Lesson 8. Yantala habu

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


8.A. Intro

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. Boreydin ga ne a se Yantala habu, a beri no. Alfazar hab 'izey ga kaa.
I kande hayey bobo kan i ga neera. Hab' izey go no kan ga neera salati da tomatiyan da jiney kulu kan ga fun kali ra. Hab 'izey mo go no kan ga guuru jiney neera; i ga neera zaamayan da kalmayan da addayan.

photo of women on the road to the market

Wayborey go ga koy habo.

photo of ironmongery on the market

Guuru jiney go habu ra.

Hunkuna Daouda go ga koy Yantala habu. A ga ba ga zaama kaan day kan ga hayni wi. A ga hab'ize bay kan ga zaama kanu neera, amma zaama ga cada.  Daouda sinda  nooru bobo, 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 ceci. Hemaro go ga kaa. Bene hari kaŋ, hayni ga bori 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. Dela waranka ay g' a neera ni se, zama ni ya ay cora no.
Daouda Haba? A ga cada. Baani, zab ay se.
Hama A mana cada. To, ay ga dela fo kaa.
Daouda Albarka! Ay g' a ceci nangu woyongo.
Hama Ni ma kaa!  nooru marge no ni se?
Daouda Dela wey cindi taci.
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.

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

a) xxx
b) xxx


8.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.

8.B.1 Verbs
Zarma English Pronunciation
kaa to remove, to take away kaa
bay to know (both savoir and connaître) bay
darey to get lost, to go astray, to be mistaken / rey
gay to be a long time; to stay a long time, to delay (intransitive) gay (short diphthong)
gay to hold back, to delay, to stop (transitive) gay (long diphthong)
sinda to be without, to not have (antonym of "gonda") sin / da


8.B.2 Nouns
Zarma English Pronunciation
dela [also dala] unit of 5 francs in counting money / la  [/ la ]
katibi unit of 5 francs in counting money kâ ti bi
 nooru, nooro money no / ru
gondi, gondo (~) snake gon / di
(~) pronounce like gwun / di
lemu (F) lime (fruit of Citrus aurantifolia, F = "limon"); orange le / mu
lemu beri, lemu bero orange (fruit of Citrus sinensis; literally big "limon") le / mu  be / ri
lemu kayniyo, lemu kayna lemon (fruit of Citrus limon; literally small ‘limon’) le / mu  kay na
albassan, albassano onion al bas / san
mo rice mo (sliding up tone)
haamo guinea corn / mo
alkama wheat al ka / ma
kolkoti, kolkoto corn, maize kol / ko ti
labtanda one variety of squash
(genus Cucurbita)
lab tan / da
dunguri, dunguro bean dun gu / ri
gunguri, gunguro egg gun / gu ri
guri, guro egg (short form of "gunguri") gu ri
boro bi native of Africa, Negroid type (lit. black person) bo / ro  bi (sliding down tone)
anasara European or other lighter skinned person whose tribal name isn’t known. Could mean Chinese. In short not "boro bi". à na / ra
jara extra stuff given to a buyer in the market, gift jâ ra


8.B.3 Adjectives, adverbs, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation
afo-fo (interjection) one by one, one each a fo - fo
ihinka-hinka (interjection) two by two, two apiece i hin / ka - hin / ka
iddu-iddu (interjection) six by six, six apiece id du - id du
bobo (adjective) much, many (always used with singular noun), a lot bo / bo
fala (adjective) easy, by extension: cheap, not expensive fa / la
sandi, sando (adjective) hard (literally and figuratively) san / di
kamba ga sandi (expression) to be tight fisted  
cada (H) (adjective) expensive, dear ca / da
marge (adverb) how much, how many (always singular noun) mar / ge
manti (adverb) not (in some constructions) man / ti
marge no (adverb) how much is it (price) mar / ge  no
abada (interjection) never, emphatic "no!" â /
ba (preposition or conjunction) even, even though (precedes object when preposition)
albarka (interjection) What a profit!  
to (interjection) OK!  



8.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. 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.

  1. 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 dela
    Two for 1 dela (5 francs)
    repetition, indicates price of each  
    one dela each Dela-dela 1 dela (5 francs) apiece
      Dela fo-fo 1 dela each (5 francs)
    more dela each Ihinza-ihinza 3 delas (15 francs) each
    Dela hinza-hinza
    3 delas (15 francs) each

  2. 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 cada. It is expensive.
      Baani, zab ay se. Listen, lower the price.
    What a profit! [meaning: increase the price]
    A mana cada.
    It’s not dear.
      To. Ay ga dela fo kaa. OK I’ll take off a dela.
    Buyer Tonton kayna. Add a little more (as for vegetables).
      Jara si no? Isn’t there a little extra?
      To, ay yedda. Well, I agree.
      Nooro ne. Here, the money.


8.D. Grammar

Subjects in this lesson:

  1. Past negative of verbs
  2. Present and future negative of verbs
  3. Negative of the 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 "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)
Susobo iri koy isa banda, iri mana koy lokol. 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 "si" in the same way (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 word "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, of course, if the context indicates.


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

The verb "to be" has many different forms (see Lesson 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
Goroyan si no. There are no kola nuts.
Ŋwari si no. There is no food. ("Food not be")
Buru 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 tablo boŋ. The book is not on the table.
Maman nda Fati si ne. Manan 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
Boradin manti ay baba 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 Lesson 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.
Boradin 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 Lesson 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.
Boroyan 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.

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 3rd person singular (a) and plural (i), which always uses the longer from, respectively nga and ngey. The 2nd 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 Baba do; araŋ mo  go no ga te hayey kan araŋ maa araŋ baba 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 dela.  Instead of dela you may also hear dala.

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
dela fo 5 Francs dela way 50 Francs
dela hinka 10 Francs dela way cindi taci 70 Francs
dela hinza 15 Francs dela way cindi iddu 80 francs
dela taci 20 Francs (dela) waranka hinka si 90 Francs
dela gu 25 Francs (dela) waranka af si 95 Francs
dela iddu 30 Francs (dela) 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 fej’ ize iddu neera. They sold 6 lambs
Marge no? Waranka-waranka. For how much? 100 Francs apiece.
Marge no lemu beri? Iddu dela gu. How much are oranges? Six for 25 Francs.
Ay day dela ahaku gunguri habu susub’o. I bought 8 dela’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?
Lemu marge no araŋ day? How many oranges did you buy?

Last updated: 08 februari 2012