Saturday, November 19, 2011


Introductory Ngoni Grammar Part 5

  • Saturday, November 19, 2011
  • Samuel Albert
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  • CHAPTER VII Introductory Grammar of the Ngoni Language 1891


    1. There are only a few adjectives proper in Ngoni. To supply the place of adjectives other parts of speech are used in certain ways, viz. :—

    (1). The present and perfect tenses of the Indicative Mood of the verb, with the relative pronoun.


    Umuntu ogulayo, the sick man—(the man who is sick).
    Umuntu olungileyo, the good man----(the man who is good).

    (2). Nouns in the nominative case.


    Ku makaza, it is cold (coldness).

    (3). Nouns in the possessive case.

    Umuntu wokwazi, a learned person---(a person of knowledge).

    (4). Nouns preceded by the relative pronoun and verb "to have."


    Umuntu onomusa, a kind man=(a person who is with kindness).

    NOTE.—The adjectives agree with their governing noun.

    2. The following are the rules for the adjectives.

    (1). When the adjective is used as predicate, e.g., the sky is red. It takes the personal pronoun of the noun which is the subject.

    EXAMPLE. Izulu libomvu, the sky is red.

    NOTE 1. —Monosyllabic adjectives may have as their prefix m or mu, ma and mi when in concord with nouns whose prefixes are umu, um, u; ama or imi. So also dala, khulu, ningi, &c., and the interrogative adjectives ngaka and ngaki.

    EXAMPLES. Umuntu mude, the person is tall. The trees are tall, imithi mide.

    NOTE 2.—The adjectives dala, khulu, ningi, &c., have m or n after the pronouns i and zi of class 3, and sometimes after zi of class 6. The n is, however, frequently omitted in Ngoni.


    Into indala, an old thing ; izinto zindala, the things are old.

    (2). When the adjective is used as an epithet (e.g., the white man), it is placed after the noun and has the relative pronoun prefixed.


    Umuntu omubi, a bad person.

    NOTE 1.—The exceptions given in the preceding Note 1 have, omu, ama, and emi.
    Note 2.—The exceptions given in the preceding Note 2 have, eyin, ezin, or ezim.

    3. Diminutive Adjectives are formed like diminutive nouns by adding ana or anyana with change of consonants where necessary.

    4. Comparison of Adjectives :-

    (1). The comparative is expressed by ku or ku with na.


    Umkulu ku. (or kuna) yena, thou art greater than he.

    (2). The superlative degree is expressed by using kakhulu (greatly) or onke (all).

    Indoda nabafana ; indoda inkulu kakhulu, a man and boys; the man is greatest.

    5. Indefinite Adjectives. These take the prefixes like ordinary adjectives.

    (1). -edwa or -odwa, alone, only, is used to express -self, and is used thus :-

    Mina nedwa, I only, myself.Thina todwa, we only, ourselves.
    Wena wedwa, thou, thyself. Lina (or mwena), ye only, yourselves.
    Yena yedwa, he, himself.Bona bodwa, they only, themselves.

    (2). -nye, other, another. These take the relative pronoun.


    Umuntu omunye, another person ; abantu abanye, other persons.
    Izinkomo ezinye, other cattle.
    Amadoda amanye, other men.

    (3). -onke, all, each, every, &c.


    Abantu bonke, all people ; izinto zonke, - every thing.

    (4). -ngaka, so great. Umuntu ungaka, the person is so great.

    (5). -nje or -njaro, such, such as. Lezi zinto zinjalo, these things are so.

    6. Numeral Adjectives.

    (1). Cardinal Numbers. These take the pronominal prefixes like other adjectives, -wiri and -bili are both used for two. If bili is adopted it takes m after i and zi of class :3.

    One, -nye.
    Two, -bili or wiri.
    Three, -tatu.
    Four, -ne.
    Five, -hlanu.
    Six, hlanu na nye.
    Seven, -hlanu na -biri.
    Eight, -hlanu na -tatu.
    Nine, -hlanu na -ne.
    Ten, -tshumi.
    Eleven, -tshumi na -nye.
    Twelve, -tshumi na bili.

    Twenty, matshumi mabili.
    Thirty, matshumi matatu.
    Forty, matshumi mane.
    Sixty, matshumi mahlanu na linye.
    Eighty, matshumi mahlanu na matatu.
    One hundred, matshumi matshumi or ikulu linye.

    NOTE 1.--itshumi, ten, is a noun of the 5th class ; plural amatshumi. So also ikulu a hundred.

    (2). Ordinal Numbers. To form these prefix itshi or tshi to the root, which consequently brings them into the 4th class of nouns. For first kuqala is used.

    Second, itshibili ; third, itshitatu ; fourth, itshine ; fifth, itshihlanu.

    NOTE 1.—They are governed in the possessive case.


    The first person, umuntu wokuqala.
    The second person umuntu wetshibili.
    The third person umuntu wetshitatu.

