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Cawyaŋ Zarma Sanni

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Lesson 13. Borey nda dabbey marksina


  1. Intro
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Practical idiomatic winks
  4. Grammar
  5. Exercises (workbook, lesson 13)
  6. Answers (answer book, lesson 13)

13.A. Intro

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Borey nda dabbey marksina

Although there are larges differences between man and animal, there are also certain similarities. The following text shows you these similarities.

Before you start to read the text, it would be helpful when you studied the Zarma names of the part of the human body first (see Intro of Lesson 10). Try then to read the text and to answer the questions. There is no need to comprehend all, before trying to answer these. After answering the questions, you can read the translation here

Hayey kaŋ borey ŋgey nd' dabbey margan cere ra, i jina, no te dabbe, a gonda ham, a gonda kuri, a gonda biri, a gonda kuuru, a gonda way, a gonda aru, a ga ŋwa, a ga haŋ, a ga jirbi. Hala a du izey, izo ga naanu, i ga ye-ganda, i ga hari mun. I ga hiiji ce ga, borey wone cine, ku ŋgey izey hay. I ga dira, i ga zuru, i ga kaŋ, i ga tukay ŋgey boŋ gaa koyne. I gonda boŋ, londo goy, i wone boŋey ra. I gonda hanga, i gonda hinji, i gonda teeli. I ga fulanzam, i gonda niisi. farkey = donkey [they have a head, brains function in their skulls]
I gonda boŋ, londo goy, i wone boŋey ra

There are not only a lot of similarities between humans and animals, but animals may help people as well. For example, many species of birds migrate very long distances. The coming and going of these animals is a kind of seasonal clock that might help to determine the time of sowing.

To! Wone kulu, hayyaŋ no kaŋ ga cabe, kaŋ corotaray bambata, marksinay bambata, a go borey ngey nda almaney game ra.

Araŋ go ga di, waaliyey kaŋ fatakoyey no, kaŋ boro kulu si bay nangu gaa i ga fun, naanay bambata kaŋ furo ngey nda Kaadey game ra.

Waati kulu, hala hayno kaa ka to, kala ni ma kaa ka garu, i kaa ka zumbu windo kaŋ i ga bay din da. Kaa ka ngey fuwey cina, kaa ku ngey izey hay, kala i mu ngey wone waato te, kala waati kaŋ se kaydiya ban, ni ma kaa ka garu, i go ga ye. Boro kulu si i wone izey kaa, boro kulu si wi. Kala bin day hawo n’ i doori, i ma i sambu ka ye beene koyne.

nkaago = Balearica pavonina [black crowned-crane] Kala waati kaŋ se kaydiya ban,
ni ma kaa ka garu, i go ga ye

Wone naanay bambata no. Zama borey go ga di, waati kulu kaŋ se no, i di waaliyey kaa, i ga bay, dey kaŋ, sohoŋ, boro kulu hima a ma kay ŋga boŋ gaa, ku ŋga goyo soolu, ni ma kay ni boŋ gaa ga kay ka goy, zama kaydiya a maan. Danga labaari nookoy no. Wodin se, ŋgey mo, a ga hima corotaray bambata ka bara ŋgey nda Kaadey game ra.

Source: Ducroz and Charles (1982)

Questions to practice your reading skills

  1. Ci hay hinka ay se kaŋ borey ŋgey nd' almaney margan cere ra.
  2. Waatifo no waaliyey ga kaa ka zumbu?


  1. xxx
  2. xxx

13.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]
ba to be abundant, numerous, a lot ba
baytu [also bayto te] to sing a hymn bay tu
catu to throw away from, to lance ca tu
doonu [also doon and dooni te] to sing (any song) doo nu
dooru to pour out carefully or slowly, to run out or down, to trickle doo ru
du daama to get a change, to have an opportunity du daa ma
farahã to rejoice ra $
furu to throw out, to throw away, to abandon, to discard, to abort, to toss fu ru
fo [also ho] to hunt (game) fôô
fulanzam to rest, to breathe, to take a vacation, to breathe in fu lan zam $
gaway hunting as a profession way
[also sara and te hasara]
to spoil (intransitive) ;
to spoil, to ruin; to waste (transitive)
sa ra
hay to shoot (with weapon: bow, gun, spear), to aim at, to hit (large object aimed at) hay
kay to stop (motion);
to stand (not to rise), be upright and stationary
naŋ to leave, to let alone, to quit, to cease naŋ
te daama to become better, improved te daa ma


