Demonstratives In Rukiga

Demonstratives are words used that “specify the distance of something in space or time in relation to the speaker” (Collins Dictionary); additionally they can express the number of objects being referred too – usually in terms of one or more than one. These words are often used in Rukiga and are important for learners of Rukiga to be able to master. Demonstratives are a bit more complex in Rukiga than languages such as English as their prefix construction depends on the noun class of the noun they are being used to refer to.

There are three forms of demonstratives that you can commonly found in Rukiga. They correlate with the following English demonstratives:

  1. This or these – meaning near at hand and the exact position of the person or object is known. This is known as a proximal demonstrative. In Rukiga, this demonstrative varies.
  2. That or these/those – meaning generally near, but not near at hand, and the exact position of the person or object is known. This is known as a referential demonstrative in certain texts. In Rukiga, the root of this demonstrative is “-wo”, but it is modified by the noun prefix so you will also see “-yo” and “-go” and “-bo”.
  3. That or those – meaning far away from the exact position of the person and/or object is only vaguely known. This is known as a distal demonstrative. In Rukiga, the root of this demonstrative is “-riya” which holds throughout the various noun classes.

Below is a table with common noun classes showing the demonstratives for two nouns, singular and plural, for each noun class. As a note, some of the demonstratives overlap between noun classes.

Noun Class Example Noun English Translation This & These
(near at hand-known) 
That & These/Those
(generally near-known) 
That & Those
(far-not known)
Mu-Ba Omuntu Person Ogu Ogwo Oriya
Mu-Ba Abantu People Aba Abo Bariya
Mu-Ba Omukazi Woman Ogu Ogwo Oriya
Mu-Ba Abakazi Women Aba Abo Bariya
Bu-Ma Obuta Bow Obu Obwo Buriya
Bu-Ma Amata Bows Aga Ago Gariya
Bu-Ma Obusyo A herd Obu Obwo Buriya
Bu-Ma Amasyo Herds Aga Ago Gariya
Ki-Bi Ekinyaasi Grass Eki Ekyo Kiriya
Ki-Bi Ebinyaasi Grasses Ebi Ebyo Biriya
Ki-Bi Ekitabo Book Eki Ekyo Kiriya
Ki-Bi Ebitabo Books Ebi Ebyo Biriya
Ri-Ma Eibaare Stone Eri Eryo Ririya
Ri-Ma Amabaare Stones Aga Ago Gariya
Ri-Ma Eriisho Eye Eri Eryo Ririya
Ri-Ma Amaisho Eyes Aga Ago Gariya
Ru-N Orurimi Tongue Oru Orwo Ruriya
Ru-N Endimi Tongues Ezi Ezo Ziriya
Ru-N Orukororo Cough Oru Orwo Ruriya
Ru-N Enkororo Coughs Ezi Ezo Ziriya
Ka-Bu Akatimba Net Aka Ako Kariya
Ka-Bu Obutimba Nets Obu Obwo Buriya
Ka-Bu Akatare Market Aka Ako Kariya
Ka-Bu Obutare Markets Obu Obwo Buriya
N-N Ente Cow Egi Egyo Eriya
N-N Ente Cows Ezi Ezo Ziriya
N-N Egiraasi Glass Egi Egyo Eriya
N-N Egiraasi Glasses Ezi Ezo Ziriya
Mu-Mi Omuhaanda Road Ogu Ogwe Guriya
Mu-Mi Emihaanda Roads Egi Egyo Eriya
Mu-Mi Omucwe Custom/Habit Ogu Ogwe Guriya
Mu-Mi Emicwe Customs/Habits Egi Egyo Eriya
Ku-Ma Okutu Ear Oku Okwe Kuriya
Ku-Ma Amatu Ears Aga Ago Gariya
Ku-Ma Okuguru Leg Oku Okwe Kuriya
Ku-Ma Amaguru Legs Aga Ago Gariya

First, the demonstrative for “here” being used as a reference to a “near” place:
A final special demonstrative to mention is the demonstrative of place in Rukiga which are built off of the place class HA. These words are meant to agree with the word ahantu – “place” in Rukiga.

Here – aha

Second, the demonstrative for “there” referring to a place that is distance from a speaker but can be seen and/or is well known:

There (near) – aho

Third, the demonstrative for “there” referring to a place that is referencing a “far” place that cannot be seen and/or is not well known.

There (far) – hariya


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