A Sketch of Umbundu

Citation preview

u v


Thilo C. Schadeberg ,2 2 _.,~_.-»_-__-.4 ._ _4




Wilhehn J.G. Méihlig und Bernd Heine

\ 1

§ RUDIGER KOPPE VERLAG ' KOLN ._ ._ ?._ ,-_ ,_4


\ \

\ 1




Acknowledgements 6 Introduction 7

CIP-'Iite1aufnahme der Deutschen Bibliothek Schadeberg, Thilo C.: A sketch of Umbundu I Thilo C. Schadeberg. Koln : Koppe, 1990 (Grammatische Analysen afrikanischer Sprachen ; Bd. 1) ISBN 3-927620- 15-7 NE: GT


Phonology 8


Noun Classes 10


Augment and Tone 12


Adjectives - Numerals - Determiners 15


Substitutives - Demonstratives - Connexives 19


Derivation 24


Verb Forms: Constituent Elements 29


Affinnative Verb Forms 34


Negative Verb Forms 40

10. Relative Verb Forms 44 11. Irregular Verbs Compound Verb Forms 48

© I990 Riidiger Kfippe Verlag Postfach 40 03 05 5000 Koln 40 West Germany

12. Nominal Predication Index Forms Forms Without Agreement 53

Druckvorlage: Afiikaanse Taalkunde, Rijksuniversitfit te Leiden Herstellung: Hans Richarz Publikations-Service, Sankt Augustin 5.1:-'‘P5

,y"/-_;:::;:z::s;tc11s. \‘







Text: The Story about Hare and Lion 60



N f th 1 guage: iimbundii N3: bf th: ;:p1¢= évlmbundn, singular: écimblllldil Cl

ifi tion:

ass ca

Bantu R.11


(not to be confused with K|Mbundu n.21)

Spoken in:

AP8°13= Pmvincea me’ Huambo’ and Bcnguela.

Number of speakers:

ca. 2 million


Acknowledgements This Sketch of Ublbundu is based on work with several speakers from Bié. The work was carried out in Luanda at the Instituto Nacional de Linguas during 1981/1982, in the framework of the UNESCO-sponsored programme "Dcsenvolvirnento das lmguas nacionais". I wish to thank Ms Adélia Mimosa, Ms Leonor Susso Satanole, and Ms Margarida Ines Mario for introducing me to their language. A Dutch version of this Sketch was used as a syllabus for a course on the structure of UMbundu at Leiden University in 1986 and in 1990. The present publication has been prepared with the aid of an ERASMUS programme in which the departments of African linguistics of Cologne and Leiden are cooperating. The illustration on the cover is taken from the book Eicones plantarum, ascribed to J.T. Tabernaemontanus and published in 1590 in Frankfort on the Main. The artist mentioned on the title page is Nicolaus Bassaeus. The caption of the illustration reads: ”Sycon1orus. Maulbeerfeigen. Egyptischer Feigenbaum." This tree, ficus sycomoms, is probably identical with the tree named tilembé in UMbundu. I was told that it only grows next to a royal residence. Egyption mummies were often placed into coffins made from the wood officus sycomonrs. 6

Select Bibliography: Lccomlc, Ernesto. 19632. Método prético da lingua mbundu falado no distrita de Benguela. Coimbra. ' Le Guennec, Gregoire, and Jose Francisco Valente. 1972. Diciondrio Portugués-Umbundu. Luanda. Schadeberg, Thilo C. 1982. Nasalization in UMbundu. Journal of Affictvl Languages and Linguistics 4:109-132 i. 1986. Tone cases in UMbundu. In Africana Linguistica X, PP- 423447Tervuren. Valente, Jose Francisco. 1964a. Gramdtica Umbundu-' 0 1918"“ do “"90 de Angola. Lisboa.

i. 1964b. Selecgdo de provérbios e adivinhas em Umbundw LiSb0fi--—. 1973. Paisagem africrma (Uma tribo angoiana no seu fabuldri0)Luanda. 7

These tones are pronounced according to the following rules:



spelling conventions: c

(a) A floating Low tone lowers the pitch of all following High tones. (b) A floating Low tone immediately before the last syllable of a word has a more direct representation: The last-but-one syllable is realized as falling from High to downstepped-High, and the last syllable remains on that same level of downstepped-High. (c) When two High tones in word-initial position are immediately followed by a downstep then the first of these two High tones is realized on a lower pitch than the second. (This rule applies mainly at the beginning of


a tone group.)


