Kinyarwanda

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Rwanda
Ikinyarwanda
Native toRwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo
EthnicityHutu, Tutsi
Native speakers
9.8 million  (2007)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 Rwanda
Language codes
ISO 639-1rw
ISO 639-2kin
ISO 639-3kin
JD.61[2]
Glottologkiny1244[3]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
 
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For the Rwandan film, see Kinyarwanda (film).
Rwanda
Ikinyarwanda
Native toRwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo
EthnicityHutu, Tutsi
Native speakers
9.8 million  (2007)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 Rwanda
Language codes
ISO 639-1rw
ISO 639-2kin
ISO 639-3kin
JD.61[2]
Glottologkiny1244[3]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Kinyarwanda, also known as Rwanda (Ruanda) or Rwandan, is the official language of Rwanda and a dialect of the Rwanda-Rundi language spoken by 12 million people in Burundi and adjacent parts of southern Uganda. (The Kirundi dialect is the official language of neighboring Burundi.)[4] Speakers of Kinyarwanda are subdivided into three ethnic groups, the Hutu (84%), Tutsi (15%), and Twa (1%), a pygmy people.

Kinyarwanda is one of the three official languages of Rwanda (along with English and French), and is spoken by almost all of the native population. This contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and did not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms.[5]

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

The table below gives the consonant set of Kinyarwanda, grouping voiceless and voiced consonants together in a cell where appropriate, in that order.

LabialAlveolarPost-
alveolar
PalatalVelarGlottal
Nasalmnɲŋ
Plosivep   bt   dc   ɟk   ɡ
Affricatets        
Fricativef   vs   zʃ   ʒç    h    
Approximantjw
Rhoticɾ

Vowels[edit]

The table below gives the vowel sounds of Kinyarwanda.

FrontBack
Closeiu
Close-mideo
Opena

All five vowels occur in long and short forms. The distinction is phonemically distinctive. The quality of a vowel is not affected by its length.

Tone[edit]

Kinyarwanda is a tonal language.

Orthography[edit]

A aB bC cCy cyD dE eF fG gH hI i
J jJy jyK kL lM mN nNk nkNt ntNy nyO o
P pR rS sSh shT tU uV vW wY yZ z

Except in a few morphological contexts, the sequences 'ki' and 'ke' may be pronounced interchangeably as [ki] and [ke] or [ci] and [ce] according to speaker's preference.[citation needed]

The letters 'a', 'e', or 'i' at the end of a word followed by a word starting with a vowel often follows a pattern of omission (observed in the following excerpt of the Rwandan anthem) in common speech, though the orthography remains the same. For example, Reka tukurate tukuvuge ibigwi wowe utubumbiye hamwe twese Abanyarwanda uko watubyaye berwa, sugira, singizwa iteka. would be pronounced as "Reka tukurate tukuvug' ibigwi wow' utubumiye hamwe twes' abanyarwand' uko watubyaye berwa, sugira singizw' iteka."

In the colloquial language, there are some discrepancies from orthographic Cw and Cy. Specifically, rw (as in Rwanda) is often pronounced /ɾɡw/. The most obvious differences are the following:

Orthog.Pron.
rw/ɾɡw/
pw/pk/
bw/bɡ/
mw/mŋ/
my/mɲ/
tw/tkw/
dw/dɡw /
cw/tʃkw/
by/bɟ/

Note that these are all sequences; /bɡ/, for example, is not labio-velar [ɡ͡b]. Even when Rwanda is pronounced /ɾwanda/, the onset is a sequence, not a labialized [ɾʷ].

Grammar[edit]

Nouns[edit]

Kinyarwanda uses 16 of the Bantu noun classes. Sometimes these are grouped into 10 pairs so that most singular and plural forms of the same word are included in the same class. The table below shows the 16 noun classes and how they are paired in two commonly used systems.

PrefixClassificationNumberTypical wordsExample
BantuCox ???
umu-11singularhumansumuntu – person
aba-2pluralabantu – people
umu-32singulartrees, shrubs and things that extendumusozi – hill
imi-4pluralimisozi – hills
iri-553singularthings in quantities, liquidsiryinyo – tooth
ama-65/8/93/8/9plural (also substances)amenyo – teeth
iki-74singulargeneric, large, or abnormal thingsikintu – thing
ibi-8pluralibintu – things
in-935singularsome plants, animals and household implementsinka – cow
in-103/65/6pluralinka – cows
uru-116singularmixture, body partsurugo – home
aka-127singulardiminutive forms of other nounsakantu – little thing
utu-13pluralutuntu – little things
ubu-148n/aabstract nouns, qualities or statesubuntu – generosity
uku-159n/aactions, verbal nouns and gerundsukuntu – means
aha-1610n/aplaces, locationsahantu – place

Verbs[edit]

All Kinyarwanda verb infinitives begin with gu- or ku- (morphed into kw- before vowels). To conjugate, the infinitive prefix is removed and replaced with a prefix agreeing with the subject. Then a tense infix can be inserted.

singularsingular before vowelspluralplural before vowels
Ia-y-ba-b-
IIu-w-i-y-
IIIri-ry-a-y-
IVki-cy-bi-by-
Vi-y-zi-z-
VIru-rw-zi-z-
VIIka-k-tu-tw-
VIIIbu-bw-bu-bw-
IXku-kw-a-y-
Xha-h-ha-h-

The prefixes for pronouns are as follows:

Tense markers include the following.

