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Hdi Dictionary

by Zygmunt Frajzyngier and Paul Eguchi and Roger Prafé and Megan Schwabauer with Erin Shay and Henry Tourneux

This repository contains the data underlying the published version of the dictionary at Dictionaria as CLDF Dictionary CLDF validation

Releases of this repository are archived with and accessible through ZENODO and the latest release is published on the Dictionaria website.


Geographical location and speakers

Hdi (gwáɗ-á xdí ‘language of Hdi’ or simply xdí in Hdi) is a Central Chadic language spoken in the Far North Province of Cameroon. The name hidé has been used in administrative documents in reference to the people who speak the language. The main town where the language is spoken is Tourou, located at 10° 55' 25" N latitude and 13° 44' 05" E longitude, right on the border between Cameroon and Nigeria, about one hour’s drive north from Mokolo. The estimates of the number of speakers of Hdi range between 10,000 and 25,000. Some speakers of Hdi have migrated to Nigeria, specifically to Mubi and Yola, where the Hdi communities may number several thousand speakers.

Some Hdi speakers (the number is not available) are bilingual or trilingual, with French and Hausa being the second and third languages. As of 2014, a substantial number of speakers have received primary education, as there are five elementary schools in Tourou. The great majority of Hdi are farmers.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the town of Tourou was under considerable social stress, as it was the object of frequent raids by the infamous slave trader Hamman Yaji (Vaughan and Kirk-Greene 1995). The men he captured were forced to build the road between Mokolo and Tourou. The remnants of Hamman Yaji’s outpost can still be seen in Tourou. His raids had long-lasting effects on the Hdi community, as speakers were reluctant for a long time to send their children to school for fear that this was another way of depriving them of their sons and daughters.

The town is a tourist attraction, mainly because of the market it holds on Thursdays and the characteristic painted calabashes that women wear as hats. Photographs from the marketplace in Tourou are widely available on the internet.

The purpose of the grammatical sketch that follows is to present, in an abbreviated form, the main formal coding means and functions encoded in the grammatical system of the language.

For a fuller description the reader is referred to Frajzyngier with Shay 2002.

A number of modifications that incorporate the results of the more recent fieldwork and research are accompanied by minimal supporting evidence.

In the present introduction, Hdi words in the text are in italics, their translations are in inverted commas.

Organization and representation in the dictionary

All Hdi material in the dictionary is marked by bold font. The usual entry consists of the lexical item followed by the indicator of its categoriality, translation into English, translation into French, and examples of its use.

For verbs, the main entries are forms ending in a vowel, so that the tone(s) of the verb can be represented. Within the entry, forms are cited in the perfective aspect, often in the third-person singular; these forms are sometimes translated into English and French as the infinitive form and sometimes as the third-person singular perfective form. No significance should be attached to whether the verb entry is translated as the third-person singular or as the infinitive in English or French. For a number of verbs, examples containing extensions are added mainly in order to attest to the possibility of such additions. Occasionally the entries include examples from natural discourse, as represented in Frajzyngier with Shay 2002. The verbs with extensions are grouped under the main entry and are also listed in their alphabetical order.

Entries for nouns indicate the ontological class of nouns, e.g. whether the term refers to fauna or flora, and even narrower specifications within the two classes. These classifications have no grammatical consequences. The botanical forms in Fula come from two sources. The first one is Roger Prafé’s identification of names of Hdi plants in Fula, obtained through a series of interviews with a Fula Bororo speaker. The second source consists of terms included in Tourneux and Daïrou 1998 and Noye 1989. The forms obtained through the interviews with the Bororo speaker are more numerous, because they include plants that are not necessarily part of agricultural practice. The identification of insects was done with the help of Boorman 1981, and the identification of birds with the help of Serle and Morel 1993. The identification of mammals was done with the help of Halternorth and Diller 1985.

Nominal and verbal entries occasionally include an explanation of customs, ceremonies, and practices in which a given activity, as represented by a verb, or a given entity, as represented by a noun, plays a role. These descriptions derive entirely from information provided by Roger Prafé and do not necessarily carry the expected accuracy of anthropological field research.


Phonetic and phonological inventories

The consonantal system is characterized by the presence of voiced, voiceless, and glottalized stops. The palatal articulation is represented only by the glide y. Underlying consonants do not include palatal continuants, affricates, and nasals.

Table 1: Underlying consonants
Bilabial Labio-Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Voiced b d g
Voiceless p t k
Prenasalized mb md, nd ng
Glottalized ɓ ɗ
Voiced dz, ndz
Voiceless ts
Voiced v z gh
Voiceless f s x
Lateral Continuants
Voiced ɮ
Voiceless ɬ
Nasals m n ŋ
Liquids r
Glides w y

Phonetic consonants include all of the underlying consonants plus a series of palatal continuants, the bilabial voiceless fricative, palatal nasals, the glottal stop, and glottalized glides. The following chart represents phonetic consonants:

Table 2: Inventory of phonetic consonants
Bilabial Labio-Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Voiced b d g
Voiceless p t k, kw
Prenasalized mb md, nd, ndz ng
Glottalized ɓ 'w ɗ 'y
Voiced dz i
Voiceless ts c
Voiced ß v z ɣ
Voiceless f f s x
Lateral Continuants
Voiced ɮ
Voiceless ɬ
Nasals m n ŋ
Liquids r
Glides w y

In the dictionary proper, the lateral voiceless continuant ɬ is represented as hl, and the lateral voiced continuant ɮ is represented as zl.

Labiodental fricatives become bilabial voiceless fricatives according to the rule:

Rule 1: f → ƒ/ ___ [+round], e.g. [ƒwáɗ] ‘four’

The bilabial voiced continuant is a product of the change of v to ß between high round vowels:

Rule 2: v → ß/u___u, e.g. dzvú after optional vowel insertion → [jùßú] ‘hand’

The palatal continuants are products of palatalization rules:

Rule 3: [+alveolar] [+cont] → [+pal]/V[+front], e.g. tsí → [cí] ‘third-person singular subject’

The glottalized glides ‘w and ‘y have been recorded only when in intervocalic position, preceded by a high front or back vowel and followed by low vowel.

The alveolar nasal becomes velar in syllable-final position and may be realized as the sequence velar nasal-velar voiced stop when followed by a vowel in another word. Consider the noun /zwán/ ‘child’. The evidence that it has the underlying alveolar nasal is provided by the plural form [zwánì]. In word-final position it undergoes velarization:

Rule 4: n → ŋ/ ___ #:

(1) zwáŋ á krì → [zwáŋ.gá.krì]

A high back vowel becomes a glide after a velar, labial, or liquid consonant and before a, according to the following rule:

Rule 5: u → w/C[+velar, labial, liquid] ___ (C)a:

(2) gù á wà → [gwà á wà]
'it is not a goat'

The glottal stop occurs only between identical vowels or between a vowel and a glide that shares with the vowel the features for height or roundness. Because its presence is predictable it is not an underlying segment:

  • zì’yá: ‘smell’
  • mì’í: ‘wives’
  • ù’wà: ‘milk’
  • dzà’á: ‘go’, future tense marker
Table 3: Distribution of stops within the word and at phrase boundaries
Word-initial Intervocalic Word-final Phrase-final
Voiced b, d, g b, d, g b, d, g
Voiceless p, t, k p, t, k p, k, kw p, k, kw
Prenasalized mb, nd, ŋg mb, ng
Nasal n, m n, m, ŋ m, ŋ m, ŋ
Glottalized ɓ, ɗ ɓ, ɗ ɓ, ɗ
Table 4: Distribution of affricates and continuants
Word-initial Intervocalic Word-final Phrase-final
Voiced z, gh, ɮ, dz z, gh, ɮ, dz z
Voiceless s, x, ɬ, ts s, x, ɬ, ts s, x, ɬ s, x

