Demonstratives

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:

Singular Plural
Proximal wo weɪ
Distal 1 hetti hetti
Distal 2 din din

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 -eƒɪ on the noun tureƒɪ ‘tree’.

(1) aƒɪ     zigi       turò:     wo      boŋ
    1.SG   climb.PAST tree.DEF  DEMPROX head
   ‘I climbed this tree.’

(2) aƒɪ     zigi       tureƒɪ       weƒɪ      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) aƒɪ    zigi       turò:      hetti    boŋ
    1.SG  climb.PAST tree.DEF   DEMDIST1 head
   ‘I climbed that tree.’ (tree is present)

(4) aƒɪ    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) aƒɪ    zigi       turò:    din      boŋ
    1.SG  climb.PAST tree.DEF DEMDIST2 head
   ‘I climbed that tree.’ (tree is not present)

(6) aƒɪ   zigi       tureɪ       din      boŋ
    1.SG climb.PAST tree.PL.DEF DEMDIST1 head
   ‘I climbed those trees.’ (trees are not present)
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