"How is the afternoon mother?"
Translation:Habari za mchana mama?
na = and, with za = of
Za is only used following class 10 nouns, which are the plural of the N-class, which will make sense later on in the course (habari is in the N-class ... most words in this class don't actually have the N). The singular of the N-class (class 9) is followed by ya instead of za :-)
Habari has the same form in singular and plural but other words in the sentence that refer to it will tell you if it is plural or singular. Many of its translations in English are uncountable, such as "news" and "information". If you like, you can think of the singular as meaning "piece of news", "piece of information", "report", "message", and the plural as meaning "pieces of news", "pieces of information", "reports", "messages"
The word for "of" is -a, which takes a prefix based on the noun class (different for singular and plural). The full table is here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a#Swahili
There's a bigger table here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swahili_language#Agreement
Habari, like a lot of loanwords, belongs to the N class.
So basically, habari ya means "piece of news/information of", "message/report of", and habari za means "pieces of news/information of", "messages/reports of".
If it were regular, the plural would be michana, yeah, but weirdly enough, according to wiktionary mchana apparently doesn't have a plural form.
I'm not sure why ... I guess languages just have quirks, but a bigger question is how they get around it, whether they use the singular form for plural (like "two afternoon") or whether they use a different construction, like we do with "bolts of lightning" in English, rather than the more-obviously-logical-but-for-no-good-reason-incorrect "lightnings". I'm guessing saying michana in Swahili would be comprehensible but would sound as silly as someone saying "lightnings" in English (or, for non-Americans, when we hear Americans say "Legos").
Yep, exactly. It's kind of the opposite of European languages like German, French, Portuguese where the choice between des / der or du / de la / des or do(s) / da(s) depends on the possessor.
I remain optimistic that it's actually going to be easier to learn them this way because habari will always be followed by ya or za (or yangu, zako etc. and never by wa, la, changu, vyao etc., so we'll hear y and z a lot with it ... and I think it's easier to remember what usually comes next than what usually goes before ... my internal tape-recorder can't rewind.
Also, if it helps, since the class 9/10 (or N class) nouns are very common, singular is associated with y (or i on verbs) and plural is associated with z zi on verbs), a handy mnemonic.
= my journey
= my journeys
It kind of sounds like you're saying safari*s in the plural, so that's an easy way to remember that the *z refers to the plural of this class.