Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Dinka Sentence

The sentence structure relies mostly on the noun, which we are aware that forms the subject of the sentence. Noun represents a person, things, a place, or something about which something is said.

In countless languages spoken around the world, noun takes various positions. There are languages that have a fixed rule that guides a change that takes place when constructing a sentence. For example, in English, noun keeps the same change in most cases. English native speakers, for instance, are pretty accustomed with an es or s when added at the end of a sentence, it means the number of noun is increased, and thereby noun becomes a plural. In English most changes occur at the very end of a noun i.e. Child-children, woman-women, house-houses, word-words and etc.
Noun, in Dinka language, maintains changes by either elongation or shortening of the vowels length. In Dinka language, vowels determine the changes in sentence structure.
To illustrate this, let’s take:
Singular ---------------------- Plural
meth child ------------------- mïth children
weŋ cow --------------------- wεεŋ cows
moc man -------------------- röör men
athöör book ----------------- athör books
thööc chair ------------------- thöc chairs
raan person ------------------kɔc persons
tɔŋ spear --------------------- tɔɔŋ spears
kuur stone -------------------- kur stones
There is no fixed rule that governs the use of specific forms to classify a noun as we already mentioned. As we shall see, an adjective has to agree with a noun in forming a sentence.
Let us take some nouns from the preceding list and use them with the following adjectives:
dït------------------------------ big
koor---------------------------- small
pieth---------------------------- good
rac------------------------------- bad
ciek------------------------------ short
bäär------------------------------ tall
And some numbers:
tök-------------------------------- one
diäk------------------------------- three
ŋuan------------------------------- four
dhiëc------------------------------- five
To start building a sentence we will begin by writing only what we have learned so far. To say two large chairs, we begin by reversing the order: thöc dït kerou, literally chairs large two.
A number almost always comes at the very end in Dinka language.
To say, a small thing, we would write kë koor, which is exactly equivalent to thing small. One may be curious about the definite article a place in the above sentence, but it is true that the lack of either definite or indefinite article in Dinka language does not affect the expression of a complete sentence.
The same way we would write:
raan pieth-----------------------------------  a nice person
kɔc keerou----------------------------------two persons
raan tök--------------------------------------  one person
nyan bäär------------------------------------- a tall girl
Using adjective (especially numbers) with noun, there is a different between the one and the rest of numbers. That is when a noun is modified by any numeral with only the exception of one; noun must always be followed by a particle kee or kaa.
For instance:
kɔc kee rou -------------------------- two persons
nyïïr kee dhetem -------------------- six girls
mïth kee dhoŋuan-------------------- nine children
buɔt kee rou --------------------------two hundreds
keek kee diäk -------------------------- three of them
buɔ̈t kee rou------------------------- two bushes
Let’s take another step and add some verbs to form some simple sentences. Let us take the following verbs:
bɔ/bär/bäk/bɛn ---------------------- to come
lɔ/lɔr -----------------------------------to go
cath ------------------------------------- to walk
And let us take the following forms of tense, which are:
abï/bï --------------------------------- future tense
acï/cï --------------------------------- past tense
a/aa ----------------------------------- present tense
ye/aye/aya -------------------------- habitual
One should not confuse acï/cï with acïï/cïï the last one actually means impossibility and one must elongate the sound of the last one. Here is the contrast:
Acï rɔt lëu ba lɔ baai. ----------------- It was possible for me to go home.
Acïï rɔt lëu ba lɔ baai. ---------------- It is impossible for me to go home.
Acï rɔt lëu bak lɔ baai. --------------- It was possible for you to go home.
Acïï rɔt lëu bak lɔ baai. ---------------It is impossible for you to go home.
