Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

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Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Mon 23 Sep 2013, 18:57

As promised, I'll start posting some lessons on Yoruba here as I go through my course here at the university. This is where I will gradually post everything I learn. Now, I am not a native speaker of this language and I am by no means an expert, so I can only teach you what I discover as a student. I don't have the resources to go into detail about some things that will come up later on, which means a couple things are going to happen "just because they do" and that'll be as much explanation as I can give. With that said, here we go!

Ẹ̀kọ́ Kìíní - Lesson One: Phonology
Let's start with the basic phoneme inventory:

-Consonants
Labial: /m f b w/ - <m f b w>
Alveolar: /l~n ɾ s t d/ - <l/n r s t d>
Post-Alveolar/Palatal: /j~ʝ ʃ ɟ~dʒ/ - <y ṣ j>
Velar: /k g k͡p g͡b/- <k g p gb>

-Vowels
/a e ɛ i u o ɔ ĩ ɛ̃ ũ ɔ̃ N/ - <a e ẹ i u o ọ in ẹn un ọn/an n>
+High, low, or mid tone (marked á à a respectively)

Allophony and Co.
-The phonemes /k/ and /t/ can often have accompanying aspiration, with /t/ even being pronounced [tsʰ] occasionally.

-The consonants <y> and <w> can be pronounced with a bit of frication, but this usually only happens when speakers are over-enunciating to (for example) make sure someone heard them.

-I've heard <j> as [dʒ] most often but some people list it as a palatal plosive so who knows. Either pronunciation is fine.

-The sound [h] can pop up sometimes and linguists often do list that as a phoneme, but I'm pretty sure it's in free variation with null onset/vowel hiatus because it doesn't really appear initially in words and there are quite a few words that are written with or without it. For completeness, I'll let you guys know that it is written to match its IPA value, and I will write it in when that's the 'standard' spelling.

-The phoneme /l/ is pronounced and written as 'n' when it occurs before nasal vowels. In this case, and also after /m/, nasal vowels are written without an <n> succeeding them.

-The phoneme I've written as /N/ is a syllabic nasal, which doesn't really have an independent phonetic value, and just adapts to the phoneme following it. Thus, before labials it becomes /m/, before alveolars /n/, etc. Before fricatives and approximants it tends to be pronounced as /ŋ/. Note that the syllabic nasal CAN take tone by itself.

-Yoruba is strictly (C)V, no consonants can appear in coda position. Also, apparently the vowel /u/ and its nasal counterpart can never appear word initially. It must always be <Cu...>

-Vowels can appear long pretty often, and sometimes you get sequences of the same vowel three times in a row; e.g. kàáàsán - good afternoon - but it's always a result of contraction/abbreviation (which happens quite a lot, and I will talk about in detail later, in the proper section), and can always be written with the first vowel left out. Thus, you could just write the same word káàsán without living in fear of reproach. Also, long nasal vowels are written <VnVn>. They're pretty rare though.

-When different tones appear next to each other, it is a smooth transition between them. I'll take the same word for example here as well: káàsán is pronounced [kʰaː˥˩sɔ̃˧˥]. Basically they become tone contours when the environment facilitates it.

-----

I can't really think of any way to quiz on just this information, so if any of you have any questions, clarifying or otherwise, don't hesitate to ask! They have to be about Yoruba's phonology though. No questions about cooking allowed!

Up next: Pronouns!
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by kanejam » Mon 23 Sep 2013, 21:54

Wow! All the diacritics are very intimidating! I'll just point out that you haven't explicitly explained what the tones are. Do you have trouble pronouncing the double-articulated plosives? I will follow this thread but I can't promise that I'll be able to do all the exercises.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Mon 23 Sep 2013, 22:30

I have a little bit of trouble with them, but if I speak slowly it's not so bad. I have the most trouble remembering which tones go to which specific word, honestly.

As for tones, each orthographic vowel is marked like á, à or left plain (just a). á is just flat, high tone, e.g. [a˥], à is [a˩], and a is [a˧]. Like I mentioned before, you can get tone contours, so àá, áà, àa, áa, and every other possible combination is possible. When these appear it's just a smooth contour from one tone to the other exactly as it is written: àá-[a:˩˥] áà-[a:˥˩] aá-[a:˧˥]. That's pretty much all there is to it. Sometimes the tones will be affected in derivative terms but the orthography always exactly matches the pronunciation.