5 11

E H"; / H_


HI‘ > L /_#


The prefix-initial vowel o which is called the AUGMENT. The augment 0 only occurs before a consonant; when the nominal prefix consists of a single vowel the augment is represented only by a floating tone. The augment can be High or Low, depending on the syntactic function of the noun. The augment is High when the noun is the first object of an affirmative verb in a main clause; we call this the Object Case (OC). The OC is also used after kwénda and la both meaning ‘and, with’. In other syntactic environments the augment is Low; we call this the Common Case (CC). In this way, any noun can appear in two tonal shapes. The following table shows the tonal types for nouns with stems of one, two and three syllables, and with monosyllabic and disyllabic prefixes. _



6ku.tuvlka oku.tuvlka lid/to cover 6ku.sulisa okmsfillsa endlto finish

The vast majority of independent nouns has a NPX with an augment, but there are also nouns with a N'Px lacking the augment, or with an augment but no NP); or with neither an augment nor a NPX. Proper names (often derived

from common nouns) frequently have a NPx without augment as in the (a) examples below). The same is true for all locatives (b) and for the special

class 2a (c). Most words with an augment but without NPx are loanwords (d). Finally, kinship terms as in (e) have neither an augment nor a NPx; they are classified as class 1a and form their plural in class 2a. a. Myfipyulh n.pr. masc. Cémha December’; n.pr. fem. Kwénlé Kwanza (river) Stimii Chief, King Kiilunga sea; realm of the dead b. péngunji noon kiln above vilii in the sky c. véNgola vfikota

cf. omynpya swallow (the bird) cf. osomfi

a/the chief

cf. ongurrii cf. ilii

post supporting porch roof sky


sg. fiNgolfl

elder brothers

sg. kota

d. opéta 6Putu

duck Portugal

e. tété


pl. vfitaté


pl. vémayi



Words without an augment do not make a tonal difference between OC and CC; since there is no augment the OC forms merge with the CC forms and start with a Low tone, too. However, even these occur in two tonal shapes: The form beginning with a High tone is used as the citation form and as a nominal predication. We call this the PREDICA'I‘IVE case, which for nouns with an augment coincides formally with the OC. CC:

ongevé yfiméln the hippo came closer

Ngevé waméla Ngeve came closer


ndasangé ongevé I met a hippo

ndasnngti Ngevé I met Ngeve


The adjectives, numerals, and so-called determiners described in this chapter are all pronominal forms. Pronominal forms are characterized by having a Pronominal Prefix (PPx) which in some classes differs from the NPx. Pronominal forms agree in class with the noun to which they refer or on which they depend. The pronominal prefixes are:




it is a hippo

it is Ngeve

: :

(y)u, 0 u


cl. 2: cl. 4:

va vl

cl. 4:

vi (there is no proper PPx for cl.10)

cl. 13:


cl. 17:


cl. 6:



(For a more detailed discussion of "tone cases" see Schadeberg 1986.) 0

9 9 ? ? ;§;§sww~: cl. 16:

(y)l lu ka ku pa

cl.18: mu

ADJECTIVES: There are only five adjectives (in the sense of our morphological definition): -wfi good -néne big

-vi - bad -tito small -mblimbuln short

The PPx cl. 1 for adjectives is 0-. The tone of the PPx with adjectives is Low; when they are used as predicates they are preceded by a floating High tone. This corresponds very well with the tone of nominal prefixes, but since adjectives have no augment they also have no tone-cases (OC and CC). 14


“mm; av! wgpama ndasanga iilrime ovj

[ha bad man is strong I met a bad man

omunu on ovj

this person is bad

vfikupula 6nj6 itlto

they tore down the small house

onjo itito ytikupuka Kwanjé olwi lunéne

the small house collapsed the Kwanza is a big river

uti ou rinéne ohondo el rum vonjo omu mriwfi ukolo ou timbtimbulu

this tree is big this room is small this house’s inside is beautiful this rope is short

The words for the numbers ‘six’ and higher are nouns (or noun phrases): épandti cl. 5


ukwj iivali


épandlivali cl. 5


ocita cl. 7/4


écelaia cl. 5 éciya cl. 5

eight nine

ovita vivali ohfilnkaii cl. 9/10

two hundred thousand

ékw_i_ cl. 5/6


olohtilukayi vivali

two thousand


Under this heading we present a number of stems with various meanings which are all constructed with a PPx. The tone of the PPx is High unless something else is indicated. NUMERALS: The numerals ‘one’ through ‘five’ are pronominal forms. The PPx for cl. 1 is u-. The PPx of a numeral always has a High tone. Special forms without a PPx (but with a prefixed floating High tone) are used for counting without reference to specific objects (see column 3). The use of cl. 11 forms has a multiplicative meaning (‘once’ — ‘twice’ - ‘three times’ etc., see column 4).


-mosf -vali -tiltu -kwala -talc

one two three four five

: : : : :


cimosi vivali vitatu vikwalh vitalo


mosi vali ttitu kwtila min


luimosi ltivali lutatu ltikwala umio

Nouns qualified by a numeral may stand in the CC in any syntactic environment. When such a phrase is used as a direct object the noun may also stand in the OC, but in this case a downstep in the noun is realized as a step from High to (almost?) Low. A numeral which qualifies a predicative noun is preceded by a downstep. (No principled explanations are known for these tonal complications.) omunu iimosi wéyfi wtilandfi atémo atatu or: iitémo lfitatu cf. atémo étatu 16

one person has come walanda étemo iitatu she bought three hoes they are three hoes three hoes (as an aswer to the question: what did shy buy?)