Example translations
YegoYes
OyaNo
Uvuga icyongereza?Do you speak English?
Bite?What's Up?
MwaramutseHi/Good Morning
AmataMilk
EjoYesterday
Ejo hazazaTomorrow
Nzaza ejoI will come tomorrow
UbuNow
UbufaransaFrance
UbwongerezaEngland
AmerikaAmerica
UbudageGermany
UbubirigiBelgium

The past tense can be formed by using the present and present progressive infixes and modifying the aspect marker suffix.

Causatives[edit]

Kinyarwanda employs the use of periphrastic causatives, in addition to morphological causatives.

The periphrastic causatives use the verbs -teer- and -tum-, which mean cause. With -teer-, the original subject becomes the object of the main clause, leaving the original verb in the infinitive (just like in English):[6]:160–1

(1a.)Ábáanab-a-gii-ye.
childrenthey-PST-go-ASP
"The children left."
(1b.)Umugaboy-a-tee-yeábáanaku-geend-a.
manhe-PST-cause-ASPchildrenINF-go-ASP
"The man caused the children to go.

In this construction, the original S can be deleted.[6]:161

(2a.)Abanntuba-rá-bon-a.
peoplethey-PRES-see-ASP
"People see"
(2b.)Ku-geendagu-teer-a(abaantu)ku-bona.
INF-goit-cause-ASP(people)INF-see
"To travel causes to see."

With -túm-, the original S remains in the embedded clause and the original verb is still marked for person and tense:[6]:161–2

(3a.)N-a-andits-eamábárúwameênshi.
I-PST-write-ASPlettersmany
"I wrote many letters.
(3b.)Umukoôbway-a-tum-yen-á-andik-aamábárúwameênshi.
girlshe-PST-cause-ASPI-PST-write-ASPlettersmany
"The girl caused me to write many letters."

Derivational causatives use the instrumental marker -iish-. The construction is the same, but it is instrumental when the subject is inanimate and it is causative when the subject is animate:[6]:164

(4a.)Umugaboa-ra-andik-iish-aumugaboíbárúwa.
manhe-PRES-write-CAUE-ASPmanletter
"The man is making the man write a letter."
(4b.)Umugaboa-ra-andik-iish-aíkárámuíbárúwa.
manhe-PRES-write-INSTR-ASPpenletter
"The man is writing a letter with the pen."

This morpheme can be applied to intransitives (3) or transitives (4):[6]:164

(3a.)Ábáanaba-rá-ryáam-ye.
childrenthey-PRES-sleep-ASP
"The children are sleeping."
(3b.)Umugórea-ryaam-iish-ijeábáana
womanshe-sleep-CAUS-ASPchildren
"The woman is putting the children to sleep."
(4a.)Ábáanaba-ra-som-aibitabo.
childrenthey-PRES-read-ASPbooks
"The children are reading the books."
(4b.)Umugaboa-ra-som-eesh-aábáanaibitabo.
manhe-PRES-read-CAUS-ASPchildrenbooks
"The man is making the children read the books."

However, there can only be one animate direct object. If a sentence has two, one or both is deleted and understood from context.[6]:165–166

The suffix -iish- implies an indirect causation (similar to English have in "I had him write a paper), while other causatives imply a direct causation (similar to English make in "I made him write a paper").[6]:166

One of these more direct causation devices is the deletion of what is called a "neutral" morpheme -ik-, which indicates state or potentiality. Stems with the -ik- removed can take -iish, but the causation is less direct:[6]:166

-mének-"be broken"-mén-"break"-méneesh-"have (something) broken"
-sáduk-"be cut"-sátur-"cut"-sátuz-"have (something) cut"

Another direct causation maker is -y- which is used for some verbs:[6]:167

(5a.)Ámáazia-rá-shyúuh-a.
waterit-PRES-bewarm-ASP
"The water is being warmed."
(5b.)Umugórea-rá-shyúush-y-aámáazi.
womanshe-PRES-warm-CAUS-ASPwater
"The woman is warming the water."
(5c.)Umugaboa-rá-shyúuh-iish-aumugóreámáazi.
manhe-PRES-warm-CAUS-ASPwomanwater.
"The man is having the woman warm the water.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kinyarwanda". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ "Rundi", Ethnologue, 16th Ed.
  5. ^ Boyd, J. Barron (December 1979). "African Boundary Conflict: An Empirical Study". African Studies Review 22 (3): 1. ISSN 0002-0206. JSTOR 523892. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kinyarwanda: Kimenyi, Alexandre (1980). A Relational Grammar of Kinyarwanda. University of California Press. p. 160–72.

References[edit]

External links[edit]