Is that a good explanation? [:)]
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sat 28 Sep 2013, 16:58

Personal Pronouns

Yoruba has a pretty standard set of personal pronouns, but with one caveat: there's a separate set of "emphatic pronouns" for subjects. The normal pronouns are much more common, but it's essential to commit both sets to memory, because there is no situation where you can change them and keep the same meaning.

Normal Subject Pronouns:

Code: Select all

                   SING    PL
1st person  |      mo      a
2nd person  |      o       ẹ
3rd person  |      ó       wọ́n

These pronouns appear as the subjects of 'content' verbs, and all copular forms except ni. The second person plural also serves as a polite form of address, much like the system in several European languages. The honorific distinction is mostly based on age--you could call people the same age as you, younger people, or subordinates o, but everyone older than you by a significant amount, or younger people who are superior in social class would be referred to with , e.g. teachers, police officers, parents. To make a response particularly polite you might insert the honorifics mà or sà at the end of a sentence, which are used for women and men respectively.

Also, for the generic pronoun used in 'one' clauses, the first person plural is the standard. Some people might occasionally use the third person plural but I don't see that very often myself.

Examples of usage:
A kọ́ èdè Yorùbá lẹ́gbẹ́. - We are learning Yoruba together.

Ẹ káàrọ, màmá mi! - Good morning, mother!

A sọ èdè Òyìnbó ní Amẹ́ríkà! - They speak English in America!

Note that Yoruba is strictly SVO, and the first person plural is used as the indefinite pronoun even in cases where the speaker might not be a member of the group.

Emphatic pronouns:

Code: Select all

                   SING    PL
1st person  |      èmi     àwa
2nd person  |      ìwọ     ẹ̀yin
3rd person  |      òun     àwọn
These are used when you are trying to put particular emphasis on the fact that the subject is the particular person who does or is something. It is most often used with the copular verb ni For instance; if someone says Ta ni yẹn? - who is there? then I would respond Èmi ni Teddy. As I said before, the two sets of pronouns are not interchangeable, so Mo ni ... is incorrect in all situations.
Another important phrase that requires emphatics is asking about how someone is doing in response:

Kàárọ̀! Báwo ni? - Good morning! How are you?
Dáadáa ni. Ìwọ ńkọ́? - I'm doing pretty good. How about you?

ńkọ́ is a special word here that seems to be used only in this situation. It's a stock phrase. But you would have to use the emphatic here, because ni is involved. From a more abstract standpoint, you are specifically asking how the other person in the conversation is doing, with the implication that they are the only person you want to hear about. It's kind of complicated. Think of ni as being a topic marker, similar to Japanese, but a little bit less pervasive. You'll see it a lot with subordinate clauses and stuff.

Another example of emphatic usage:

Ta ni ó fi Ossicone ṣe yẹ̀yẹ́? - Who was teasing Ossicone?
Èmi ni. Ẹ má bínú! - It was me. I'm sorry!

That's the basics of subject pronouns in Yoruba. It won't be long before you all can do simple declarative sentences!

Bonus: Some greetings, etc:
Good morning: Kàárọ̀!
Good afternoon: Káàsán!
Good evening: Kúùrọ̀lẹ́!
Good night: Káalẹ́!
Bye: Ó dàbò!
How are you? : Báwo ni (nǹkan)?
-Dáadáa ni. - I'm doing good
-Ségesègé. - I'm just doing okay, so-so.
-Burú ni. - Bad, not so good, etc.
Is everything good? : Ṣé àlàáfíà ni?
-Àlàáfíà ni. - I'm feeling good.
-Àlàáfíà kọ́ ni. - I'm not feeling good.
What's wrong? : Kí ló dé?
-Ó rẹ̀ mí. - I'm tired.
-Orí ń fọ̀ mí - My head hurts.
-Inú ń run mí - My stomach hurts.

Note: It's impolite to use any of the questioning greetings with an elder, superior, etc. You can only use the time-related greetings with them, in which case, you can't forget to use the honorific !

