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Cawyaŋ Zarma Sanni

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Lesson 8. Yantala habu


  1. Intro
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Greetings
  4. Grammar
  5. Exercises (workbook, lesson 8)
  6. Answers (answer book, lesson 8)

8.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.

Yantala habu

Han kulu habu go Yantala. Borey din ga ne a se Yantala habu, a beeri no. Alfazar hab'izey ga kaa. I kande hayey boobo kaŋ i ga neera. Hab'izey go no kaŋ ga neera salati da tomati da jinay kulu kaŋ ga fun kali ra. Hab'izey mo go no kaŋ ga guuru jinay neera; i ga neera zaama da kalma da adda .

photo of women on the road to the market Wayborey go ga koy habo. photo of ironmongery on the market Guuru jinay go habu ra.

Hunkuna Daouda go ga koy Yantala habu. A ga ba ga zaama kaan day kaŋ ga hayni wi. A ga hab'ize bay kaŋ ga zaama kaanu neera, amma zaama ga cada. Daouda sinda nooru boobo, a ga hayci.

Daouda Fofo.
Hama Ngoyya.
Daouda Mate ni go?
Hama Baani samay. To Daouda ifo no ga ba?
Daouda Hama, ay go no ga zaama ceeci. Heemaro go ga kaa. Beene hari kaŋ, hayni ga boori mo.
Hama To, ay gonda zaama kan ni ga ba, walla. I n' a hanse hal ma bori. Ni ga ni hayni wi da wasi. Ta nga!
Daouda ga zaama guna. A ga kanu. A ga ne:
Daouda To, ni ga cim. A si futu. Marge no wo?
Hama Nga si futu? Zaamadin ga bori nda ikulu. Dala waranka ay g' a neera ni se, zama ni ya ay cora no.
Daouda Haba? A ga cada. Baani, zab ay se.
Hama A manna cada. To, ay ga dala fo kaa.
Daouda Albarka! Ay g' a ceeci nangu woyongo.
Hama Ni ma kaa!  nooru marge no ni se?
Daouda Dala way cindi taaci.
Hama Haba? Manti cimi no! Ni g' ay wi. To, ay yedda zama ni ay cora no.

Daouda go ga koy fu. A sinda nooru, amma a gonda nga zaama.

Questions :
 a) Ifo no Daouda ga ba ga day?
 b) Marge no Hama n'a neera nga se?

Answers :
 a) xxx
 b) xxx

8.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]
bay to know (both savoir and connaître) bay
darey to get lost, to go astray, to be mistaken ray
gay to be a long time; to stay a long time, to delay (intransitive) gay $
gaayi to hold back, to delay, to stop (transitive) gaay i $
kaa to remove, to take away kaa
sinda to be without, to not have (antonym of "gonda") sin da


$ indicaties that accent and/or tone may be different, perhaps related to region and/or dialect. For 'gay' and 'gaayi' there is no consistency between sources regarding tone :
gay : gay (1, 4), gay (13)
gaayi : gaay (1), gaay i (4), gaay (13)
Zarma English Pronunciation [1]
albasan, albasano onion al ba sa, al ba sa o
alkama wheat al ma
annasaara European or other lighter skinned person whose tribal name isn’t known. Could mean Chinese. In short not 'boro bi'. àn na saa ra
boro bi native of Africa, Negroid type (lit. black person) boro bi
dala (also dela) unit of 5 francs in counting money la
dunguri, dunguro bean dun gu ri
gondi, gondo snake gwun di
gunguri, gunguro egg gun gu ri
guuri, guuro egg (short form of 'gunguri') guu ri
haamo guinea corn haa mo
jara bonus (extra stuff given to a buyer in the market), gift  
kaatibi unit of 5 francs in counting money kaa ti bi
kolkoti, kolkoto corn, maize kol ko ti
labtanda one variety of squash
 (genus Cucurbita)
lab tan da $
leemu (F) lime (fruit of Citrus aurantifolia, F = 'limon'); orange lee mu
leemu beeri,
   leemu beero
orange (fruit of Citrus sinensis; literally big 'limon') lee mu bee ri
leemu kayniyo,
   leemu kayna
lemon (fruit of Citrus limon; literally small ‘limon’) lee mu kay na
mo, moyo / mwa @ rice mo, mo yo / mwa $
nooru, nooro money noo ru $


spelling of word and its pronunciation differ
@ the definite of 'mo', both singular and plural has several forms.
definite singular : moyo and mwa
defintie plural : moyey and moy
$ indicaties that accent and/or tone may be different, perhaps related to region and/or dialect. For several wors there is no consistency between sources regarding tone :
labtanda : lab tan da (1), lap tan da (13)
mo, moyo/mwa : mo, (1), mo, moyo (4), mo, mo (w)a (13)
Adverbs, adjectives, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation [1]
abada (interjection) never, (emphatic) no â $
afo-fo (interjection) one by one, one each a fo - fo
albarka (interjection) What a profit! al bar ka
ba (preposition or conjunction) even, even though (precedes object when preposition) ba
boobo (adjective) much, many (always used with singular noun), a lot boo bo
caada (H) (adjective) expensive, dear caa da $
fala (adjective) easy; (by extension) cheap, not expensive faa la $
iddu-iddu (interjection) six by six, six apiece id du - id du
ihinka-hinka (interjection) two by two, two apiece i hin ka - hin ka
manti (adverb) not (in some constructions) man ti
marge (adverb) how much, how many (always singular noun) mar je
   marge no (adverb) how much is it (price) mar je no
sandi, sando (adjective) hard (literally and figuratively) san di
   kamba ga sandi
to be tight fisted  
to (interjection) OK! tòò


