Usages of "ka"

What exactly are all of the uses of “ka”? It seems there are quite a few, and I don’t really understand how I’m supposed to use any of them.

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kà: marks the infinitive tense for verbs. It comes before the direct object of a noun group, and when that is absent, ka comes in front of the verb. It can be translated to ‘to’ in english as in ‘to eat’: kà dumuni kɛ (to eat). Infinite actually means “has no expressed or implied subject and shows no tense, ” therefore kà makes the verb have to tense or implied subject, it is neutral. Ex: À taara so ka taga Abidjan (He left home to go to Abidjan). U bɛ laban ka susuli kε, ka fini nɔgɔ ko (They will end by pounding, to clean dirty clothes). Se VS se ka: N bɛ se ka taa (‘I am able to go’ or ‘I can go’) VS N bɛ se kow la (‘I am able to do things’ or ‘I am adept at things’). This means you need ka to have a verb come after (see this post on “modal verb constructions”)

Ka: can be used to mark mood, hope, or a desire. It is also known as the subjunctive or optative predicate marker. It comes after the nominal group of the subject. Ex: An ka taa (Let’s go!). In some varieties of Jula and Maninka, the equivalent form is ye. Ex: Án yé taa! (Let’s go!)

Ka: is a predicate marker for qualitative verbs. It marks the quality (following ka) of the nominal subject that is before it. Ex: I ka kɛnɛ wa? (Are you healthy?)

Ka: Is a marker used for possession of a noun but not body parts or people. It may sound like ‘ga’ or ‘xa’ in certain dialects. In some varieties of Jula, it is systematically replaced by ta, which in Bambara is the emphatic version of ka as a possession marker. It comes after the nominal group that is the possessor. Ex: N ka/ga biki don (It is my pen). N ka so (My house), A ka dulɔki don (It is his shirt), Nin ye jɔn ka dilan ye? (This is whose bed?)

bɛ kà: makes the sentence affirmative like above in bɛ but also progressive as if the action is still happening. Ex: N bɛ kà taa sugu ̀ la (I am going to the market). Tɛ kà is its negative version.

-ka: comes at the end of places (nouns) to make it a person (habitant) from the place. Ex: Bamakoka (a person from Bamako)

As you can see ka is actually a bunch of distinct words or “lexemes”. Note I might not have marked all of them right with the tones.



I ni ce, @bluejay! Welcome the Forum :slight_smile:

I think that @malikdiallo covered the essentials for you! I ni baara, @malikdiallo! (NOTE: I took the liberty of editing your post a bit both in terms of formatting and one or two small information things.)

I would add two general points though.

First, you could/can see all of the different forms of ka by having a look in the dictionary. Inspired by your post, I cleaned them up a bit more!

Second, it’s important to see that most of the various forms of ka listed above are not actually the “same word”; they are written the same (except if we mark tone; then only some of them are written the same), but they are distinct lexemes, and therefore distinct entries in the dictionary. This is similar to words like “bank” in English. We have “the bank” as the ‘the place you pull out money’ and “the bank” as in the ‘the edge of a river’; they are written the same, but they aren’t the same lexeme.

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Thank you very much Coleman! Your edits have helped immensely.

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