Lesson 12. The Marcanda

Content
  1. Intro
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Practical idiomatic winks
  4. Grammar
  5. Exercises

 



12.A. Intro

The Marcanda

In the Zarma region of Niger, a woman whose husband gets married organizes a ceremony in which she asks married women of the village to come and spend the day at her home. The public of the Marcanda only consists of married women and is characterized by the absence of the husband and his new wife, and the silence of the woman of which the husband marries. The husband spends the day with a friend, while the new wife is still with her parents where another ceremony proceeds. At nightfall, just before the newly-wed couple arrives, all the women form a half-circle: those who were taken as first wives start to insult those who were taken as second wives and vice-versa. The ritual consists of fictive insults which aim to channel the conflicts so that they are socially acceptable. The insults of the Marcanda thus have an outlet function; a function limited by a elucidatory framework which appears in the style and the rhythm of the insults. At the end of these dispute, collective morals intervenes again by advices given by the married women to she who must receive a concubine. The disputes thus make it possible for the women to mourn over their situation (they lose their status of sole wife) by expressing their aggressiveness.

Sandra Bornand recorded the insults of a Marcanda that took place in the Zarma village of Boko Tchilli (Niger) in February 1999. She published an article concerning this ritual in Ethnographiques.org (no.7) in April 2005. Full text of the article by Sandra Bornand in English is available here, while transcription and translation of injuries are available here.

Listen to the sound recordings by Sandra Bornand

 click here

Copyrights recordings Sandra Bornand, Switzerland.

 

12.B. Vocabulary
  1. Verbs
  2. Nouns
  3. Adverbs, adjectives, etc.

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Learn these words by heart.

Extra
Move the mouse to one of the underlined words and a sentence in which the word is used will appear. Click the left mouse button and a photo will appear in a popup.
When you move the pointer on the screen with your mouse over the photo the translation of the Zarma sentence will show.


to be thirsty
12.B.1 Verbs
Zarma English Pronunciation
cina to built cin / a
cabu to shave ca / bu
gar [garu] to find, to come upon, to happen across by appointment gar  [gar u]
mun to pour out, to spill mun
sambu to pick up, to take up; to take sam / bu
kubanda to encounter, to meet by chance ku / ban da  
garey to chase, to chase away g / rey
jaw jaw
hare to be hungry ha re
hanse to fix, to repair, to arrange han / se

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12.B.2 Nouns
Zarma English Pronunciation
botogo, botoga mud, clay for building or pottery bo / to / go
kwatagu, kwataga board, plank kwa / ta / gu
fereje, ferejo brick fe re / je
sini, sino razor s ne
zaama knife, dagger zaa / ma
jeri, jero antelope; gazelle (dorcas / Thomson's) je / ri
butel, butelo bottle [substance, not vessel] bu / tel butel o
jaw thirst, drought jaw
haray hunger, famine ha rey
goro, gora kola nut go / ro
waŋzam native barber waŋ / zam

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12.B.3 Adverbs, adjectives, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation
sorro fo once, one time so ro fo
ce hinka, sorro hinka twice ce hin ka
afollon only one, just one, a single a fol / lon
nodin there in that place no / din
yahare that away, toward that direction ya / ha re
afa [definitive of afo] the one, the other a / fa
meri, meri, mera * ugly m ri
kaan, kaan, kaana * sharp kaan, kaan / a

(*) note:
Three forms are given for the adjectives; the predicate adjective, the indefinite singular attributive adjective, and the definite singular adjective also. The first two forms are frequently identical,
see 5.D.2.

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12.C Practical idiomatic winks

Kan (Lesson 7: when; which, that, who)

The word "kan" has different forms both longer (watokan, watikan) and shorter (k', g').
The word in the meaning of "when" is used for actions in the past (completed action) as well as for habitual actions; both past and present. If "kan" precedes a word beginning with a vowel it contracts to "k' ".