-mwé a certain, some etéke limwe . . . on a certain day, once upon a time kofeka ktimwe . . . in a certain country umwe wiipita someone has passed syélandéle !cimwe I did not buy anything vrimwe véyii, vnkwavo lakamwé some came, others didn’t -mwémwé only one ndasangé limwamé umwémwé wafii

I met only one person only one person died

isimllo vyiivo vimwamwé their ideas are identical ThePPxisHighinthe0CaadLowintheCC. -kwfivo another (of the same kind)

wiikovenga vakwévo he called the others valrwavo véyfi the others came wakovenga, likwévti the one who called is another one nhifié likwévo

give me another one / one more (e.g., a fruit)

Just as with nouns lacking the augment, CC forms and OC forms all begin with a low tone; we therefore assume that the PPx is Low with this stem. PRBDICATIVE forms have an initial High tone (the PRBD morpheme) which is realized as a High PPx followed by a downstep (the trace of the Low prefix). 17

-ing’ i other (of a different kind) nhifié ling’i

give me another one (which is different)

sikwéte cing’i

I don't have others (different ones)

vési véyé

they all came


-osi all



ekfilu lyési lyfinholefia the whole car was broken

-ang’6 inferior, worthless élivuhi lyéng’6

it is a useless book SUBS


-pi which

osanji ipi, yéyi filé yéyo which chicken, this or that? omoia fipi or 6m6la upi which child?

Substitutives ("personal pronouns") exist for all classes, but also for participants (i.e., 1st and 2nd person singular and plural). The free forms for

The PPx of cl. 1 has a variant with Low tone; after this Low PPx the

in the CC all these forms are entirely Low.

the participants and for class 1 are given here with their PREDICATIVE tone; stem is also realized as Low; this might be an intonational feature of

such interrogative phrases. -anhé of which kind omunu wfinhé uu

time I em we

which kind of person is this one?

ave you (sg.) éne you (pl.)

éye he/she (cl.1)

eye wétundé SHE has left éye watundfi it is she who has left

-é of which kind, which type, for whom, what for olosanii vyé what kind of chicken are these? dnénga yé whose is or for what purpose serves this cloth?

The substitutive of classes Zfif. have the form PPx-0; these are only used as

bound forms, most notably in the various sorts of demonstratives. Here we demonstrate the forms with la- ‘and, with’:

-ng’aimi how many

allma éng’aml okwéte how old are you? (lit. how many years do you have?) véng’ami lvéyii

wfivangfila Tléme /llove /Ylétu /iléne /layé llav6 he talked tome /to you ltous / to you /to her {to them

how many (people) did come‘?

Wm near -pals far kolwi kfipepi / kfipalh (to) the river is close-by/ far away

vakasi la- they are with = they have . . .

These examples are pronominal forms; the same stems also occur as nouns in cl. 7, and there are even verbal forms.

cl. 2:



cl. 4:



cl. 6:


cl. 13:




%%%%%9? ;§;9$Mw

la-]w6 la-R6

la-k(w)6 cl. 16:-p6


cl. 17: -k6

cl. 18: -mo 19

The substitutive of cl. 16 serves to express comparisons; it follows either a

predicative adjective or a verbal form.


The tone of a simple demonstrative depends for each series on the syntactic function:

01116 yange inéné-p6 (vaili) my house is bigger olupukn-p6 lvfili enéne he runs faster attributive: independent, CC: independent, OC:









DEMONSTRATTVES: There are three kinds of demonstratives: simple demonstrative: predicative demonstrative: presentative demonstrative:

omo yainge, eyl this is my house onid yfinge yéyi my house is this one onj6 yfinge hayi look here, this is my house

For each kind of demonstrative there are four series:

omoma eyil oyof ilol ina lnéne wépfiya omoma eyil 0y0/ ilol ina hatusuklla eci I ocol lcilol lclna

we don’t need this / that . . .

tustikilh écll oco I cllol cina

we need this I that . ..

predicative demonstratives-

I this - II that — III this here close to me — IV that there far from us simple demonstratives:

Qfigfigfi Qwswwr cl. 7:

cl. 9: cl.11 cl.12: cl.13. cl.15: cl.16: cl.17: cl.18: 20

thislthat. . .pythonisbig he killed this / that . . . python

cl. 1: cl. 2:


II PPx-0-PPx-0





yuu vava

yoo vovo

yuuna vovana wowuna vyovlna I-ITHL/HIHI-I


II 0-PPx-o


IV PPx-na

cl. 3:



ci. 4:



yuulo vovalo wowulo vyovllo

uu ava cu evl ell aa eel

oo ovo owo ovyo

ulo valo

una vana una vine






olu aka otu oku "P9 oku omu


oo oco oyo olwo

ulo vilo lllo





lna luna kana tuna kuna pane kuna muna


llo lulo kalo tulo



°P° oko omo

palo kulo mulo



Olflllfl y’imbo yoyilo ekiilu lyfifie Iyolina lyaplta

the road to the village is this one here his car it that one over there which has passed by

There are also emphatic -predicative demonstratives; they are formed by prefixing 0- to the non-emphatic forms. Examples from class 5: élyell





Connexives with numerals express ordinals:

presentative demonstratives: I ha-PPx

II ha-PPx-o

III ha-PPx-lo

IV ha-PPx-na hayunn

cl. 1:




cl. 2:





cl. 3: cl. 4:

hau havi

hawo havyo

haulo havilo

hauna havina






omokd hayi ape look here, this is the knife

étéke lyé-mosi I lya-vali I lya-tfitu I iyé-kwala I lyé-talo the first I second I third I fourth I fifth day

pronominal connexive.s': In the pronominal connexive PPx-a is followd by a possessive stern, which exist for participants and for class 1, or by a substntutwe PPx-0 (classes 2ff.). The possessive stems are:

sing. plur.

