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Question to KI-VI nouns

Hi, when looking at the list of Ki/vi nouns, I get confused. As far as I understood, the rules are such that it is ki- in singular and vi- in plural unless the stem begins with a vowel, then it should be ch- and vy-. So the first example is "shoe" and the swahili translation is kiatu and viatu, but doesn't the stem start with a vowel here?

March 28, 2017



I have made a thread with the exact same question in the past (even with the exact same word, kiatu as an example). As far as I remember from that, the explanation in the tips notes is a bit imprecise, and should actually say that some vowel stems start in ch-/vy rather than ki-/vi. I have pointed this out to BrandenRyan.


From what I understand, that is the the rule, as you will see it in a good many resources. As with most grammar rules, in almost any language, there are exceptions. Kiazi/viazi is another.

Try saying "kiakula". You can almost hear it morphing into kyakula, and from there it's not far to reach chakula (likewise the plural viakula becomes vyakula and can't really go anywhere else from there). Kiatu, on the other hand, is relatively easy to say without slurring the vowels, which may be why it retains the ki- prefix.

The best you can do is note down the exceptions as you meet them.

ETA: You might find it is nouns where the stem begins with "i". ki + iatu = kiatu (note the second "i" is dropped). While it might not help you when you first come across it because the stems aren't really taught, knowing the reason might make it seem less random and therefore easier to learn.

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