Examples

Zarma

English
Kan Boubacar kaa Niamey, a zumbu inga coro do. When Boubacar came to Niamey, he stayed with his friend.
K' iri koy Parc W iri di ce beri bobo. When we went to Park W, we saw many elephants. 
K' i du  nooru, i ma kaani. When they obtained money, they were happy.
Kan Mariama go lokol, a si salan gumo, amma d' a go fu a ga salan nda borokulu. When Mariama is at school she doesn't speak very much, but if she is at home she speaks with everybody.

The word "watikan" is generally used for present or habitual actions while "watokan" is used for completed actions in the past.

Examples

Zarma

English
Watikan ay tun jirbi susubo, ay boŋ'o ga doru. Whenever I wake up in the morning, I have a headache.
[ .,. my head hurts.]
Watikan iri go sajo ra, iri ga donu bobo haŋ. Whenever we arre in the bush, we drink a lot of "donou".
[ donu or donou is a drink of millet and goat milk or sometimes water ]
Watokan, ay go zanka, ay si goro isa jerga. The time when I was a child, I didn't dwell alongside the river.

 

Nda (Lesson 2: and, with; Lesson 7: when, if)

The word "nda" is different forms as well: nd', da, d'.
The word in the meaning of "if, when" is used for future action, something that has not finished happening. If "nda" or "da" precedes a word beginning with a vowel it contracts to respectively "nd' " and "d' ".

Examples

Zarma

English
Nd' ay du  nooru bobo, ay ga koy makka. If I obtain a lot of money, I will go to Mecca.
D' iri mana du moto, iri ga koy ce ga. If we don't find a car, we will go on foot.
Nd' a ni na baji haŋ kwaara ra, ni ga dala waranza bana. If you drink alcoholic liquor in the village, you pay 150 francs.
Nd' a ni na goyo ban Niger laabu, ifo no ni ga te? When you finished your work [contract] in Niger, what will you do?
Da boro ga mehaw, a si taba haŋ. When one fast, one doesn't smoke.

 

Using kan and nda

Restating briefly, if you want to use the idea of "when" in the past (or a completed action) context, you use the conjunction "kan". However, if your context is present or future, something that has not finished happening, then use "nda".

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12.D. Grammar

Subjects in this lesson:

  1. Cardinal numbers to thousands
  2. The suffix "yan" on nouns 
  3. Uses of "hala" and "kala"
  4. Use of "kulu"

12.D.1 Cardinal numbers to thousands

The cardinal numbers from 1 to 10 have been introduced in Lesson 3.D.1. In Lesson 6.D.4 you have learned how to count from 11 to 20. Counting in Zarma is relatively simple. The cardinal numbers above 10 are formed by adding to the tens (10, 20, 30, etc.) "cindi" (remains, left over) then the unit. For example, 14 is "iway cindi taci", literally ten and four left over. These numbers contract according to the rule established in Lesson 3.D.1.  

The tens are more or less based on a junction of "ten" (iway) and the numbers one to nine. Hundred and thousand have their own name, but two hundred and three thousand are formed similar to English.

Examples

Zarma

English Pronunciation
iway ten î way /
waranka (not wayhinka) twenty war / an ka
waranza (not wayhinza) thirty war / an za
waytaci forty way ta / ci
waygu fifty way / gu
waydu sixty way / du
wayye seventy way / ye
wahaku (not wayahaku) eighty wa ha / ku
wayga ninety way / ga
zangu hundred zan gu
zangu hinka two hundred zan gu  hin / ka
zambar thousand zam bar
waydu cindi iyye sixty seven  

As you may notice in the tens is the only instance where "iddu" and "iyye" are shortened.

When the unit lack one or two "subunits" an idiom can be formed, not only for the number below hundred as we have discussed in Lesson 6.D.4.

Examples
Zarma English number
waranka ihinka si twenty without two 18
waranka afo si twenty without one 19
zangu iway si one hundred without ten 90
zangu afo si one hundred without one 99

In counting over 100 "nda" unites the tens to the hundreds, and the hundreds to the thousands. In counting under two thousand, one may count by hundreds all the way.