-nge my -etu our


-ove your -ene your

cl. 1 -fie


cl. 2 -v0

omoké héyo oko look there, that is the knife

_ = PPx-o their

The tone of the pronominal connexives is HL for singular participants, HH

for plural participants, and HYH for all classes. CONNEXIVES:

The connexive (or "genitive" or "possessive") consists of a PPx followed by -aand then by a nominal or a pronominal form (‘the roof OF-THE-HOUSE or ‘the roof OF-IT, i.e., ‘its roof). The connexive is one single word as can be seen from its tonal behaviour. There are no locative connexives; a connexive depending on a locative noun agrees with the inherent class of that noun.

my I your I his boat our I your I their boat

oclne l’6wlsi waofi

the mortar and its pestle

ombwé Pokukwé kwfiyo

the dog and its barking

patina apa, Pokumolefia kwfipé it is nice here, with its view The pronominal connexive of class '7 also has the meaning ‘such, this’:

nominal connexives: PPx-a- has a High tone which spreads to the right in a regular way. In class 1, however, its tone may be either High or Low (free variation). The vowel a is deleted before another vowel; then w- (cl. 1, 3) is deleted before u, and a (cl. 2, 6, 12, 16) is deleted before any vowel. In the connexive, even locative nouns have an augment -0-. artsy: we-Somé or ukayl we-Some the wife of the Chief akombe vé-Somé the guests of the Chief


swam wange I wove I wfifié swam wétu I wéne I wévo

omtila vfiilcfiyi

the children of the woman

oméla ‘mildly! iitémo ’ékamba éyevi v‘6vusengé konéle y’6lwi

the child ov the woman the hoes of the friend the hunters of (in) the forest at the side of the river

épyfi lyfico such a farm fikéii waed such a woman likfi followed by a pronominal connexive (cl. 3 or cl. 5) expresses ‘alone’: véyti like wavé I lyavo ame ndanda lika wainge

they came alone I went alone




okuwisa to let fall, to fell okuténdisa to make count okulandlsa to sell



1. Verb-to-Verb:

The verb stem as it occurs, for instance, in the infinitive, consists of the verbal base (VB) and the final suffix (Fi) -a. The VB consists of a root to which one or more extensions can be attached. Roots have the shape -CI-, -CV-, -CVC-, or -CVNC-.

< okuwé to fall < dkuténda to cotmt < okulanda to buy



to be counted


to be sold

ndalimiliwa épya "I was cultivated-for the farm" Less productive extensions are:




to die

-Ii-a -lim-a -tum-a -land-a -ténd-a

eat work (on the farm) send buy count

okulya okullma okutnima okulanda ékuténda

to eat to cultivate to send to buy to count

Extensions do not have distinctive tones; they receive their (underlying) tone from the following, verb-final suffix (see chapter 8). The most productive extensions are the applicative, the causative, and the passive.


-amékuvutama to hide (oneself) < okuvfita to pull down


-ay(-al)okulllayala to cry continuously < okullla tocry


-ik-I-ek-I-ifi-I-efiékumolefia to appear < dkumola to see

separative tr.:

-ul-/-ol-I-ul-I-ch okuylkulit to open < ékuylkb to shut


sepamtive itr.: after i, u

after e, 0, a -Iim-il-a : -tend-el-a : -Ii-ll-a :

after non-nasal -il-


after nasal -il-


okuylkuka to open (by itself) < ékuylka to shut


ékulimlla to work for (s.o. or sth.) okuténdela to cotmt for (s.o. or sth) okullla to eat for (s.o. or sth.)

The vowel of the extension is i with all verbal bases of the shape -C(V)-. The last example shows how the surface tone pattern I-IL on disyllabic stems is derived from roots of the shape °-CVVC- or °-C.VC- with HL tone.

The distributions of ile (neuter) and of lIl (tr. separative) are the same as have been described for the applicative extension. The distribution of klfi (itr. separative) is the same as for I/l. However, the distribution of ulo (separative) is not quite the same as the distribution of ell: 0 only occurs after o, after all other vowels we fmd u.

A VB can contain more than one extensions. The derivation is "stacked" from left to right in the sense that 6ku-land-is-lw-a is the passive of the

causative of ‘to buy’. Certain sequences of extensions are regularly contracted: 24









sapwlla sapwisa -pandwiwa I II ing’ala -landasa

< < <
poknmbela "there lacked him" °vii-it-landél-a-i


sindiki push! (pl.); cf. sindikfi push! (V) llfélilkl 01' Vllféflkh Y9" (P1) start '

> volandeli

they buy for you (pl.)

