Datugu vs da tugu vs tugu | to close

I am wondering what is the difference between these words. When someone wants to say ‘close it’, do they say ‘close’ as one word like a datugu or are they saying a da tugu (as in its door close)?
Is there a time when people say tugu for close because I feel like I haven’t heard it as often.

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I ni ce, Malik!

Good question(s).

What you have stumbled upon is the fact that there are potentially two distinct verbs to say “close” in Bambara.

First, there is the regular verb k’à tugu (‘to close something’). We can use this to say something like “Shut the door”:

Da tugu!

‘Close the door!’

Second, there is a compound verb k'à dutugu made up the noun da (‘door’) and the verb tugu (‘close’). This can also be used to tell someone to close something. For instance:

Fɛnɛtɛrɛ datugu!

Close the window!’
(Lit. ‘Door-close the window!’)

In some cases, like the one that you mentioned, it can be tough to suss out whether someone is saying k'à da tugu (Lit. ‘to close something’s door’) or k'à datugu (Lit. ‘to door-close something’).

But you can test by asking people to transform the sentence. Specifically, you want to know how people would say things if they used the sentence intransitively as a passive.

Would they say something like this:

Fɛnɛtɛrɛ ma dutugu

“The window wasn’t closed”

Or something like this (which I am striking through because I don’t believe it is what someone would say):

Fɛnɛtɛrɛ da ma tugu

Lit. “The window’s door wasn’t closed”

If the predicate marker ma doesn’t appear between the verb and the two elements then you are dealing with a compound verb :slight_smile:

(PS - There are lots of compound verbs like this in Bambara: k'à daminɛ [< da ‘mouth’ + minɛ ‘to grab’] ‘to start sth’, k'à kunbɛn [< kun ‘head’ + bɛn ‘unite’] ‘to meet sth/sb’, etc.)

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