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Lesson 5
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Yiii! Kwenga! -  Eek! A Spider!

In the previous conversation between Meili and Ling,  they used interjections such as hea and lo. The following sample shows more of such words:

Mailih: -Eo za!

Meili: -Gotcha! 

Ling: -Yii! Haya jam? Tustu!

Ling: -Eek! What are you doing? Let go of me!

Mailih: -Nong keju wa de en walo shim li ha?

Meili: -Didn't you want me to come over to wash you myself? 

Ling: -Lo, om nyeza.

Ling: -Well, have fun then.

Mailih: -Heee! Haya awau la zizi?

Meili: -Ugh! What is this in your hair? 

Ling: -Yai! Yai! Bas kum zizi!

Ling: -Ouch! That hurts! Stop pulling my hair!

Mailih: -Hea! Nunung!

Meili: -Hey! Stand still!

Ling: -Yai! Bas lo!

Ling: -It hurts! Stop it!

Mailih: -Tim ho chu zizi. Totoi! Hee!

Meili: -It must really get out of your hair. It's sticky! Ugh!

Ling: -Yai! Yaai!

Ling: -Ouch! Ouch!

Mailih: -Hoi? Soi ka wa awau nong zedodi.

Meili: -Hoi? Please tell me this is not a slug.

Ling: -Aye nong zedodi. Meo monki aye.

Ling: -That's not a slug. The cat threw that up.

Mailih: -Ho, pai wi.

Meili: -Thanks a lot, really.


 eo za - gotcha!

 eo - yes, indeed

 za - to take, get, use

 yi - eek! expression of fear

 tustu - to let go of, let be

 nyeza - to enjoy, have fun

 he - ugh, expression of disgust

 awau - this, this thing

 la - to be at, exist on a location

 zizi - hair

 yai - ouch! expression of pain, to hurt

 bas - to stop, end, cease

 kum - to pull

 nunung - to stand still, don't move

 tim - to be imperative, must

 ho - really

 chu - from, get away from

 totoi - sticky

 hoi - huh? expression of surprise

 zedodi - snail, slug

 aye - that, that thing

 meo - cat

 monki - to throw up, vomit


 Kah has lots of  words like he (disgust) hoi (surprise) and yi (fear). In the table below you can find them all:

ha - question marker

nong - no, not

eo - yes, indeed

he - ugh, disgust

hea - hey! you there! used to draw attention or warn somebody

om - let us, expresses a wish, optative

lo - focus,  "doch" "am to!" emphasizes the previous word

soi - please, polite request

mai - hi, hello, introduces many greetings

ho - really, truly

ea - hey, "let me", interest

wu - wow, whoah, awe, how very, what

hoi - huh? surprise

yai - to hurt, ouch!

oi - come on! adhortative

nye - yay! amusement, happiness

yoi - oh dear, oh my, sympathy, grief, woe

sus - shh! be quiet!

wong - aargh, why I... anger

a - er, indecision

s - psst, used to draw attention in a crowded, noisy place

gua - gulp, chug-a-lug


Paragraph 5.1 -  La la land

The word la has come up for the first time in the haya la...? construction. It was used in the conversation above in the following phrase:


Mailih: -Heee! Haya awau la zizi?

Meili: -Ugh! What is this in your hair? 


The word la is the most generic way of denoting a location. It can be translated roughly with "to be at" or "to be present at". So the phrase haya la uba? literally means "what is at your father?". Now watch how it is used in the following phrases:

la zizi - in your hair

la vado - at home 

la kwando - at school

la umomi - at the doctor's

la kizado - in the restaurant

la zekita - in the evening

la Sunta - on Monday

la Nihonan - in Japan

wa la fanaila - I'm at the train station

Jan la fanaila - John is at the train station

Jan la ha? - Is John here?

shuso la ha? - Is there/do we have any lemonade?

binki nong la  - there isn't/we don't have any bread

vado - home 

kwando - school

umomi - doctor

kizado - restaurant

zekita - evening

Sunta - Monday

Nihonan - Japan

fanaila - train station

shuso - lemonade

binki - bread

Paragraph 5.2 -  La umomi

A good example of the practical use of the verb la can be seen in the following conversation in the doctor's office:

Yunus ai uma de umomi. Yunus la yoyoi. Uma nura. Yunus nong keju nura. Nong keju mau de umomi. Tim uma kum yu bo bea na umomi. Yunus yoyoi ai yoyoi.