$ indicaties that accent and/or tone may be different, perhaps related to region and/or dialect. For 'abada', 'caada' and 'faala' there is no consistency between sources regarding tone :
abada: â (1, 13), â (4)
caada : caa da (1), caa da (4), caa da (13)
faala : faa la (1, 4), faa la (13)

[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

8.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 welcome and 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 market talks. An important aspect of buying something on markets or on the streets in general is bargaining. It is a game not well none in most northwest European countries, so it will be a new experience that offers you a lot of opportunities to practise your Zarma.


To ask the price and answer

  The Zarma price system differs from that in Europe. The unit for counting is dela. This is discussed in section 8.D.7. There are several different replies you may get to your question 'Marge no ?'
Question of buyer Marge no ? How much is it.
  Marge marge? How much per unit?
Reply of seller    
number plus price Ihinka dala Two for 1 dala (5 francs)
repetition, indicates price of each  
one dala each Dala-dala 1 dala (5 francs) apiece
  Dala fo-fo 1 dala each (5 francs)
more dala each Ihinza-ihinza 3 dalas (15 francs) each
  Dala hinza-hinza 3 dalas (15 francs) each


To bargain

  The seller offers a price. This is not a fixed price, but you are assumed to bargain.
Buyer Albarka! What a profit! [meaning: lower the price]
  A ga caada. It is expensive.
  Baani, zab' ay se. Listen, lower the price.
Seller Albarka! What a profit! [meaning: increase the price]
  A mana caada. It’s not dear.
  To. Ay ga dala fo kaa. OK I’ll take off a dala.
Buyer Tonton kayna. Add a little more (as for vegetables).
  Jara si no? Isn’t there a little extra?
  To, ay yadda. Well, I agree.
  Nooro ne. Here, the money.

8.D. Grammar

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Subjects in this lesson:

  1. Past negative of verbs
  2. Present and future negative of verbs
  3. Negative of verb 'to be'
  4. Use of 'yes' and 'no'
  5. The conjunction-preposition 'ba'
  6. 'Abada' and 'koyne'
  7. Emphatic pronouns
  8. Money to 100 Francs

8.D.1 Past negative of verbs

The past negative is formed by placing the negative auxiliary 'mana' after the subject where the auxiliary regularly goes whether the direct object is present or not.

Zarma English
Ay mana bay. I didn’t no.
Bi ni mana koy Dosso. Yesterday you didn’t go to Dosso. (singular)
Susob'o iri koy isa banda, iri mana koy lokkol. This morning we went to the other side of the river, we didn't go to school.
Araŋ mana kaa. You didn’t come. (plural)
Araŋ man’ a kaa. You didn’t remove it. (plural)

The expression 'yana' is commonly used in the first person singular to answer a question or in any statement, rather than 'ay mana'.

Zarma English
Yana bay ni ga dira. I didn’t know you were leaving.
Ni maa, wala? Yana (maa). Did you hear? I didn’t (hear).


8.D.2 Present and future negative of verbs

The negative of the present and future tense is formed with the negative auxiliary 'si' in the same way as with 'mana' (in this case replacing 'ga'). Note that for present it must be actual present action, not a present state dependent on past action. That requires a past negative.

Zarma English
A si koy. He/She is not going (shall not go).
Ay si bay! I don't know!
Iri s’ a neera hunkuna. We are not selling (will not sell) it today.
I si maa. They do not hear (will not hear).

The auxiliary 'manti' is used in negative answers or exclamations when the verb is omitted.

Zarma English
Manti sohon! Not now!
Manti ne! Not here!
Manti nga! Not him! (see section 8.D.6)

Note: These uses with 'manti' can be past tense, of course, if the context indicates.


8.D.3 Negative of verb 'to be'

The verb 'to be' has many different forms (see section 4.D.3). Sometimes the negative is formed by using 'si' and other times by using 'manti'.

To show absolute existence (French 'il y a') the form 'go no' is used. This changes to 'si no' to form the negative.

Zarma English
Gooro yaŋ si no. There are no kola nuts.
Ŋwaari si no. There is no food. (lit. Food not be)
Buuru iyye si no fuwo ra. There are no seven loaves of bread in the house.

The form 'go' is used along between the subject and predicate nominative to indicate locations. The negative is formed by replacing 'go' by 'si'.

Zarma English
Tira si taablo boŋ. The book is not on the table.
Maman nda Fati si ne. Maman and Fati are not here.
Hanso si fuwo ra. The dog is not in the house.