Examples
Zarma English number
zangu da waygu cindi iddu hundred and fifty remains six 156
zambar hinka da zangu hinza da wayye cindi hinka thousand two and hundred three and seventy remains two 2372
zangu way cindi taci hundred ten remains four 1400
zambar fo da zangu taci thousand one and hundred four 1400

Counting money

When counting money in the hundreds and thousands, one often does not specify if it is "dela" when the context is clear. On the other hand, in the higher numbers, if it is people or other things, this must be specified, as the hearer may think you mean so much money's worth.

In areas with Hausa influence, you will hear "zika fo" for a thousand franc bill.

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12.D.2. The suffix "yan" on nouns


The suffix "yan" is added to the singular indefinite of nouns, or their qualifying adjectives, to give an indefinite plural meaning. that is, not plural individuals specifically, but the plural of that sort or kind.

Examples
Zarma English
Hincinyan no kan a day. It was goats that he bought.
Ay koy habu; ay day albassanyan da lemu beriyan da kwayyan. I went to the market; I bought onions and oranges and shirts.

Thus, that is, those are the kind of things I bought.

The suffix "yan" added to the numerical one gives a meaning of "some" (numerically, not quantity), "a few" or "several". "Afoyan" used alone means "some" (numerically, that can be counted), or "few" or "several"

Examples
Zarma English
Ay koy habu; ay day albassan foyan da lemu meri foyan da kway foyan. I went to market; I bought some onions, and some oranges and some shirts.
Gunguri go no wala? Afoyan go no. Are there eggs? There are some.

At this point we have studied both singular and plural definite and indefinite forms.

Examples
  Zarma English
indefinite singular hansi dog
indefinite plural hasiyan dogs
definite singular hanso the dog
definite plural hansey the dogs

For those who have studied Greek, it is similar to the anarthrous and the articular usages for substantives.

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12.D.3. The uses of "hala" and "kala"

The meaning of "hala" and "kala" depends of the context. In relation to time they both may be translated as "until". In other contexts then time "kala" means "unless" or "except", and rarely "up to the point that". Other uses of "kala" will be explained in Lesson 24. In relation to distance "hala" means "as far as" or "all the way to". With the subjunctive "hala" is used to mean "so that" or "for the purpose of", as we have seen in Lesson 10.D.1. In other sentences "hala" also may mean "so that" or "with the result that", as well as "whether" (if). In the latter it may be used to asked a question.

As mentioned, in relation to time both "hala" and "kala" may be translated as "until". It is hard to analyse the usages of these words in this connection:

  • "kala" seems to be used in exclusive relations; that is, action will not take place until a certain time, or will take place during certain time up until a specified point, after which there will be some other action.
  • "hala" seems to be used in inclusive relations; that is, the action will take place during a certain period, or while other action is being accomplished.

This explanation will probably be not enough. The following examples are correct, so you may be able to figure it out; at least it should help you.

Examples
Zarma English
A si du a kala suba. He won't get it until tomorrow.
Oho, ni ga di a, amma kala suba. Yes, you'll see him, but not until tomorrow.
Iri go no ga adduwa, kala iri maa kaatiyan. We were praying, and then we heard shouting (yelling).
Iri go no ga ŋwari ŋwa kala Abdu kaa. We were eating until Abdu came.
A ma goro ne hala ay ma koy kaa.*1 He is to stay here until I go and come.
Irikoy gomni si ban hala abada. The grace of God never ends.
Ay ga goy hala alula. I shall work until afternoon.
A ma si kaa ne hala ay m'a ce.*1 He is not to come here until I shall call him.

*1 note that "ma" indicates here the imperative mood and not the subjunctive

As stated, in other contexts then time "kala" means "unless" or "except", and rarely "up to the point that". In Lesson 24 the use of "kala" as a conjunction is discussed. 

Examples
Zarma English
A ma si kaa ne kala nd' ay g' a. He is not to come here unless I shall call him.
Boro kulu ga wodin bay kala ay hinne. Everyone knows that except only me.
A na wa daŋ kala a mun. He put milk in until (= up to the point that) it spilled
Iri jaw kala iri ga ba ga bu. We were so thirsty we about died.