    (3). Adverbial Numbers. To form these prefix ka to the root. First, kanye ; second, kabili; &c., &c.,

    (4). Both (two), all, three, &c., &c. Prefix bo to babili, &c., for nouns of class 1.


    Both people. Abantu bobabili.
    Use -onke for nouns of other classes.
    All trees (two or more), imiti yonke.

    Cardinal Numbers.

    1 inye (one thing).
    2 zimbili(two things).
    3 zitatu.
    4 zine.
    5 zihlanu.
    6 zihlanu na inye.
    7 zihlanu na zimbiri.
    8 zihlanu na zitatu.
    9 zihlanu na zine.
    10 itshumi.
    11 itshumi pakati inye.
    12 itshumi pakati zimbili.
    13 itshumi pakati zitatu.
    14 itshumi pakati zine.
    15 itshumi pakati zihlanu.
    16 itshumi pakati zihlanu na inye.
    17 itshumi pakati zihlanu na zimbili.
    18 itshumi pakati zihlanu na zitatu.
    19 itshumi pakati zihlanu na zine.
    20 matshumi mabili.
    21 matshumi mabili pakati muvo na inye.
    22 matshumi mabili pakati muvo na zimbiri.
    23 matshumi mabili pakati muvo na zitatu
    24 matshumi mabili pakati muvo na zine.
    25 matshumi mabili pakati muvo na zihlanu.
    26 matshumi mabili pakati muvo na zihlanu na inye.
    27 matshumi mabili pakati muvo na zihlanu na zimbili.
    28 matshumi mabili pakati muvo zihlanu na zitatu.
    29 matshumi mabili pakati muvo zihlanu na zine.
    30 matshumi matatu.
    40 matshumi mane.
    50 matshumi mahlanu.
    60 matshumi mahlanu na linye.
    70 matshumi mahlanu na mabiri.
    80 matshumi mahlanu na matatu.
    90 matshumi mahlanu na mane.
    100 ikulu elikulu or matshumi matshumi ahlangana wodwa.

    Ordinal Numbers.

    1st, kuqala. 2nd, tshibiri. 3rd, tshitatu. 4th, tshine.
    5th, tshihlanu. &c., &c., &c.

    Adverbial Numbers.

    Once, kanye. Twice, kabili.
    Thrice, katatu.



    The numeral adverbs have been already noticed. For list of adverbs the dictionary may be consulted. The following rules show how adverbs may be formed from other parts of speech.

    1. Adjectives may be converted into adverbs by prefixing ka or ku to the root.


    Kakhulu, greatly ; kufuphi, near; kudeni, far away.

    2. Adverbs from nouns when nga is prefixed to the root.


    Ngokulunga, rightly; ngomusa, kindly.

    3. The perfect tense indicative mood is used with nga.


    Ngokulungileyo, rightly.

    Note 1.—Many adverbs take kwa or ku after them—e.g., phezulu kwentaba upon the mountain.

    Note 2.—Some take ku or na after them—e.g., kusekudeni kubo or nabo, it is far from them.


    1. Adverbs of time-

    Emini, noon, at mid-day.
    Izolo, yesterday.
    Kadeni, long ago.
    Kaloku, just now.
    Kaningi, much, often.
    Kanye, once, together.
    Kho, present, here, there.
    Khona, now, then, when.
    Kuphela, at an end, finally. '
    Kusasa, early, to-morrow morning.
    Kutangi, day before yesterday.
    Kuqala, first.
    Loku, then, when, since.
    Masinyane, at once, speedily.
    Namuhla, to-day

    2. Adverbs of place:-

    Emuva, behind, after.
    Endawonye (or ndawonye), together, in one place.
    Khona, or kho, here, there.
    Khona lapha, just here.
    Khona lapho, just there.
    Kudeni, far away, far.
    Kufupi, near.
    Malunga, opposite to, near by.
    Ngalapha, here away, hereabouts.
    Ngalapho, there away, thereabouts.
    Nganeno (or neno), on this side.
    Pakati, within, among, in the midst.
    Pamberi,Pambere, before, beyond.
    Phandhle, without, abroad.
    Phansi, down, below.
    Phezulu, up, above, upon.
    lapha (lapa), here.
    laphaya, yonder.

    1. Adverbs of manner-

    Kuhle, }well, nicely.
    Kakhulu, greatly, very.
    Kabi, } badly, poorly.
    Kambe, naturally, of course.
    Kangaka, so much, thus, so.
    ke, therefore.
    Njalo again, so, thus, and so on.
    Nje, thus, merely, just so.
    Njenga, accordingly, like as.
    Ngaka, such.
    Netshibomo, on purpose, willfully.

    4. Other adverbs--

    Ng'o no.
    Hai, No.
    Yebo, yes.
    Yebo phela, yes, indeed.
    Kumbe, perhaps, probably.
    Kodwa, only, but.
    Phela, of course, then.

    Note - Some adverbs take the personal pronoun as do adjectives.

    EXAMPLE. Ba lapha or ba khona lapha, they are here

    continue in Ngoni Grammar part 6 

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