Lesson 13.
Borey nda dabbey marksina

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


13.A. Intro

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 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. 

Borey nda dabbey marksina

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 tukey ŋgey boŋ gaa koyne.
I gonda boŋ, londo goy, i wone boŋey ra.
I gonda hanga, i gonda hinji, i gonda teli.
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 corotarey bambata, marksiney bambata,
a go borey ngey nda almaney game ra.

Araŋ go ga di, waliyey kaŋ fatkoyey no, kaŋ boro kulu si bay nangu gaa i ga fun, naney bambata kaŋ furo ngey nda Kaadey game ra.

Watikulu, 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 wato te, kala watikan 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 dey hawo n i doori, i ma i sambu ka ye bene koyne.

Wone naney bambata no.
Zama borey go ga di, watikulu kaŋ se no, i di waliyey 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 labari nokoy no. Wodin se, ŋgey mo, a ga hima corotarey bambata ka bara ŋgey nda Kaadey game ra.

nkaago = Balearica pavonina [black crowned-crane]

Kala watikan se kaydiya ban,
ni ma kaa ka garu, i go ga ye

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. Watifo no waliyey ga kaa ka zumbu?


  1. xxx
  2. xxx

13.B. Vocabulary
  1. Verbs
  2. Nouns
  3. Adjectives, adverbs, 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.

13.B.1 Verbs
Zarma English Pronunciation
kay to stop [motion], to stand [not to rise], be upright and stationary k ay
naŋ to leave, to let alone, to quit, to cease naŋ
cetu to throw away from, to lance ce / tu
furu to throw out, to throw away, to abandon, to discard, to abort, to toss fu/ ru
fo [ho] *1 to hunt [game] f [h]
hay to shoot [with weapon: bow, gun, spear], to aim at, to hit [large object aimed at] ha y
beytu [beytu te] *1 to sing a hymn bey / tu
[don, dooni te] *1
to sing [any song]
[sara, te hasara] *1
to spoil [intransitive] ; to spoil, to ruin; to waste [transitive] ha sa / ra
dooru to pour out carefully or slowly, to run out or down, to trickle doo / ru
farhan to rejoice fr han [nasal]
te dama to become better, improved te d ma
du dama to get a change, to have an opportunity du da / ma
ba to be abundant, numerous, a lot b
fulanzam to rest, to breathe, to take a vacation,
to breathe in
fu lan / zam

*1 [...] = synonym


13.B.2 Nouns
Zarma English Pronunciation
wa milk w
farhan joy fr / han
fufule, furfula humidity, heat; hot weather fu fu le
yeni, yeno cold, coldness [moist, not dry] y ni
gawey hunting as a profession g wey
malafa [malfa] gun ma / la fa
foyan [hoyan] hunting f yan
gabi, gabo strength g bi
tuuri, tuuro wood; tree; plant of any kind tu / ri
beytu, beyto hymn, religious song bey / tu
dooni, doono song d / ni
sandurku, sandorko wooden box, crate san dur / ku
bine sare, bine sara grief, sorrow bi ne  s / re
wayno, wayna sun way / no
coro, cora close friend co / ro
dama [H] refers to heath and time
[see Practical idiomatic winks]
d ma [H]
bankaarey clothing ban / ka rey
hargu, hargo cold weather or season, cold [dry not moist] har / gu
Alfazar, Alfazaro dawn, daybreak; first prayer call al fa zar
baru, baro
[H: labari, labaro]
news, information, story, history ba ru
hasaraw ruin, spoilage ha sa raw


13.B.3 Adjectives, adverbs, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation
zen, zeno, zena * (adjective) old znzn o
moru, moro (adjective) sour m / ru, mo / ro
gani, gani, gano * (adjective) fresh, uncooked, raw ga / ni
koroŋ (predicate adjective) hot, warm [only, n final] kor /
dungu, dunguruo (adjective) short, hot dun / gu
/ gu ru o
yey, yeni, yeno * (adjective) cold, cool, healed, coolness, rheumatism yey
bambata, bambata
(not predicate adjective)
very large, very big, huge bam ba / ta
gumo (adjective) very, very much gu / mo
tarey (adverb) outside, openly ta ray
sabbese (conjunction) because of, on account of sab be / se

(*) 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.