Examples of  use of "hala" not in relation to time are given in the next table.

Examples
Zarma English
in relation to to distances (as far as; all the way to)
Boro bi ga dira hala Filinque. Africans walk all the way to Filingue.
Ni ma zuru ka koy hala isa me. Run as far as the river's edge.
Ay ga koy ce ga hala tra. I will go on foot all the way to Tera
Ni ma zuru ga koy hala Seyni kwaara. Run as far as Seyni's compound.
subjunctive (so that; for the purpose of)
Ay ga  nooru ceci hal' ay ma day ŋwari. I will seek money in order that I may buy food.
Iri ga fu meyo fiti hala a ma fatta. We will open the (house) door in order that he may go out.
other uses (whether [if]; with the result that, so that)
Boro si bay hala a ga funa suba. A person doesn't know whether he will be alive tomorrow.
Araŋ maa hal' a kaa, wala? Did you hear whether he had come?
Ma ci ay se hala ay ma kaa ni do, wala ni ga kaa ay do. Tell me whether I should come to you, or you're coming to me.
Ay si bay hal' ay ga dira suba. I don't know whether I leave tomorrow.
Ay mana maa hal' ay kaa. I don't know if he is there.
(literally: I didn't hear whether he came.)
A n'a garey hal' a kaŋ. He chased it with the result it fell.

 

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12.D.4. The uses of "kulu"

The word "kulu" (introduced in Lesson 7) may be used with personal pronouns and with nouns. "Kulu" with personal pronouns has the meaning of "all" or "the whole" with third person singular, and all the individuals addressed or indicated in the plural.

Examples
Zarma English
Ma kand' ay se hamodin, a kulu. Bring me that meat, all of it.
Ma no ay se tasey wo, i kulu. Give me these dishes, all of them.
Iri kulu koy Niamey. We all went to Niamey.
I boro fo kulu zuru. Every single one of them ran.


With a singular noun, every individual or the whole of the thing is in view. With a plural noun, all those indicated by the context are envisaged.

Examples
Zarma English
Irikoy ga ba boro kulu ma du faba. God wants everyone to get salvation.
Ay n' ay  nooru kulu no a se. I gave him all my money.
Borey kulu kan maa, i ma kaa. All those who heard, let them come.

So, in the affirmative sentences "kulu" means each, every, all. In the negative "kulu" means the opposite as we have seen briefly in Lesson 9.D.3. This can be illustrated with three combinations of nouns with "kulu", that sometimes are written as one word:

  1. borokulu: everyone, everybody / no one, nobody, anybody 
  2. nangukulu (or nankulu): everywhere / nowhere, anywhere
  3. haykulu. everything / nothing, anything
Examples
Zarma English
affirmative
Borokulu kaa. Everyone came.
Haykulu go Niamey. All sorts of things are in Niamey.
Iri ceci nankulu, iri mana di Ali. We looked everywhere, we didn't find (see) Ali.
Hincin ga haykulu ŋwa. A goat eats everything.
Borokulu ga diga yo kaaru. Everyone can ride a camel.
negative
Iri mana day haykulu. We didn't buy anything. / We bought nothing
Borokulu si fuo ra. Nobody is in the house. 
I mana koy nangukulu. They didn't go anywhere. / They went nowhere.
Haykulu s' ay ziba ra. Nothing is in my pocket.
Iri mana kubay da borokulu. We haven't met anybody / We have met nobody.

Another example of the use of "kulu" sometimes written as one word is "watikulu" meaning every time.

In closing, in Lesson 7.D.5 we saw that "kulu" in certain expressions means "the same". 

Examples
Zarma English
In da Jean kulu kuyan fo. (*) Jean and I have the same waist-size
Nin da Mariama kulu tinyan fo no. (*) Mariama and you have the same weight.

 

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Last updated: 18 maart 2012