OKAY, That's plenty of instruction for now, I think. I'll post a little thing about Possessive Pronouns this evening, and we'll get into an introduction to simple verbs, in which I'll discuss how transitivity works in Yoruba.

EDIT: The volume of work I have been given means that I'm gonna have to delay the next parts for a couple days, probably. Sorry guys! ):
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by DesEsseintes » Wed 02 Oct 2013, 10:22

[:D]

Interesting stuff! Look forward to more, especially the transitivity stuff. (I'm obsessed with valency...)
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sat 05 Oct 2013, 20:54

Possessive Pronouns

These are pretty simple. Possessors succeed their possessions in all cases, so these come after the possessed nouns. As a matter of fact, all adjective-ish modifiers come after the head noun. But this isn't the syntax lesson, this is the possessive pronouns lesson, so let's get to it! Here are the basic ones:

Code: Select all

                   SING    PL
1st person  |      mi      wa
2nd person  |      rẹ      yín
3rd person  |      rẹ̀      wọn
And that's pretty much all there is to them. They don't get inflected in any way, but sometimes the 2nd and 3rd person singular ones will lose the initial /r/ (i.e. and ẹ̀), but that's not a grammatical function, it just occurs at the discretion of the particular speaker. Whichever seems to flow better is fine to use anywhere!
Example: Ọkọ̀ mi fúnfún. - my car is white.

There are also so-called Emphatic possessives:

Code: Select all

                   SING    PL
1st person  |      tèmi    tiwa
2nd person  |      tìrẹ    tiyín
3rd person  |      tirẹ̀    tiwọn
These just pattern with the English words "mine, yours, etc.". For example:
Kúkì tí ó kù ní ìparí ni tèmi! - The last cookie left over is mine!

Thus they always appear with ni (I'm like 99% sure of it, at least).

Related note: I noticed that the way I structured my earlier posts here kind of implies that the emphatic personal pronouns can only appear as subjects. That's not true, they can be objects as well, and they appear the same as they would as subjects:
Ó tì, ó fun ún ní àwa! - No, he gave it to us!

**More stuff later on today (I'm serious this time)!
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sun 06 Oct 2013, 04:51

Object pronouns

This is the last set of personal pronouns that we'll need to go over. They appear solely as the objects of "simple" verbs (i.e. those with only one syllable).

Code: Select all

                   SING    PL
1st person  |      mi      wa
2nd person  |      ẹ       yín
3rd person  |      V       wọn
This probably looks pretty familiar. Almost all of them are the same as the possessive pronouns! There's a couple important differences though. For one, I've written the third person singular as V. It actually doesn't have its own inherent form, it just repeats the final vowel of the verb. Second, there is some tone sandhi that goes on with this set. When the verb has high tone, we get the regular forms as you see them in my little chart there. But when the verb has mid or low tone, the object pronoun changes to high tone. The pronoun yín is invariable, however. Contrast these two sentences:

Mo rí i. - I see her/him.

Mo mọ̀ ọ́. - I know it.

Note that this can lead to ambiguity with verbs of the form Cẹ:

Mo fẹ́ ẹ. - I like him/you.
I don't know how many simple verbs like Cẹ there are, so this may not be super important. Context will tell you what they mean anyway.

That's all of the personal pronouns. The good thing is, no other nouns decline for their role in the sentence, so we're pretty much done with all types of inflection in this language. Everything else is indicated by syntax and particles clearly separate from the words they modify. There's a couple prefixes that get attached to verbs to derive nouns from them, but I'm not sure if those are productive, and they're all 100% regular.

I know you've been really excited for it DesEsseintes, but I'm not going to do verbs right this moment. You'll have to wait a day or two. ;p

However long it takes me to finish that lesson, it *will* be the next thing I do on this thread.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by DesEsseintes » Tue 08 Oct 2013, 03:54

That third person object pronoun is yummy! [:D] As for the verbs, I will live for a day or two, I guess.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by Ambrisio » Fri 11 Oct 2013, 20:48

Teddy wrote: This probably looks pretty familiar. Almost all of them are the same as the possessive pronouns! There's a couple important differences though. For one, I've written the third person singular as V. It actually doesn't have its own inherent form, it just repeats the final vowel of the verb.
That's just so Finnish.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sat 12 Oct 2013, 02:41

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for!