The surface tone patterns of verb forms containing an OCd are explained if we assume that the (underlying) tone of an OCd' is High when there is no High tone preceding (in the same word), and Low otherwise. °ti|-ci-sindik-A °vé-cl-sindilr.-a

> tucistndlka > vacisindika

we push him they pushed him


> tukacislndilta we will push him


> vakacisindika they will push him

Locative EncIin'cs.' The substitutives (PPx-0) of the locative classes 16 -po, 17 -k0, and 18 -mo

can be attached to any verb form. They can function as locative adjuncts or as locative objects. They always have a High tone, which is preceded by a downstep when the preceding High syllable is not itself immediately preceded by a downstep. (But: No downstep preceds locative enclitics in relative verb forms, and possibly also not in certain negative verb forms.) akamba fikatunda-p6 the companions will leave here akamba aikapita-p6 the companions will pass here ekamba lytitunda-po the companion left here The first of these three examples shows how enclitics differ tonally from regular suffixes: The tone rule of H-Spreading regards the boundary before the enclitic as an (internal) word boundary.

The OCd of the 1st person singular is toneless; the form hu- (< °n-ku-) is simply Low. hulandisa or ndlkfilandisa I sell (to) you ondandisa or ondilandlsh you sell (to) me 6ng’ovonga or ondikovonga she calls me

Plural Fi2: The Final-2 -l is used in conjunction with a second person singular or plural Subject or Object Concord. It markes the addressee as plural. Its use is optional but preferred when ambiguity could arise. In the Imperative, it is the only means to mark the plural. The preceding vowel of the Final is deleted, and -I takes on the tone of the deleted Final (with one exception in the I-lortative).



without OCd: _

R Low —



landisa sell! teliilula dig up!

Infinitive: °olcu _ vs - a The Infinitive is a noun of class 15. The stem is formed with the Final suffix -h. As any other noun, the Infinitive can occur with either a High or a Low augment. The Infinitive shares with other verb forms its ability to include an OCd as well as locative enclitics. The following tone types occur: -C-a -CVC-a

Low oku-Ianda


oku-landisa sell oku-felulula dig up


High oku-lyé oku-yéva oku-kwata oku-sindilra oku-ktitulula

VB - xfi OCdi-VB- a OCd - VB - "Ié

(OCd = anyclass) (OCd = participant)

The Imperative without an OCd consists of the VB followed by the Fi -a. The VB has its lexical tone, the extensions have the opposite tone, and the Fi is High. 34


yéva kwtitfi sindllui lnitulula

hear! take! push! untiel

An Imperative with an OCd of any class has a floating High tone after the OCd; the Fi -a and the extensions are High. Participant OCd’s are Low; in these forms the extensions are High and the Fi -e is downstepped-High (i.e., floating Low + High). with OCd:

eat hear take push untie

All monosyllabic verb stems have a High tone. For stems with three and more syllables there are always two tonal types: The first tone-bearing unit (being part of the etymological root) has a lexical tone, either High or Low; all other tone-bearing units (the etymological extensions) are not tonally distinctive. The Final of the Infinitive has a Low tone. We assume there exists a general rule (or structure condition) which says that extensions take on (or have) the same tone as the (first TBU of the) Final. Stems with two syllables are special in that they exist in three tonal types. We derive the type I-IL from an underlying representation with three TBU’s. In the example given above they are °-kuht-a; another example is oltulisa < °-li-is-a ‘make eat, feed’.



R High lyé

OCd/class R Low — cllanda ciléndisa


R High cilya clyéva cikwfita clsindlka


0Cd;jpartic{nant R Low R High tiisyé tuvanjé tuyévé tukwaté tulandisé tusindiké



(-syn leave; -vanja look at; -levallsa lend) Pltu-als can be formed from all Imperatives by substituting -I for the Fi; the tones remain unchanged. In addition to the forms here presented there are

special I-lortative forms (‘let us . . .’).


without OCd:

H‘ — e

with OCd:

SCd—OCd—R-E—e H H H

The Optative forms have several special properties. The SCd of cl. 1 is a(instead of 0-). Forms without an OCd have a fixed tonal pattern irrespective of the lexical tone of the verb and the type of SCd: All syllables are High except for the last one which is Low. In forms with an OCd the tone of the SCd is also neutralized, but the lexical tone of the VB is preserved. The Fi is -e in all forms of the Optative.


without OCd R Low -


R High élye


with OCd R Low

am 1.écilye


ticiyéve aclkwéte

The TAM-marking Fo -a- of the Past 1 (or: Near Past) always has the same tone as the immediately preceding SCd. Extensions are High. The Final is High when the VB has no or just one extension; when there are two or more extensions the Final is Low.










An example with two OCd’s:

R Low:

tucivalandéle let us buy it for them R High:

Present and Future:

SCd — (Ira —) (OCd -) VB — h

The Present and the Future have no TAM-marker in the Fo-position. The tone of these forms con-esponds to the Infinitive; we therefore assume a Fi -a with Low tone. The Future is derived from the Present by the insertion of the Itive marker -ka-, which has an underlying Low tone and hence appears at the surface with the same tone as the preceding syllable.

R Low

SCd Low without OCd tulanda

tulandisa tulevalisa Future tukalandlsa RI-Iigh

tulyit tuyéva tukwata tusindlkh tulnitululh

with OCd tucilanda tucilandisa tucilevallsh tukacilandisa tucilya tuciyeva tucikwata tucislndikh tucikutulula

SCd - “a - (oca -) vs - :2.

