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:
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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
|That & Those
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
Let us practice!
Using the word noun eihuri (Ri-MA; meaning “egg”), how could you say “that egg” when it is generally near but not near at hand?
Using the noun abazaire (Mu-Ba class; meaning “parents”), how would you say “those parents” who are far away from your position?
Using the noun enju (N-N class; meaning “house” or “houses”), how would you say “this house” which is right next to you? What if you want to say “those houses” which are far from your position?