A voiced consonant becomes voiceless when not followed by a sonorant in the next syllable:

Rule 6: C [+voice] → [-voice]/___[-son]

Compare the behavior of the extension , which codes inner and downward movement:

(3) vrà-gá-vr-í dzághà
'I returned home' (from a higher elevation)

When the extension is not followed by a vowel, the velar consonant is voiceless even when following a vowel and preceding a voiced consonant:

(4) vrà-k-vr-í dzághà
'I returned home' (from an equal elevation, said at the place to which the subject has returned)

There are more clusters allowed in the syllabic onset than in the syllabic coda. Two-consonant clusters are common in both word-initial and intervocalic position, but there are no clusters in word-final or phrase-final position. The general principle for consonant cluster formation is that the consonants in a cluster should differ maximally, i.e., they should differ in place of articulation, manner of articulation, and syllabicity properties. The two charts that follow list allowed and disallowed consonant clusters. The first chart takes into consideration the manner of articulation, the second chart the place of articulation.

Table 5: Consonantal clusters and manner of articulation
Stops Continuants Nasals Liquids
Stops + + + +
Continuants + + + +
Nasals + + + +
Liquids + + + (V_V) -
Table 6:Consonantal clusters and place of articulation
Bilabial Labial Alveolar Velar
Bilabial - - + +
Labial - - - +
Alveolar - stop-cont. + +
Velar - - + -

The following chart represents underlying vocalic segments:

Table 7: Inventory of underlying vowels
Front Central Back
i ə u
e a

Sporadic vowel lowering takes place when a high vowel is followed by a low vowel. The high vowel may be lowered one step:

Rule 7: V[+high] → [-high] / ___CV[+low]

The high vowel becomes round when followed by the round glide within the same morpheme or across a morpheme boundary within the same phrase:

Rule 8: V[+high] → [+round] /___w

(5) ghùzú-á kwálábá → [ghòzá kwálábá]
'bottled beer'

The morpheme-final vowel is replaced by the initial vowel of the following morpheme if the two belong to the same phrase:

Rule 9: V1 → V2/ ___ #V2

(6) tá ìmí → [tímí]
'water' (in non-subject function)

Syllable structure

A syllable in Hdi has the following properties: The onset and the coda may be absent and the syllable may consist only of the nucleus, which may be a vowel or a sonorant. The onset may consist of a consonant or a cluster of consonants, CC. The coda may consist of one consonant, which may be a sonorant (including liquids and nasals), a stop, or a fricative. The alveolar nasal becomes velar in word-final position. The only phonetic consonant cluster in coda position consists of a stop followed by a glide, a result of the labialization of the final u following a velar consonant. If a disallowed syllabic onset or coda would emerge, an epenthetic vowel must be inserted. In addition, if the absence of the tone would affect the grammatical coding realized by the tone, an epenthetic vowel is inserted. The vowel is inserted into the first position where the violation of the syllabic structure occurs. The vowel from the next syllable is copied into the disallowed position or into the first position that requires a tone realization:

(7) kl-g-ì-xà ìmí → [klígìxà ìmí]
'bring me down some water!'
(8) mà kl-d-á-f-ká → [mà klàdáfká]
'do not take it up there'


The language has two tones, high and low. Tone plays an important role in both the lexicon and the syntax of the language. In the lexicon, tone distinguishes between lexical items whose segmental structure is identical. Tone also plays an important role in the coding of the semantic roles of arguments, in the reference and nominal system, in modality coding, and in virtually all constructions in the language. All high tones in phrase-final position are lowered.

Lexical Categories

Lexical categories in Hdi include: nouns (marked in the dictionary as n), verbs (v), a small class of adjectives (adj), a small class of adverbs (adv), quantifiers (quant), numerals (num) and the following classes of freestanding grammatical morphemes: prepositions (prep), complementizers and subordinators (comp), deictics and determiners (det) and copulas (cop), identical in form with determiners.

The category ‘noun’ in Hdi is defined by its inherent ability to serve as an argument of a verbal predication and as the predicate of a nominal predication. Nouns can also receive inflectional markers coding number. Among nouns there is a distinct class of proper names marked in the dictionary as npm, for names used for males, and npf, for names used for females. Since there is no grammatical gender distinction in Hdi, the distinction between names used for males and names used for females has no grammatical consequences. In the dictionary, information about the category noun is often followed in italics by information about the ontological category, such as bot (botanical), ornit (ornithological), etc. The ontological categories have no grammatical consequences of any kind. The language has also a set of independent pronouns which function as noun phrases; these are listed in the section on reference.

The category ‘verb’ is defined by its inherent ability to serve as a predicate and not as an argument. Morphologically, verbs are characterized by the ability to occur with subject and object pronouns, with verbal extensions, and with verbal plural markers that are distinct from the nominal plural markers. There are four classes of verbs, based on the number and types of arguments that can occur in the verbal clause and how these arguments are marked (‘transitivity’). These are described in the section on verbs below.

The category ‘adjective’ is defined by its inherent ability to occur as a modifier of a noun. The category ‘adverb’ is defined by its inherent ability to occur as a modifier of clause.

Hdi has the category ‘ideophone’, i.e., lexical items with a very limited distribution that usually characterize an auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory, or other sensory aspect of the event. There are very few ideophones in the dictionary, but it is likely that there are more members of this class that have not been recorded.

Many nouns and verbs, and some adjectives, have been borrowed from languages with which Hdi speakers have direct or indirect contact. The most frequent are borrowings from Fula, marked F, and Hausa, marked H, followed by Arabic, marked Ar. Arabic borrowings came into Hdi indirectly, either through Fula or Hausa. There are also a number of borrowings from French, marked Fr or left unmarked, if obvious.

The structure of the noun phrase

A noun phrase is a phrase whose head is a noun. In many cases a noun phrase can be replaced by the head alone. The modifier within the noun phrase may precede or follow the head. Quantifiers precede the head. Determiners may precede the head, follow the head, or precede and follow the head within the same phrase. Some nouns are derived from verbs.

Nominal number

Nouns can take a number of suffixes. The unmarked form of the noun has no number value. There are three plural suffixes: -xà, the less frequent , and the rare suffix , which is combined with the infix -a-. The plural suffix does not have to be used if plurality is marked by some other means, e.g. by the quantifier ‘many’. This provides evidence that the unmarked form of the noun has no number value. The language has an associative plural construction consisting of the form ì preceding a noun:

(9) ì krì ndá pákáw-á ghúvì
'Dog and Hyena (lit. leopard feces)'

Hdi also has a collective marker , which precedes the noun and codes the group of people designated by the noun:

(10) lá də́blə́m
COLLproper name
'the Diblim people'
(11) lá m̀ndə́ rxá
'wise people'
(12) lá rvèrì
'kings' (the term rvèrì also means ‘lion’, but the form with indicates ‘kings’)

Modification of the noun

Modification through the genitive marker á

A modifying construction in which another noun or pronoun modifies the head noun (‘genitive construction’) has the form Noun-á Noun/Pro, where the form á, glossed as GEN, is identical with one of the deictic-demonstrative markers:

(13) vú-á m̀ták → [vwám̀ták]
'bush fire'

Color terms belong to the class of nouns, and modification by a color term has the same form as modification by another noun:

(14) gù-á ngrá
'a black goat'

Modifying pronouns (‘possessive pronouns’) follow the genitive marker:

(15) zwán-á-ní [zwángání]
'his child'
Table 8: Possessive pronouns
Person Singular Dual Plural
First ɗá úú mú (incl); ŋní (excl)
Second ghá Ghúní
Third tán/tàn

Some kinship terms, e.g. ‘mother’, ‘wife’, and ‘husband’, require the use of plural rather than singular possessive pronouns even if the intended possessor is singular. The use of plural rather than singular possessive pronouns is motivated by the roles the referents of these terms play within the family.