Yunus and mother are coming to the doctor. Yunus is crying. Mother is sitting down. Yunus does not want to sit down. He does not want to go to the doctor either. His mother must drag him into the doctor's room. Yunus is crying and crying.

Umomi: -Wo, hamun yoyoi?

Doctor: -Oh dear, why are you crying?

Uma: -Nonke ka.

Mother: -He refuses to tell. 

Umomi: -Ha ho? Tim wa kahaka?

Doctor: -Is that so? Do I have to guess?

Uma: -Je en eo. Ka yayang. De vado yoyoi sisi.

Mother: -I'm afraid so. He said noting. He just came home crying. 

Umomi: -Chu hala de?

Doctor: -Where was he coming from?

Uma: -Kwando. Dede kukwando.

Mother: -School. He is attending kindergarten. 

Umomi: -Yunus, uyu jaru li ha?

Doctor: -Yunus, did someone fight with you?

Yunus: *Nonoi titi*

Yunus: *Shakes his head*

Umomi: -Nen. Lo, vuvu yai ha?

Doctor: -Okay, Well, does your leg hurt?

Yunus: *Nonoi titi*

Yunus: *Shakes his head*

Umomi: -Nong ha? Tontoye, bibi yai ha?

Doctor: -It doesn't? Then, does your tummy hurt?

Yunus: *Nonoi titi*

Yunus: *Shakes his head*

Umomi: -Lele ha? Kenke ha? Titi ha?

Doctor: -What about your arm? Your neck? Your head?

Yunus: *Bas nonoi titi*

Yunus: *Stops shaking his head*

Umomi: -Ya titi ha? Nong. Ayai la titi ha?

Doctor: -Is it your head? No. Is the pain at your head?

Yunus: *Yuno kuku*

Yunus: *Points at his face*

Umomi: -Nen wi. Ayun yai ha? Dun ha? Au fuku ha?

Doctor: -Very well. Do your eyes hurt? Your teeth? Or your nose?

Yunus: -Nong yai fuku.

Yunus: -My nose does not hurt.

Umomi: -Nong yai ha? Echu haya la fuku?

Doctor: -It does not hurt? So what about your nose?

Yunus: -Onyau.

Yunus: -It is blocked.

Umomi: -Ha ho? Lo, haya nyau fuku?

Doctor: -Really? Well, what's blocking it?

Yunus: -Montanya...

Yunus: -An eraser...

Uma: -Hee! Nenti aye nong montanya na wa!

Mother: -Yikes! That better not be my eraser!


umomi  - doctor

yoyoi - to cry

nura - to sit down, sit down on

mau - also, too

tim  - to be imperative, must

kum - to pull

bo - inside

bea - room

wonke - to refuse (to do)

kahaka - to guess

en - that

yayang - nothing

vado - home

dede - to attend, go to

kukwando - preschool, kindergarten

uyu - someone, a person, person

jaru - to fight, fight with

nonoi - to shake, wag, go back and forth, zig-zag

vuvu - foot, leg

yai - to hurt, be painful, also: ouch!

tontoye - in that case, then

bibi - belly, tummy

lele - hand, arm

kenke - neck

bas - to stop, end, cease to do

ayai - pain

yuno - to point, direct, indicate

kuku - face

ayun - eye

dun - tooth, teeth

fuku - nose

echu - so, thus

onyau - to be blocked, jammed

nyau - to block, jam

montanya - eraser

nenti - better, had better

As can be seen in the body map above, Kah uses a generic term lele to describe both the arms and hands in one. Further specifications are made with the words yol for "fingers"  and lebo for "handpalm". The same distinctions are made with vuvu "foot/leg", vuyol "toe" and vubo "sole":

Many bodyparts in Kah consists of a reduplication, such as lele, titi or vuvu. This means they have been derived from another word. Compare the following list:

Kah word


Body part









to be on top of

to be below

to have, hold



to be in front of

hair (one)









foot, leg

hand, arm




hair (collective)



Paragraph 5.3 -  Yii! Kwenga!