R High

SCd High without OCd with OCd dlandh


olandlsa dlevalisa

ocllandlsa ocilevalisa



olya oyeva okwata osindlka oltutululh

ocilya oclyéva ocikwtita ocisindil-ta ocilnitulula

Past 2:

sca Low without oca

with oca

sca High without oca with oca

twalandé twalandisa twalevalisa

twacilanda twacilandisa twacilevfilisa

walandti walandisa walevallsa






twayéva twakwéta twasindika

twaciyeva twacikwata twacisindika

wayeva wakwata wasindlka








wtlcikwtita wficlsindilra wécikfitulula

SCd - "a — (OCd —) VB - me

The Past 2 (or: Remote Past) has the same TAM-marking Po as the Past 1. The first two segments of the Final -lle undergo the same assimilations as the applicative extension -ll-: The vowel l becomes e after a, e and 0; I becomes I after a nasal; the sequence -ul-Ile (as well as its variants with e and I) contracts to -wile (or: -wile). The tone of the extensions is High.

R Low:

SCd Low without OCd twalancléle twalandisile twalevalisile

R High:

twalile twayévele

Future tultakwfita

wticllandisa waicilevfilish

twakwételé twasindiklle twaktitulwile

with OCd twacilandéle twacilandisile twacilevallstle twacilile twaciyevele twacfltwatele twacisindildle twacikutulwllt‘:

SCd High without OCd Wtilandélc walandislle wiilevalisile wallle wayevele wiikwatele wfisindil-tile wiikutulwllé

with OCd wacilandélé wacilandisile wficilevalislle wficllile wticlyévele

wficlkwxitele wficisindlkile wticlkiitulwlle



Progressive A

Progressive verb forms appear to be compound words with an infnitve or a bare verb stem as the second part. (This might explain why the object of a Progressive appears in the CC and not in the OC: The infinitive takes the place of the first object.) Progressive verb forms with cl. 1 SCd’s have their own characteristic structure; the fact that the High tone of y6I- fails to spread to the right suggests that we are dealing with a compound form. R Low: yéolanda ydolandisa yoolevallsa

yocilanda yficilandisa yécilevalisn

she (cl. 1) is buying (it)

R High: yélyii


(or: y6l6(ci)lya) (or: y6Y6(ci)tanga) (or: y6l6(ci)l-twath)

yotfinga ydkwéta yosindikh yokfitulula

yocitanga yocikwata yocisindildi ydcikutulula



vélfilya vélétanga vélfikwath vfilfislndika vfilékutulula






vékueikwfita vokucisindika

véivéclkwata vfilvéclsindlkh

vfiificitanga vélécikwatfl



vaimsmuum vfiiécikutulula

Only Progressive A can be used for participants: ndékulimh

ndékutfinga wokuténga twékutiinga wokuténgi I... you... we... you...

A: vokulandlsa apako they are selling fruit B: vdvfilandisa apako C: véfilandlsa apako


volvétanga vélvékwath volvfislndikh

(or: y6'6(ci)kutulula)

There are three types of Progressives for forms with classes Zfl’. as their subject. They are used as free variants without differences in meaning.

Progressive A vokulanda vékulandish vdkulevalish

Progressive B vovfilanda

volmeilanda vokucilandisa vékucllevalish

Progressive C


(or: y6T6(ci)slndikh)

The notation y6!6- represents a bigger downstep than is normally heard. This is an infrequent pitch pattern which has been observed in a number of constructions that are compositions with some kind of proclitic element. When there is no further Low tone following then this "big downstep" resembles a "total downstep‘, i.e., a step from High to Low. I can offer no explanation for this tonal phenomenon.

R Low:

Progressive B

vokutfinga vdkukwfita volcusindikh

R High: vokulyé


Progressive C vaiélanda vfiélandish




vfiécilanda vfiécilandisa

vovaeilandisn vdvficilevalisa





Negative Present:

kn - SCd - (OCd -) VB — Ila L



In all negative verb forms, the Negative marker ka- preceeds the SCd. The sequence kn-SCd has the fixed tone pattern LI-1. The forms for the singular participants and for class 1 are special contractions: sing. ptur.





class 1: knclass2: lta-vaiclass 7: ka-ci- etc.

The NEG-marker ka- has a free variant ha-. In some dialects the forms kn(Znd sg.) and lui- (cl. 1) have the variants hu- and ha-.

Negative Optative: R Low without OCd — I-tavfikalimé kavékalandise kavékalevfilise

kn - SCd - ka - (OCd -) VB - e L H H with OCd kavaikalilimé ' kavfikacilandise kavdkacilevfilise

R Hiyi without OCd kavékalyé kavfikatfinge kavékakwfite kaviikastinefie kavtikaklitulule

with OCd lmvaikacilye kavaikautainge kavaikacikwfite kavfikausoncfie kavékaclktitulule



without OCd

with OCd

without OCd



with OCd








kavésonefia (-i) kavtiusonefia (-I)




kavékwati (-a) kavficlkwfitl (-8)

sing. plur.

