Just over a year ago, Andre Bauma and his adopted daughter Ndakasi huddled together as bombs, rockets and mortars rent the air. Bauma recalls holding Ndakasi and stroking her thick, dark hair. They were by no means the only ones afraid that day; tens of thousands of families either hunkered down or fled the onslaught. What made them unique was that Ndasaki, Bauma’s “daughter,” was one of around 800 mountain gorillas remaining in the world.
The thick forest canopy above the headquarters of the Virunga National Park at Rumangabo gives the impression that this natural paradise is somehow insulated from war. Tree tops part, revealing densely covered plains and, on a clear night, the red glow of Nyiaragongo volcano with the largest lava lake in the world. Birdsong and the occasional bark of a belligerent baboon are usually the only sounds. Until the fighting starts.
A few kilometers south of…
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No, I’m not talking about school but grammar!!! Here we are going to tackle something essential to understand. A first classification of words has been done in the 19th century. The linguists classified words in main 8 categories but later on, the linguists became more precise and now the number of classes has doubled. Over the years, it came down to the following list. Those classes are important to know because they will determine how you form, not only the plural form of words, but the adjectives and adverbs as well.
|1||mu-||words defining people, gender, family members, trades, professions, etc.||mwana (child), muledi (parent), mukaji (woman), mulume (man), mulongeshi (teacher), mufudi (forgeron)|
|2||ba-||plural form of words from class 1||muntu -> bantu (man, men); muledi -> baledi parent(s); mukaji -> bakaji: woman, women; mukalenge -> bakalenge: chief(s)|
|3||mu-||animals, inanimated objects, instruments, actions, consequences, body parts, products, etc.||mulangi (bottle), mucima (heart, liver, morals), mwendu (lamp)|
|4||mi-||plural form of words from class 3||munu -> minu: finger(s); muci -> mici: tree(s); musulu -> misulu: river(s); musoko -> misoko: village(s)|
|5||di-||body parts going into pairs, liquids, feelings, various objects||dilongu, dici (ear), dikasa (foot)|
|6||ma-||plural form of words from class 5 & 14||CLASS 5: diboku -> maboku: arm(s); ditama -> matama: cheek(s); dicuwa -> macuwa: rechaud(s)CLASS 14: bwalu -> malu: affairs, problems; buloba -> maloba: land(s); buta -> mata: bow(s); bukalu -> malalu: bed(s)|
|7||ci-||locations, inanimated agents, instruments, products, Surnames, feelings, vices, etc.||cilamba (bridge), cibota (banana), cikumbi (stable, fence)|
|8||bi-||plural form of words from class 7||cilembi -> bilembi: hunter(s); cinji -> binji; anger(s); cisalu -> bisalu: market(s)|
|9||n-/m-||animals,||nzoolu (chicken), ngombe (cow), mbuji (goat)|
|10||n-/m-||plural form of words from class 9 & 11||CLASS 9: nyoka -> nyoka: snake(s); mbuji -> mbuji: goat(s); mbwa -> mbwa: dog(s)CLASS 11: lusuki -> nsuki: hair(s); lupusu -> mpusu: spot(s); luzadi -> nzadi: nail(s)|
|11||lu-||lupangu (plot-land), ludimi (tongue), lukambu (powerful man)|
|12||ka-||kashingi (needle), kapaaya (razor), kambela|
|13||tu- / ka-||plural form of words from class 12||tushingi, tupaaya, tumbela|
|14||bu-||concepts, abstract, nature, characteristics, instruments, locations, etc.||budimi (agriculture), bwatu (boat), bukondu|
|15||ku-||basic forms of verbs||kudya (to eat), kulaala (to sleep), kukwata (to work), kufwidikija (to think)|
|16||pa-||adverbs||pambelu (at home)|
|17||ku-||adverbs||kumbelu (from home), kunyima (in the back, behind, after)|
|18||mu-||adverbs|| munjila (on the road, on the way)
I must admit that it is difficult for me to remember what class a word belongs to so what I do is just remember how each word forms its plural. Why is it important to know word classes or at least have a rough idea of what it looks like? Because to build a correct sentence, you have to match the adjectives and determinants that follow a word according to its class.