$ Indicaties that accent and/or tone may be different, perhaps related to region and/or dialect. For 'farahã' and 'fulanzam' there is no consistency between sources regarding tone:
farahã : r(a) (1, 4), ra ã (13)
fulanzam : fu lan zam (1), fu lan zam (4)
Zarma English Pronunciation [1]
alfazar, alfazaro dawn, daybreak; first prayer call al fa zar
bankaaray, bankaara clothing ban kaa ray
baaru, baaro
[(H: labaari, labaaro)
news, information, story, history baa ru
  (la baa ri)
baytu, bayto hymn, religious song bay tu
bine sare, bine sara grief, sorrow bi ne re
coro, cora close friend co ro
daama (H) time; advantage
(see Practical idiomatic winks)
daa ma
dooni, doono song doo ni,
farahã joy ra $
fooyaŋ, fooyaŋo
  [hooyaŋ, hooyaŋo]
hunting fôô yaŋ, fôô yaŋ o
fufule, furfula humidity, heat; hot weather fu fu le
gaabi, gaabo strength gaa bi
gawayyaŋ, gawayyaŋo hunting (as a professio)n ga way yaŋ,
ga way yaŋ o
hargu, hargo cold weather or season, cold (dry not moist) har gu
hasaraw, hasara ruin, spoilage sa raw
malafa (malfa) gun ma la fa
sandurku, sandorko wooden box, crate san dur ku
tuuri, tuuro wood; tree; plant of any kind tuu ri
wa milk wa
wayno, wayna sun way no
yeeni, yeeno cold, coldness (moist, not dry) yee ni



Indicaties that accent and/or tone may be different, perhaps related to region and/or dialect. For 'farahã' there are no consistency between sources regarding tone :
farahã : r(a) (1, 4), ra ã (13)

Adverbs, adjectives, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation [1]
bambata, bambata
(not pred. adj.)
very large, very big, huge bam ba ta
dungu, dunga (adj.) hot dun go
dunguriyo, dunguriyo, dunguriya * (adj.) short; few dun gu ri yo
gani, gani, gano * (adj.) fresh, uncooked, raw ga ni
gumo (adj.) very, very much gu mo
koroŋ (pred. adj.) hot; warm ko roŋ
mooru, mooro (adj.) sour moo ru
sabbese (conj.) because of, on account of sab be se
taray (adv.) outside, openly ray
yeeni, yeeni, yeeno * (adj.) cold, cool, healed, coolness; rheumatism yee ni
zeen, zeeno, zeena * (adj.) old zeen, zee no
Notes :  
* 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.

[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

13.C. Practical idiomatic winks

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The following three topics are discussed:

  1. The use of daama
  2. The additional meanings of te
  3. The use and spelling of don and baytu

The use of daama

Daama refers to time and improvement. Some examples of the uses of dama are given in the next table.
Zarma English
Da ni di daama ni ma kaa ay banda. If it seems good to you to come with me.
Amma da ni mana di daama ni ma kaa ay banda but if it seems bad to you to come with me, don’t
Ay te daama*1. I 'm better (after illness).
Ay mana te daama*1. I 'm no better.
ay bine sara day si te daama my grief is not subsided / assuaged.
Ay sinda daama kaŋ ga hay fo te. I don't have time to do something.
I don't have opportunity to do something.
It is not convenient for me to do something.
Daama s' ay se. I don't have time.
I 'm too busy.
I ga du daama ka ye noodin. They will have time to return.
Ay du daama (...). I got a change (to ...)
   *1 see 'te' for explanation of the use of this verb.


The additional meanings of te

The Zarma verb 'te' (to make, to do, to happen, see Lesson 3) also means 'to become' and 'to be worthy' or 'to satisfy'. The use of 'te' in these senses is shown in the next table.
Zarma English
to become
Ay ga te daama. I will become better.
Ay te daama. I have become better, i.e. I'm better.
Ni te beeri. You have become big.
to satisfy
Siini afolloŋ ga te boro kulu se. A single razor will do for all persons.
Leemu beeri boobo si no, amma leemu ga te iri se. There are not many oranges, but limes will do for us.


The use and spelling of doonu and baytu

The word 'doonu' is also written as 'doon' or 'don' (and 'dooni' as 'doni'), while 'baytu' is sometimes written as 'beytu'.

When speaking of singing hymns, 'baytu' is correct rather than 'doonu' or 'te dooni'. Both words are used as verb as well as noun.

Zarma English
Wa sifa yaŋ baytu te Irikoy se Sing praises for God
A ga waani doonu jinay karyaŋ gumo He is skillful in playing (an instrument)
I m' a doon da moolo beeri karyaŋ To sing to the accompaniment of stringed instruments.
Dawda hẽeno kaŋ a te baytu Rabbi se, Benyamin bora Kus boŋ Lamentation of David he sang for the Lord with respect to what Koch of Benjaminit had said.
     Sources: http://etabetapi.com and http://visionneuse.free.fr


13.D. Grammar

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Subjects in this lesson:

  1. The prefix 'i' on adjectives
  2. Reciprocal pronouns
  3. Idiomatic expression for weather and climate

13.D.1. The prefix 'i' on adjectives

The prefix 'i' is used on adjectives in case we use a predicate adjective with the verb 'no' (to be) or when we want to give the adjective the force of a pronoun.

