Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Expressing The Past in Ngoni Language

The Present Perfect 

The present perfect denotes an action just completed, or one whose consequences still remain. Hence this form is frequently used in the formation of adjectives such as abantu abayonileyo (sinful people, literally people who have sinned.)

It is expressed by adding the suffix -ile to the root of the verb for the long form and -e for the short form. The short form is used when and object or an adverb follows the verb.

Below are a few verb stems to illustrate what happens.

Stem                          Long Form          Short form
-thuma  send              -thumile (sent     -thume  (sent)                                
-dla eat                        -dlile (eaten)       -dle (eaten
-wa fall                         -wile (fallen)       -we (fallen)
-na rain                         -nile (rained       -ne (rained)                
-ona sin,                       -onile (sinned)   -one (sinned)


Baphuzile. They have drunk or they drank.
Baphuze amanzi. They drank water.
Ngimbonile. I saw him
Ngimbone izolo. I saw him yesterday.
Sihambile. We have left
Sihambe ngo-10.  We left at 10 oclock.

In summary here are the patterns for the present perfect:

Positive: long form: Subject concord + Verb Root + ile
               short form: Subject concord +  Verb Root+e

Negative: a + Subject concord + Root -anga

To show this in full below is a conjugation of the verb ukuthanda into the present perfect (long form).


SC+Verb R+ ile
Ngi+thand +ile > Ngithandile. I have loved.
U  + thand+ ile > Uthandile. You have loved.
U + thand + ile > Uthandile. He has loved.
Si + thand+ ile > Sithandile. We have loved.
Ni+thand+ ile > Nithandile. You have loved.
Ba+thand+ile > Bathandile. They have loved.


As you will notice below the negative of the present perfect is formed almost like the negative of the present tense except that it ends in -anga.

A + SC+ Verb R + anga
A + ngi+ thand + anga > Angithandanga. I have not loved./I did not love.
A + wu + thand + anga > Awuthandanga. You have not loved/You did not love.
A + ka + thand + anga > Akathandanga. He has not loved./He did not love.
A + si + thand + anga > Asithandanga. We have not loved./We did not love.
A + ni + thand + anga > Anithandanga. You have not loved/You did not love.
A + ba + thand + anga > Abathandanga. They have not loved./They did not love.

Before we close this part it is important to note some verbs that are slightly different from the norm.
The first one is the negative form of the verb -sho (say (so)). 

Akashongo he did not say (so)
Angishongo I did not say (so)

Past Indefinite/Remote Past Tense

This tense expresses what was formerly true, but is no longer so. In this it differs from the present perfect. It is usually used to refer to events that happened in the distant and fairly distant past usually from about six months back though this and the perfect usually overlaps in daily usage.

Examples of this tense are sentences like Waqala nini ukufunda isiNgoni. When did you start learning Ngoni.

To create this tense we follow the pattern below:

Positive: Subject Concord  + a + Root + a
Negative: a + Subject Concord + Root + anga

In the positive remote tense the -a- is a long -a- in pronunciation to differentiate from other -a-in the present tense. Please find below a table to show the changes that take place when the vowels of the subject concords combine with the  -a-.

Class            SC + a                    Remote Past Example
1st P.S.         Ngi +a > nga-         ngabona I saw.
1st pp           Si    +a > sa-           sabona We saw.
2nd p.s          u  + a> wa-            wabona You saw.
2nd p.p.        ni  + a>na-              nabona you saw.
um(u)-          u  + a> wa-             wabona she swa.
aba-              ba+ a> ba-               babona they saw.
um(u)-          u + a > wa               wabona it saw.
imi-               i + a > ya                 yabona they saw
i(li)-              li + a > la                  labona it saw
ama-             a  + a > a-                 abona they saw
isi-                si + a> sa                 sabona it saw.
izi-                zi + a> za                zabona they saw.
in-                 i + a > ya                yabona  he saw.
izin-              zi + a>za                 zadla they ate.
u(lu)-            lu + a > lwa             lwawa it fell
ubu-              bu + a> ba              bachitheka it spilled
uku-             ku + a > kwa            kwasha it burned

Below is the conjugation of the negative of the infinitive, ukuthanda, to love/like:

A+ngi+thand+anga > angithandanga I did not love.
A+wu+thand+anga> Awuthandanga You did not love.
A+ka+thand+anga> Akathandanga  He did not love.
A + si+thand+anga > Asithandanga We did not love.
A + ni+thand+anga > Anithandanga You did not love
A + ba+than+anga> Abathandanga They did not love.

Expressing Was/Were in the Ngoni Language

To express sentences such as I was sick, he was asleep or they were in the city etc you use the stem be-

For most of the verbs the pattern to follow is shown below:

Positive:    Be + Subject Concord + Verb Root + a
 Negative: Be +  Subject Concord +nga + Verb Root +i

Examples before we go on could be the following:


Be + SC + VR + a
Be + ngi + gul   +a > Bengigula izolo. I was sick yesterday.


Be + SC + nga + VR + i
Be + ngi + nga + gul +i > Bengingaguli izolo I was not sick yesterday

Below is the conjugation for the 1st 2nd and 3rd persons for the verb ukuthanda, whose root is thand:


1st Person singular: Bengithanda. I was loving.
2nd Person singular: Ubuthanda You were loving
3rd Person singular: Ubethanda/Wabethanda. He was loving.
1st Person plural   :  Besithanda. We were loving.
2nd Person Plural : Benithanda You were loving.
3rd Person Plural : Bebethanda. They were loving


1st Person singular: Bengingathandi. I was not loving
2nd Person singular: Ubungathandi. You were not loving.
3rd Person singular : Ubengathandi/Wabengathandi. He was not loving.
1st Person  plural   : Besingathandi. We were not loving.
2nd Person plural : Beningathandi. You were not loving.
3rd Person plural : Bebengathandi. They were not loving.

Below is the breakdown for 3rd person subject concords:

Class       Subject Concord   Examples
1/1a         ube-                       Ubegula She was sick.
                                              Ubengaguli. She was not sick.
2/2b         bebe-                     Bebekhuluma. They were speaking.
                                              Bebengakhulumi. They were not speaking.
3              bewu -                   Bewuhamba. It was leaving/going.
                                               Bewungahambi. It was not leaving/going.
4              beyi-                       Beyikhula  They ere growing.
                                               Beyingakhuli They were not growing.
5             beli-                        Belina It was raining
                                               Belingani. It was not raining.
6             abe-                         Abehamba. They were going.
                                              Abengahambi They were not going.
7              besi-                       Besikhala. It was crying.
                                               Besingakhali It was not crying.
8              bezi-                       Bezikhula They were growing.
                                               Bezingakhuli They were not growing.
9             beyi-                       Beyihleka It was laughing.
                                               Beyingahleki. It was not laughing.
10           bezi-                        Bezigula They were sick.
                                               Bezingaguli. They were not sick
11           belu-                        Belukhala. It was crying/complaining
                                               Belungakhali. It was not crying/complaining.
14          bebu-                       Bebufika It was arriving.
                                               Bebungafiki. It was not arriving.
15           beku-                      Bekusiza. It was helping
                                              Bekungasizi. It was not helping.

Below is a short video explaining some simple tenses.

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