Tókhel Ečhúŋpi Kte


1) the shorter the better (long terms are less likely to be adopted into everyday use and very unlikely to survive very long, eventually they are replaced with something shorter)


2) one word terms are preferable to multiple word terms (per above, moreover many words often need another modifier, for instance when we want to say “a small” or “a big”, in such cases the two word terms will end up being three word descriptions)


3) if more words are necessary join them into a compound (as in šúŋka wakȟáŋ -> šúŋkawakȟáŋ)


4) make use of Lakota morphology (instrumental prefixes: ka, na, pa, wa, wo, ya, yu, locatives: a-, i-, o-, khi-, other affixes: wó-, -la); remember that instrumental prefixes are usually used with animate agents/subjects, so they shouldn’t be employed in the names of things that work human agent, one exception is the prefix na-


5) instead of describing the object or concept, try and come up with a word that associates the object’s characteristic (e.g. cell can either be described as the ‘building block of life’ – using the Lakota words, or we can say something like tȟábla from tȟápala ‘small ball’


6) don’t be afraid to borrow words and Lakotize them, examples from older days are khukhúše, kȟamíte, pusíla, bébela. This is especially relevant when coining terms which are culturally specific, such as spaghetti (the English word originates in Italian) or Sushi (originates in Japanese). There is nothing wrong in saying pȟásta for pasta and it is better than aǧúyapi ská or aǧúyapi ikčéka because the number of bread kinds makes it already difficult to remember all types of aǧúyapi.


7) One way to create short words is by using existing Lakota roots (such as ksá, kpá, šte, stu etc.) or even meaningless syllables. For example for the word “second (unit of time)” we can either try and be descriptive and say something like oápȟe oȟ’ákȟola (which is a long and impractical term) or make up a word such as okpí. The root kpi suggesting a sound similar to ticking, but for many terms there doesn’t have to be meaning behind the rood.