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Zarma phrasebook

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Zarma is the local language of southwestern Niger, including areas along the Niger River and in the Nigerien capital Niamey, and with 2 million speakers is the second-most spoken language in Niger after Hausa. Zarma is one of the dialects of the Songhay language and is mutually intelligible with Songhay dialects spoken in Eastern Mali.

Alphabet

Zarma uses the following letters of the Latin (Roman) alphabet: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, ɲ or ny, ŋ, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y, z.

Pronunciation guide

Vowels

There are ten vowels: /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/ and their nasalized counterparts which are denoted by either a tilde or a following 'n' or 'ŋ'.

Consonants

Common diphthongs

Phrase list

Basics

Keep in mind that greetings are very important in this region, and greeting someone often involves a plethora of questions (how are you/your family/your health/your work/etc.?).

Hello. 
Foo/Fofo. ( )
Welcome. 
Fo'ndakayan
Hello, how are you?. (morning
Aran kani baani?/Wor kani baani?. ( )
Hello, how are you? (afternoon)
Aran foy baani?/Wor hoy Baani?? ( ?)
How is your family? 
Dey mate hu?
How is your health? 
Mate ga ham?
How is your work? 
Dey mate goyo?
Fine, thank you. (Response to all above questions)
Sameyno.. ( )
What is your name? 
Mateno nima/Mate ga ti nima/Mate ga ti mayo?? ( ?)
My name is ______ . 
Ay ma ga ti ____. ( _____ .)
Nice to meet you. 
. ( )
Please. 
Alhanan. ( )
Thank you. 
Fofo. ( )
You're welcome. 
A sinda hay fo. ( )
Yes. 
Oooh. ( )
No. 
Ha'a. ( )
Excuse me. (getting attention
Alhanan. ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon
. ( )
I'm sorry. 
. ( )
Goodbye 
Kala tonton. ( )
Goodbye (until the following day
kala hane fo noya. ( )
Until tomorrow. 
kala souba.
I can't speak Zarma (lit. I do not understand Zarma). 
Ay sii ma Zarma. ( [ ])
Do you speak French? 
ni ga ma faransi ciine? ( ?)
Is there someone here who speaks French? 
Boro go no kan ga ma faransi ciine? ( ?)
Help! 
A gaaga simay! ( !)
Look out! 
 ! ( !)
Good morning. 
Aran kani baani?/kanibaani. ( )
Good afternoon. 
Aran foy baani ?/Hoybaani. ( )
Good evening. 
Mataran wiciya ?. ( )

' Good night. : Cino ma boori

Good night (lit. Sleep well.
Ir ma kani baani. ( )
I don't understand. 
ay sii ga faham. ( )
Where is the toilet? 
Man no koso(ndo) go/ Man no dusero go? ( ?)
I'm going to go out. 
ay go koy
I'm going to return. 
ay yegaka
Quitely, a little. 
Moso moso/kayna kayna/A foofo
Stranger. (European
Ceyawo ("annasara")
Small. 
Kayna
Large/big. 
Ber/Beri/Bambbata
OK. 
To.

Problems

Go away! 
Wa koy!!
Don't touch me! 
Wa si lambay ga!
I'll call the police! : Ay ga polisay ce!
Police! 
Polici!
Stop! 
Wa di Zay!
Help me, please. : Wa'y faba!
It's an emergency! 
Cahakomey wonno!
I'm lost. 
Ay darey no.
I've lost my [purse/wallet]. 
Ay [fola/zaalifonta] no darey.
I'm sick. 
Ay go ga ma Doori.
I'm hurt. 
Ay marey no.
I need a doctor. 
Logotoro no ay ga ba.
May I use your telephone? 
Ay ga hini ga goy da ni talfono?
Go! 
Ir ma koy!
Quickly! 
Waasi!

Numbers

Ifo/Afo
Ihinka
Ihinza
Itaci
Igu
Iddu
Iyye
Ihaku/Ahaku
Iyagga/Egga
10 
Iway
11, 12, 13, etc. 
Iway cind'[1-9] (example: 11 is Iway cind'ifo)
20 
Waranka
21 
Waranka cind'ifo
30 
waranza
40 
waytaci
50 
waygu
60 
waydu
70 
wayadu
80 
wahakku
90 
wayagga
100 
zangu
200 
Zangu hinka
300 
Zangu hinza
1000 
Zanbar fo
2000 
Zanbar hinka
1,000,000 
Milyo fo
Number ___ (train, bus) 
lamba ___ (Zirjo, Karo)
Half. 
Jare

Time

Now. 
Sohon
Late. 
Da tonton
Before. 
Halaga
Morning. (after sunrise
Susubey
In the morning. 
Susuba ra
Afternoon. 
Zaari/Alula
Evening. (before sunset
Alasar
Evening. (after sunset
Almari
In the evening. 
Almaro ra
Night. 
cinci

Clock time

The 12-hour clock is used.

1 o'clock 
Guru fo
2 o'clock 
Guru hinka
9 o'clock (lit. morning hour nine
Susubey guru yegga
noon 
midi (French loan word)
13.00 (lit. afternoon hour one
Zaaro guru fo
18.00 (lit. evening hour six)
Wicirkanbu guru iddu
Midnight 
minuit (French loan word)
7.30 
Guru egga nda jere

Duration

___ minutes 
___ Minti
___ hours 
___ guru
___ days 
___ zaari
___ weeks 
___ habu
___ months 
___ handu
___ years 
___ jiiri
weekly 
habou ga ka habu
monthly 
habou ga ka handu
yearly 
Jiiri ga ka Jiiri

Days

today 
Honzaari/Honkuna
yesterday 
Bi
tomorrow 
Suba
this week 
habo wo
last week 
habo kan bisa
next week 
habo kan go ka
Sunday 
Alhadi
Monday 
Atinni
Tuesday 
Atalata
Wednesday 
Alarba
Thursday 
Alkamisa
Friday 
Alzuma
Saturday 
Asibti

Months

Many do not understand the Gregorian calendar and/or may use the Islamic calendar. The Gregorian calendar is thought of as "French" and, among those who do, the names of French months (in parentheses) are more readily understood.

January 
X (Janvier)
February 
X (Fevrier)
March 
X (Mars)
April 
X (Avril)
May 
X (Mai)
June 
X (Juin)
July 
X (Juillet)
August 
X (Aout)
September 
X (Septembre)
October 
X (Octobre)
November 
X (Novembre)
December 
X (Decembre)

Writing time and date

Colors

Black 
Biiri (black person: Borobi)
blanc 
Ikwaray (white person: Gakwaray)
grey 
X
rrd 
Cirey
bue 
Boogu
yellow 
Sey
green 
Yargey
orange 
X
purple 
X
brown 
X

Transportation

Bus and train

Directions

Taxi

Lodging

Money

Eating

Bars

Shopping

Driving

Authority

Learning more

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


This article is significantly based on work which can be found at The French Wikitravel. A list of authors can be found linguistique zarma&action=credits here.

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