The modifying construction can have the order modifier-head, with the genitive marker á following the modifier. The modifiers in this construction all belong to the class of property concepts (concepts expressed by adjectives in many languages):

(16) lfíd-á lgùt
'new clothes'
(17) índà ghwáɗàk-á skwì mà xgá yà
'that is all bad things at home'

Modification through the preposition

The construction Noun Noun is used only in a few fixed expressions referring to domestic animals. The form is related to the proximate demonstrative :

(18) má nà gù
'a female goat' (not 'mother of a goat')

Modification through the preposition ngá

The modification relationship between two nominal expressions may also be coded through the preposition ngá (glossed as FOR) in the construction Noun ngá Noun. In most cases, this construction is used where the modifier is the intended owner or destination of the head:

(19) ùvá ngá-ɗá
'the cat for me'

Nouns followed by the preposition ngá must have high tone, regardless of their underlying tones. Thus hlà ‘cow’, ‘goat’, and krì ‘dog’ all have high tone before ngá:

(20) hlá ngá-ní
'the cow is for him'

Modification through the comment marker

The modifying construction Noun Noun codes an attribute of the head. The form functions as the comment marker in a variety of constructions, hence it is glossed COM for ‘comment marker’:

(21) mtá tá dá-ní mà m̀ndú
'death of the man's father'
(22) glá tá zwán tà kúm-ày tá màrà-n-tà . . .
'the child's growth will show . . .'

The construction Noun Noun can be used for ethnonyms when the head of the construction, the first noun, refers to a female. Forms with can be replaced in many cases by forms with the genitive :

(23) mákwà tá xdí
'a Hdi girl'
(24) mákw-á xdí
'a Hdi girl'

Coding the notion of belonging

There exists a construction having the form Possessum-Genitive-Pronoun Possessor, where the pronoun codes the features of person and number of the possessor. The form is identical with the preposition meaning ‘within’. The construction is used only when both components, the possessor and the possessum, are nominal. The function of the construction is different from the one involving genitive modification and different from modification through the preposition :

(25) kr-à-ní mà m̀ndú/mbítsá
'a dog belonging to a man/Mbitsa'

The construction is used for coding the parent-child relationship, but not the child-parent relationship or a spousal relationship:

(26) dá-ní mà mbítsá
'Mbitsa's father'
(27) dá-tán mà zwán-ì
'children's father'

For the child-parent relationship or spousal relationship the genitive marker is used:

(28) zwán-á m̀ndú
'man's child'
(29) màrkw-á m̀ndú
'man's wife'

Modification of nouns by adjectives

A lexical item is an adjective in Hdi if (1) it modifies nouns and (2) it cannot be used as an argument. Terms for size, shape, and quality are adjectives in Hdi; color terms are not.

The group of adjectives includes the following (an exhaustive list of items found in our data): dágálá ‘large’, kítìkw ‘small’, kì’yá ‘small’, xɓùzá ‘big-bellied’, slùxá ‘oval’, tùmbùzlá ‘round’, tə̀ntə̀ngá ‘hard’, ìná ‘good’, ‘beautiful’, ‘pretty’. The modifying construction with adjectives has the form Noun Adjective, without any intervening marker. Inherent adjectives in the attributive function occur after the noun they modify:

(30) vú kì’yá
'small fire'
(31) xvá kwítìk
'small work'

Numerals behave like adjectives in that the modifying construction has the form Head Numeral, without any additional markers:

(32) skwì tùrtúkw
'one thing'

The comparative form of the modifying construction

Modifying constructions with adjectives code only two degrees: the unmarked and the comparative, where the latter corresponds in scope to the English comparative and superlative. A comparative modifying construction is formed by the use of the copula following the head noun and preceding the adjective:

(33) m̀ndú yà dágálá
'the most important man'


(34) m̀ndú dágálá
'an important man'
(35) m̀ndú yà kítìkw
'the smallest man'
(36) m̀ndú yà ndáxíɗá
'the wisest man'

Modification through ordinal numerals

Modification through ordinal numerals has the form Numeral-Genitive Noun:

(37) má xìs-á màrkwá-tán
'their second wife'

Noun modified by a quantifier

Quantifiers include the same lexical items that function as adjectives: tùrtúkw ‘one, alone’, dágálá ‘many’, kítìkw ‘a little’, kí’yá ‘some, little’, dímdím or démdém ‘a lot’, and possibly several others. Modification by quantifiers has the form Noun Quantifier. Other material, such as a possessive pronoun, may intervene between the noun and the quantifier. Quantifiers do not occur with deictics:

(38) skw-í-p-skwà tá ù’wà kì’yá
'she sold me some milk'
(39) s-ù-sà tá ghzú démdém
'she drank all of the beer'

The associative phrase

The term ‘associative phrase’ refers to the structure Noun Phrase ndá Noun Phrase. These structures encompass the functions of associative and coordinating conjunctions, corresponding to “Noun and Noun” and “Noun with Noun” in English.

Nouns in associative phrases

Nouns are conjoined in associative phrases by the associative preposition ndá. If the components of an associative phrase are human, the associative phrase must be preceded by the associative plural ì:

(40) kà zə̀ ì kɗérì ndá zwànànì tá m̀ghám
'And Kderi and his children lived happily (lit. 'royally')'
(41) áyà tá ì gùlú ndá zírí ndá . . .
'and he begot Gulu and Ziri and...'

In a list of two or more nouns, the associative marker occurs only before the last noun:

(42) zívr-á xdí zàmàn-à gà xdí ndá m̀ghám-á wúyá skwì gà xdí
'origin of Hdi, civilization of Hdi, and the main festival of Hdi'

Pronouns in associative phrases

If the first member of the associative phrase is represented by a pronoun, the pronoun is plural even if the first participant is singular. Thus, instead of the third person singular pronoun, the third-person plural must be used, and instead of the first-person singular, the first-person plural must be used.

(43) mbàɗ ká máyá kà rwá-xə̀n ndá zwànà-ní
'then hunger threatened him and his children (lit. 'them and his children')'
(44) áŋní ndá zwàn-à-ɗá tà rwá-kú dà máyá
'I and my children are suffering from hunger (lit. 'we and my children')'

Reference Systems

The coding means

The coding means within the reference system are: overt mention of the noun; subject and object independent and suffixed pronouns; deictics; the anaphor tsá, which is glossed in Frajzyngier with Shay 2002 as DEF but which refers to previously mentioned nouns; and several determiners which can precede, follow, or both precede and follow the noun. The following chart lists the independent pronouns:

Table 9: Independent pronouns
Person Singular Dual Plural
First ɗá úú ámú (incl); áŋní (excl)
Second kághá kághúní
Third tsátsí xáxə̀n

The unspecified human object is marked by the noun m̀ndú ‘man’ preceded by the comment marker :

(45) hlìglá-hlìglá xwáyá tá mndú
'Hoya stabbed somebody'

The complete range of functions of the combinations of various coding means within the system of reference has yet to be discovered.


