- Negative and affirmative
- Exclamatory rhetorical question
To form a question (direct or indirect), you can either add “ki” (interrogative particle) at the beginning or end of the clause, or use interrogative words (which are also at the beginning or end of the clause). Interrogative words can be preceded by a preposition.
ki lo nyami? / lo nyami ki? = Does he eat?
– ha, lo nyami = Yes, he eats.
– ne, lo guli = No, he drinks.
kias lo ne nyami? / lo ne nyami kias? = Why doesn’t he eat?
– as lo ne gwiri = Because he is not hungry.
kie tu nyami? = What do you eat?
– me nyami apole = I eat an apple.
kon kian tu nyami? / tu nyami kon kian? = With whom do you eat?
– me nyami kon mea basere = I eat with my brother.
me tsivoli ki lo nyami / me tsivoli, lo nyami ki = I wonder if she eats.
me tsivoli kie lo nyami / me tsivoli (ti) lo nyami kie = I wonder what she eats.
The word to which the question is related is normally placed at the beginning of the proposition, but it’s sometimes necessary to use a relative pronoun in order to place the object before the subject, or to form a question about it, so that there is no ambiguity.
ki lo predio pravesi tie? / lo predio pravesi tie ki? = Did he buy it yesterday?
ki predio lo pravesi tie? / predio lo pravesi tie ki? = Was it yesterday that he bought it?
ki tie ke lo predio pravesi? / tie ke lo predio pravesi ki? = Was that what he bought yesterday?
ki lo ke predio pravesi tie? / lo ke predio pravesi tie ki? = Is he the one who bought it yesterday?
The interrogative particle ki can also be used for a reciprocal interrogation, or just to apply the previous question to a new subject. It can therefore be translated as “and” in some cases.
me bono seti, ki tu? / me bono seti, tu ki? = I am fine, and you?
kio tua mape seti? ki tua bape? / tua mape seti kio? tua bape ki? = How is your mother? And your father?
Negative and affirmative
To form a negative sentence, just place the word “ne” (no, not) in front of the word denied. To emphasize the affirmation of a sentence, just place the word “ha” (yes, well, indeed) before the word affirmed.
me ne kanti = I don’t sing
ne me kanti = It is not me who sings
me ha kanti = I really sing
ha me kanti = I am really the one who sings
To avoid confusion between “no, I sing” and “it is not me who sings”, a pause is marked in the first case (ne, me kanti), and the intonation is set to “ne” in the second case. Same goes for the affirmative.
For the negation, it is also possible to use negative correlatives, which start with ney- (nothing, none, never, nowhere, nobody…). Moreover, the use of double negation is tantamount to making the sentence positive.
me ne ami = I don’t like
me ami neyan = I like nobody (I don’t like anyone)
me ne ami neyan = I don’t like nobody (there are people I like)
To answer a negative (or interronegative) sentence, we confirm (ha) or deny (ne) what has been said.
me ne dumi = I am not stupid ➜ ha = Indeed (one confirms what has been said)
me ne dumi = I am not stupid ➜ ne = Yes, you are (one denies what has been said)
ki tu ne jo nyami? = You haven’t eaten yet, have you? ➜ ha = No, I did not (one confirms what has been said)
ki tu ne jo nyami? = You haven’t eaten yet, have you? ➜ ne = Yes, I did (one denies what has been said)
The exclamative sentence is a bit like the affirmative sentence, except that the adverb ha is used to emphasize the part of the discourse on which we exclaim.
lo bono kanti = She sings well
lo ha bono kanti! = She sings so well!
bela bate = A handsome man
ha bela bate! = What a handsome man!
Exclamatory rhetorical question
The exclarrogative sentence expresses surprise, astonishment… asked in the form of a rhetorical question.
This sentence is only marked by a interrogative prosodic intonation (by raising the intonation on the last syllable), as we hear it in English in the familiar register (example : “Really?”).
tu duro ne fini!? = You still haven’t finished!?
lo jo peli kie!? = He said WHAT!?
tu idinavi!? = You’re pregnant!?
tu nomifi tie kapele!? = You call that a hat!?