Verbs

Verbs in Yoruba are morphologically pretty simple, but in a more abstract sense there's a lot of stuff going on with them. The most important thing to recognize is that Yoruba verbs can be split into several categories, which operate in a syntactically different way. Some groups of verbs look similar to each other, so we just have to memorize what type of verb certain words are.

-Copular forms

This is a very small, but ubiquitous set of verbs that is very important to remember. Yoruba has several verbs that act as copulas, mirroring the behavior of similar verbs in other languages. It does not have one single verb that takes care of all these roles, like English does.

To start with, we have the word ni. I would normally hesitate to call this a verb, because it acts differently than pretty much every other word that's nominally a verb in Yoruba, but that's the classical description of it. At the very least it takes up the same 'slot' in sentences that other verbs do. But let's get to how it actually works--
Ni basically serves as a 'focus' particle. It can link together not only nouns, but phrases as well. You see it very frequently in questions:

Kí ni yìí? - What is that?
Ta ni o sọ̀rọ̀ pẹ̀lú rẹ̀? - Who are you talking to?
Báwo ni (nǹkan)? - How are things [going for you]?

Remember that when using pronouns with this verb they have to be emphatic pronouns! When ni is used in declarative sentences, it kind of acts like a topic marker. Compare the two sentences:

Ìwé ni mo rà. - It's a book that I bought.
Mo rà ìwé. - I bought a book.

It also works as a proper copula:

Daniel ni olólùfẹ́ mi.
Daniel is my boyfriend.
**Olólùfẹ́ doesn't mean boyfriend specifically - it's got the same sort of connotation as 'partner' I guess, but it translates over to the entire group of English terms boyfriend, girlfriend, S.O., etc.

However, there's another word that takes similar roles in equivalence relations. When you want to speak of characteristics someone has, or what their job/career is, you have to use the word jẹ́. Jẹ́ is more 'officially' a copula, and doesn't have the same topic~emphasis connotation that ni has. Because of this lack of topicality encoded in the word, jẹ́ normally takes regular pronouns:

Mo jẹ́ akẹ́kọ̀ọ́. - I am a student.
Gbogbo ẹ jẹ́ ènìyàn dáradára. - All of you are wonderful people.

Note that jẹ́ is not to be used with adjectives, just nouns that describe roles or character traits. Ni can be used when you are referring to someone's profession but it's more common to use jẹ́ unless you're responding to a question.
Some examples:

Ó jẹ́ akúṣẹ̀ẹ́. - He is poor/he is a poor person.
Mo jẹ́ olórin. - I am a musician.
Èmi ni olórin. - I am a musician. (i.e. responding to Kí ni o máa ń ṣe? - What do you [usually] do?)

As you might be starting to see based on the first example here, and a couple other ones that I've written, a lot of things in Yoruba that map to adjectives in English either act like verbs or are nouns that have to be referred to with a possessive construction. You don't really get copulas with 'adjectives' in Yoruba. Like if you want to say "I'm happy" the correct phrase is Mo ní àláfià~Mo láláfià "I have happiness/joy". acts like a possessive verb, similar to 'have' in English. It also takes care of locative constructions, covering the English concepts of 'at' and 'in' at the same time. Speaking of locative constructions, we have another copula used for those cases: .

Wà is used overwhelmingly with the preposition ní in Yoruba, not appearing together only in a few isolated cases. You don't get them right next to each other in the cases when you'd have a stranded preposition in English. Such constructions are not grammatical in Yoruba--

Mo wà ní Amẹ́ríkà. - I am in America.
Mo wà ní ilé mi. - I am in my house.
Níbo ni o wà? - Where are you? as opposed to *Níbo ni o wà ní?

The one case I have seen where it appears without any preposition in the sentence is in answers to questions of health status:

Báwo ni Daniel? - How is Daniel?
Ó wà. - He is doing well.

