Demonstratives in Songhay alternate based upon presence and proximity to the speaker. They are divided into proximal, distal 1, which is used for far objects that are currently present, and distal 2, which is used to denote far objects that are not present. The proximal demonstrative [wo] has a separate plural form [weɪ], while the other demonstratives do not. The following is a listing of the Songhay demonstratives:
The following examples show the two proximal demonstratives, with the singular shown in (1), marked with /wo/, and the plural shown in (2), marked with /weɪ/. Plurality is also marked with the suffix -eɪ on the noun tureɪ ‘tree’.
(1) aɪ zigi turò: wo boŋ 1.SG climb.PAST tree.DEF DEMPROX head ‘I climbed this tree.’ (2) aɪ zigi tureɪ weɪ boŋ 1.SG climb.PAST tree.PL.DEF DEMPROX head ‘I climbed these trees.’
Sentences (3) and (4), provide examples for the first distal demonstrative /hetti/, which denotes those objects which are far from the speaker but still present. As is shown, the same demonstrative is used for both singular in (3) and plural in (4). Plurality is instead marked only on the noun.
(3) aɪ zigi turò: hetti boŋ 1.SG climb.PAST tree.DEF DEMDIST1 head ‘I climbed that tree.’ (tree is present) (4) aɪ zigi tureɪ hetti boŋ 1.SG climb.PAST tree.PL.DEF DEMDIST1 head ‘I climbed those trees.’ (trees are present)
The next two sentences provide the same information for the second distal demonstrative, which is used to denote those objects which are not only far away from the speaker, but also not present. As with the first distal demonstrative, there are no separate forms for singular and plural. Plurality is again marked only on the noun.
(5) aɪ zigi turò: din boŋ 1.SG climb.PAST tree.DEF DEMDIST2 head ‘I climbed that tree.’ (tree is not present) (6) aɪ zigi tureɪ din boŋ 1.SG climb.PAST tree.PL.DEF DEMDIST1 head ‘I climbed those trees.’ (trees are not present)