Participants 1stperson sili katuili


class 1: 2ndperson knli kanli


The choice between the Finals -i and -a depends on the length of the VB: A VB without an extension has always -i, a VB with one extension can take either -I or -a, and a VB with more than one extension always takes -a. (The fact that VB’s of the tonal type tiku-kwfith can also take the Final -a is another indication that verbs of this type are treated as being morpho~ logically complex.) '


ka - SCd-lta— (OCd -) VB -- a L H L

The Negative Future differs from the the Negative Present not only by having the additional Itive marker -kn-, but also by the quality and the tone of the Fmal -h.

The forms of the 2nd person singular and plural of the Negative Optative serve to express negative commands; there are no specific forms for a

R Low without OCd

. with OCd

I-ttit/1011! OCd

with 0Cd

Negative Imperative.





katfikalima hfikatfinge hatikalyé or hafikali


don't read! don't eat! (pl.)

R High katfililima







ltnttikacilandish _




lflltlikflkfilllllllfl ltatfikfltikliltflllllfi



Negative Pm 1.-

ka - SCd -a - (OCd -) vs - lle L H I-I HH R High without OCd hatwfilile hatwétangele hatwékwatele

R Low

without OCd

with OCd




RLow without OCd




without OCd katwtililé


Negative Progressive Past:

with 0Cd katwécililé





katwéséncfieié katwfiusonefielé katwtilnitulwilé katwécikfitulwilé

kn — SCd - a - (OCd -) VB -— a


R Low


| L


R High

without OCd

with OCd

without OCd




with OCd hatwacflya






hatwflcikwath hatwtluisonefia


R High with OCd

Negative Progressive Pnesent:



The Formative-2 -lfi- ‘never (not yet)’ can be added to the Negative Progressive Past; in this case the TAM-marking F01 -n- appears as


the F02 -Ia- as downstcpped-High. hatwfiléclllnga

we have never done this (not yet)

lniléoia ongevé she has never ever seen a hippo

kn - SCd -oku - (OCd —) VB — a



R Low



R High

without OCd — havolchllma

with OCd — havéknlfllma

havokhlandisa havokilcilandisa



ka- SCd-a—(()Cd-) VB- lle L H L H]6.H

katwtilandisilé katwticilandisilé katwfilevtillsilé kntwlicileviilisilé

sing. ptur.

with OCd

hatwiicikwfitele hatwtisonefiele hatwfiisonefiele hatwékutulwlle hatwficikfitulwile

hatwélevfilisile hatwficllevfilisile


The non-application of the H-Spreading tone rule indicates that the Negative Progressive Present is a compound form with an internal word boundary, just like the affirmative Progressive.

Participants Istperson syoltilllma hatwokullma

without OCd havéknlyti havokhtfinga

with OCd





havékirsonefih havdkhvisonefih class 1:

2ndperson kwoknlima


kwokirlimi or hawokhlimi


(2) Object Relative: The head (antecedent) is taken up in the relative clause not as the subject but as an argument with a different syntactic function.

10. RELATIVE VERB FORMS (a) Relative clause with no free (nominal or pronominal) subject: The subject of the relative clause can be a participant or some known entity (and thus belong to any noun class). If the subject belongs to class 1 the Initial is ti-

Relative verb forms have two specific tonal characteristics: (i) the tone of the Initial: ndi-





(cl. 1) (cl. 2) (cl. 3)


The (last) tone of the F'mal is a copy of the tone of the Initial. The tone of the extensions does not depend on the tone copy but on the normal, inherent tone tone of the Fmal. The rule of H-Doubling (which excludes an underlying word-final HL sequence) remains intact. omunu walima omunu oténga omunu walandisa omunu vallmti ovtiva titalala ovava titalalh

someone who cultivated someone who reads someone who sells people who cultivated cold water the water is cold

We distinguish the following types of relative constructions: (1) Subject Relative: The head (antecedent) is taken up as the subject of the relative clause; it can be a participant or refer to a noun of one of the classes. The Initial of class 1 is 0- (with low tone). I 44

(b) Relative clause with free subject:

(cl. 4) etc.

(ii) the tone of the Final:

L copy: but: with F.x‘I': H copy: with l3.XT: cf.:

tfinga nluinda asonefia read the letter which she has written!

The subject of the relative class may also be a free form (a word), usually a noun. In this case, two word orders are possible. (i) Word order Subject + Relative verb form: The Initial agrees in class with the subject of the relative clause; the SCd for class 1 is ii-.

tanga iikiinda kamba lyange iisonefia or ténga filninda ekamha lyfinge lyfisonefia read the letter which my friend has written! (ii) Word order Relative verb for-rn + Subject:


The Initial agrees with the antecedent, not with the subject of the relative clause. (In the example below, the SCd of the relative verb fonn agrees with the object of the relative clause which is class 3.) tfinga likanda wisonefia eltamlm lyénge read the letter which my friend has written!