The word la is used quite a lot in the following text:

Ninku la. Vanyo kukiza. Uba la zubea lu Naimah ai Nur. Uma kwi nuchu akanka.

It's morning. The family is eating breakfast. Father is in the kitchen with Naima and Nour. Mother already went to work.

Uba: -Soi pau mosana.

Father: -Please pass the butter. 

Nur: -Mai za.

Nour: -Here you go.

Naimah: -Baba, wa semi.

Naima: -Daddy, I'm sick.  

Uba: -Semi ha? Haya la?

Father: -Sick? What is up?

Nur: -Yu semi na kwando sisi.

Nour: -She's just schoolsick. 

Naimah: -Nong lo!

Naima: -Am not!

Uba: -Sus lo, Nur! Lilo denu kwan nintau ha?

Father: -Be quiet, Nour! Are you going to study yourself today?  

Naimah: -Yai, bibi!

Naima: -Ouch, my stomach!

Uba: -Ai lilo Nong vivinyam!

Father: -And you stop overreacting!  

Naimah: -Yiii!

Naima: -Eek!

Uba: -Kwi ka en bas!

Father: -I said stop it!

Naimah: -Kwenga, baba! La kwenga ti li!

Naima: -A spider daddy! There is a spider above you!

Uba: -Haya? Hala!?

Father: -What, where!?

Nur: -Je en bon la kenke tau.

Nour: -I think it fell in your neck now.

Uba: -Haya lo!? Hala la? Hala lo?

Father: -What!? Where is it? Where?

Naimah: -Bas papya! Kemun yun zeze.

Naima: -Stop hopping up and down! I'm trying to look at your back!

Nur: -Nubo ango. Bo ango tila zeze!

Nour: -It went into your clothes. It's in your clothes on your back!

Uba: -Yiii!

Father: -Eek!

Naimah: -Bas vivinyam!

Naima: -Stop overreacting!

Uba: -Deka mama! Mama! Yii!

Father: -Call mum! Mummy! Eek!


kukiza - to have breakfast

zubea - kitchen

kwi - already

nuchu - to leave

akanka - work, job

mosana - butter

semi - to be sick, sick

sus - quiet, to be quiet

kwan - learn, study

nintau - today

vivinyam - to overreact, act hysterically

en - that, whether

kwenga - spider

bon - to fall

tau - now

papya - to hop, hop up and down

yun - to look

zeze - back

nubo - to enter, go into

ango - cloth(es)

bo - to be inside

deka - to call, summon

In the text above we see father ask:


Uba: -Lilo denu kwan nintau ha?

Father: -Are you going to study yourself today?  


This would translate directly as "Yourself go study today?". A verb like denu "to go" is combined with verbs quite often in order to indicate future aspect:

denu pau - will give

denu kiza - will eat

denu de - will come

denu bas - will stop

denu shim - will clean

denu jam - will do

wa denu pau - I will give

li denu kiza - you will eat

yu denu de - he/she will come

wanyo denu bas - we will stop

linyo denu shim - you (pl) will clean

yunyo denu jam - they will do

In the same manner, the word kwi "already" is combined with a verb regularly to express perfect aspect:

kwi pau - gave

kwi kiza - ate

kwi de - came

kwi bas - stopped

kwi shim - cleaned

kwi jam - did

wa kwi pau - I gave

li kwi kiza - you ate

yu kwi de - he/she came

wanyo kwi bas - we stopped

linyo kwi shim - you (pl) cleaned

yunyo kwi jam - they did

Perfect aspect cannot be compared with the perfect tense in English. It merely expresses an action has been finished, not at which point in time this has taken place. A sentence like Sunta wa kwi kiza "Monday I ate" may very well be translated as "Monday I will have eaten" when the Monday in question is next Monday, although a accumulation of aspect markers would be preferred: Sunta wa denu kwi kiza "Sunday I go already eat", or "Sunday I will have eaten".

