A Practical Guide to Understanding Ciyawo
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: African Books Collective
Table of Contents
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About the Authors
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Our purpose for writing this book is to help non-indigenous language learners understand Ciyawo, the language of the Yawo people, so that they can communicate more effectively with them. We believe that learning to speak and understand Ciyawo is an essential part...
Topic 1: Pronunciation: How do you say that?
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Ciyawo vowels must be PURE. By pure we mean that they are distinct sounds and not slurred or blended in any way. The vowels are very similar to Spanish or Italian vowel sounds. Whereas in English we create 20 vowel sounds, in Ciyawo there are only 5! There are a...
Topic 2. Sound Changes
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One of the most distinctive and appreciated features of Ciyawo and other Bantu languages in general, is the predictability of the sounds of the vowels and consonants, as we saw in the previous topic. Sound changes do occur when consonants and vowels...
Topic 3. Noun Classes
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It does not take a rocket scientist to tell you that there is no equivalent of the noun class system in English. It is at this point that you need to take on-board a new paradigm of language systems, different from what you know. Ciyawo is a language system...
Topic 4. Infinitive Tense
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In order to build simple sentences there are a couple of ingredients, which we need to gather before we can begin. First, there is the stem of the verb. Second, the letters, which represent the person or thing doing the action. In linguistic terms...
Topic 5. Present Continuous Tense ( )
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The present continuous tense ( ) form of the verb indicates that someone or something is doing an action at the present moment, and that the action is continuing on. In English we use the ending, ‘–ing’ to represent the present continuous action. For example, you are reading this book...
Topic 6. Present ContinuousTense (-)
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If you are familiar with the present continuous tense ( ), which we explained previously, then the negative form will not cause you any problems. This tense is the form of the verb that indicates that someone or something is not doing an action at the present time and the action...
Topic 7. Pronouns
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One aspect of Ciyawo that is important to recognise is that the Yawo are always seeking to keep the subject of the sentence clearly before the mind of the hearer. In order to do this various markers are used. We have already learnt about one type of marker, the Personal...
Topic 8. Imperative Tense ( )
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We, parents, are always trying to teach our children how important it is to bathe and brush their teeth. Well, when teaching our children this important lesson in life we use the imperative tense to convey a command like...
Topic 9. Imperative Tense (-)
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This tense is used when it is imperative that someone must not do something. An example of this would be “I must not fall asleep during Ciyawo class” or “We must not stop learning...
Topic 10. Near Future Tense ( )
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Welcome to a different time. Since in English we don’t have the distinction between a near future tense and a far future tense it is more difficult for us to visualize or understand the Ciyawo timeline. This tense usually deals with things that will happen within the day...
Topic 11. Near Future Tense (-)
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I will not let you fall asleep while reading this book. You will not learn Ciyawo without reading this book. (No really!) These are two examples...
Topic 12. Conjunctions
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If you’re still worried about, ‘What will they think of my Ciyawo in the village?’ then this is the section for you. These words really help connect sentences, sharpen your grammar and help you rest easy at night (maybe). Use these and you cannot...
Topic 13. Ka and its Various Functions
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Ka is a very versatile prefix in Ciyawo and needs to be learned well in order to decipher all the ways people use it. This section will explore some of the uses of ka and then give three exciting new areas not explored by other sections...
Topic 14. Modified Stem
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I can hear you saying right now, “What in the world is a modified stem and why do I need one?” You probably think that we are just snake oil salesmen. Well, we’re not. But you really can’t live without the modified stem and that is a fact. The modified stem is the verb stem...
Topic 15. Present Perfect Tense ( )
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The present perfect tense ( ), is the form of the verb that is used to indicate that someone or something has done an action previously, and that the action is completed. Previously, we have called this the near past tense...
Topic 16. Past Tense ( )
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This tense tells of things that happened starting from yesterday all the way back to the time of creation. It is past, things done and over with. For instance I heard that last week or She washed the dishes last night or God created the world would all be in this past...
