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Cawyaŋ Zarma Sanni

map of the river Niger
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Lesson 7. Ay fu borey


  1. Intro
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Greetings
  4. Grammar
  5. Exercises (workbook, lesson 7)
  6. Answers (answer book, lesson 7)

7.A. Intro

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Read the text below and try to answer the questions at the end. Some help is provided, move the cursor to an underlined phrase and the translation appears.

Ay fu borey

Fofo. Ay maa Mariama. Ay gonda jiiri way cindi fo. Deseno kan go hantumyaŋ cire, a cabe ay fu borey. Iri go iri fuwo jina.

Ay baaba da ɲa go ay kamba ŋwaaro gaa. Ay kayne go ay kamba wow gaa. Ay armo go a kamba wow ga. Ay baaba ya alfari no. A gonda fari fo kaŋ ga beeri. Ay ɲaɲo gonda kali kayna man a ga albasan da dunguri da la da tonko da damsi fattandi laabo ra. Ay nda ay kayne ga koy lokkol. Iri ga dira guuru fo ma koy lokkol ce gu haabu ra. Ay ga ba ga tira yaŋ caw, amma Fransi ciineyo ga sandi. Ay arme si koy lokkol, zamma a gonda jiiri iddu.

A family in front of their house at Sadore, Niger
 a) May no ga koy lokol?
 b) May no go Mariama kamba ŋwaaro ga?

 a) xxx
 b) xxx

7.B. Vocabulary

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Learn these words by heart.

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.

Zarma English Pronunciation [1]
cabe to show, to point out ca be
caw to read caw
du # to get, to obtain, to acquire du
gana to follow, to obey na $
hantum to write an tum
kabu to count, to number ka bu
to # to come up to, to equal, to overtake, to arrive at, to catch up to, to be full, to be worthy, to deserve to
waani # to know how to waa ni


# signifies verbs that take the direct object afterwards (see section 2.C.1 & section 3.D.5).
$ indicaties that accent and/or tone may be different, perhaps related to region and/or dialect. For 'gana' there is no consistency between sources regarding tone : na (1), na (4), na (13)
Summary of verbs passing various portions of the day
Zarma English Pronunciation
weete to pass the forenoon to 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. wee te
foy to pass the middle of the day foy
wiciri to pass the the late afternoon until sundown. wi ci ri
hiire to pass the early evening; dusk until suppertime. hii re
almaaray to pass the later evening until bedtime. al maa ray
hanna to pass the night. han na
Zarma English Pronunciation [1]
arme, armo 1 brother (of a female) ar me
beere, beero 1 older brother or sister
(or other close relative)
bee re
bindi, bindo middle, centre bin di, bin do
foyyaŋ, foyyaŋo 2 state of being during the day foy yaŋ, foy yaŋ o
ganji, ganjo uninhabited area, 'bush' gàn ji
kalam, kalamo pen, pencil ka lam, ka lam o
kaayaŋ, kaayaŋo 2 arrival, coming; return kaa yaŋ, kaa yaŋ o $
kayne, kayno 1 younger brother (of a male) or younger sister (of a female); other close relative kay ne
ɲa, ɲaŋo 1 mother, maternal aunt ɲa, ɲa ŋo
saaji, saajo wilderness, 'bush', unfarmed area, dessert saa ji
tira letter, book, paper with writing or printing ti ra
wayme, waymo 1 sister (of a male) way me


1 More about family relationships in section 7.D.7
2 More about verbal nouns in section 7.D.5
$ indicaties that accent and/or tone may be different, perhaps related to region and/or dialect. For 'gana' there is no consistency between sources regarding tone : kaa yaŋ, kaa yaŋ o (1), kaa yaŋ, kaa yaŋ o (13)
Conjunctions, adjectives, prepositions, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation
afo koyne (adjective) another à koy ne
amma (adverb) but, however am ma
hendi (adverb) beyond, the other side hen di
kala (conjunction) until, except ka la $
kaŋ (conjunction) when; which, that, who kaŋ
koyne (adverb) again (with negative: no more) koy ne
kulu (adverb) each, every (with singular nouns), all (with plural nouns) ku lu
nda (conjunction) if, when nda
ne, ne wo (adverb) here, right here ne, ne wo
taji, tajo (adjective) new ta ji
wala (conjunction) or, either la
wo (adjective) this wo
wodin (pronoun) that (one) wô din
yongo (adverb) yonder yon go
zama (conjunction) because (with indicative mood) za ma *


* This word has different meanings depending on pronunctiation.

[1]  Legend for pronunciation (see Pronunciation guide for details)
italic tone is high
  under score tone is low
  vowel with ^ long vowel, e.g., ê
  vowel with ` short vowel, e.g. è
  bold syllable on which the principle emphasis falls

7.C. Greetings (fooyaŋey)

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In earlier lessons we have learned to greet an individual and a group, to greet a person at his work and to say goodbye. We also learned to thank someone and to ask pardon. We learned the initial greetings and about the greetings that may be used after the initial 'hello' and the inquiry about their night or day.

