- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”).