As predicative adjective with the verb 'no'

We have seen how to form predicate adjectives with the particle "ga" intervening between the subject and the adjective (see Lesson 5.D.2). Exactly the same meaning is given prefixing 'i' to the adjective directly after the subject, and using 'no' at the end of the clause for a verb. This also works where one has adjectives which cannot be used with 'ga'.

Zarma English
Mooto bambata kaa. A big truck game.
Mooto ibambata no. 1 It 's a big truck.
The truck is big.
Boro boobo go no. There are many people.
Iboobo no They are many.
Fu kayna kaŋ a ra iri go, a si boori. The small house in which we are, it is not pretty.
Fuwo kaŋ a ra iri go, ikayna no. The house in which we are, it is small.
Daari dunguriya go taray. The short bed is outside.
Daaro kan ay day bi, idunguriyo no. The bed which I bought yesterday, it is short.
Daaro ga dunguriyo. The bed is short.
Daaro idunguriyo no. The bed is short.

     1 'Mooto ga bambata' is incorrect, 'bambata' cannot be used as predicative adjective. 

As pronouns

When the noun antecedent is clear from the context, the adjective with the prefix 'i' has the force of a pronoun, meaning:    "the / a + adjective + one / once".

It may be indefinite singular form with the addition of 'fo', the indefinite plural, and both definite forms, as well as having 'din' or 'dini' demonstrative suffix.

Zarma English
Kande ay fula. Icira kaŋ go ni jerga. Bring my hat, the red one which is beside you.
Ay mana di a, amma iboogu fo go tablo boŋ. I don't see it, but a green one is on the table.
Ni di dungurey kaŋ i ga neera habo ra, wala? Ikuukuey dini ga bisa cindey. Did you see the beans which they sell in the market? Those long ones are better than the others.
Borey dumi boobo go no nduɲɲa ra; ikuuku yaŋ nd' idunguri yaŋ; ihanno yaŋ nd' ifutu yaŋ; ibi yaŋ nd' ikwaaray yaŋ. There are many kinds of people in the world; tall ones and short ones;  good ones and bad ones; black ones and white ones.


13.D.2. Reciprocal pronouns

In English, reciprocal pronouns express mutual relations; each other, one another, together.

In Zarma there is only one such pronoun 'care' which works in the same way. It is used only with the plural pronouns and the prepositions of the reference are 'nda' (with), 'se' (to , for), 'banda' (after, with) and 'ra' (in, into).

Zarma English
I si ba ngey nda care.
I si ba care.
They do no like each other.
Iri ga ba care. We love each other.
I na  nooru fay ngey nda care. They divide the money with each other. 1
Araŋ doonu care se, wala? Did you sing to each other?
Iri ga salaŋ care se. We will talk to each other
Iri ga salaŋ ir nda cara game ra We talk amongst ourselves.
Iri te farahã nda care.
Iri farahã nda care
We rejoiced with one another.
I go ga care kar. They were hitting each other.
I ne care se; wodin si boori. They said one to another, that is not good.
Iri ma koy care banda. Let us go together.
Iri ga goy care banda. We work together.
Hayey kaŋ borey ŋgey nd' almaney margan care ra? What is common to man and animal?
       1 If a noun has a general sense Zarma use the indefinite form

The combination 'care banda' is sometimes written as one word ('cerebanda'), sometimes the last "a" is written and spoken as an "e" (cere bande, cerebande). We also find 'cere banda' in written text.


Idiomatic expression for weather and climate

We here provide a list of useful idiomatic expressions when you have a chat with someone about the weather.

Zarma English
Hargu te. It became cold.
Wayna ga koroŋ The sun is hot.
It is hot.
Wayna fun. The sun rose.
Wayna kaŋ. The sun has set.
Fufule go no. It is sticky hot.
Fufule te. It became hot and humid.
Yeeni te. It became cool.
Beene hari kaŋ. It rained.
Beene hari kaa. It rained.
Hari kaa. It is raining.
Hari ko. It has stopped raining.
Beene ga hanan. The sky is clear.
Beene ga say. The clouds are breaking away.
Beene ga hirri. The clouds are rolling up.
Beene ga ziibi. The sky is dark with rain clouds.
A go no ga dundu. It is thundering.
(The rumble, not the initial crack)


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Last updated: 20 Januari, 2016