Lesson 9. Coro hinza

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


9.A. Intro

The text presented in this introduction is the beginning of a fable about three animals who are friends. It is a text distributed by the Mission évangélique Baptiste in Niamey, Niger, probably somewhere in the '70 of the previous century.

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.

Coro hinza

Ay jandi-jandi! Ay naamay-naamay! Wato coro hinza go no: Do-ize da Korboto da Sorbo mo.
I ga koy nangu kulu care banda ; i ga te hay kulu care banda.

Han fo Korboto ne: “Sohon kan haro ye isa ra, hambara boro ga du fotoforo. Iri ma birji sambu ka koy ceeci.” Sorbo ne: “Oho, iri ma koy! Ay ga tabbat kan ibobo go no.” Do-ize ne: “Kaa iri ma koy; iri si jaŋ ka du.”

I sobay ka koy care banda. I ne boro fo ma si afo jin, zama da yadin no, kulu i corotaray ga sara.
I to haro me. Korboto ne: “To, Do-ize. Dahir no iri kaa ka birji, amma ay diyan ga iri hima ka guna ka di hala haro ga gusu; wodin banda hala fotoforoyan go no. D ’i si no, kala iri ma koy nangu fo. Da haro gusu mo, kala iri ma koy ya haray.

photo of fisherman throughing out his net

Sorko go ga birji jindaw haro ra

picture of leaflet of fable about coro hinza

Koptotira nda coro hinza jando.

a) Mate coro hinze maa?
b) Ifo n'i ga te nda birji?

a) xxx
b) xxx


9.B. Vocabulary
  1. Verbs
  2. Nouns
  3. Interrogative Words
  4. 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.

9.B.1 Verbs
Zarma English Pronunciation
tun to get up, to rise, to begin (work action) tu n
salan to speak, to utter words sa lan
salan … bon to talk about (not gossip however) salan … bon
te adduwa (H) to pray (in general) te  ad du / wa
alfatiyan te (A) to pray (personal request) al / ti yan  te
kubay to meet, to encounter ku / bey
ga ti to be (linking verbs; identifiers) gâ ti
(usually pronounced as "kâ ci")
ci to tell (rarely "to say") ci
jandi to tell a fable  


9.B.2 Nouns
Zarma English Pronunciation
do, da grasshopper, locust, cricket do
karga chair (formerly "throne", as only chiefs had a wooden seat with a back; others had stools) kar / ga
Yesu Almasihu
Missionary name for Jesus
Jesus Christ
Ye / su
jingar Moslem recited "prayers"; Moslem religious holiday, by extension any holiday jin / gar
Rabbi Lord or Jehovah Rab / bi
jingarey, jingara mosque, Moslem place of prayer jin ga rey
adduwa (H) prayer (in general) ad du / wa
alfatiya (A) prayer (personal request, not recited) al fa ti ya
yaw, yawo stranger, guest, foreigner yawyaw / o
dumi, dumo kind, sort; colour; tribe du / mi , du / mo
diraw, dirawo walking  
fondo, fonda path, road, way (like French 'chemin') fon / do
kusu, kuso pan, cooking pot  
jandi, jando fable, fairy tale, riddle jan di
zaari, zaaro ill-will za ri


9.B.3 Interrogative Words
Zarma English Pronunciation
ifo (pronoun) what i / fo
ifo se (adverb) what for, why i / fo se
may (pronoun) who may
man (adverb) where man
mate (adverb) how (rarely what) ma / te
wofo (pronoun or adjective) which wo / fo
marge (pronoun or adjective) how much, how many mar ge


9.B.4 Adjectives, adverbs, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation
bi, bi, biyo (*) black bibi yo
kwaare, kwaare, kwaara(*) white kwâ / re
ciray, ciray, cira (*) red (sometimes brown, dark yellow, etc.) ci  / rey
sey, sey, seyo (*) yellow sey , sey / o
bogu, bogu, boga (*) blue, green / gu
ganda (adjective) lower, under gan / da
ganda (adverb) below, down gan / da
kaan, kaano, kaana (*) agreeable, pleasing, good tasting kaa n , kaan o
kaan .. se pleases  
cere (pronoun) together (shows reciprocal relations) ce / re
kubayni welcome (greeting)  

(*) 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.



9.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 and about the greetings that may be used after the initial "hello" and the inquiry about their night or day. The previous lesson we learned about market talks.
This lesson we'll learn say goodbye and to welcome someone.

  1. When one leaves on a trip
    One person leaving
    stay-behind Irikoy ma kande nin da baano. May God take you safely.
    traveller Amin! Amen!
    More than one person leaving
    stay-behind Irikoy ma kande araŋ da baano. May God take you safely.
    travellers Amin! Amen!
    General use
    stay-behind Irikoy m’iri cabe cere da baani. May God show us each health.
    traveller Amin! Amen!

  2. To someone who returns, or arrives from a trip
    stay-behind Fonda diraw. Greeting to your walking.
    traveller Ngoyya. (thank you)
  3. Upon arrival of a welcome guest
    stay-behind Kubayni! Welcome!
      option 1 A ga kaan yaw se. It is pleasant to a guest.
      option 2 Yaw si kubay zaari. A guest doesn’t encounter ill-will.

