Kirundi ,   also known as Rundi ,     is a Bantu language spoken by 9 million people in Burundi and adjacent parts of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo , as well as in Uganda. It is the official language of Burundi. Kirundi is mutually intelligible with Kinyarwanda , an official language of Rwanda , and the two form part of the wider dialect continuum known as Rwanda-Rundi. Kirundi is natively spoken by the Hutu , including Bakiga and other related ethnicities, as well as Tutsi , Twa and Hima among others have adopted the language.
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The Kirundi synopsis, of which this appendix contains a part, was written still earlier, in , as an unexpected consequence of a decision to try to teach students to use tone in speaking the language. Kirundi tones are not numerous, but the tone on any given syllable, particularly in the verb forms, changes in ways that are both puzzling to the foreigner and grammatically significant to native speakers. A series of individual grammar notes, distributed among the 30 units of the course, simply would not have been effective.
What is reproduced below is the grammatical section of the synopsis. Vowels, consonants and tones are treated in other sections. These materials illustrate a physical arrangement of examples which is different from that used in Swahili synopsis pp. Kirundi is the principal language of Burundi. It shares a high degree of mutual intelligibility with Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda.
Considered together, the cluster Kirundi-Kinyarwanda ranks third among Bantu languages, after Swahili and Lingala, with respect to number of speakers. There are however two important differences between Swahili and Lingala on the one hand and Kirundi—Kinyarwanda on the other: 1 Swahili and Lingala are spoken over very wide areas, and a high proportion of their speakers have some other Bantu language as the mother tongue; Kirundi-Kinyarwanda is spoken in a relatively small area, as the first language.
The two books in this series which are concerned with Swahili and Lingala set out the grammar of those languages in the form of a series of individual notes, distributed throughout the units of the course. The present volume presents the details of Kirundi grammar in the same way.
In addition, however, this synopsis has been prepared, first of all to provide orientation for those who plan to use the entire book, and secondarily for the student whose desire is to learn as much as possible about the language in the shortest time. Only the most important features of the grammar are mentioned at all, and the vocabulary used in the examples has intentionally been kept small.
The exercises, with answers given in square brackets at the right, are not intended to make this synopsis into an auto-instructional program, but only to give the reader an opportunity to participate if he desires to do so, and to keep constant check on his understanding of the text.
Certain key ideas concerning style of treatment have been acquired over the years from many teachers and colleagues, especially William E. The problems which are faced by a non—Bantu student of Kirundi may be classified under the three traditional headings of phonology, morphology, and syntax. This synopsis concentrates on two of the most complex parts of Kirundi structure: 1 the morphology of the verb, and 2 the pronunciation of the vowels and consonants.
Subject prefixes, object prefixes, roots and stems. The kinds of meaningful elements which may be found in any one Kirundi Verb form are both numerous and highly diverse. There are three, however, at which the student should look first, both because they serve as useful landmarks in the description of complicated verb forms, and because they correspond closely with familiar categories of Indo—European grammar. These three kinds of elements are 1 subject prefixes, 2 object prefixes and 3 roots.
The most central of the three is the root:. These two words differ in meaning in a way which is apparently close to the difference between English 'climb' and 'go'. Further investigation of Kirundi would disclose no basis for recognizing any more divisions within either of these forms; they are therefore what the linguist calls ROOTS. Every language has a large stock of roots. In each group of three words, state which two have roots of the same general shape i. Except in the simplest imperative forms, the root is preceded by one or more prefixes of various kinds:.
It will be noted that the subject prefixes stand for combinations of person first, second, third and number singular, plural :. But these six prefixes are used only when the subject is personal. For nonpersonal third person subjects and for some personal ones Kirundi uses other subject prefixes. Just which one is chosen depends on the identity of the noun that is the subject:.
For this reason, it will be necessary in this discussion of verb forms, to glance briefly at the nouns of the language. In some, but not all cases, the student will soon learn to perceive an alliterative relationship between the subject prefix of a verb and the prefix that begins the noun subject of that verb.
Generally, about half of the prefixes are used with singular meaning, and most of the rest are used with plural meaning. Nouns that are alike with respect to the concordial prefixes that go with them are said to be in the same CLASS. There are eighteen such 'classes' in Kirundi. In the following pairs of sentences, the eoncordial prefixes have been underlined.
