Ngakarimojong: The Past Tense (“Abunore” Construction)


Unlike the the fairly straight forward present, future and perfect tenses, the past tense in Ngakarimojong is rather complex and can be constructed in two ways. In this chapter, I attempt to shed some light on the past tense construction that is more commonly used in the Ngajie dialect of Ngakarimojong, with the significant caveat that my own understanding of the rules and patterns of construction of this tense remains somewhat tenuous.

Basic Construction

The abunore construction of the past tense consists of the auxiliary verb abunore (“to come”) conjugated in the simple past tense, followed by the subject pronoun, and finally the main verb conjugated in a modified form of the imperative tense.

e.g. Abu (auxiliary verb) + ayong (I – subject pronoun) + engolik (main verb – akingolokin/to see)

Verb Classes

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of forming the abunore construction is identifying the class of the main verb and conjugating it accordingly. As any student of Ngakarimojong will know, verbs are divided between the Ki Class and the To Class. Unfortunately, Bruno Novelli and Mario Mantovani, authors of the two extant Ngakarimojong textbooks, are rather vague about how to determine to which class a verb belongs, and then how those verbs should be conjugated in the context of the abunore construction. Indeed, within each of the two classes, there are several ways of conjugating verbs depending on the length and construction of the root. Below, I have provided several examples from the To and Ki Classes.

Ki Class

Akiraar (to hear)

Abu ayong eira: I heard

Ibu iyong kiira: you heard

Abu inges kiira: he/she/it heard

Aponi iswa kiraarai: we heard

Ipotu iyes kiirasi: you heard

Apotu ikes kiirasi: they heard


Akipiga (to bargain)

Abu ayong epiga: I bargained

Ibu iyong kipiga: you bargained

Abu inges kipiga: he/she/it bargained

Aponi iswa kipigai: we bargained

Ipotu iyes kipigata: you bargained

Apotu ikes kipigata: they bargained


Akingolokin (to see)

Abu ayong engolik: I saw

Ibu iyong kingolik: you saw

Abu inges kingolik: he/she/it saw

Aponi iswa kingolokinai: we saw

Ipotu iyes kingolikis: you saw

Apotu ikes kingolikis: they saw


Akitiya (to work/to do)

Abu ayong etiya: I did

Ibu iyong kitiya: you did

Abu inges kitiya: he/she/it did

Aponi iswa kitiyai: we did

Ipotu iyes kitiyata: you did

Apotu ikes kitiyata: they did


To Class

Aciamun (to accept)

Abu ayong atociam: I accepted

Ibu iyong tociam: you accepted

Abu inges tociam: he/she/it accepted

Aponi iswa tociamunai: we accepted

Ipotu iyes tociamut: you accepted

Apotu ikes tociamut: they accepted


Akigol (to close)

Abu ayong atogol: I closed

Ibu iyong togol: you closed

Abu inges togol: he/she/it closed

Aponi iswa togoloi: we closed

Ipotu iyes togoloi: you closed

Apotu ikes togolo: they closed


Aseun (to choose)

Abu ayong atoseu: I chose

Ibu iyong toseu: you chose

Abu inges toseu: he/she/it chose

Aponi iswa toseutoi: we chose

Ipotu iyes toseuto: you chose

Apotu ikes toseuto: they chose


Aryamun (to receive)

Abu ayong atoryam: I received

Ibu iyong toryam: you received

Abu inges toryam: he/she/it received

Aponi iswa toryamunai: we received

Ipotu iyes toryamut: you received

Apotu ikes toryamut: you received


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