Lesson 10.
Boro gahamo

  1. Intro
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Greetings
  4. Grammar
  5. Exercises


10.A. Intro

Boro gahamo

Explore the human body and learn the Zarma words for most parts of the body and many organs.
To enlarge a drawing, move the pointer to the drawing of interest and click the left mouse button.
Read the text below the picture. Each picture has a mirror image that enables you to practice your Zarma knowledge. By clicking on the last line text below the picture you can easily switch between these two.

Some Zarma words may be used for different body parts. For example "ce" is used for "leg" but also for the different parts of the leg, "thigh", "shin" and "foot". For some body parts there are synonyms, e.g. both "jesse" and "jase" mean "shoulder" and "upper arm".

drawing of man to show all body parts

a male  body

drawing of man to show all parts of the face drawing of woman to show all parts of the body

a female body

drawing of man to show all internal parts of the body

a male body inside

drawing of woman to show all parts of the face drawing of woman to show all internal parts of the body

a female body inside



10.B. Vocabulary
  1. Verbs
  2. Nouns
  3. Adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, etc.

Open the Pronunciation Guide in new window

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.

10.B.1 Verbs
Zarma English Pronunciation
hina to cook hi / na
funa to live, to be alive (not to reside) fu / na
fakare to converse, to visit f k / re
naney # to trust, to have confidence na / ney
naney ... ga to trust in, to rely on
lordi to order, to command [corrupted French, from l'ordre] lor / di
sobay to continue, to go ahead (not physically necessarily), to keep going s bey /
yadda to agree, to consent, to approve yad / da
taa to receive, to accept, to take t
naŋ to permit, to let, to leave, to leave off naŋ
zey to steal, to rob (usually owner absent) zey
haggoy to be careful, to be careful of, to look out for, to watch out hag goy /
ηwaaray to beg, to ask insistently, to plead ŋwa / rey
bisa # to go past, to be better than, to be preferable, to exceed b sa
hima # to resemble, to be fitting hi / ma
nama to bite nam a /
yafa to forgive y fa /
fiti to open fi ti /
yari to take care of; to keep, to hold

# signifies verb that take the direct object afterwards, see Lesson 2.C.1 & 3.D.5


10.B.2 Nouns
Zarma English Pronunciation
ciri, ciro salt ci / ri
buru, buro bread bu / ru
ji, jiyo grease, oil, rendered fat jiji / yo
haw ji, haw jiyo butter ha w  ji
fobu, fobo clay water pot, earthenware jar; by extension water jug f / bu
fakara conversation, visit fa ka ra
ibar, ibaro enemy i ba re
tali, talo wrong, error, mistake, fault (blameworthy) ta / li
naney, naneyo trustworthiness n / ney
zey, zeyo thief, robber z eyzey o
lordi, lordo commandment, order lor / di


10.B.3 Adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation
tilas (adverb; noun) necessity, must, should ti / las
ce ga (adverb) afoot ce ga
watikan (conjunction) whenever, when [in general in future] wa ti kan /
doŋ (conjunction) then [in that case], therefore [rarely] do ŋ
do (preposition) [extra meaning:] by means of do
hala (prepositional uses; precedes object) until, till, to the time that, as far as h / la
yadin (conjunction) thus, so [French "ainsi"] y / din
zama (conjunctival uses in references to time) so that, in order that za ma
zama (conjunctival uses with subjunctive) so that, in order that za ma
jerga (preposition) beside, alongside jer ga
walla (interjection) oath used by most Zarmas, at the end of many statements, not realy requiring an oath. Means "by God", short for "wallahi" [I swear by God]. Learn to distinguish it from "wala" [or]; up on my word, forsooth wal / la



10.C. Greeting (foyan)

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, about the greetings that may be used after the initial "hello" and the inquiry about their night or day and about market talks. The previous lesson we learned to say goodbye and to welcome someone. This is the last lesson about greetings and special attention is given to the often used "Barka".

  1. After a visit
    One person leaving
    person A Fonda fakara (Greeting with the conversation / visit)
    person B Ngoyya. (Thanks.)

  2. Condolence
    person A Fonda tilas (Greetings with the necessity.)
    person B Tilas no. (It is a necessity.)
  3. The return of someone
    stay-behind Barka. Blessings.
      option 1 Barka dey  

      option 2

    A s'ibarey ga. Not for the enemies.
      option 3 Barka si n'ibarey ga. No blessings for the enemies.
      option 4 Barka s'ibar ga. No blessings for an enemy.

The correctly answer when quickly spoken is not "a si barka".