No ambiguities arise in actual conversations. When two interpretations are formally possible and semantically plausible, the reading as subject relative takes precedence: ndalniilfia énhangh lyfiponda ohosl I knew the hunter who killed the lion 45

;-‘_. .;-_~_=_._;—’i—-»;_4g~.~-. .-_ __-




There are several possibilities to express the related object relative (where the hunter gets killed by the lion): ndakrillfia énhanga (ell) ohosi yfiponda ndakfilifia énhanga lytipondiwa l’6h6si

Past 1 tense: R Low: omunu wallma ositu yfileng’éIa

someone who has cultivated tender meat

R High: olwi lwalonga

a deep river

olwi lwékukuta

When the antecedent is taken up in the relative clause with a syntactic function other than subject or object, and when in addition there also is a free subject, then the subject of the relative clause always precedes the relative verb form. ava émanil kamba lytinge avangvvilé lavo nva omanu (vane) ndévangwilé lavo these are the people with whom my friend I I talked

a dry river

vonjo yasanjavalé or vonjo mwfisarrjavala in a spacious house Past 2 tense: R Low: omunu wallmile tfité yange

the one who did cultivate is my father omanu valimilé élorriali vyange those who did cultivate are my parents

Clauses introduced by cci ‘when’, omo ‘since’, and ndomo ‘how’ are formally object relative constructions; the subject usually precedes the the relative verb form but the opposite word order also occurs. katwakulifille ecl osomti yfitumlila or: . . . ecl ctitundila osomfi

we don’t know when the chief left

R High: eye lmwéle wapriyuklle 6vé mwéle wfipuyukilé _

it is he himself who rested it is you yourself who rested

Progressive tense:


Only the Progressive A is used in relative clauses. In relative clauses the

Below follow some phrases with relative verb forms in difierent tenses. The examples also show how verb forms are used to express qualities (and thus correspond to adjectives in most European languages). Some such qualitative verbs are used mainly in the Present tense (‘to be white’), others are used mainly in the Past 1 tense (‘to become long’).

R Low: iikiiyl olima a woman who cultivates élonéla ving’ang’alti shiny rings émbirflh iyela


After the verbs -mole ‘see’, -yéva ‘hear’ and -sanga ‘meet’ one may use either a relative or an absolute Progressive. ndamola rikfiyl wfikirlandlsa apako (REL) or

Present tense:

R High: émunu opfiyulra

structure of Progressive verb forms is again somewhat deviating: There is no final tone copy; all forms begin with SCd-okh-, i.e., without H-Spreading. The SCd of class 1 appears in the relative Progressive as w-.

ndamola rikéyl yoblandlsa apako (ABS)

I saw a woman selling fruit

ndayéva ohosi yokilkoma (REL) or ndayéva ohosl yékukoma (ABS)

I heard a lion roar

a person who rests a white shirt


onjll 6kw_l_I dwj

he knows me / you I him or her

étwjl owj I ova or ovayi

he knows us I you / them

For the verb -Ii there also exist only affirmative and negative Present tense forms. Forms of -ll followed by la- plus a noun (or a substitutive) express ‘to have’.


ndilii sill mu! man

Defective verbs without Final:

olil luili ull I harili

an 1 mi vélil hnvfili

(cl. 1) (cl. 2)

There are five defective verbs all of which lack a Final: -ti -1 -Ii -kasi -nsyi

vall vonjo havfili l’6lomb6ngo

say know be be be, stand, be somewhere

optional with plural participants as well as for SCd’s of classes 2ff. The

disyllabic forms for participants and for class 1 are either HL or LH. There also exists an infinitive (okuti or okuti) which can (always?) be used instead of any other subject. The forms of -ti usually serve to introduce direct speech. It is difficult to understand why these forms have a Negative marker; the translation always has to be affirmativc. 2ndperson luiti I huti hoti I hoti I an I uti

classes ma / hati (ha)viiti

is there any maize flour? no.

(cl. 1) (cl. 2)

Mr. Hare said: “No.” But you, you say: "I fell into a trap.


For the verb -I ‘know’ there exist only Present tense forms, affirmative and negative, and they always must include an OCd. ndlcil sic;

001/ kuc!

6clI kficj

(cl. 1)

tu¢I/ katticj

llcjl lttuicj

Wit!!! kavécj

(cL 2)

ndlltnsi I Siknsi

olrasi I ltfiknsi

tilmsll lifikasi

(cl. 1)

tuknsiI hatrikasi

ukasfl hafilmsl

vfikasil havtikasi

(cl. 2)

I am in the house the house has two doors he is not here I there I inside where is the knife?

For the verb -tayi there also exist only affirmative and negative Present tense forms.



he is here I there I inside

krill oscma y’épt'|ngu? kfikuli.

ng’asi vorrjo onjo iltasi vspno fivali kakasi-po I kfikasi-ko I kakasi-mo omoko ikasi-pi

of an inflected form. The class 1 form hati (or htiti) can also take the place

Kandimba . . . hati ha-h ove pwsyr, hati ndafn vfilivi

oli-p6 I on-ms / 6li-m6

For the verb -kasi there also exist only affirmative and negative Present tense forms. The verbs -kasi and -Ii seem to occur interchangeably.

For the verb -ti there exists only one tense in which the stem is preceded by the Negative marker and the SCd. The use of the Negative Pre-Initial hu- is

Ist person siti / siti (ha)tnti I tuti

they are in the house they have no money




(cl. 1)

tllfllfil hlmilfiil

"I5?" hamfifi

‘mail / havitfifi