Lingala and Kikuyu/Contrastive Grammar

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This page details grammatical differences between Lingala and Kikuyu.

lin-kik tests

In Lingala, "in the beginning" is expressed with a preposition and a noun; in Kikuyu, it is expressed with a noun with a locative suffix. The Kikuyu locative suffix can appear in general on a noun to express temporal or spacial location. Lingala has no such suffix, and relies on prepositions instead.

  • (lin) na ebandeli. → (kik) kĩambĩrĩriainĩ.
    (lin) na<pr> ebandeli<n><cl7><sg> → (kik) ambĩrĩria<n><cl7><sg><loc>

In Lingala, negation is marked with the word "te," which appears at the end of the verb phrase. In Kikuyu, negation is marked by a prefix on the verb, which can be "nd-" or "ti-" depending on the subject concord marker; in the following example, meaning "it is not good," the third person singular negated copula is just "ti."

  • (lin) ezali malamu te. → (kik) ti wega.
    (lin) kozala<v><pres><p3><sp><nn> malamu<adj> te<neg> → (kik) rĩ<cop><pres><neg><p3><sg> ega<adj>

In Lingala, verbs must agree with their subjects only in person and number. In Kikuyu, verbs must agree with their subjects in person, number, and noun class; although Lingala has noun classes, its verbs do not exhibit agreement based on them. Noun class agreement in Kikuyu is conveyed with a single prefix which also conveys person and number agreement, and the corresponding prefix in Lingala marks only person and number. The following example gives translations of "water wets" or "waves wet:"

  • (lin) londende epolisaki. → (kik) maaĩ makaihũgia.
    (lin) londende<n><cl11><sg> kopola<v><caus><urp><p3><sp><nn> → (kik) aĩ<n><cl5><pl> ihũg<v><pres><trans><p3><cl5><pl>

In Lingala, the third person verbal subject agreement prefix varies depending on the animacy of the subject. The animate prefixes are "a-" and "ba-," while the inanimate prefix is "e-." In Kikuyu, verbs do not agree with animacy of the subject, although there is a correlation between animacy and Kikuyu noun class, with which verbs do agree. The following example gives translations of "it is good:"

  • (lin) ezalaki malamu. → (kik) nĩ wega.
    (lin) kozala<v><urp><p3><sp><nn> malamu<adj> → (kik) rĩ<cop><pres><p3><sg> ega<adj>

In Kikuyu, verbs mark tense, remoteness, and aspect through a system involving a tense prefix and an aspect suffix; these systems are not entirely independent, as certain aspect suffixes can only co-occur with certain tense prefixes, but each aspect suffix can in general co-occur with several prefixes, so they are modeled as separate tags of tense and aspect. In Lingala, tense and aspect are conveyed through a single suffix and denoted with a single tag. The following example gives translations of the verb meaning "deceive." Note that the Kikuyu analysis includes a <compl> tag to note the aspect is completive (the difference in tense is a byproduct of the bible translations).

  • (lin) akosi. → (kik) ĩheenereirie.
    (lin) kokósa<v><pres><p3><sg><aa> → (kik) heenere<v><currpast><compl><trans><p3><cl9p10><sg>

kik-lin tests

The order of the tests below corresponds to the order of the tests in the previous section.

  • (kik) kĩambĩrĩriainĩ. → (lin) na ebandeli.
    (kik) ambĩrĩria<n><cl7><sg><loc> → (lin) na<pr> ebandeli<n><cl7><sg>
  • (kik) ti wega. → (lin) ezali malamu te.
    (kik) rĩ<cop><pres><neg><p3><sg> ega<a> → (lin) kozala<v><pres><p3><sp><nn> malamu<adj> te<neg>
  • (kik) maaĩ makaihũgia. → (lin) londende epolisaki.
    (kik) aĩ<n><cl5><pl> ihũg<v><pres><trans><p3><cl5><pl> → (lin) londende<n><cl11><sg> kopola<v><caus><urp><p3><sp><nn>
  • (kik) nĩ wega. → (lin) ezalaki malamu.
    (kik) rĩ<cop><pres><p3><sg> ega<adj> → (lin) kozala<v><urp><p3><sp><nn> malamu<adj>
  • (kik) ĩheenereirie. → (lin) akosi.
    (kik) heenere<v><currpast><compl><trans><p3><cl9p10><sg> → (lin) kokósa<v><pres><p3><sg><aa>