This lesson we'll learn more about initial greeting, saying welcome and goodbye and talking about someone else.


Talking about someone else

Zarma English
Question Mate ‹‹name›› go? How is ‹‹name››?
Reply: A go baani samay. He/She is well.
or: A g' Irikoy saabu He/She is thanking God.
Question Ma ‹‹name›› fo. Greet ‹‹name››.
Reply: A ga maa (nd' Irikoy ba). He/She will hear (if God wills)


Saying welcome and goodbye

Zarma English
Remark Fonda kaayaŋ
(fo nda kaayaŋ).
literally: Greeting to your arrival (or return)
Reply: Ngoyya. (thank you)
Zarma English
Remark Kala ni kaayaŋ. Until your return.
or:> Kala han fo koyne. Until someother (another) day.
Reply: Irikoy m' iri cab' a May God show it to us.
or: Irikoy m' iri to r' a. May God bring it to us.


Additional greetings and replies

Zarma English
greeting Mate ni foyyaŋ? How was your day?
(in late afternoon or evening)
reply Baani samay. Just fine.
greeting Mate ni kani? How did you sleep?
(in morning)
reply Baani samay. Just fine.

7.D. Grammar

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Subjects in this lesson:

  1. The demonstrative pronoun and adjectives
  2. The demonstrative suffix 'din'
  3. Contraction of the demonstrative adjective 'wo'
  4. The relative pronoun in combinations
  5. Gerunds (verbal nouns)
  6. Combination 'han kaŋ ga'
  7. Close family relationships
  8. The conjunction 'kaŋ' and 'nda' for 'when'

7.D.1. The demonstrative pronoun and adjectives

Demonstrative pronouns stand in for a person, place or thing that must be pointed to. They may function as subjects, objects or objects of the preposition. The demonstrative adjectives – in English 'this', 'these', 'that', 'those' and 'what' – are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but are used as adjectives to modify nouns or noun phrases. They show whether the noun they refer to is singular or plural and whether it is located near to or far from the speaker or writer. In Zarma some are normally used as adjective, some most of he time as pronoun ( see list below).

Zarma English
wo (adj.) this
wone (pron.) this one here
(one or two or more; one that is here not there)
wone yaŋ (pron.) these (plural of wone)
wodin (adj./pron.) that one, that one there
wodin yaŋ (adj./pron.) these ones, these ones there (plural of wodin)
wohendi (pron.) the one beyond
wohendi yaŋ (pron.) those beyond, those over beyond there (plural of wohendi)
woyongo (adj./pron.) yonder one, the one over there
woyongo yaŋ (adj./pron.) yonder ones, those over there (plural of woyongo)

In Zarma, unlike English, the demonstrative adjective follows the noun to modify. Examples of the uses of the demonstrative pronouns and adjectives are given below.

Zarma English
Daari wo ga hay. This bed is wide.
Tira hinka go ne. Wone n' ay ga ba. Two books are here. It is this one I want.
Wayboro iddu go ne. Wone yaŋ fun Goudel. Six women are here. They came from Goudel.
Ay maa wodin. I heard that. (e.g. particular piece of news)
Ay di Hama da Musa. Wodin yaŋ no ga ti Daouda izey. I have seen Hama and Musa. These (ones) are Daouda's sons.
Tira woyongo ay kand'a ay wayme se. Yonder book I brought it for my sister. (man speaking)
Wone ga kayna amma wohendi yaŋ ga beeri. This one is small, but those over beyond there are big.


7.D.2. The demonstrative suffix 'din'

To form a demonstrative noun in Zarma (that ...), the suffix 'din' can be place after the singular noun with its definite article ending.

Zarma English
Kalamo din ga ku. That pen is long.
Bora din kaa ay ɲa di susuba. That person came to see my mother in the morning.
For the plural form, some people use the suffix 'dini' and some only the 'din'. It is added to the definite plural of the noun to make them demonstrative: 'those ...'.
Zarma English
Tirey dini go yongo. Those books are yonder.
Zankey dini go no ga kaa. Those children are coming.

Note: in both singular and plural, the definite endings are strongly accented when pronounced, regardless of where the accent normally falls in that word.

Sometimes the suffix 'din' or 'dini' is separated from its noun and placed after the adjective clause.

Zarma English
Bora kaŋ kaa bi din ... That person who came yesterday ...
Fuwey kaŋ go bindo ra dini ... Those houses that are in the middle ...


7.D.3. Contraction of the demonstrative adjective 'wo'

In a few instances the demonstrative adjective 'wo' is contracted with the noun, especially when the noun ends with a vowel. The final syllable is strongly accented.

Zarma English Zarma English
susubo a morning susubo wo => susub'o this morning
boro a person boro wo => bor'o this person


7.D.4. The relative pronoun in combinations

The relative pronoun 'kaŋ' may be combined with the demonstrative adjectives in both singular and plural to give the idea of the 'one which' and 'those which'.

