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Kiswahili Grammar Notes: Location

The Concept of Location

93 The so-called Locative or Adverbial Nouns, i.e. Class 16 - 18, were introduced with other noun classes together with their nominal and pronominal prefixes and with some examples of their uses. Further examples have been given in paragraphs on pronouns, adjectives, locative relative particles, etc.

The concept of location as a noun serving as subject or object in sentences ("In-the-house is nice", or "I like the in-the-house-place") is foreign to speakers of European languages, and needs more attention than some of the other constructions in this language. We hope the examples given here will help to clarify the issue. Only time can make it feel natural to use these classes (time and practice, that is!)

A In considering location as a noun, we must first of all expand the list of items that can function in the same way as location nouns. Here we find expressions that are not nouns at all, but they are location words or phrases. Mrs. Ashton (in her Swahili Grammar, p. 126) calls them the Adverbial Place Classes and lists four categories that function in this way:

1. Class 16 - 18 adverbial nouns: mahali, mjini, mezani, etc.
2. Simple adverbs: chini, juu, nje, karibu, etc.
3. Adverbial phrases like chini ya meza, ndani ya kabati, etc.
4. Adverbial pronouns like pale, huku, kwetu, penu, etc.

Agreements with these location words are required in pronouns, adjectives, and verb constructions; see the lists in paragraph 11.

B ADJECTIVAL AGREEMENTS with the Adverbial Place Classes: You will find a few examples with Class 16 - 18 nouns in paragraph 27 A & B. There are more possibilities, as for instance:

1. With adverbial nouns:

mahali pengine another place
bondeni si pakavu in the valley it is not dry
kokote nchini anywhere in the country
mahali pa utulivu a quiet place
mahali pa kujengea a place to build on
kote mjini everywhere in town
nyumbani kwenye raha at home (where it is) comfortable

2. With simple adverbs:

Nje ni pazuri outside it is nice
Ndani ni mchafu inside it is dirty

3. With adverbial phrases:

Juu ya mlima ni pazuri on top of the hill it is nice
Katika bonde penye joto kali in the valley where it is very hot
Mbali na mto ni kukavu away from the river it is dry

4. With adverbial pronouns:

pale penye utulivu there in a quiet place
huko kubaya over there in a bad place
kwetu kuzuri our place is nice

5. Sometimes no antecedent is stated, and only the adjectival phrase is given. This is particularly true with -enye, giving the form kwenye which is a most useful location indicator.

kwenye barabara (somewhere) on the road
penye maji
place having water
kwenye matope
at the muddy place
mwenye matope
in the mud

C PRONOMINAL AGREEMENTS with Adverbial Place Classes: These agreements were introduced in paragraph 11. Examples with subject and object prefixes can be found in paragraph 22.A&B; with possessive pronouns in 23.A; with demonstratives in 24.A.B.C.&D; with the adverbial relative particle in paragraph 70.B; and some general comments on use with verb constructions in 83.C. Additional examples follow here below:

1. With adverbial nouns

Mahali hapa pamejaa watu. This place is full of people.
Mezani hapakuwa na kitambaa.
There was no cloth on the table.
Bondeni kulipandwa minazi. In the valley, coconut trees were planted.
Nyumbani mwetu mmewekwa vyombo vipya. New equipment (furniture?) has been put into our house.
Kulifanyika biashara ya magendo mjini siku zilizopita. There was black marketing in town in by-gone days.

2. Simple adverbs

Mbele kumepandwa maua. Flowers have been planted in front.
Nyuma kumejengwa jiko.
A kitchen has been built in back.
Katikati patachimbwa kisima.
In the center, a well will be dug.
Kandokando kutakuwa na nafasi ya kuegeshea magari.
At the side, there will be space for parking cars.
Baada ya kujenga, kutakuwa na mabati juu.
After building, there will be corrugated iron above (on the roof).

3. With adverbial pharases

Juu ya meza palikuwa na chupa. There was a bottle on the table.
Hakuna kitu nyuma ya kabati.
There is nothing behind the cupboard.
Nje ya nyuma kumejaa watu.
There are crowds of people outside the house.
Pawe na bustani mbele ya nyumba.
There should be a garden in front of the house.
Haparuhusiwi kuingia ndani ya kambi ya jeshi.
It is not permitted to enter an army camp.

4. With adverbial pronouns: possessives and demonstratives

Hapa palikufa simba. A lion died here.
Huku kwao hakuna mahindi.
There is no maize here at their place.
Huko mbali kunaonekana vizuri.
Far over there can be clearly seen.
Siku zijazo kutakuwa na baridi kwenu.
It will be cold in your area in days to come.
Kutabaki watu wachache kwetu tutakapokuwa na likizo.
There will be few people left (here) when we have holidays.
Kwao kulikokutana umati wa watu juzi, hakuna majani sasa.
At their place where a crowd of people gathered the day before yesterday, there is no grass now.

 

Thanks to Johnetta Myers for assistance preparing this page for the Web.
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