Acï rɔt lëu buk lɔ baai. --------------- It was possible for us to go home.
Acïï rɔt lëu buk lɔ baai. ---------------It is impossible for us to go home.
Ɣɛn cï lɔ baai wänaköl. ---------------I went home yesterday.
Ɣɛn cïï lɔ baai miäkaköl. -------------I am not going home tomorrow.
To say, he will go, we write yen abï lɔ.
To say, he has gone, yen acï lɔ.
To say, he is going, yen a-lɔ.
Note: there is no distinction among the personal pronoun he, she, or it, they are all translated into one word in Dinka that is yen.Therefore yen is everything here.
To say, he will come, we write yen abï bɛn.
The following are more examples:
Yen acï bɛn. -----------------He has come.
Yïn bär tɛn. ----------------- You come here.
Yen a bɔ baai. -------------- He is coming home.
Keek aa bï lɔ. --------------- They will go.
Keek aa cï lɔ. ----------------They have gone.
Keek aa lɔ. -------------------They are going.
Keek aa bï bɛn. -------------They will come.
Keek aa cï bɛn. -------------They have come.
Keek aa bɔ. ------------------They are coming.
Deŋ a bɔ. -------------------- Deng is coming.
Deŋ abï cath. --------------- Deng will walk.
Deŋ acï cath. ----------------Deng walked.
Deŋ a cath. ------------------ Deng is walking.
Ɣɛn abɔ/bɔ baai ëmɛnë. -- I am coming home now.
Ɣɛn acï/cï lɔ baai. ---------- I went home.
Ɣɛn acïï/cïï lɔ baai. ---------I am not going home.
Ɣɛn abï/bï bɛn baai.--------I will come home.
Note: It is appropriate to use / for first and second person pronouns i.e Ɣɛn and Yïn, and abɔ/abï for third person pronouns i.e yen.
The Dinka letter a indicates whereas the sentence is in present tense. When a sentence is in plural form, the plural form of a, which is aa can be used as shown above in keek aa lɔ.
As we keep building our vocabularies, we shall soon realize that the rules we have mentioned early are going to be used slightly different. For example, we noticed early that to translate an English sentence into Dinka language, the reverse of the original English sentence is what a person can get. Nevertheless it is not going to conceal the fact that direct translation is also possible.
Let’s take some English sentences and translate them into Dinka to illustrate what we are talking about. Suppose we want to know how to write God is light in Dinka language. If we want to translate this we must translate word-by word: The word for God in Dinka is Nhialic and the English’s is can be translated as ee into Dinka, and finally light is translated as ɣεεr. Therefore our complete sentence would be Nhialic ee ɣεεr.
Both a and ee are used for the verb is, but how are they different? To answer this, we need to study the following sentences:
Deŋ a bɔ baai miäk. ------------------ Deng is coming tomorrow.
Deŋ a lɔ baai. -------------------------- Deng is going home.
Deŋ a jam. ------------------------------ Deng is speaking.
Deŋ a tɔ . -------------------------------- Deng is present.
Kënë ee Deŋ. -------------------------- This is Deng.
Deŋ ee raan pieth. -------------------- Deng is a nice person.
Abuk a pieth arëët.--------------------- Abuk is so beautiful.
Kënë ee athöördië. --------------------This is my book.
It appears that both a and ee are interchangeable, but one should use ee for singular items and state verbs, but a is used for verbs in action. The plural form of both a and ee is aa.


Anonymous said...

hey love the work you did would have been nicer if dinka sounded the same i read everything but its in bor not maluel ot tesh

Anonymous said...

That is true. Dinka is not the same. I write mostly for Bor readers.

Tim Ahlen said...

Have you posted a promunciation guide? I travel to Pakam frequestly and need to learn the language, which is of course Agar. Your written phrase and sentence structure guide is helpful, but would love a pronunciation guide. The when I go back to Pakam, my Agar friends can "correct my vocabulary." Ha!

SKT said...

Thank you for this blog Daniel! It is very helpful. Blessings -Steve, Kansas City, MO

Daniel Akech said...

Dear reader,
Thus far I have not been able to insert sounds into the notes produced here. The problem is a technical one. I will get back with a solution as soon as I find it. Alternatively, I will produce a pronunciation guide is not always accurate but can be helpful if I cannot succeed in inverting sounds into the notes.

Anonymous said...

that iz sum good language, it'll alwayz remind our kidz their language.