Saturday, 13 April 2019

Chapter 2 - Ngoni Accentuation, Syllables, Phonetic Changes


The accent is always on the penultimate, but the following particles act as enclitics when used in connection with a verb.

1. Ke, used as expressive of permission, or of doubt.

Hamba, go; hamba ke, go then, go indeed.

2. Na, as the sign of the interrogative.

Uhambile, he has gone; uhambile na? has he gone?

3. Ni, the interrogative, what?

Wathenga, he bought; wathenga ni? what did he buy?

4. Phi, where?

Uhambile, he has gone? uhambephi? where has he gone to?


All syllables end in vowels. Though m and n end the prefixes of certain nouns, in speech they really begin the syllable following.

EXAMPLE. Inkomo = in (prefix), komo (root), but in syllables it is i-nko-mo, a cow.


Important changes take place in connection with,

1. The use of the possessive particle with nouns.

2. The locative case of nouns.

3. The pronoun subjective and objective with verbs.

4. The passive voice of verbs.

5. Some adjectives, prepositions, and adverbs.

When two vowels come together, to prevent the consequent hiatus the following changes take place: -

(1). One of the vowels may be elided.


Letha manzi, bring water = letha amanzi.

Laba bantu, these people =laba abantu.

Le nkomo, this cow = le inkomo.

Ku muntu, to the man = ku umuntu.

(2). Zulu vowel verbs in use in Ngoni, instead of dropping the vowel of the pronominal prefix as in Zulu, insert a semi-consonant before the root and make the sign of the infinite uku in certain cases.


Ukwenza, to do; wenza, he did, (in Zulu) becomes wayenza, in Ngoni.

The rule is, that the root in the Infinite Mood may begin with a vowel as in the above example, but in all tenses the semi-consonant y begins the root, and no change takes place in the pronominal prefix. Many Zulu vowel verbs, however, insert the y in the infinite -also, and change w into u.


Zulu - Ukwona, to sin.

Ngoni - Ukuyona, to sin.

(3). The first vowel may coalesce with the second. The three basic rules of merging are:

a + a > a;

a + i > e;

a + u > o.


Ngamandla, with power, for, nga amandla.

Inja yendoda, the man's dog, for, inja ya indoda.

Izwi lomuntu, the person's word, for, izwi la umuntu.

Nomuntu, with the person, for, na umuntu.

(4). W or y may be inserted between the vowels,

a. In the negative tenses where the pronoun subjective is i.

EXAMPLE. Iyakufika, it will arrive; ayiyikufika, it will not arrive.

b. Where the pronoun is used in the verb; if u it becomes wu; if i it becomes yi.


Ngiyibona, I see it (the dog).

Ngiwubona, I see it (the tree).

Note 1. —So constant is the above change when i and u are used as verbal medials that the objective form of the pronoun of these classes of nouns may be stated to be yi and wu. In no other way may the difference between the subjective and objective forms of the pronoun of these classes be explained.

(1). When the locative case of nouns is preceded by the personal or relative pronoun; the conjunctive particles na; or the preposition njenga; the letter s is inserted before the e of the locative case.


Zisendlini, they (things) are in the house; (zi =pers. pron.: endlini =loc. case).

Abasemhlabeni (people) who are on the earth; (aba =rel. pron.: emhlabeni =loc. case).

Nasezulwini, and in heaven; (na = and, ezulwini = loc. case.

Njengasezulwini, as in heaven; (njenga = as, and ezulwini.)

(2). Monosyllabic verbs prefix yi to the root to form the imperative mood.


Ukuzwa, to hear; yizwa, hear thou.

Ukuza, to come; yiza, come thou.
Ngoni Dance 1895

Click here to go to Chapter 3: Ngoni Noun

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