Prenouns are particles which must be attached to nouns in order to function within a sentence. They are largely descriptive elements which function similarly to adjectives in English, attributing additional information to the noun to which they attach.
The boldfaced elements in examples (1) and (2) illustrate indeclinable prenouns (IPNs). Again, they are written with hyphens (-) to indicate that they are bound (much like dependent stem nouns) and cannot stand alone as words.
(1) miyo- “good; well”: miyo-nāpēw “good man”; miyo-masinahikan “good book”, etc.
(2) kihci- “great; superb” kihci-iskwēw “grand lady”; kihci-atawēwikamik “department store; Hudson’s Bay Company store”
The vast majority of prenouns, including the two already exemplified above, are formed from root morphemes (3) and/or noun stems (4) plus the addition of the particle-forming suffix -i. Usually, this means the prenoun will end in the vowel [i]:
(3) a) /kiht-/ + -i > kihci- “great, superb”
b) /apist-/ + -i > apisci– “small”
c) /osk-/ + -i > oski– “new, young”
d) /wāpisk-/ + -i > wāpiski– “white”
(4) a) nisk– + -i > niski– “pertaining to the goose”
b) mahihkan– + -i > mahihkani– “pertaining to the wolf, wolven”
c) kohkōs– + -i > kohkōsi– “pertaining to the pig, porcine”
d) sīsīp– + -i > sīsīpi– “pertaining to the duck”
When the root or stem ends in a consonant-w (Cw) sequence, the w merges with the particle forming suffix -i to surface as an [o].
(5) a) /miyw-/ + -i > miyo- “good”
b) /mihkw-/ + -i > mihko- “red”
c) /sīpihkw-/ + -i > sīpihko– “blue”
d) /kinw-/ + -i > kino– “long”
(6) a) maskw– + -i > masko– “pertaining to the bear”
b) nikikw– + -i > nikiko– “pertaining to the otter”
c) kinēpikw– + -i > kinēpiko– “pertaining to the snake”
d) mostosw– + -i > mostoso– “pertaining to the cow, bovine”
Of the few other prenouns that do not follow this pattern, there are a couple of other minor patterns. Some IPNs seem to consist solely of a root morpheme ending in /ē/.
(7) a) /nōsē-/ > nōsē– “female”
b) /nāpē-/ > nāpē– “male”
c) /kēhtē-/ > kēhtē– “old”
Though the number of recorded IPNs that end in /ē/ is rather small, it is also a pattern that is commonly found among IPVs, and it is possibly that this is evidence of an older particle forming suffix /-ē/, which can be form VAI stems used as particles (8), or perhaps turn stems into particles, as in (9).
(8) /mihy-awē-/ > mihyawē– “hairy”
(9) pahkēkinw- “hide” + /-ē/ > pahkēkinwē- “leather”
The only recorded exceptions to these patterns include the IPN kīsō– “warm”, itself likely a contraction of /kīsow-/ + -i (i.e. kīsowi– > kīsō-), and the rare pronunciation of a root/stem which is missing the expected -i: e.g. apist– (rather than apisci-) and mōniyāw– (rather than mōniyāwi-). This latter pattern, dropping -i from roots/stems that end in a vowel-w sequence is not uncommon in compounding and in IPV use.