Topic 17. Past Tense (-)
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The past tense (-) form of the verb indicates that someone or something has not done an action previously, either earlier in the day or at another time in the remote past. In English, when using this tense we could say things such as, I did not ask for my bonus, while shopping...
Topic 18. Adjectives & Determiners
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Simply put, adjectives describe nouns; they make their meaning more specific. This description can be in relation to the quality, quantity, distribution and the number of things. In this chapter we are going to deal with the first two types of adjectives mentioned...
Topic 19. Possessives
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It is the role of possessives in language to indicate who owns or is associated with another item or person. In English we have several ways of indicating this relationship. First, we can use the handy shortcut, apostrophe ‘S’. For example, ‘Hey, isn’t that Bob’s vehicle?’ The possessive...
Topic 20. Far Future Tense ( )
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What does time mean for a Yawo? The far future tense is generally dealing with events that will take place any time from next week until the next new millennium. The far future tense ( ) will not be used to speak of anything that will happen within the day...
Topic 21. Far Future Tense (-)
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When we use the far future tense (-) in English we mean that someone or something will not do a particular action in the future. In English we can only differentiate the near and far future by adding a clarifying term such as the adverb, ‘tomorrow’. For example in...
Topic 22. Locatives
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Locatives are location indicators. Their role is to help position something or someone in reference to something or someone else. In English we use prepositions or locatives such as to, from, at, on, in, under, beside, along and so forth to mark location. For example, in English...
Topic 23. Demonstratives: This & That
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The terms This and That are commonly referred to as demonstratives in linguistic terms. In our lessons on Ciyawo we refer to them often as pointer words, for obvious reasons. Although these seem pretty simple as a concept, there are actually over 100 ways to say...
Topic 24. Not Yet Present Tense
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In English we don’t, strictly speaking, have an equivalent of the not yet present tense. In English we use the words ‘not-yet’ to make this tense; highly original, aren’t we! When we say that an action has not yet occurred, we mean that it is not yet in process or that it has not yet...
Topic 25. The Verb To Be
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“What about the verb to be?” People often ask, as if mentioning a dreadful disease that afflicts every language learner. “No please, whatever else you say, I’ll agree to do, just don’t mention the verb to be”. Thus, the myth of the verb to be has grown...
Topic 26:There Is/Are and Has/Have
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Another form of verb in Ciyawo expresses the idea that to, in or at somewhere, there is something. For example we can say, at the market there is maize, ku msika kwana yimanga. Another example of this form is lelo kwana mbepo, which translates literally into English as...
Topic 27: There Is/Are Not and Has/Have Not
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Another form of verb in Ciyawo expresses the idea of there not being something. There are two basic forms of this. First a locative form, which expresses the idea that to, in or at somewhere, there is not something. In English, for example, we can say...
Topic 28: Habitual/Continuous
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This topic has 4 different conjugations that all deal with the same theme: actions that are habitual and continuous or ongoing. Although we only briefly explore 4 types there are almost as many types of habitual tenses in Ciyawo as there are conjugations...
Topic 29: Questions
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Questions seek information. In English we have certain words that we only use when asking questions such as, what, where, when, which, why, who and how. To these we add clarifying words such as what time, what place, which day, how much and so forth...
Topic 30: Have you ever... Questions?
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A commonly overlooked form of questioning in Ciyawo is the have you ever type of question and answer. If you have tried to ask people a have you ever type question using the circular route, then you will have discovered, as we did, that it offers little help for finding the right...
Topic 31: Time Markers
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Time markers help clarify language for us so that we can sequence events, know when something happened, must happen or will happen. Time markers are generally part of compound sentences and are used to connect two or more ideas in a sentence. In this section we will explore...
Topic 32: Object Markers
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We are sure that you are just itching to ask the question, “When is a word just a word in Ciyawo and when is it a sentence?” The answer, we are afraid to say, is found by changing your concept of what are words and sentences. Ciyawo has tremendous adaptability...
Topic 33: Verb Endings - An Overview
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Welcome to the powerhouse of Ciyawo; verb endings! We promise that by learning a few simple rules, you will be able to tweak the endings of many Ciyawo verbs and in the process increase your new word vocabulary five fold. It’s guaranteed, or you get your money...