There is a three-way distinction within the deictic system, coding three degrees of distance with respect to the speaker: á ‘remote’, ‘middle distance’, and ‘proximate’. The reduplicated deictic form can be used as an independent noun in a clause:

(46) bà-f-b-í tá yá-yá
'I built that'
(47) bà-f-b-í tá ná-ná
'I built this'
(48) bà-f-b-í tá á-á
'I built that thing over there'

When deictics function as determiners they can precede and/or follow the head noun. Moreover, they can be reduplicated in the position before and/or after the noun:

(49) yà yá mákwà yá
'this girl' (the girl must be visible)

If there is only one demonstrative before the noun, the distance seems to be closer than if there are two demonstratives before the noun:

(50) yá mákwà yá
'this girl' (closer distance; must be visible)
(51) à á mákwà á
'that girl'

Neither demonstratives nor deictic markers code a number distinction.


Previous mention is marked by the form tsá, glossed in Frajzyngier with Shay as DEF, alone or with any combination of deictic markers. The anaphor tsá can be the only component of the noun phrase:

(52) tà xúlá tsá ngá xgà-f-tá xgà ghúní . . .
'afterwards, they would call you up . . .'

The anaphor can also co-occur with a deictic marker that functions as the sole component of the noun phrase, or it can occur as the determiner of the noun. Both cases are illustrated in the next example:

(53) dàgà bàɗ tsá yá dzà’á ghlrá-f-tà tsá m̀ndú yá tá wúyá
'from that day on the man will perform the rites'

Referentiality of event

Hdi has the functional domain of referentiality of the event, where the distinction is between referential (marked) and non-referential (unmarked) events. Referentiality of the event is marked by the suffix -ta with high or low tone, glossed as REF, added to the verb.

The marker -ta indicates that the proposition refers to real-world phenomena. The event is made referential if it affects a referential object or a referential predicate. Compare the unspecified object versus the previously mentioned object:

(54) xìyá (ná) xàɗ-ká tà dzáw-áy wà
guinea cornCOMPlack-2SGIMPFtrade:PL-PONEG
'Guinea corn, you do not sell!'

If the object is referential due to previous mention in discourse or presence in the environment of speech, the verb has the suffix -tá:

(55) tsá xìyá yá ná xàɗ-ká tà dzáwá-tà wà
DEFguinea cornDEMCOMPlack-2SGIMPFtrade:PL-REFNEG
'the guinea corn [previously mentioned], you do not sell'

Verbless Clauses

The term ‘verbless clause’ refers to the formal property of not having a verbal predicate. The verbless clauses include: equational predication; identificational predication; attributive predication; possessive predication; existential predication; locative stative predication; and presentative predication.

Equational clauses

Equational clauses identify one noun phrase by another. Equational clauses in Hdi have no copula. The distinction between subject and predicate is marked through word order. The predicate is the first noun phrase and the subject is the noun phrase that follows:

(56) m̀nd-á ráyá mbítsá
'Mbitsa is a hunter'

Identificational clauses

An identificational clause is a clause whose subject has been mentioned in the previous discourse or has been present in the discourse environment but is not overtly marked in the clause. Such clauses have the form Noun phrase Copula, where the noun phrase is the predicate. The subject is not overtly marked. The copula could be any of the series of demonstratives, but with low rather than high tone: à, , or . The last tone of the noun must be high before the copula, regardless of the underlying tone of the noun. This is the same rule as the one that operates before subjects in verbal clauses. Thus, the low-tone hlà ‘cow’ has high tone before a copula:

(57) hlá yà
'it is a cow'
(58) twák yà/nà/à
'it is a sheep' (twàk 'sheep')

Attributive predication

Attributive predication defines the attribute of the noun. Property-concept words, like noun phrases, are marked for the predicative function by the clause-initial position. There are two types of property concept expressions: inherent adjectives and expressions derived from other lexical categories.

The order Predicate Noun is the pragmatically unmarked order. Thus the adjective kítìkw ‘small’ ends in high tone before the subject:

(59) kítíkw mbítsá
'Mbitsa is small'
(60) dágálá yá m̀ndú yá
'that man is big'

Possessive predication

The term ‘possessive predication’ refers to predications where the subject owns an entity. The possessive clause has the structure ngá-Possessor (Copula) Possessum:

(61) ngá-ghá à hlà á
'that cow over there is yours'

Existential predication

Existential predications are formed with the clause-initial predicate màmú ‘exist’ followed by the subject of the clause and complements, if any:

(62) màmú sàn m̀ghám tá kl-áf-tá màràk xìs
'there was a chief who married to wives'

The form màmú may be reduced to màá:

(63) màá skwì
'there is a thing'

Locative predications of the type: X is located at Y

In locative predicative expressions, the locative phrase precedes the subject of the clause. The locative predication has the form Preposition Noun Noun. Prepositions may include ‘at’, ‘in’; ‘inside’; and ‘in’; as well as the prepositional complex mìstá ‘under’, ‘together’:

(64) tà zlə́ŋ dèrí
'the hat is on the bed'
(65) mà zlə́ŋ dèrí
'the hat is inside the bed'

Presentative predication

The presentative predication is formed with the clause-initial deictic particle (PRES) followed by deictics coding the distance between the speaker and the referent. The form with the remote deictic á may be used only when the subject is not in the same location as the speaker:

(66) wá á gà mókóló
'he is in Mokolo'(The speaker is not in Mokolo.)

The form with ná may be used only if the speaker is in the same location as the subject:

(67) wá ná gà mókóló
'he is in Mokolo'(The speaker is in Mokolo.)

Verbal Clauses

The formal means deployed in verbal clauses include: the verb with its complex inflec¬tional system; the position before and after the verb; and prepositions. The pragmatically neutral clause begins with the verb, which may be followed by a noun phrase. The posi¬tion after the verb in non-sequential clauses is the coding means for the subject role of the noun phrase. The position before the verb is one of the coding means for topicalization and focus. The categories encoded in the verbal clauses are different for pronominal and nominal constituents. For pronominal constituents, the language distinguishes between the subject, direct object, and indirect object. For nominal constituents, the language distinguishes between the subject; the non-subject (which is not the same as object); and a variety of semantic relations that include the benefactive but not the indirect object. Given the richness of semantic information coded on the verb, the description of verbal clauses has to begin with the description of the morphology of the verb.

The morphology of the verb

Verbs, unlike nouns, cannot begin with a vowel. It is necessary to postulate for verbs the category ‘root’, consisting of one or more underlying consonants, a tone (or tones, for polysyllabic verbs), and the first vowel. Other vowels code specific syntactic or semantic functions of the subject, the point of view from which the event is presented, the type of clause, and the aspect. Many polysyllabic verbs with the vowel i code movement away from or separation from a source or a previously mentioned location of either the subject or the object: ɗífà ‘hide’, tsíhlà ‘husk’, xídà ‘bite’, gìgɗá ‘sift’, fìɗá ‘plane [wood]’. A verb may be simple or reduplicated. Different reduplicated forms code perfective and progressive aspects, and verbal plurality. Subject pronouns are suffixed to the simple and reduplicated forms. Object pronouns are infixed in the reduplicated forms. Both simple and reduplicated verb may have a variety of verbal extensions suffixed to the simple verb and infixed in the reduplicated verb.

Verbal nouns

There are two types of verbal nouns. One type ends in the vowel u or i. The conditions determining whether the high vowel is front rather than back are not phonological, because some verbs can have both types of nouns, one with a front vowel and the other with a back vowel. For most verbal nouns, substituting the front vowel for the back, or the back vowel for the front, results in nonsense words. The tonal pattern of the verbal noun is the same as that of the verb.

