Exploring the Oneida Language

How different is Oneida from other languages?

Shadow Meanings

Oneida words are often combinations of smaller components. If you know the meanings of the components, you can see how they describe the meaning of the word. The components are like shadows behind the word meanings. For english it is often possible to look up the etymologies of words (where the words come from), but for Oneida the roots and stems in the shadow meanings are often more transparent to people who know the language.
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Word Order

Word order in Oneida is more dependent on the important things to say rather than rules of grammar

Whispering


Many words have different pronunciations depending on where they occur in sentences and whispering is part of one of the pronunciations

It’s All Verbs

Verbs are very important in the Oneida language. Where English uses nouns and adjectives, Oneida often expresses those as verbs. All Oneida verbs have pronoun prefixes and that means Oneida verbs can often be translated as short sentences. So an Oneida verb with its attached pronoun prefix might be translated focussing on the action 'he does X' or focussing on the pronoun 'he who does X' or 'the doer'.
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Writing Systems

Traditionally Oneida had no writing system but several methods emerged in writing it

Sounds


Oneida has a small inventory of sounds but complex combinations of sounds and distinctive rhythm patterns