Topic 34: Reciprocal Verb Endings
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This is a classic Yawo proverb and it has the basic meaning of ‘you scratch my back I will scratch yours’. It also uses the reciprocal verb ending, which we will learn in this section. This proverb employs a common verb...
Topic 35: Causative Verb Endings
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The causative verb ending is used to express the idea that someone or something is causing an action to occur. For example, we can say in English that Bob is raising the flag, meaning that Bob is causing the flag to rise, or move...
Topic 36: Neuter Verb Endings
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In your first few lessons in Ciyawo, you probably had one of two reactions. You thought to yourself this language thing is do-able or you thought this is not do-able. The use of do-able is an example of a neuter verb...
Topic 37: Static Verb Endings
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When I found the goat it was already untied. To be untied in Ciyawo is a static verb that shows a state or condition without reference to the agent causing the action. They are similar to the passive verbs but without any reference to who or what is acting upon the subject...
Topic 38: Applied Verb Endings
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Some examples in English of the applied voice are, ‘I fell into a hole the other day’ and ‘I opened the door for her’. The applied verb endings give direction to verbs as in opened for and fell into...
Topic 39: Passive Verb Endings
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In Ciyawo the passive ending indicates that someone or something is affected by an action. The subject of the sentence is not doing the action, but the action is being done to them or they are affected by it. In English, an example is, the man is arrested, which implies that he is being arrested...
Topic 40: Intensive Verb Endings
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I want you to really look at your homework until you figure out what you did wrong. In English we sometimes want to add more weight to our words so we add clarifying words such as really, a lot, etc... We can do the same with...
Topic 41: Reversive Endings
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As far as language development goes, knowing the reversive ending will hardly be a revolutionary act, giving you the edge in the market place that you surely desire. This is because the reversive is limited by the number of verbs that it can undo, so to speak. Despite these limits...
Topic 42: Adverbs
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Surely, happily and confusedly we work our way through the Ciyawo language. Adverbs are the topic of discussion in this section. This one you are going to like. Why, you may ask? Because it’s easy...
Topic 43: Numbers
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We will only touch briefly on the topic of numbers, since the Yawo now tend to count in the trade language of the country where they reside. So in Malaŵi most people count in English, whereas in Mozambique most people count in Portuguese...
Topic 44: Conditional Present Continuous ( , ) & (-, )
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Well done! If you are reading this section then you are persevering and tackling the harder parts of Ciyawo. The conditional sentences all have one thing in common. They express the idea that an action affects or determines another. An example of this...
Topic 45: Conditional Present Continuous ( ,-) (-,-)
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In this topic we will look at the conditional present continuous ( ,-) and (-,-). An example of a conditional present continuous ( ,-) sentence in English is, if you are going, then I will not go...
Topic 46: Conditional Past Tense ( , ) & (-, )
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If you had been born in a Yawo family, you would speak Ciyawo fluently already. But alas, we cannot all be born Yawo but only strive to speak as well as we can. This is the type of sentence structure that we will explore in this section...
Topic 47: Conditional Past Tense ( ,-) & (-,-)
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If you had come to work today you would not have missed receiving your pay. Wow! That is a mouthful and it is even hard to grasp in English. Delving into conditional matters is always a little scary, but here we go yet again...
Topic 48: Only and Emphasis
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Like any language, not everything in Ciyawo fits into nice categories. This section explores ideas that you will run into sooner rather than later: the idea of only and how to add extra emphasis to individual words...
Topic 49: Verbs as Nouns
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We appreciate your coming here to help us with our grammar problem. The idea conveyed in your coming is a type of verb used as a noun. Verbs as nouns are helpful for instruction and expressing a slightly different idea in verb usage. Notice the verb in English changes from the infinitive...
Topic 50: One and Oneself
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Earlier, in the topics on Personal Pronouns, PP, and Personal Pronoun Markers, PPM, we did not explain a form, which expresses the idea of one or oneself. These forms do exist in English, however they are formal and somewhat old-fashioned. In English, one, when used as a Personal Pronoun...
Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010