Table 10: Verbal nouns ending in 'u'
Verb Verbal noun
kátá 'to help kátú 'help'
'to light a fire' 'fire'
skálá 'to dance' skálú 'dance'
ghálá 'to steal' ghálú 'thief/theft'

Polyconsonantal verbs that have the initial vowel i have the nominal form ending in i:

Table 11: Verbal nouns ending in 'i'
vníxá 'to vomit' vníxí 'vomit'
xí'ídá 'to bite' xí'ídí 'bite'
fìdá 'to plane (wood)' fìfí 'planing'

Verbal plurality

Verbs in Hdi display the distinction of number. The unmarked form does not code number; the marked form codes verbal plurality, which implies plurality of the event, plurality of the subject of an intransitive verb, or plurality of the object of a transitive verb. There are three means to code the plurality of the verb: the suffix á, reduplication, and lexical suppletion. The plural marker á is used only with polyconsonantal verbs. The marker á is inserted after the first consonant of the verb. Thus the plural form of the verb xná ‘slaughter’ is x-á-ná:

(68) kà x-á-ná-tá gù-xà
'he slaughtered goats'

Formation of the plural through reduplication for monosyllabic verbs involves leftward reduplication of the consonant and the insertion of the vowel á after the reduplicated consonant. The product of such reduplication can be reduplicated further to code the perfective aspect:

(69) d-á-ɗà-gá-d-á-ɗà
'they fell down'

Compare the verb unmarked for number:

(70) dɗà-gá-dɗà
'he fell down'

When the verb is transitive, the plural marker codes plurality of the object or plurality of the action. The object does not have to be marked for plural:

(71) bá-bà-f-bá-bà
'he built many things' (not 'rebuilt the same things many times')
(72) snà-n-sn-íyù tá x-á-n-áy-tán tá hlà
'I heard them slaughter cows' (note that the object is not marked for plurality)


(73) snà-n-sn-íyù tá xn-áy-tán tá hlà
'I heard them slaughter a cow'

For bisyllabic verbs, the plural is formed by leftward repetition of the first syllable. In the perfective aspect the reduplicated theme of the verb is repeated twice:

(74) ɗá-ɗáxá-ná-f-ɗá-ɗáxá tá lgùt-á zwán-ì
'he sewed the children's clothing'

Coding relationships between the predicate and noun phrases

The coding means for the relationship between the predicate and noun phrases include: the position directly after the verb; inherent properties of the verb; preposition ; other prepositions; and verbal extensions. Several of these means may co-occur within the same clause.

The noun phrase (but not the prepositional phrase) directly following the verb in clauses other than sequential clauses is interpreted as subject:

(75) dzà’á skwá-p-skwá nàsàrá-ngrá
'the black boss is going to sell . . .'

In sequential clauses, there is no formal distinction between the nominal subject and the nominal object. In sentences containing sequential clauses, one usually expects the first clause to mention the subject, while subsequent clauses will not overtly mention the subject.. In the following example, the first clause has the subject following the verb. In the sequential clauses within the same sentence, the noun phrase that follows the verb is interpreted as object:

(76) kà hlí’yá-f-tá zvàxw kà ɗáwá-f-tá ntfàn ɗáwá-f-xà-tá dàwrà
'the bat left and asked for glue and also for clothing'


This section presents analyses different from the ones in Frajzyngier with Shay 2002 and includes some argumentation to support the new analyses. The form , qua preposition, indicates that the noun phrase that follows it is not the subject. As demonstrated throughout examples in the dictionary, this noun is very frequently the object of the clause:

(77) tsghà-k-tsghà tá ceedì
tsghà-k-tsghà ceedì
'he sent money in'
(78) xúxúrà-f-xúxúrà tá ghrùm tá sú
'he made a hole in a tree'
(79) zà-ná-ghú-zá ɗwàk tá dzúmá
'the termites have eaten part of the hay'

Not every complement of the preposition , however, is the direct object. Consider the verb hlíná ‘warm up’. The verb is intransitive, as the entity that gets warmed up is always the subject. This verb cannot be used transitively, and yet this verb can have a complement marked by the preposition . The preposition indicates the source of heat:

(80) hlíná-f-hlíná tá fìtík
'he warmed up with the sun'
(81) hlíná-f-hlíná tá vúvú
'he warmed up with the fire'

One cannot say ‘the Sun warmed him up’ where the Sun is the subject and the third-person argument is the object. Similarly with the verb búkwá ‘cover’: When it occurs with the affectedness of the subject extension, the verb means that the subject is being covered:

(82) búkwá-vá-búkw-í tá lgùt
'I covered myself with a cloth'

The role of the noun phrase marked by the preposition must be deduced from the inherent properties of the verb and/or from the extensions added to the verb. Thus, if the verb has the associative extension ndá, this extension forces the interpretation of the noun marked by as an entity about which one thinks or remembers. With the verb dúkwá ‘realize, become aware’ the associative extension marks the existence of the object of awareness:

(83) dúkwá-f-ndá-dúkwá mbítsá tá pìtsákw-á-ní
'Mbitsa has found about his hoe'
(84) dúkwá-f-ndá-dúkw-ì tá sá-ghá-nì
'I became unexpectedly aware of his arrival'

When the particle precedes a verb or a clause, it marks the verb or clause as a comment on the preceding constituent, which may be clausal or nominal. Here is an example where the form marks the comment on the element in focus:

(85) tíngìl vàzák tá lá-ghà tántán
'It is Rooster that arrived first'

In the following sentence, three noun phrases following the verb are preceded by the marker . In the first phrase the marker precedes the object, in the second it precedes the attribute of the object, and in the third it precedes the relative clause, i.e. the comment on the head of the relative clause:

(86) ɓàràká-f-ɓàràkú-lú tá tsá xàlá tá mndú tá mtútà yá
celebrate-UP-celebrate-HUMCOMDEFadvanced ageCOMmanCOMdeadDEM
'One celebrated [through a trotting dance] the advanced age of the deceased (lit. 'of the person who died')'

Point of view of the subject and goal orientation

Both the point of view of the subject/source and goal orientation, i.e. indication that the event has a goal, are marked by verbal extensions.

The point of view of the subject/source is marked in the perfective aspect by the extension u, which assumes the tone of the verb:

(87) z-ú-zà
this man is a sorcerer

Some intransitive verbs must occur with the marker u:

(88) kà mt-ú-tá dá-nì
'and his father died'

In the imperfective aspect, the point of view of the subject is marked by the suffix , glossed as ABS (for ‘absolutive’) in Frajzyngier with Shay 2002:

(89) xàɗ-áŋni tà mtà-kú ndá mtà wà
'we do not die [when we are old]'

When the noun that follows the verb is not preceded by a preposition, it is interpreted as the subject:

(90) dr-ú-drá xàsúù
'the wood burned'

Coding the point of view of the subject is not a means of intransitivizing the verb. A verb coding the point of view of the subject can co-occur with an object marked by the preposition :

(91) hlr-ú-hlrà tá pìtsákw
'he forged himself a hoe'
(92) nd-ù-ndà tá ghwánì
'he swallowed the medicine'
(93) b-ù-bá tá xgà yà
'he built himself a house'

The goal-orientation suffix -a can be added either directly to the verbal root or to the point of view of subject marker u. In the sequence /C[labial or velar] u a/, the vowel u is reduced to the feature [round], realized as labialization of the preceding consonant. The goal-oriented marker codes the event as directed toward a goal and thereby implies that the subject is controlling:

(94) fw-á-fwà tá ìmí
'he heated water'


(95) fú-fwà ìmí
heat up-heat upwater
'water heated up'

Consider the verb ɗvà ‘like’. If the vowel u is added to the stem ending in á, the meaning of the verb involves control on the part of the subject, resulting in meanings corresponding to ‘choose’, ‘select’, ‘prefer’:

(96) kà ɗvá-úgh-tá mákwà tá zvàxw
'the girl chose the bat [for herself]'

If the vowel u is added directly to the verbal root, the verbal stem means ‘to love’, a process that does not involve control:

(97) kà ɗv-ú-tá mákwà tá zvàxw
'the girl liked the bat'

Classes of verbs

There are four classes of verbs, based on the inclusion or exclusion of a second nominal argument (‘transitivity’): unspecified; inherently transitive; inherently intransitive; and labile, i.e. both transitive and intransitive.

