them in Lesson 4.

The mood marker —l- is frequently deleted in 1st and 2nd person forms of the conjunctive everyday speech, as in the following example with the verb base, such as asax̂‚ta- ‘to be called’:

Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚taltxin?                               ‘What are you called?’ (conjunctive)

Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚tatxin?                                 ‘What are you called?’ (conjunctive with mood  marker deleted)

In this and future lessons, the Elders who were recorded used the form of their choice in asking general questions (hence the form without —l- in the vocabulary phrase …alqutal(ix) Unangam Tunugan ilan ix̂‚tadatxin? ‘how do you say…in Unangam Tunuu?’


3b. To make statements or answer questions, the indicative mood suffix ku- is used:

Dimiitrix̂‚ asax̂‚ta-ku-qing.               ‘My name is Dimiitry.’

Anfiisax̂‚ asax̂‚ta-ku-x̂‚.                           Her name is Anfesia.

Note:  You also know two verbs that appear to have laka- endings: aqatalakax̂‚ ‘he/she does not know’ and maqaĝilakax̂‚ ‘he/she is not bad.’ Note that both of these have ‘not’ as part of the meaning. These are negative indicative mood suffixes  (for more on the negative endings, see the textbook, Unit 2).


3c. To issue commands, or to make requests, the imperative mood is used. The ending da is the 2nd person singular form of the imperative mood:



‘you (sg) read!’


4. Independent personal pronouns

The endings —qing ‘I’ and —txin ‘you’ are verbal inflections indicating the subject. While these are obligatorily part of the verb ending, independent words, called pronouns, are occasionally used for subjects in Unangam Tunuu, as we will see in later lessons (see Units 2 and 3). However, independent pronouns are used to indicate various kinds of object. We have seen some of these already:

Ting kay(ux) ‘me too!’
Kiin txin? ‘Who are you?’
Kalikax̂‚ nung ukuchx̂‚ida! ‘Show me the book!’ (= ‘show the book to me!’

There are complications in the use of the pronouns, and we will discuss personal pronouns more in depth as they come up in the lessons that follow. However, the basic forms are as shown in the tables below. There is no 3rd person independent pronoun; however, in the Pribilof Islands, it is very common for demonstrative pronouns such as wa(ya) ‘this one’  are used instead. 4th person is explained in lesson 14, as are forms such as nung ‘to me’:

1sg ting ‘me’ 1pl tuman ‘we’
2sg txin ‘you’ 2pl txichin ‘you (pl)’
3sg   ‘he/she/it’ 3pl   ‘they’
4sg txin ‘he himself /she herself /it itself’ 4pl txidin, txichi(n) ‘they themselves’

The following are especially common demonstrative pronouns used as 3rd person independent pronouns. Note that demonstrative pronouns have a different set of plural endings than do nouns; the only demonstrative plural ending we will see in this text is -kun:

3sg way(a), ingan ‘this one’‘this one (further away’ 3pl wakun, ingakun ‘these ones’‘these ones (further away)’

Culture Notes


Alternative ways of saying the same thing (tracks 17-18)


Listen to Sound Lab Lesson 3 Tracks 17-18.

If the audio above does not play, download the .mp3 file here

If the audio above does not play, download the .mp3 file here

There are usually many ways of saying something; this makes language more You already know some different ways of asking for someone’s name in Unangam Tunuu:

Kiin txin?

Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚taltxin? (=Alqutax̂‚ asax̂‚tatxin?)

Here are some different ways to greet people:



Wayam alqutaltxin?

Here are some different ways to say you are fine:





Ix̂‚am(a)nasaadakuqing. (I’m very good.’)

Here are some different ways to take your leave of someone:



Social closeness and terms of endearment

Many of these variations use the diminuative Vda-. Here, -Vda- does not translate as ‘please,’ but rather as a way of showing friendship with the others in the conversation. In fact, the translation ‘please’ that we used in the previous lesson is a reflection of this way of showing social closeness. It does not have to mean that speakers are close friends, simply that they may want to signal friendly intentions.

Note:  In some linguistic traditions, the term for this is ‘rapprochement’ (from the French for ‘coming closer’). It is a useful term for this phenomenon in Unangam Tunuu, since there is also an opposite strategy called ‘distancing’ for other contexts.

The diminutive may not just signal friendly intentions, but actual endearment, and it can be used on both nouns and verbs. In terms denoting family relationships, it means ‘dear’ or ‘cute’ or ‘little.’ For example, you can have the diminutive on the noun, as in aniqdu-uda-an qignunaasakux̂‚ ‘your little child is cute,’ or on the verb, as in aniqduun qignunaasa-ada-kux̂‚ ‘your child is very cute’ (note that the diminutive on the verb can have a slightly different meaning). Another common diminutive suffix is -kucha- ‘small,’ which can also be used for nouns or verbs. The two suffixes can be used individually or paired together, as you see in the examples listed below (and cf. Father Paul’s discussion of the name ‘Paul’ in Lesson 1). However, the use of diminutives is often constrained by social dynamics between relatives; some diminutive forms have unexpected meanings because of social connotations or implications. For example, you would expect to hear ayagang qignunaasa-kucha-a or qignunaasa-ada-a ‘my cute little wife,’ but not uging qignunaasa-kucha-a ‘my cute little husband,’ although in some contexts you might. The term ugi-id(a)-kucha-ng ‘my dear little husband’ is used in certain contexts, but you might not say latuĝ-aad(a)-kucha-ng ‘my dear little grandfather.’ Be sure to ask if you are trying to use a term of endearment.