That's all of the copula type thingies in Yoruba. I'm pretty tired so it looks like verbs are gonna have to be a series. No promises, but I think I'll be able to fit in another post here over the weekend. Also if you have any specific questions that don't take two hours to answer, I'd totally be willing to respond to them c:
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Thu 17 Oct 2013, 03:47

-Active Verbs

This is the classification I've made up for the vast majority of Yoruba verbs that all act pretty similarly to each other. It includes all verbs except the copulas and a small class of defective verbs which can't appear by themselves, and some modal auxiliaries that I guess you could call verbs as well. Basically, these are the 'content' verbs of Yoruba, including all actions physical as well as mental.

One of the most important things to recognize is that in this language, truly intransitive verbs are a closed class. There are only a handful of them and they are the only ones that can be used in that way. For every other verb, you must give an object of some kind, which is often a generic concept. I'll go ahead and list the intransitive verbs right now:

jókòó - sit
bẹ́ - jump
ṣubú - fall down
- come
lọ - go
rọ̀ - rain

and I'm pretty sure sùn 'sleep', 'wake up' and 'dance' are part of the group too. A document online claims that only the first part of this list counts but our professor, a native speaker, has used the last three intransitively himself before, so I'll just say they're included too. Maybe it's a dialectical thing.

But back to my original thought: that's all of them. Every other verb in Yoruba is transitive. However, some of them will appear to be intransitive, but instead what is happening is they have an incorporated noun stuck in them. Take the verb ka for example. This means 'read', but we cannot simply say *mo ka. We must add a generic object that gets incorporated in: Mo kàwé. This comes from mo ka ìwé, where ìwé means 'book'. You can see similar forms appearing everywhere:
jóná - burn > iná - fire
sọ̀rọ̀ - speak > ọ̀rọ̀ - word
jẹun - eat > ohun - thing

In the case where you do want to give an explicit object, these incorporated nouns are dropped.
Mo jẹ ìrẹsí - I eat rice.
Mo sọ "mo jẹ ìrẹsí" - I said, "I eat rice".

This is how the basic, simple verbs work. Simple verbs are the verbs in Yoruba whose roots are single CV syllables, but there are other kinds of verbs that act a bit differently. Complex verbs are those that have multi-syllable roots; these take the possessive forms of the pronouns as their direct object. There are also 'split' or bipartite verbs that morphologically act as one unit, e.g. coming together in one word in verbal noun forms, but in normal sentences break apart.
Complex verbs don't really do anything else too special, except appear in different shapes:

Mo gbàgbé ọjọ́-ìbí rẹ̀! - I forgot her birthday!
Mo fẹ́ràn láti gbé ìgbín yìí. - I would like to carry that snail.

Side note about the second example: Láti is a sort of complementizer. I'm not sure of the span of its use but it always appears after fẹ́ràn. It also corresponds to the English phrase 'in order to'.

Bipartite verbs can be a bit confusing because sometimes they're not marked specially in dictionaries and it's not always easy to tell if they operate the same as others. Many of them correspond to trivalent verbs, like 'to give'. In Yoruba, this corresponds to fún ní, which operates as follows:
A fún B ní C - A gives B to C.

There's also a great many split verbs that contain the element fi. This is a defective verb form that can't really appear by itself anymore, but it pops up all over the place as an instrumental marker and a formative for other trivalent verbs. An example of the instrumental case:

Mo fi ẹja gbá a. - I hit him with a fish.

And an example as a verb formative:

Màmá ẹ fi ara ẹ̀ hàn mí laalẹ́ tó kọjá. - Your mother introduced herself to me last night.

This same structure appears in some other verbs, but more disguised:
fẹtísí - listen to > fi ẹtí sí - FI ear DIRECTIONAL

There's also the verb phrase fi ẹnu konu which means 'kiss'. I can't find the 'konu' part anywhere but I'm betting that it's some kind of verbal element of the form kV, plus ẹnu yet again. This structure turns out to be somewhat of an extreme case, as the verbal noun 'kiss' ends up being ìfẹnukonu, which is the second longest word I've seen in Yoruba so far. But the point I'm trying to get at with these examples is that fi seems to have a connotation somewhat like 'put' in English. In fact, they're both kind of defective. 'Put' in English isn't really grammatical without some kind of prepositional phrase or something, and fi in Yoruba isn't grammatical without a verbal complement. At the very least it appears really frequently so a bit of discussion on it is more important than it is for other morphemes.

