I just listened to the An Ka Taa video on ‘sabari’. Many, if not all agreed that sabari is a good thing to do. Are there any acts or words that would be considered unforgivable? Is there a word in bamanankan or jula for “unforgivable”? Steve E.

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I ni ce, Steve!

I can’t weigh in on what acts are considerable unforgivable (and that would have to a be a separate topic in the Forum :upside_down_face:).

In terms of a possible Bambara/Jula word that could translate the idea of “unforgivable”, there isn’t a specific term that I know of or have heard a lot. But you could try building an adjective with the negative participle -bali and a verb that can translate as “to forgive” (i.e., ka yafa, etc.)

For instance:

wale yafabali

wale yafa-bali
act forgive-PTCP.NEG

unforgivable act’

Or, in a full sentence with the verb k’à makoto:

Nin ye kuma makotobali ye

‘This is an unpardonable remark’

You would need to try those out with other people and see what they think, so I hope the discussion can remain theoretical! :slightly_smiling_face:

I ni ce, Coleman. This is very interesting. Unpardonable is a good way to come at this. Isn’t pardonner in French translated as ‘to forgive’, so Bambara speakers who know French might be ok with your work around?

Nba! :slight_smile:

Hmmm, I don’t think that either one of the expressions that I proposed with makotobali or yafabali in Bambara is a necessarily a better fit for translating the English word “unforgivable” because of potential renderings into French.

I simply offered two Bambara possibilities (yafabali and makotobali) with two different translations (i.e., “unforgivable” vs “unpardonable”) to show you that there are various possible renderings to choose from depending on the specific context, audience and message that one wants to transmit.

Aw bee ni ce Coleman ni esquith.

I like that Coleman used “bali” to turn the positive into negative.

But my concern is that this expression may not translate what one want to say in English. For example when I say in English: This is unforgivable, “Nin ye yafabali de ye” does not translate it as it should be. As a native speaker, the Bambara version makes me think of “this person does not forgive”.

Other examples:
Baayibali = inevitable
Baarabali = workless
Siranbali = someone who is never scared
Malobali = shameless

So I will say “yafabali” means someone who does not forgive instead. It is hard to find the exact word that fits the context.

One way I heard people saying something is unforgivable and unforgettable is using the word “sininkan”, which is more in a context of verbal harassment. Example: A ye sininkan fɔ n ye (he/she told me something I will never forget/forgive)…

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Mady and Coleman, your entries on this topic have been really helpful. The distinction and overlap between unforgettable and unforgivable opens up yet another dimension of the topic. Aw ni ce! Steve

What about if you say “Nin ye ko yafabali ye” – would that translate more like “This is an unforgivable affair”?

Absolutely, yes! It’s the best way to say it, Coleman

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