9.D. Grammar

Subjects in this lesson:

  1. Interrogative
  2. Use of "ga ti"  
  3. Use of "hay kulu" and "hay fo
  4. Indirect discourse

9.D.1. Interrogative

Direct questions other than those expecting "yes" or "no" are introduced by the interrogative word, just as they are in English, see examples accompanying. Note well that usually the interrogative word must be followed by the verb "no" (to be) before the rest of the question is put.

Zarma English
Ifo no wo? What is this?
Ifo se no ni kaa Niger laabu? Why did you come to Niger?
May velo no? Whose bike is it?
May no? Who is it?
Man mota? Where is the car?
Mate ni go? How are you?
Feji nda hincin, wofo ni ga ba? Which do you prefer a sheep or a goat
Marge no? How much is it?

There are two exceptions to the interrogative word coming first. The first exceptions occurs when "marge" and "wofo" are used as adjectives. In that case they follow the noun they modify.

Zarma English
Dela marge ni g’ ay no? How many delas will you give me?
Boro wofo no ka ni ce? *1 Which man called you?

*1 Use of "ka" is discussed below

The second exception is not obligator. In asking a person to repeat information that one has not heard correctly the first time, the proper interrogative word is sometimes placed at the end of the sentence, in order to emphasise the thing one wishes to repeat. Voice emphasis is used as well.

Zarma English
A koy man? He went where?
Ni di may? You saw whom?
I ne ifo? They said what?

The interrogative "wofo" (which) is often shortened to "fo", in which case you must pay particular attention to the tone to distinguish it from the shortened form of "afo" (one), which is also "fo". "Which" drops down, whereas "one" is always up.

Zarma (long) Zarma (short) English
Kusu wofo n’ a day? Kusu fo n’ a day? Which pot did she buy?
Fondo wofo no ga to Dosso? Fondo fo no ga to Dosso? Which road lead to Dosso?
Han wofo ni ga kaa? Han fo ni ga kaa? Which day you will come?
Han afo ni ga kaa. Han fo ni ga kaa. Some day you will come.

The interrogative pronoun "who" (may), "what" (ifo), "which" (wofo) have plural forms as follows:

Zarma English
Mayyan no woneyan kan go kaa yongo? Who are those (people) who are coming yonder?
Mayyan woneyan kan go yongo? Whose (plural owners) are those (things) that are yonder?
Ifoyan no hayeydini kan araŋ ga di ne? What are these things which you see here?
Wofoyan ga ti ni berey boreydin kuna? Which ones of those people are your older (brothers or sisters)?
Boro wofoyan no woneyan? Which men are these?
Mayyan fejiyan no woneyan? Whose sheep are these? (plural owners)
Sanni wofo dumiyan n’a go no ga ci? What kind of words is he speaking?

When any of the interrogative pronouns are used as a subject in the past tense, "ka" must be used before the principle verb. If there is a direct object before the verb, "ka" replaces the "na".

Zarma English
May no k’ a neera ni se? Who sold it to you?
May no ka kaa? Who was it that came?
Ifo no ka te? What happened?
Marge no ka cindi? How much was left over?
Boro wofo no ka kaa? Which person came?
Wofo no ni ba? Which one did you want?
("ni" is the subject here)

The Zarma word "man" usually means "where". But "man" is used idiomatically in greetings to mean "how" sometimes.

Zarma English
Man ni fuwo go? Where is your home?
Man ni fu? How is your household?
Man ni izey go? Where are your children?
Man ni izey? How are your children?
or: Mate ni izey go? How are your children?

9.D.2. Use of "ga ti"

The government’s regulation on how it is to be spelled notwithstanding, this verb is usually pronounced by Zarmas as "kaci".

It is translated by the present forms of the verb "to be". It has the effect that the predicate identifies the subject. It is a linking verb with the same function in it's sentence that "no" has at the end of the sentence; it is fully interchangeable with "no", except for position.

Zarma Zarma alternative English
Rabbi Yesu ne: Ay ga ti fonda. Rabbi Yesu ne: Ay ya fonda no. The lord Jesus said,
"I am the way". *1
Ni ga ti may no? Ni ya may no? You are whom?
Idde ga ti Sanda izo. Idde Sanda izo no. Idde is Sanda’s son.
Ifo ga ti hayadin? Ifo no hayadin? What is that thing?

*1 Quotation marks are not used in Zarma for simplicity’s sake.


9.D.3. Use of "hay fo" and "hay kulu"

One may say "nothing" with a negative construction by using either "hay fo" or "hay kulu".

Zarma English
A mana te hay kulu. He didn’t do anything.*1
A mana te hay fo. He didn’t do a thing.*1
Ifo go ni se? Hay kulu. What do you have? Nothing.
Ifo go ni se? Manti hay fo. What do you have? Nothing.

*1 They both wind up meaning, "He did nothing"

9.D.4 Indirect discourse

Direct discourse describes the direct reporting of what someone said in another context. It is usually marked by quotes, e.g.: He said: "I will come". Indirect discourse consists of reporting such statements indirectly, without using quotes, involving a readjustment of the original sentence to a new point of view, e.g.: He said that he would come.".

In Zarma in indirect quotation no connecting conjunction ("that") is necessary.

Zarma English
A ne ni n’ a cabe inga se. He said that you showed it to him.
I ci i fatta ngey laabo ra, zaaro ra kan iri di ey. They told that they left their country the day that we saw them.

Last updated: 18 maart 2012