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"A big aeroplane"

Translation:Ndege kubwa

June 14, 2017



Why isn't it "ndege mkubwa"? Because if it was -zuri, it would be "ndege nzuri" right? Why isnt there an agreement?


There is an agreement. In this case, it's indicated by the lack of prefix on kubwa

Adjectives that go with class 9 or 10 nouns follow the "N-rule'. The following changes take place.

B > mb
W > mb
V > mv

D > nd
R > nd
L > nd
Z > nz
J > nj
G > ng

This may look random, but it's because Swahili has the following prenasalised phonemes: mb mv nd nz ng

Other consonants (ch, f, h, k, m, n, p, s, t, z) take no prefix. So that's why it's nzuri but kubwa. Adjectives starting with a vowel take ny- as the prefix, except for -ema which is njema instead of *nyema.

The only exception to this is when the adjective would, without a prefix, only be one syllable, such as -pya which takes a stressed m-.

And incidentally, if you say ndege mkubwa, that's placing it in the M-WA class, used for people and animals, so that actually means "a big bird".


So an adjective starting with a "k" never takes a nasalised consonant in this class?


Correct, except if it would otherwise only be one syllable. The adjective -ke for example, would be nke in this class. Adjectives, nouns and verbs have to have a syllable that is stressed, so one syllable words tend to be avoided, and in this case, the nasal prefix is stressed.

I don't think nke is commonly used though. Usually -a kike is used to mean female, or the noun jike.


All the hard sounds at the beginning aren't altered for class 9/10 (p, t, k...), neither the nasals; the "soft" counterparts (b, d, g...) are prenasalized (according to their place of articulation). So you don't have to memorize an entire list.


korongo ndevu ni ndege kubwa

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