Zarma English
Wo kulu kaŋ. Everyone.
Ay di wo kaŋ ni ga ba. I saw the one that you want.
Borey dini wo kaŋ yaŋ araŋ ga di yongo, i ga tirey hantum. Those people whom you see yonder, (they) write the letters.
Wo kulu kaŋ kaa, ay ga fo. All those that come, I greet.


7.D.5. Gerunds (verbal nouns)

One way of making a noun from a verb is by adding the suffix 'yaŋ' to the verb, somewhat as we add 'ing' to a verb in English. The idea of a definite article (the) is expressed by adding the vowel 'o' on the end of the new noun in the singular.
Verb Noun derived from verb
Zarma English Zarma English
caw to read cawyaŋ, cawyaŋo reading (the art of reading, or a religion based on a sacred book), studying
fo @ to greet fooyaŋ, fooyaŋo greeting
hantum to write hantumyaŋ, hantumyaŋo writing (words that are written, or the art of writing)
haŋ to drink haŋyaŋ, haŋyaŋo (the act of) drinking; a drink
kaa to come kaayaŋ, kaayaŋo arrival or coming
ku @ to be long, tall kuuyaŋ, kuuyaŋo depth, height, length;
(by extension) waist-size
tin to be heavy tinyaŋ, tinyaŋo weight
@ Some verbs that have a vowel at the end, double this vowel when 'yaŋ' is added

Some examples of the use of these words are given in the table below.

Zarma English
Hantumyaŋo go tira ga. The writing is on the paper.
In da Jean kulu kuuyaŋ fo. @ Jean and I have the same waist-size
Nin da Mariama kulu tinyaŋ fo no. @ Mariama and you have the same weight.
Fonda kaayaŋ. Greeting to your coming.
@ 'in da' and 'nin da' are the contraction of 'ay nda' and 'ni nda', respectively, see Lesson 11.D.3.

In Zarma this gerund is often used in combination with the verb 'waani' (to know how to). In English it then translate to the infinitive form of the verb and not the 'ing' form.

Zarma English
Araŋ ga waani hantumyaŋ, wala? Do you know how to write?
Ni ga waani mooto hanseyaŋ. You know how to repair a car.
Ay ga waani cawyaŋ sohõ. I know how to read now.

The above construction ('yaŋ' added to the verb) can also be used as a participle, especially in combination with words indicating locality.

Zarma English
hantumyaŋ do writing place
cawyaŋ fu house religious services are held
kaniyaŋ do. sleeping place
haŋyaŋ hari drinking water
buuyaŋ hane dying day


7.D.6 Combination 'han kaŋ ga'

The phrase 'han kaŋ ga' (that which will or does), when joined to a verb, indicates the thing or agency through which the action of the verb is carried out.

Zarma English
han kaŋ ga haŋ something that is drunk, something to drink
han kaŋ ga hantum a writing instrument
han kaŋ ga haw something to tie with
han kaŋ ga hanse something to repair with
han kaŋ ga goro something to sit on
Some examples of the use of these words are given in the table below.
Zarma English
Ni g' ay no han kaŋ ga haŋ, wala? Are you going to give me something to drink?
Bora din ga ba han kaŋ ga hantum. That person wants something to write with.
A kande han kaŋ ga hincino haw. He brought something to tie the goat with.


7.D.7 Close family relationships

A person speaking of his older sister or brother says 'ay beere'; speaking of his younger sister or brother, he or she says 'ay kayne'.

A man refers to his sister as 'ay wayme'. A woman may refer to her brother as 'ay arme', but a relative age is not indicated.

That is, only a man has 'wayme', though he may use 'beere' or 'kayne' for his sisters (as he must for his brothers). Only a woman has 'arme', though she may refer to her brothers as 'beere' or 'kayne' instead (as she must for her sisters).

beere / kayne are also used for cousins of about the same age
  they do not follow the regular rule of needing the definite ending when they have a possessive adjective in first of second person (iri beere, araŋ kayne);
  they can only be known as male or female if the specifying words 'alboro' or 'wayboro' are added. Often the relative age is what is important to the speaker and not the gender.
baaba is also used for all uncles on father's side
ɲa also applies to all aunts on mother's side

The diagram below shows the discussed family relationships for a male and a female person.

Chart with familiy relationships

In Lesson 26 the extended family relationships will be discussed.


7.D.8 The conjunction 'kaŋ' and 'nda' for 'when'

If you want to use the idea of 'when' in the past (or a completed action) context, you use the conjunction 'kaŋ' (short for 'waato kaŋ', the time when).

However, if your context is present or future, something that has not finished happening, then use 'nda' or its abbreviation 'da'. This is really 'if' since there is always a doubt as to whether there will be a future. Zarmas seem to look at time from a different perspective.

Zarma English
Kaŋ ni kaa wiciri kambu, ni di ay wayme fuwo ra, wala? When you came this evening, did you see my sister in the house?
Da ni ban goyo ga, ay ga ni donton Musa do. When you finish the job, I will send you to Musa.

Verb forms in conditional sentences will be discussed in detail in Lesson 10.


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Last updated: 20 Januari, 2016