Similarly, a question like kwi kiza ha? can be translated best as "have you eaten yet?" using a perfect tense in the English counterpart.

In the same manner, the progressive aspect, marked by our acquainted verb la "to be at", cannot be considered to be equal to the English imperfect tense. It denotes an action is taking place in a current fashion:

la pau - is giving

la kiza - is eating

la de - is coming

la bas - is stopping

la shim - is cleaning

la jam - is doing.

wa la pau - I am giving

li la kiza - you are eating

yu la de - he/she is coming

wanyo la bas - we are stopping

linyo la shim - you (pl) are cleaning

yunyo la jam - they are doing

When a word like ninye "yesterday" or zemanta "tomorrow" shows up in a sentence like wa la shim "I am cleaning", it is visible English tense and Kah aspect are two completely different things:ninye wa la shim "yesterday I was cleaning" and zemanta wa la shim "tomorrow I will be cleaning".

Aspect is rarely marked in Kah. A sentence like yu jam can either mean "he did", "he is doing" or "he will do it", all depending on the context, such as temporal words like:

zemanta - tomorrow

ninye - yesterday

nintau - today

tunzemanta - the day after tomorrow

kuninye - the day before yesterday

anin - day

ninyo - week

Kwata - Sunday

Sunta - Monday

Yenta - Tuesday

Panta - Wednesday

Jonta - Thursday

Vaita - Friday

Teota - Saturday

maro - month

Kwamaro - January

Sumaro - February

Yemaro - March

Pamaro - April

Jomaro - May

Vaimaro -June

Teomaro - July

Diamaro - August

Sastamaro - September

Ninimaro - October

Maumaro - November

Zemaro - December

zenu - next

yeku - last

janja - usually

lum - about, about to, to be on the brink of

zemanta wa kwan - tomorrow I will study

janja kwan la zekita - I usually study in the evening

lum kwan - I was about to study

yun yu kuninye - I saw him the day before yesterday

uda de la Vaita zenu - my brother will come next Friday

vanyo kwanu la Ninimaro - the family met in October


Please make the following exercises:


1) Please try to incorporate the following words in the sentences:






1. Uma la kiza ...

2. Nintau ...

3. Vanyo denu de la ...

4. Uba ai uma, bua ai ...

5. Weyun ... Sanchez ninye.

2) Change the following sentences in the future aspect:

1. Naimah shim zizi.

2. Wa weyun bua.

3. Uba de vanyo.

4. Ben la kiza binki.

5. Bua kwi kwan.

3) Change the following sentences in the perfect aspect:

1. Meo shim yulo.

2. Ma Wang weyun Yunus.

3. Kiza kuki ha?

4. Denu weyun vanyo.

5. Meo la kiza.

4) Change the following sentences in the progressive aspect:

1. Umomi weyun ahim na Yunus.

2. Bibi yai.

3. Meo nubo bea.

4. Ben denu kwan.

5. Uma kwi jam kuki.

5) Translate the following sentences in Kah:

1. We will meet again.

2. Are you really fine?

3. Hey, stop that!

4. Would you like something to eat?

5. Please hand your sister the bread and the butter.

6) Translate the following sentences in English:

1. La ninku, wanyo janja kiza binki.

2. Yulo denu shim nintau.

3. Montanya bon ti vuvu.

4. Wa weske titi nong yai.

5. Bibi ha? Bibi nong yai ha?