Unspecified class

An unspecified verb is a verb that does not inherently imply the presence or absence of an object. As a result, the presence of the third-person object must be overtly marked, and the absence of the object must also be overtly marked. With these verbs, the affectedness of the subject must also be overtly marked. The affectedness of the subject is marked by the point of view of subject extension -u or the affectedness of the subject extension va. Consider the verb ɗífà ‘hide’. To indicate that the subject is the participant that hides himself, the point of view of subject marker u must be used:

(98) ɗífà-u-ɗífà vàzák
'the rooster hid himself'

To indicate that the event has two participants, one controlling and the other undergoing the event, the verb must have the additional-argument marker (glossed as DEM). The evidence that the marker is not a third-person singular object pronoun is provided by the fact that it can co-occur with the verb in the plural form, implying the presence of multiple objects:

(99) ɗíf-ɗífà-ná-tà
'hide many things'

The nominal argument that follows the verb is interpreted as the subject of the transitive predication:

(100) ɗífà-ná-tà vàzák
'it is the Rooster that hid him'

Consider now the verb ghúyá ‘get drunk’. To indicate that the subject got drunk, the verb must have the point of view of the subject extension u:

(101) ghúy-ú-ghúyá
'he got drunk'

To indicate that there is a participant who drank as a result of the action of somebody else, the marker must be suffixed to the verb:

(102) ghúy-ná-f-ghúy-ì
'I made him drink'

Here is an example of the use of the extension , which allows the deployment of the second argument. The verb is gúná ‘open’:

(103) gún-iŋ-gúná tá sígà
'he opened the pot'
(104) gún-ú-gúná sígà
'the pot opened'
(105) tsá sígà tá gún-ú-tà yá
'the pot that opened'

And here is an example with the verb làɓ ‘mix’:

(106) làɓ-ú-làɓá ɓìdá ndá vàrà
'millet and beans got mixed up'

Compare with the additional-argument marker :

(107) làɓà-ná-f-làɓá zwáŋà-ɗà tá ɓìdá ndá vàrà
'my child mixed up millet with beans'
(108) ngá làɓà-ná-f-tà ndá ghúvà gù
'one should mix it with goat excrement'

Consider now the verb dvà ‘threaten’. Without any morphological marking, the verb does not imply the presence of the second argument:

(109) dvà-dvà
'he reprimanded, threatened' (no specific object or addressee is implied or can be inferred)

The addition of the second nominal argument requires the insertion of the additional argument marker :

(110) dvà-ná-ghá-dvá mbítsá tá zwànì
'Mbitsa threatened children' (ná cannot be omitted)

Inherently transitive verbs

An inherently transitive verb takes a second argument, marked by the comment marker , without any changes to the verb. The third-person object is not overtly marked on the verb. Consider the verb drà ‘burn’:

(111) drá-drà tá xàsú’ú
'he burned wood [in order to get charcoal]'

To code the point of view of the subject, and to indicate that the single noun phrase has undergone the event, the verb has the subject-oriented extension u and the noun phrase follows the verb without a preposition:

(112) dr-ú-drá xàsú’ù
'the wood burned'

The fact that the subject is undergoing the action can also be marked by the affectedness of the subject extension. The verb gìgìɗà ‘shake a tree’ is inherently transitive, as evidenced by its use with the object marked by the preposition (with tentative extension n):

(113) gìgìɗà-n-gìgìɗá tá fú
'he shook the tree'
(114) gìgìɗà-vá-gìgìɗá fú
'the tree shook'


(115) gìgìɗ-ú-gìgìɗá fú
'the tree shook'

The additional-argument marker with an inherently transitive verb usually codes the presence of an indirect object in the proposition:

(116) drá-ná-drà (ngá-ní)
'he burned it (for him)'
(117) dr-íŋ-drá tá xàsú’ú
'he burned wood'

To code coreferentiality of the subject and object, the verb must have the affectedness of the subject extension v and the object must be marked by the preposition , whose complement is the noun vghá ‘body’ followed by a possessive pronoun:

(118) dr-ú-v-drà tá vghá-ní
'he burned himself'

Here is an example with the verb ‘build’. The nominal object is marked by the comment marker :

(119) b-í-dí-ɗí-f-bà tá xgá
'he built me a house'

The addition of the marker with an inherently transitive verb indicates the presence of an indirect object:

(120) bà-ná-f-bà
'build for someone'

Inherently intransitive verbs

An intransitive verb is a verb that requires the additional-argument marker to indicate that there are two arguments in the proposition. Without such a marker, the noun phrase that follows the verb is interpreted as the subject. This is the case with the verb hànà ‘lie down’, ‘sleep’, ‘pass the night’:

(121) hànà-hànà
'he lay down/slept'
(122) hànà-ná-hànà
'he made somebody lie down'

The presence of the additional-argument marker in the verb does not necessarily indicate the presence of either a direct or indirect object. It may indicate a presence of what in some Indo-European languages would correspond to adjunct:

(123) hànà-ná-ghá-hànà
'to lie on top of something'

An inherently intransitive verb does not require any markers when it occurs with only one argument. Consider the verb gə̀má ‘meet’:

(124) gə̀má-f-gə̀má-xə̀n
'they met'

One can add an object to inherently intransitive verbs if the verb has the additional-argument marker :

(125) gə̀mà-ná-f-gə̀m-í tá xə̀n
'I got them together'

Cognate object

A number of verbs are followed by cognate objects, i.e. objects linked semantically and phonologically with a specific verb. Such objects are marked by the comment marker . Cognate objects are often derived from the same root as the verb:

(126) ɗg-áy-tán tá ɗgú yá
'While they were threshing'

Some intransitive verbs may be followed by an object marked by the preposition . These are, however, cognate objects. The cognate object may be followed by another object also marked by the comment marker :

(127) mbàzá-ná-mbàz-í tá mbàzá tá mbítsá
'I washed Mbitsa'

An example of such a verb is tsúhà ‘cough’:

(128) tsúhà-tsúhà
'he coughed'
(129) tsúh-ín-tsúhà tá másáɓì/màgàsàr
'he coughed the flu/tuberculosis' (the only objects allowed with this verb)'

Hence, the presence of the cognate object does not make the verb transitive.