------

That's all I've got for tonight. Next time I'll probably do a short blurb on prepositions and then include a write-up on adjectives in the same post if I'm feeling up to it. Sorry for all the like, week-long gaps between lessons. Especially this time I've been pretty sick for several days and it's always mentally exhausting for me to write this much all at once. I wish I could put them up more frequently but I've just been dealing with a lot of stuff over the last couple months or so and the vast majority of the time I feel too down to get any sizable volume of work done. I'm working on fixing those things though so maybe we'll get a Yoruba marathon sometime in the near future. (:

Also, I have a couple questions! Are these lessons clear? I know a lot of my example sentences have involved structures that I haven't officially discussed yet but my intent is for you to see things in a more natural syntactic context than 'See Spot run. Jane sees Spot...' because nobody talks like that. I'm hoping though that you all can pick up which parts of the sentences are the focus of those particular examples, but if you can't then that's a big problem and I wanna know what I can do to make these lessons more helpful.

I'm not so good at coming up with exercises so it's not so interactive, but are you guys enjoying these? Anything particularly interesting, or any grammatical concepts that you want to know about that you think could be expanded on or that I haven't gone over yet?
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by kanejam » Thu 17 Oct 2013, 05:45

I haven't been following these as closely as I could have, but they seem like really good lessons. They are structured clearly and interestingly. I don't know what you could do better [:)] Maybe exercises? Surely you must have exercises in a textbook or something?

Are these courses run through your university? I'm assuming you're in America because you're also learning Quechua. You go to an awesome Uni... Mine offers pretty mainstream language classes other than Maori, Samoan and Tongan.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Thu 17 Oct 2013, 16:26

Yep! I've been getting taught Yoruba through the University of Georgia. They have a bunch of language classes here.

And I don't know about exercises. The ones in my book depend on the structure of the lesson, but the lessons *I'm* doing don't have that same setup. I'm not really sure what kind of questions I could ask.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by DesEsseintes » Fri 18 Oct 2013, 13:39

I'd totally forgotten about these lessons!

Your presentation of Yoruba is excellent! I like the language a lot, and you have introduced many fascinating features. I look forward to more. I think I need to give African languages more of my time...

Interlinear glosses would help in some places. [:)]
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Mon 21 Oct 2013, 03:20

Prepositions

In a kind of strict interpretation, Yoruba only has four prepositions. But in practice, it is helpful to recognize many other phrases that function similar to the way prepositions do in other languages. Most of them are idiomatic so maybe it's easier to remember them as 'prepositions' themselves rather than separate parts that mean something special when they end up together.

The four basic prepositions are:
: used in a locative sense, only refers to things that are more or less stationary; cf. English at/in
: used in a locative sense for movement from one place to another; cf. English to/towards
láti : ablative. Used for movement away from something.
pẹ̀lú : comitative (with/and). This can be used to connect different members of a noun clause, e.g. me and Eli, but in that case, when either noun is a pronoun, it's obligatorily emphatic. It is the same case with the other noun phrase-linking word, àti.

Fún is arguably also a basic preposition but since it also functions as the 'give' verb and the ideas of giving and the 'for' preposition are semantically so close, I'm noting it separately.

And then we have the other prepositions. The reason why I had my little speech at the top here is because almost all of them are just +a specific noun:
lórí - ní+orí 'at the head of...' - on
lẹ́gbẹ̀ẹ́ - ní+ẹ̀gbẹ́ 'at the side of...' - beside, next to
lápá ọ̀tún - 'at the right arm of...' - to the right of
lápá òsì - 'at the left arm of...' - to the left of

Many more of them seem to be related to body parts as well.

Example sentences:
Mo ń jókòó ní àga. - 1S PROG sit LOC chair - I'm sitting in a chair.
Ó lọ sí ọjà fún ó rà ìgò oyin. - 3S go ALL market for 3S buy bottle honey - She went to the store to buy a bottle of honey.
Ó ń gbé lórí igi. - 3S PROG carry LOC=head tree - He lives on top of a tree.

These phrases often pattern with English adverbs as well, especially relating to things like expression of time.