13.C Practical idiomatic winks

The following three topics are discussed:



Dama (Lesson 13: refers to heath and time)

Some examples of the uses of dama are given in the next table.



Ay te dama*1. I 'm better (after illness).
Ay mana te dama*1. I 'm no better.
Ay sinda dama kan 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.
Dama s' ay se. I don't have time.
I 'm too busy.
Ay du dama (...). I got a change (to ...)

*1 see "te" for explanation of the use of this verb.



Te (Lesson 3: to make, to do, to happen)

The Zarma verb "te" also means "to become" and "to be worthy" or "to satisfy". The use of "te" in these senses is shown in the next table.



to become
Ay ga te dama. I will become better.
Ay te dama. I have become better, i.e. I'm better.
Ni te beri. You have become big.
to satisfy
Sini afollon ga te boro kulu se. A single razor will do for all persons.
Lemu beri bobo si no, amma lemu ga te iri se. There are not many oranges, but limes will do for us.



Don - beytu (Lesson 13: to sing)

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

When speaking of singing hymns, beytu is correct rather than don or te doni. Both words (beytu and don) are used as verb as well as noun, see examples from the Bible in Zarma.

Zarma [spelling used visionneuse.free.fr] English
I m' a doon da moolo beeri karyaŋ. [PSA, 4;1] To sing to the accompaniment of stringed instruments.
Dawda hẽeno kaŋ a te baytu Rabbi se, Benyamin bora Kus boŋ. [PSA 7;1] Lamentation of David he sang for the Lord with respect to what Koch of Benjaminit had said.



Return to the top of the page

13.D. Grammar

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".



Moto bambata kaa. A big truck game.
Moto ibambata no. 1 It 's a big truck.
The truck is big.
Boro bobo go no. There are many people.
Ibobo no They are many.
Fu kayna kan a ra iri go, a si bori. The small house in which we are, it is not pretty.
Fuwo kan a ra iri go, ikanyna no. The house in which we are, it is small.
Dari dunguriya go tarey. The short bed is outside.
Daro kan ay day bi, idunguriyo no. The bed which I bought yesterday, it is short.
Daro ga dunguriyo. The bed is short.
Daro idunguriyo no. The bed is short.

1 "Moto 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 kan go ni jerga. Bring my hat, the red one which is beside you.
Ay mana di a, amma ibogu fo go tablo boŋ. I don't see it, but a blue one is on the table.
Ni di dungurey kan i ga neera habo ra, wala? Ikukueydini ga bisa cindey. Did you see the beans which they sell in the market? Those long ones are better than the others.
Borey dumi bobo go no ndunya ra; ikukuyan nd' idunguriyan; ihannoyan nd' ifutuyan; ibiyan nd' ikwaarayan. 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 "cere" 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 cere.
I si ba cere.
They do no like each other.
Iri ga ba cere. We love each other.
I na  nooru fay ngey nda cere. They divide the money with each other. *1
Araŋ doonu cere se, wala? Did you sing to each other?
Iri ga salan cere se. We will talk to each other
Iri ga salan ir nda cera game ra We talk amongst ourselves.
Iri te farhan nda cere.
Iri farhan nda cere
We rejoiced with one another.
I go ga cere kar. They were hitting each other.
I ne cere se; wodin si bori. They said one to another, that is not good.
Iri ma koy cere banda. Let us go together.
Iri ga goy cere banda. We work together.
Hayey kaŋ borey ŋgey nd' almaney margan cere ra? What is common to man and animal?

*1 If a noun has a general sense Zarma use the indefinite form

The combination "cere 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 "care banda" in written text (see Lesson 9)


13.D.3. Idiomatic expressions for weather or 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 kaŋ. The sun has set.
Fufule go no. It is sticky hot.
Fufule te. It became hot and humid.
Yeni te. It became cool.
Bene hari kaŋ. It rained.
Bene hari kaa. It rained.
Hari kaa. It is raining.
Hari ko. It has stopped raining.
Bene ga hanan. The sky is clear.
Bene ga say. The clouds are breaking away.
Bene ga hirri. The clouds are rolling up.
A go no ga dundu. It is thundering.
(The rumble, not the initial crack)
Wayna fun. The sun rose.
Bene ga sibi. The sky is dark with rain clouds.




Last updated: 07 februari 2012