When a noun is used as a predicate nominative and the 'no' form is used, 'manti' is used instead of 'si' to make the negative.

Zarma English
Bora din manti ay baaba no. That person is not my father.
A maa manti Aline. Her name isn't Aline.
Manti cimi no! It’s not true!
Manti ay no! It’s not me!

When the verb 'no' has its subject stated (and not implied) the auxiliary 'ya' must follow the object (see section 6.D.5). The negative of 'ya ... no' is formed by adding 'manti'. Some people use the short form without 'ya'.

Zarma English
Ay ya manti cawandiko no. I 'm not a teacher (an instructor).
Ni ya manti Ingilisi boro no. You aren't an Englishman.
Bora din manti butikkoy no. That person isn't a shopkeeper.

When there is a predicate adjective (describing the subject) the particle 'ga' is used to link the subject to its attribute, rather than a verb (see section 4.D.3). In translation it becomes the verb 'to be'. The negative form of 'ga' is 'si'.

Zarma English
A si tin. It isn't heavy.
Boro yaŋ si no habu. There isn't anybody at the market.
Haw wo si futu. This cow isn't mean.


8.D.4 Use of 'yes' and 'no'

A negative question, which we could ordinarily answer with 'no' in English, is often answered with 'yes' in Zarma.

Zarma English
A mana ban, wala? It isn’t finished, is it?
Oho. Yes. (The idea being: 'You are right, it isn’t done.')


8.D.5 The conjunction-preposition 'ba'

The conjunction-preposition 'ba' (even though) is often used with the verb in the negative to express the idea of 'not even'.

Zarma English
Hari mana kaa ne ba kayna. Not even a little rain fell here.
Ba afo mana kaa ne. Not even one came here.
Ay mana koy Filingue ba ce fo. Not once have I gone to Filingue.


8.D.6 'Abada' and 'koyne'

In the same way as 'ba', 'abada' (never) and 'koyne' (again) are used with the negative, to mean 'not ever', 'nevermore', or 'no more', 'not any more'.

Zarma English
A si kaa ne abada. He will never come here (never comes here).
A si te koyne. It won’t do anymore.
A ne nga si goy koyne. He says he will work no longer.


8.D.7 Emphatic pronouns

The emphatic form of the pronoun is used whenever special stress is being laid on the pronoun. In the four uses below, the regular form of the pronoun is used except in the third person singular (a) and plural (i), which always uses the longer from, respectively 'nga' and 'ngey'. The second person singular 'ni' may change to 'nin'.

1 With the verb (to be), positive form 'no'
2 After the negative 'manti'
3 To denote a contrast
4 For the above sense (contrast) 'wo' is used with the pronoun to place strong emphasis.
Use Zarma English
1 Nga no. It is he.
1 Nin no. It is you.
2 Manti ngey! Not they!
2 Manti nin! Not you!
3 Nga kaa, amma a izey mana kaa. He came, but his children didn’t.
4 Ay wo ci hayey kan a di ay Baaba do; araŋ mo go no ga te hayey kan araŋ maa araŋ baaba do. (John 8:38). I am telling you the things I have seen while with the Father; as for you, practice the things you have heard from the Father!” (John 8:38)


8.D.8 Money to 100 Francs

Money in Zarma is based on the 5-Franc unit. To a Zarma this is not five of everything: it is one, 1 dala. Instead of dala you may also hear dela.

Some of them may have heard of the Franc, but it is no more a money unit to them than a farthing is to you. They look at a 25-Franc piece and they think 'five'. They see a 100-Franc bill and they think 'twenty'. There used to be 5-Franc bills, so few people will see 'billet' for this unit, and may use 'katibi' for it, but this is still the smallest money unit now in use. Smaller units were formerly common, but only older people remember them; even they were not called Francs, but other names.

Money to 100 Francs
Zarma English Zarma English
dala fo 5 Francs dala way 50 Francs
dala hinka 10 Francs dala way cindi taaci 70 Francs
dala hinza 15 Francs dala way cindi iddu 80 francs
dala taaci 20 Francs (dala) waranka hinka si 90 Francs
dala gu 25 Francs (dala) waranka af si 95 Francs
dala iddu 30 Francs (dala) waranka 100 Francs

How to ask how much something cost is shown in the greetings (section 8.C). Some more examples are given below.

Zarma English
I na feej’ ize iddu neera. They sold 6 lambs
Marge no? Waranka-waranka. For how much? 100 Francs apiece.
Marge no leemu beeri? Iddu dala gu. How much are oranges? Six for 25 Francs.
Ay day dala ahakku gunguri habu susub’o. I bought 8 dala’s worth of eggs in market this morning.

Note that the difference between 'how much' and 'how many' might be very subtle in Zarma, as shown in the next table.

Zarma English

Marge no araŋ n’ a day?

For how much (money) did you buy it?
Marge no araŋ day? How many (number) did you buy?
Leemu marge no araŋ day? How many oranges did you buy?


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Last updated: 20 Januari, 2016