State whether the two nouns double underlining are in the same class, or in different classes:. The most striking difference in the use of subject and object prefixes is that the subject prefix must be used whether or not there is an explicit noun subject, while the object prefix is not often used unless the noun object itself is omitted. In this respect the object prefix of a Bantu verb is similar to the object pronouns of many European languages.
A list of subject and object prefixes is found below. The numbers are those which are customarily assigned to these classes in the study of Bantu languages generally, and which will be used throughout this course. Choose the correct object prefix for the second sentence in each pair. The class number for the noun object is given in parentheses. The separate verb forms which may be constructed on a single verb base in Kirundi number in the thousands.
For this reason, it is possible to make a preliminary division of the thousands of forms into about 60 'sets'. A SET of forms is defined for purposes of this discussion as including all verb forms which differ from one another only with respect to their bases and their subject and object prefixes. The base of each verb has been underlined.
There are 21 subject prefixes and 21 object prefixes, plus the possibility of the absence of an object prefix, so that for any given base the number of forms in one set is as large as 21 x 21 or The sets of verb forms may most clearly be described in terms of six dimensions. These will be described in order of. Dimension 1 : Affirmative vs. This is a two-way contrast. The former is used with all indicative forms see Dimension 2 , the latter with all non—indicative forms. All 60 sets are committed on this dimension.
That is, it is possible to say definitely of any set either that it is affirmative or that it is negative. The meaning difference is affirmation vs.
Dimension 2: Mood. This is a four-way contrast. The overt representation of three of the four categories is found in the tones; the fourth is characterized by a vowel before the subject prefix. Participial forms have a tone on the first vowel after the first consonant. The autonomous mood has an extra vowel before the subject prefix.
Dimension 3 : Time relations. This is treated in Meeussen's tables as a seven-way distinction. The morphs which represent the members of the contrast are prefixes made up of vowels and consonants except that the hodiernal-hesternal distinction depends on tone. These prefixes stand just before the object prefix or before the stem if there is no object prefix.
The meanings have to do with matters some of which are usually classified as 'tense', some as 'aspect and one as 'mood' in a sense different from that in which we have named our 'Dimension 2'. The tenses have to do with the placement of an action along the time axis. Kirundi distinguishes four of these: immediate past, present or future , past-today also called the 'hodiernal' , past-before-today also called the 'hesternal' tense and non-immediate future.
The aspectual time relations are those which have to do with the shape of an action in time. One of these is the inceptive, which is used for an action that is just beginning; the other is the persistive, which calls attention to the fact that an action is still going on.
All seven of these forms are classed together within a single dimension because they are mutually exclusive with one another. Also, as has already been pointed out, they are all represented by prefixes or, in the case of the immediate tense, lack of a prefix in one and the same slot in the verb structure. The hesternal or 'yesterday', tense differs from the hodiernal in having a tone on the subject prefix.
Dimension 4 : Imperfective vs. Some verbs have irregularly formed perfectives, however. Perfective forms are used when the action is regarded as being complete, imperfectives are used for actions in progress, or actions mentioned without regard to completeness, but the English translation is not a reliable guide as to which actions are 'considered complete' in Kirundi.
In all, 44 sets are committed on this dimension; the sets that are not are the inceptives and the futures Dimension 3 , which have the consonants and final vowels of the imperfectives. Notice that the English equivalent of a perfective form may or may not sound as though it refers to a completed action or process. Dimension 5: Tone Class. Virtually all verbs in Kirundi fall into one of two tone classes. The overt difference between the two is found in the presence of a high tone in certain forms of one verb, and the absence of high tone in the corresponding forms of other Verbs.
Only 13 sets are committed with respect to this dimension, 8 of which are the affirmative and negative inceptives. The difference is completely without grammatical meaning. Given below are three forms of a high verb, and the corresponding forms of a low verb. Dimension 6 : Linkage. This is a two-way distinction.
Forms that are not disjunct are 'conjunct'. Only ten sets are committed with respect to this dimension. The significance of the distinction is grammatical: the conjunct must be followed by some kind of object or other word to which it is closely tied.
The disjunct may be used without a following object, or with a following object where there is no close connection between verb and object. Place a period after each disjunct form, to signify that it can be the last word in a sentence. Place three dots The intersection of these six dimensions with one another accounts for over 90 per cent of the forms of any Kirundi verb.
There are however a few sets of forms which lie outside this framework. Most important are the subjunctive, the infinitive, and the imperative. These are differentiated for Dimension 1 affirmative vs. These sets need not be discussed further in a brief synopsis.
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