anax̂‚ anaadax̂‚ ‘mother’
adax̂‚ adaadax̂‚, taatakuchax̂‚ ‘father’
braatax̂‚ braataadax̂‚, braataad(a)kuchax̂‚ ‘brother’
kukax̂‚ kukaadax̂‚, kukuluudax̂‚ ‘grandmother’
latux̂‚ latuĝaadax̂‚ (but not latuĝaad’kuchax̂‚) ‘grandfather’



Test Your Knowledge

Understanding Conversations

Watch the videos below and try to translate the conversations. What would you say differently?  





write13Self-Study Written Exercises

Written exercises (Lesson 3 Self-Study Exercises – will open in a new tab in a Google Doc.)

[qdeck] [q]latux̂‚ (latuĝing)
[a]grandfather (my grandfather)
[a]to read
[a]to write
[a]to say
[a]to work
[a]to see, look at
[a]to be fine
[a]to do
[a]to teach
[q]…nung achigaasakux̂‚…nung achigaas(a)kuqing
[a]He/she is teaching me…I am studying/teaching myself (something)
[q]aygagilix[1] [a]to walk
[a]to play
[a]and, too, also
[a]today, nowadays
[q]grandfather (my grandfather)
[q]to read
[q]to write
[q]to say
[q]to work
[q]to see, look at
[q]to be fine
[q]to do
[q]to teach
[q]He/she is teaching me…I am studying/teaching myself (something)
[a]…nung achigaasakux̂‚…nung achigaas(a)kuqing
[q]to walk
[a]aygagilix[1] [q]to play
[q]and, too, also
[q]today, nowadays
[qdeck] [q]Alqutaadaltxin?
[a]How are you? (to someone you know)
[a]How is he/she?
[a]I am all right, I am fine.
[a]He/she/it is all right; He/she/it is fine.
[q]Ukuĝaan ix̂‚am(a)nakux̂‚.
[a]It’s nice to see you.
[q]Ting kay(ux)
[a]Me too
[q]…alqutal(ix) Unangam Tunugan ilan ix̂‚tadatxin?
[a]How do you say…in Unangam Tunuu?
[q]… alqutal(ix) Unangam Tunugan ilan iĝadalix?[2] [a]How is … said in Unangam Tunuu?
[q]Nung ix̂‚taadada
[a]Please tell me
[q]grandfather (my grandfather)
[a]latux̂‚ (latuĝing)
[q]How are you? (to someone you know)
[q]How is he/she?
[q]I am all right, I am fine.
[q]He/she/it is all right; He/she/it is fine.
[q]It’s nice to see you.
[a]Ukuĝaan ix̂‚am(a)nakux̂‚.
[q]Me too
[a]Ting kay(ux)
[q]How do you say…in Unangam Tunuu?
[a]…alqutal(ix) Unangam Tunugan ilan ix̂‚tadatxin?
[q]How is … said in Unangam Tunuu?
[a]… alqutal(ix) Unangam Tunugan ilan iĝadalix?[2] [q]Please tell me
[a]Nung ix̂‚taadada

In-Class Group Exercises


 Group Conversation Exercises

These exercises will be completed during synchronous class time and led by your instructor. You will  be graded on attendance and participation. Be prepared to participate in any of the following.

  1. Review Lesson 1 by greeting each participant appropriately, with the greeting for the time of day and with their name.  If you don’t remember someone’s name, ask for his or her name.  Ask people how they are are.
  2. Review Lesson 2 by asking other participants questions such as the following:
    1. Alqutalix _________ Unangam Tunugan ilan iĝ‚adalix (or ix̂‚tadatxin)?
    2. (if you have video conferencing) __________ nung ukux̂‚tachx̂‚ida 

      Participants should answer in Unangam Tunuu.

  3. Either use props such as dolls (if you have video conferencing) or establish a ‘family’ and each participant takes turns talking about one member of this family:  what is his/her name, what is his/her relationship in the family, what does he/she do?
  4. Play a cumulative game:  starting with the teacher, 1) ask someone what he/she is doing 2) repeat his/her answer as a question, and then 3) tell the class what that person is doing, as in:
  • Mariiyax̂‚, alqutax̂‚ maltxin?
  • Chitaayakuqing.
  • Mariiyax̂‚, chitaayaltxin ee?
  • Aang, chitaayakuqing.
  • Mariiyax̂‚ chitaayakux̂‚.  

Each following person should recapitulate what each person already named is doing.  For example:

  • Paavilax̂‚, alqutax̂‚ maltxin?
  • Awakuqing.
  • Awaltxin ee?
  • Aang, awakuqing.
  • Paavilax̂‚ awakux̂‚; Mariiyax̂‚ chitaayakux̂‚.

5. Talk about members of your own respective families and discuss what they do.  Remember to use diminutive terms as appropriate.


Lesson Assignment

Download the Lesson 2  Assignment file (Google Doc), complete, and upload the file to the Assignment Upload area for Lesson 3  in the UAF Blackboard course shell (https://classes.uaf.edu – log in with your UA username and password). If you have problems with the assignment or with uploading the file, please contact your instructor right away for help.