Mo mu omi lóní. - I drank water today.
lóní - ní+oní "in today".
-----

Adjectives

Okay this one's just a bit complicated. The set in English that most people describe as 'adjectives' ends up corresponding to two different sets in Yoruba that I can distinguish. Some adjectives in English seem to correspond only to descriptive nouns in Yoruba, and others correspond to a set that works sorta like verbs I guess. The ones that end up as nouns seem to be things that can only describe people, e.g. akúṣẹ̀ẹ́ - poor person; ọlọ́gbọ́n - wise person. I don't know if there's any exact way to tell if a particular English adjective will translate into a noun or a 'verb'. In this case they act just like regular nouns would:

Ìwo ni ọlọ́gbọ́n! 2S.EMPH FOC wise.person - You're so wise.

These forms can be recognized pretty easily if they aren't spelled out to you as nouns. They often appear with the prefixes a- or olu~olo- which seem to be similar to the English suffix -er. An astute observer may notice that the ~olo- prefix sometimes appears with lowered vowels. I theorize that at some point in Yoruba's history when these prefixes were productive there was some sort of vowel height harmony effect going on. I have never seen a sequence of eCẹ or oCọ in a Yoruba word before so this seems very likely.

Like I said before, there's also a set of sorta 'stative verbs'. Adjectives that aren't part of the special group mentioned just above work like intransitive verbs:

Ajá mi tóbi gan an ni. - dog 1S.POSS big very - My dog is very big.
Má jẹ àpáta! Wọn ṣòro jù. - PROH eat rock | 3P hard exceed - Don't eat rocks! They're too hard.

When you're using them attributively, they pattern like 'gerunds', which I haven't gone over yet either. The marking of these forms generally consists of partial reduplication.

Ajá títóbi ni! - That's a big dog!
Ó jẹ́ ènìyàn gíga. - He is a tall person.
[dance is not an adjective what was I thinking]

Note on the usage of ga : There is a separate word for 'short/small' in Yoruba but you don't use it to describe people. When you want to say somebody is short you have to say Ó ga díẹ - "He's a little bit tall."

Are there any other parts of speech that I've forgotten about? If not I'll start on phrase-level syntax and some different aspect etc. related vocabulary next. (:
Last edited by thetha on Sun 24 Nov 2013, 17:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sat 09 Nov 2013, 05:56

Just bumping to let you all know I haven't forgot about this! I've just been really busy and exams are coming up and stuff [:S] I'll have a lot of free time the week of Thanksgiving, though, so I'll try to make a couple posts then.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sun 24 Nov 2013, 18:25

New lesson!

Now that we have a general idea of how each part of speech works in Yoruba, we can officially get started on forming sentences. Sentence structure in Yoruba is very consistent and quite similar to English, save for a few vital differences. We'll start with the most basic of sentence types: simple, declarative statements; that is, sentences with only a subject, verb, and usually an object.

Yoruba is strictly SVO. The word order does not change at the clause level and it is important to recognize the way words are ordered because homophones occur reasonably often and taking note of the order makes it much easier to tell what's going on. Because the word order is so consistent, and Yoruba is an isolating language, it is very easy to transfer vocabulary into valuable statements when they are of this form. I'll go ahead and list some words out together so we can look at the different sub-types of this kind of sentence.

Some verbs:
rìn - walk
jẹ́ - be
- see
fẹ́ - want; marry
fẹ́ràn - like; love
jókòó - sit
mu - drink
jẹ - eat
gbé - carry; pick up; take; live**
- throw
pa - kill
gùn - ride
ṣe - do; make
sọ - speak, say

Some nouns:
ènìyàn - person; human being
oúnjẹ - food
ajá - dog
ejò - snake
eṣin - horse
omi - water
ìṣù - ball
owó - money
àpò - bag; pack; pocket
ilé - house
ìgò - bottle
àpótí - box
ife - cup
feresé - window
ògiri - wall

And two others that can be very helpful:
ohun - thing; object
nǹkan - stuff

Now some example sentences:

A jẹ́ ènìyàn - we are humans.
Mo fẹ́ owó - I want money.
O gbé àpò rẹ - You picked up your bag.