Labile verbs

There is a class of verbs (‘labile’ verbs) that are both intransitive and transitive, as evidenced by the fact that the presence of the third-person object is not overtly marked on the verb and the affectedness of the subject is not marked by the source-oriented marker u. One such verb is ‘close’. Here is an example of a clause with two arguments. The object is marked only by the preposition :

(130) hà-f-hà tá txà
'he closed the door'
(131) hà-f-hà mbítsá tá txà
'Mbitsa closed the door'

Here is an example of the clause with one argument, the subject. The affectedness of the subject is not marked by the source-orientation marker u:

(132) hà-f-hà txà
'the door closed'

The function of the object pronouns

The following chart represents object pronouns:

Table 12: Object suffixes
Person Singular Dual Plural
First í; ɗ; í-xà úú mú (incl); ŋní (excl)
Second ghá ghúní
Third Ø; ná xə̀n

First- and second-person object pronouns can code the direct or indirect object, regardless of the verbs to which they are added. The form with an inherently transitive verb codes the third-person singular indirect object:

(133) fáɗá-ná-fáɗá tá vwàx
'clean the field for him'

With other verbs, the form suffixed to the verb indicates the presence of an additional participant, which may be a direct object. The form ná is used even if the direct object is plural, which is the evidence that ná is not the third-person singular object marker:

(134) dzrà-ná-f-dzrù-lù tá xǝ̀n
'one has made them agree'

Compare the intransitive:

(135) dzrà-p-dzrá-xǝ̀n
'they agreed with each other'

The first-person singular object affixes are i, i-xà, and ɗa. The form ɗa is a cognate of the first-person possessive marker ɗá. The pronoun i replaces the vowel of the preceding verb and assumes its grammatical tone, i.e. the tone that the verb has before the direct object:

(136) ks-ì-ksà
'he touched me' or 'he wounded me' (ksá 'catch him/it!' has underlying high tone)
(137) kzl-ì-kzlà
'he waited for me' (kzlà has underlying low tone)

The form ixà is equivalent to the form i. The form ixa occurs optionally when there are no other extensions to the verb:

(138) kzl-ìxà-kzlà
'he waited for me' (kzlà has underlying low tone)
(139) ks-ìxà-ksà
'he touched me' or 'he wounded me'

The form ɗ is used if the verb has the stem-formative movement-away marker í, the point-of view of the subject marker ú, or some other extension(s):

(140) hl-ì-ɗ-á-ghá-hlà [hl-ì-ɗáa-hlà]
'he found me' (The verb hlà 'fall' is intransitive, and the marker i has a transitivizing function here.)
(141) mántsá yá ká-xə̀n mb-ì-ɗí-f-tà
like thatDEMCOMP-3PLcure-AWAY-1SG-UP-REF
'that is how they cured me'


The reciprocal function is coded by the plural subject pronoun on the verb and the noun vghá ‘body’ preceded by the preposition . The difference between the reciprocal and the marking of coreferentiality is that in the reciprocal the noun vghá ‘body’ is not followed by a possessive pronoun coding the person and number of the subject:

(142) tskáy, tà tsk-áy-lú tá vghá
'do people gather as they used to?'
(143) gúyá-f-gúyà xə̀n tá vghá ndá zwánì
'they met with children'

Indirect object

Hdi has the category ‘indirect object’ which represents an entity C, often animate, such that when A acts on B it affects C or when the event has only one participant A, but the non-participant in the event C is affected. The nature of the affectedness is not indicated, and it may be benefactive, malefactive, or have no value in the moral domain. The way the indirect object is marked depends on the type of verb and the person of the indirect object. With verbs that do not inherently imply the presence of an indirect object, the pronoun is marked for the indirect object function through high tone on the last syllable of the verb:

(144) pɗ-íxà-pɗá
'he left it for me'


(145) pɗ-ìxà-pɗà
'I was abandoned/he left me'
(146) kl-í-g-í-ɗá-ghà wá kɗìx-á-ɗá, ká-’á kà wàxú
'"Bring me back my donkey", he said, crying'
(147) ɓlá-ghà-p-ɓlá tá ùdzú
'he broke your stick' (to your cetriment)

Direct affectedness is coded by low tone on the verb and high tone on the pronoun:

(148) ɓlà-ghá-p-ɓlà
'he broke you'

Verbs that inherently involve an indirect object, which in Hdi include vlá ‘give’ and mná ‘tell’, require the indirect object marker. The unspecified indirect object is marked by the suffix n, glossed as 3 (third person) in Frajzyngier with Shay 2002:

(149) vlá-n-vl-í tá kóɓù
'I gave money'

The marker n also occurs with such verbs if the indirect object is an independent pronoun, e.g. the third-person plural pronoun xə̀n or a noun. The independent pronoun and the nouns are marked by the preposition :

(150) vlá-n-vl-íyù tá xə̀n tá kóɓù
'I gave him money'


(151) vlá-n-vl-í tá kóɓù tá xə̀n
'I gave them money'
(152) vlá-n-vlá mbítsá tá kóɓù tá mbáká
'Mbitsa gave money to Baka'

If there is a specific indirect object in the proposition, the indirect object is coded by an object pronoun. For the third person, the marker is :

