umuntu = person; ahantu = place; ikintu = thing; ubuntu = grace

Kinyarwanda noun class prefixes

In this graphic, the noun class prefixes are highlighted in different colors. You can see that the root word is added to different prefixes to produce different meanings. Umuntu (person) is the singular form whereas abantu (people) is the plural form (not included in the graphic). There is also ibintu (things) and akantu (means/method) (also not included in the graphic). In the case of ubuntu (grace), the ubu- prefix is for abstract nouns. Ubuntu is also the name of a Linux distribution.

Kinyarwanda: Umukobwajana

Umukobwajana = the girl whose dowry is a hundred cows (female name in Rwanda) (literally, girl 100)

umukobwa = girl, unmarried woman

gukobwa = to have a dowry paid on your behalf

ijana = 100

NOTE: Cows in photo do not speak Kinyarwanda.

Kinyarwanda: Ibishyimbo / Better Nutrition from High Iron Beans

I couldn’t resist sharing this video with you in Kinyarwanda. Better Nutrition from High Iron Beans by the Rwandan All Stars. You must read the captions. I will say that Rwanda is the most musical country that I have ever visited. This video will give you feel for that, and it will also give you a feel for what the Kinyarwanda language sounds like. Please enjoy.

“A meal without beans in Rwanda is just like a meal without food.”

Two persons walking on grassy field

Brothers and sisters

mukuru = older brother of male, older sister of female (Kinyarwanda) (from umu = person and kuru = important, senior)

nimalaxel = older brother of male, older sister of female (Kaqchikel) (from nim = big and alaxel = person who is born)

Kinyarwanda and Kaqchikel share a similar kinship system when it comes to talking about brothers and sisters. Males have a word for big brother and a word for little brother which are the same words that females use to refer to their big sisters and little sisters. Females have a separate word to refer to their brothers which does not distinguish between older and younger, and males have a separate word to refer to their sisters which not distinguish between older and younger.

Photo created by Kat Jeyne from Pexels

Tz’utujil: Saqari

En San Juan La Laguna, se dice saqari para buenos días (tz’utujil). En San Pablo La Laguna, se dice saqara (tz’utujil). En Santa Clara La Laguna, se dice saqarik (k’iche’).

In San Juan La Laguna, they say saqari for good morning (Tz’utujil). In San Pablo La Laguna, they say saqara (Tz’utujil). In Santa Clara La Laguna, they say saqarik (K’iche’).