A useful pre-verbal particle is ń. This is the progressive marker and it's as common in Yoruba as progressives are in English (or maybe slightly less so). Some examples with ń:

Mo ń rìn - I am walking.
Ó ń jókòó - S/he is sitting.
Ẹ ń jù ìṣù - You pl. are throwing the ball.

Note that Yoruba does NOT distinguish past and present tense morphologically so those sentences could just as well mean "I was walking, S/he was sitting, you were throwing the ball" and the same with the other examples.

Hopefully this is a little bit of review for most of you readers. Anybody wanna try and make their own sentences? You can use any of the words I've used in my lessons so far (or you can find a dictionary and use others if you're feeling daring). Try to make them simple SV(O) sentences since that's what I'm going over right now.

**the sense of 'to live' involves prepositions and I'm going to go over those in the next lesson, with complex and split verbs.
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sat 30 Nov 2013, 23:57

Another (Short) Lesson!

Okay, now we're gonna start on more complex sentences. Yoruba, like many isolating languages, is very willing to serialize verbs. One of the most frequent ways this happens is with the verbs and lọ - come and go respectively. They can be used similarly to the way they are in English--in fact, we are now able to completely deconstruct the title I've given this set of lessons.

Ẹ wá kọ́ ẹ̀kọ́ èdè Yorùbá pẹ̀lú mi. - Come and learn the Yoruba language with me. (to a plural listener)

First we've got our honorific marker . Note that this does appear even with imperatives. Next we've got the verbs and kọ́. Kọ́ happens to mean a lot of things, but in this case it means 'to learn'. ẹ̀kọ́ is technically optional here, but it means 'study' or 'topic of learning'. Èdè means language, and the rest we've already learned. There's the name of the language, and the prepositional phrase that means 'with me'.

Now let's look at an example with lọ.

Mo lọ ra oúnjẹ ní ọ̀sán yìí. - This afternoon, I went (out) to buy some food.

A similar message could be conveyed with the sentence,

Mo lọ sí ọjà láti ra oúnjẹ. - I went to the market to buy some food.

So you can split the verbs up. But here's something interesting: we can get quite a lot of mileage out of the word láti. It has several different functions, one mentioned earlier on in these lessons is the ablative. However, outside of that usage it functions as a complementizer, and also takes the role carried by English 'in order to'. Be careful with this one because it has the confusing property of mapping almost perfectly onto the English word 'to', EXCEPT in the directional case, where it maps onto the opposite word.

As a complementizer, láti appears with some verbs in lieu of serialization. I'm sorry to say that I actually have no idea what defines the complete list of them, but I have read some sources saying that it only occurs with complex verbs; i.e. multi-syllable verbs that don't split. One case where it definitely appears is with the verb fẹ́ràn - to like, or to love. For example,

Gbogbo a fẹ́ràn láti dá èdè. - We all like to create languages.


-----

So guys, I didn't really get any feedback on the last lesson, and I was wondering if there's something in the lessons that isn't working out for you all. This is the first time I've really done a substantial set of lessons on any language except the Navajo ones which I'm planning on completely redoing some day, because I really don't like the way they turned out. Any criticism would be highly appreciated!
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by Omzinesý » Sun 01 Dec 2013, 19:07

Very fascinating. Yoruba is a very analytic language and therefore linguistically interesting.
What is your source for these lessons?
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Re: Ẹ Wá Kọ́ Ẹ̀kọ́ Èdè Yorùbá Pẹ̀lú Mi!

Post by thetha » Sun 01 Dec 2013, 20:01

I'm taking a Yoruba course at my university right now (just finishing it up, actually), so my source is my professor most of the time. He's not a linguist, but he is a native speaker of the language so a couple of the things in these lessons are my original observations.

I also use the book Jẹ́ K'Á Sọ Yorùbá heavily. It's not a very dense text but I think it's an excellent book for a casual learner. I use it when I want to make sure that I'm describing some grammatical things as accurately as possible, or if I'm looking for vocabulary and stuff (there's an online dictionary too but it's kind of inconsistent with its usage of tone diacritics).

One more resource is just different linguistic papers that I have scavenged up online. I don't plan on taking the second semester of the Yoruba class here at uni. but I still wanna give you guys as much information as I can find. There are some phrases and structures that my textbook does not go over very well but still have a lot of value in my opinion.
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