In general, any greeting beginning with a "Barka" uses one of these replies. The first is best and probably most commonest. If you do not wish to refuse blessings on your enemies, you should say: "Ba ni ibarey ga", i.e. "Even on your enemies".


10.D. Grammar

Subjects in this lesson:

  1. Subjunctive
  2. Verb forms in conditional sentences 

10.D.1. Subjunctive

The subjunctive mood is used to express the speaker's attitude about the likely hood or factuality of a given situation. This is not actual action, but possible action. The subjunctive in Zarma is formed with the particle "ma" in the regular place for an auxiliary (particle). The following examples are some of its uses. In English an infinitive is used in many of these places.

There are six situations in which the subjunctive mood is used in Zarma, these are when:



Expressing a desire

You may express a desire with the verb "ba" (to desire, to want, to like). The subjunctive is only used when "ba" expresses a desire and not in other cases. Contrary to the English grammar, the infinitive takes its own subject, though we do not translate it with a separate subject.


Zarma English
Ay ga ba ay ma koy fu suba. I want to go home tomorrow
Literally: I want that I go home tomorrow.
A si ba nga izo ma goy ne. He doesn't want his child to work here.



Admonishing against something

The subjunctive is used when admonishing a person against a thing which might happen.

Zarma English
Haggoy*1 a ma si kaŋ ni boŋ! Take care it doesn't fall on your head!
Guna ay se i ma s' ay zey! Watch out for me they don't robe me!

*1 Haggoy is imperative mood (see Lesson 11.D.2)



Consenting, forbidding, ect.

After verbs of consenting, forbidding, asking, commanding, etcetera the subjunctive mood is used in Zarma.

Zarma English
Ay si naŋ i m' a te yadin. I won't allow it to be done thus.
I mana yadda a ma koy. They wouldn't agree for him to go.
Iri si taa i ma kond' a. We won't accept for them to take him away.
Ay n' a ηwaaray a m' ay no dela. I begged him to give me a dela (five francs).
Iri ci a se a ma sobay hal' a kulu ma ban. We told him to continue until it's all finished.



Impersonal verbs

After many impersonal verbs the subjunctive is used as well.

Zarma English
Tilas ay ma koy sohon. I must go now.
A ga tilas ay ma koy sohon. It is necessary to me to go now.
A bisa iri ma s' a ŋwa. We 'd better not eat it.
A ga hima ni ma talo yaf' a se. You ought to forgive him the fault.
(Literally: It will be fitting [if] you forgive him the fault.)
Ni ga hima ka talo yaf' a se. You ought to forgive him the fault.
(Literally: You will be fitting to forgive him the fault.)



Conjunctions "hala" and "zama"

After the conjunctions "hala" and "zama" when they mean "so that" or "in order that" the subjunctive mood is used in Zarma.

Zarma English
Ay ga  nooru ceci hal' ay ma day ŋwari. I will seek money in order that I may buy food.
I na hanso wi zama a ma si boro fo nama koyne. They killed the dog so that he won't bite anyone anymore.



Asking to do or to don't

When asking a question as to whether the speaker should do some action or not, the subjunctive form is used. There is an idiom for this type of sentence too. The personal pronoun "ay" and the auxiliary "ma" may be jointed together to "ya".

Zarma English
Ay ma furo? I should enter?
Ya furo?  
Ay ma kande gunguri, wala? Should I bring eggs?
Ya kande gunguri, wala?  


10.D.2. Verb forms in conditional sentences

The subjunctive mood is not used in conditional sentences, but rather the indicative. However, in complex sentences beginning with an "if" clause, the verb in this clause has the past (completed) tense form. Whereas the verb in the principle clause has the present future (non-completed) form, regardless of what tenses these clauses really represent to us. This may be because the action of the "if" clause must always be completed before the action of the "therefore" clause can happen.

English Zarma
Combination of two past tenses
If I had known it was he, then I should not have left. Nd'a y bay nga no, doŋ ay si dira
If rain had not come this year, then there would have been no grain. Nda hari mana kaa haran, doŋ hayni si te.
Combination of past en future
Even though he robed me, I will trust him. Ba a n' ay zey, ay ga naney a ga.
If they have kept my word, they will keep your word. Nd' i n' ay sanno yari, i g' araŋ sanno yari.
Combination of present and future
If I don't get it done today, I'll get it tomorrow. Nd' ay mana du a hunkuna, ay ga du a suba.
Combination of two future tenses
I'm going to town. If I'll see Kimba, I'll tell him to come to you. Ay ga koy kwaara. Nd'ay di Kimba, ay ga ci a se a ma kaa ni do.
If I'll finish it, I'll bring it Nd' ay n' a ban, ay ga kand'a.



Last updated: 11 maart 2012