(153) vlá-ná-vl-í tá kóɓù
vlá-ná-vl-íkóɓùdrá-ná-drà(ngá-ní)d-ù-tàghzúmbù’á-vá-mbù’áɗáfàndáhlìhlíkkàp-á-n-kàpáxdíghǝ̀ŋndáhàmanyàjìvàlà-dá-p-vàl-íxàdàátsìɗà-dá-m-tsìɗàmdú-xàdzùgùvíndáǹgh-íptàtàbátsázẁanàkɗérixáɗìmxdímbàɗpákáwá ghúvìkàyklà-á-tàngázwàn-à-nískwá-skw-íkwàghə́nngámúkmá-ghásə̀-gl-s-ímásə́-gl-tá-tsíghùɓàsá-n-ghùɓàsátà-n-tàsígànù’ú-v-nù’àhlànù’-ú-nù’áhlànù’á-f-nù’áhlàdúkwá-f-ndá-dúkwámbítsápìtsákw-á-nídúkwá-f-ndá-dúkw-ìsá-ghá-nìkə́l-kákl-á-ghá-kádrá-ghú-dránìvìdrà-ná-ghú-dràghùɓàsá-p-tájíjìngálá-bàm̀ndú-xàksà-gá-ghà-tàlà-gá-ghà-tá-tsíhlrə́ŋ-áùvámántsádzà-íɓáùvámántsádzà-ímndánpàtə̀kndághwàbgàhlàkl-í-g-í-ɗá-ghà-wákɗìx-á-ɗàká-’ámbsá-fsígàPghìntàPghìntàwùdá-xə̀nwùdáká-’áwùdə́-xə̀nwùdáká-’átágh-káskál-ám̀ndúz-áy-z-áyɗàfákùlxàɗ(ú)ɗàlíká-xə̀nmántsándándárvíɗìkdzà’áphlá-phlá-xə̀ŋm̀ndúdzà’áhlə̀v-áyíndàm̀ndúks-ú-tàákrìùvádzà’ákrìks-ú-tàùvávlá-ghá-vlá-xə̀nkób-à-ɗávlá-ghá-vlá-xə̀nxd-íyùr-kéxd-íyùɗghábà-f-tsíbà-f-tsíklà-gá-ghá-f-tàká-’áìphlà-ná-p-tàdà-ná-táwá-káɗàfáMbitsalá-ghú-íNigeriangúɗvà‘áxdí-xàl’écoleká-’áxámáyádzìáxàɗáŋnimtà-kúndámtàxàɗkóɓtsíxwáyáí’íxàníkàghágwì’yándágáláàágwì’yánádágálátsáGuluyà-yàzwànìndándghàxìyáxìyáskwìtxàf-íɗèlèwèrskwì3nghá-nà-ghá-tsííndàdimanchemàmúmarriagendánàm̀ndúdágálátíkvágàvlìmn-áykà-zlàym̀ndúdzì’íkrìdzì’ítsáskwìxgù-lùzə̀gláftàmàmúsànm̀ghámkl-áf-támàràkwxìsxìyá-xìyáskwìtxá-f-ìɗélèwèrbàɗúxú’ú-átsázíndíŋngámbízàngálàɓà-ná-f-tàndághúv-àngávlá-nzwàn-ìtsghà-dá-fxáxə̀nsànìlá-ghà-nímbàɗtsghà-dá-f-tásànìzlíbílá-ghàpákáẁ ghúvìkàylá-bdíngá-f-tátsámbízàtwáká nàmágá-mágámágáàá nàksá-f-tàdángwàt-íìkàymántsálá-x-à-ɗálòpitálxàɗúkwóbùká-xə̀nmná-ná-tàyàghmántsáɗífà-úgh-ɗífàxádyàghsá-ghá-sáká-xə̀nndáí’íwá-ná-f-wámáhláká-ɗáká-’ándádùxwál-xà-níìr-á-wká-’áɗáwà-n-tàtsíyàwúndzà-kw-à-gá-p-tàxdímàndághàlíyándásná-xə̀ŋzlàyíndàm̀ndú-xàmtú-tàngáɗékɗékáká-’ándzɗà-vá-tàpákáwá ghúvìxváǹghə́-tsə́mbàɗzíngásá-ghàlá-ghávàzákndzɗà-vá-tàvàzákxváǹghə́-tsísá-gháùvákabgàkúm-ày-ìwàná-f-támáhláká-ɗándzdà-vá-tàùváxváǹghə́-lsá-ghákrìndzɗà-vá-táùváxválá-màkrìxàd-àhlà-ná-ghá-tá-tsít-úváxàɗúkóɓùngámágàlèkóldzà’áphlá-phlá-xə̀nm̀ndúkàbgàxáxə̀ŋdzà-tádá-ɗágawaɗv-áylázgláftàɗv-áylázgláftàdz-ú-dzákágháxgà-n-tà-ìgwì’yánká-’ákúm-tá-kánzà-kútúrú
give-DEM-give-1OBJmoneyburn-DEM-burnFOR-3SGSEQcook-SO-REFAS/INTObeereat.without.the.sauce-AS-eat.without.the.sauceCOMmushwitheggsraise-GO-TENT-raiseHdiCOMheadASSCHamman Yaji jump-ALL-OUT-jump-1SGTOhereDEMenter-ALL-IN-enterpeople-PLTOroomSTATsee-1SGPREPmatPREPcenterDEFchild:PL-GENKderiNEGwaterinHdiNEGQ (H)thenCOMPhyenaINTERJSEQtake-PART-REFforchild:PL-GEN-3SGbuy-buy-1SGOBJcalabashPREPSEQheadforgirlmother-2SGdrink-AGAIN-drink-1SGSEQapply.ointment-AGAIN-REF-3SGlaugh-TENT-laughburst-TENT-burstCOMpotfatten-AS-fattenCOMcowfatten-SO-fattencowfatten-UP-fattenCOMcowfind-UP-ASSC-findMbitsaCOMhoe-GEN-3SGfind-UP-ASSC-find-1SGCOMhoe-GEN-3SGPROHtake-2SGPROHtake-GO-D:GO-2SGburn-D:SO-burnCOMfirewoodburn-TENT-D:SO-burnSEQlaugh-OUT-REFpeoplein-lawsNORMgo-OUTman-PLcatch-INN-D:PVG-REF:SUBJSEQdig-INN-D:PVG-REF-3SGOBJroot-GENtreeCOMPcatCOMPHYPIMPFgo-1SGHYPCOMPcatCOMPHYPPASTIMPFgo-1SGbutperhapsASSCINriverPREPBgahlatake-EP-INN-AWAY-1SG-GO-PLdonkey-GEN-1SGCOMP-3SGcover-UPpotSEQeatPhintaSEQeatPhintaSEQfight-3PLOBJfightCOMP-3SGSEQfight-3PLOBJfightCOMP-3SGPROHlearn-2SGOBJdance-GENmanIMPFeat-PO-eat-POOBJmushwithoutlacksauceCOMP-3PLlike.thatPASTASSCwhere2SGASSCnightFUTkill.PL-kill.PL-3PLOBJmanFUThit-POOBJallman-PLdevour-SO-REFNEGdogOBJcatNEGSEQFUTdogdevour-SO-REFcatgive-2SG-give-3PLOBJmoney-GEN-1SGspend.night-spend.night-2SGQHdi-1SGQ-INTERJHdi-1SGQwhoblacksmithQwhatbuildUP-3SGwhich thingbuildUP-3SGwhatCOMtakeINN-2SG-UP-REFPREPDEMtreeDEMQCOMP-3SGASSC.PLwhoCOMbreak-DEM-UP-REFcook-DEM-REFwho-2SGOBJfoodhowCOMPMbitsago-D:SO-REFPREPNigeriawhyIMPFeat2SGlikeNEGHdi-PLOBJschool (fr.)NEGCOMP-3SGHamayadziNEGNEGlack1PL:EXCLIMPFdie-ABSASSCdieNEGlackmoneyPREP3SGNEGIMPFrun1SGIMPFsleep2SGDEMDEMelephantDEMlargeDEMDEMelephantDEMlargeDEFGuluDEMDEMgive.birth-give.birthOBJchild:PLASSCmanycorncornthingexpel-1SGPREPDEMnotebookDEMCOMPthingthreelook-DEM-D:GO-3SGeverysunday (fr.)COMPexistmarriagenowSEQmanCOPimportantTikvaGavliCOMsay-POSEQ-COMPCOMPPASTmankill-1SGQOBJdogkill-1SGDEFDEMthingIMPFcall-UHaszə̀gláftàexistcertainchiefCOMtake-UP-REFwifetwocorn-cornthingexpel-UP-1SGPREPDEMbookDEMDEMdaypound-GENDEFgerminated cornDEMNORMcookOBJbean dishDEMsheepQgoatordo-doQdoNEGNEGorcatch-UP-REF:SUBJillnessOBJ-1SGthenthenNEGgo-DOWN-1SG-GOPREPhospital (fr.)butlackmoneygoCOMP-3PLtell-3SG-REFCOMPsquirrelCOMPhide-SO-hidehereDEMCOMPsquirrelarrive-D:PVG-arriveCOMP-3PLASSC1SGwalk.around-DEM-UP-walk.aroundDEMwall-1SGDEMCOMP-3SGASSCyoungster-PL-3SGeye-GEN-whoDEMQfatherCOMP-3SGask-3-REFPREP3SGSEQwhensettle-ABS-GO-INN-OUT-REFHdisinceold.timeSTATknow-3PLSEQCOMPDEMallman-PLCOMdie-REFDEMFORfinishNEGNEGCOMPlast-AS-REFhyenaPREPworkIMPFsee-3SGDEMthenCOMPZingaSEQarrive-D:PVGSEQgo-D:GOroosterremain-AS-REF:SUBJroosterPREPworkIMPFsee-3SGDEMSEQarrive-D:GOcatbecauseIMPFwant-PO-1SGOBJbuild-UP-REFDEMwall-1SGDEMlast-AS-REFcatPREPworkIMPFsee-UHDEMSEQarrive-D:PVGdogSEQstay-AS-REFcatPREPworkgo-INdogPREPhere-DEMSEQfind-DEM-D:PVG-REF-3SGOBJ-catlackmoneyFORdoschoolNEGFUTkill-kill-3PLOBJmanbecause3PLCOMkill-REFfather-1SGCOMPGawaSEQIMPFlike-POgodIMPFlike-POgodCONDgo-SO-go2SGDEMcall-3-REF-1SGOBJelephantNEGCOMP-3SGHYPIMPFwant-REF-2SGOBJstay-ABSPREPTourou
'I gave him (specific person) money'


Hdi dictionary by Zygmunt Frajzyngier and Paul Eguchi and Roger Prafé and Megan Schwabauer with Erin Shay and Henry Tourneux