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The Past Tense in Nkwen Language

This tense marks actions or situations which took place earlier than the moment of speaking and may be translated into English as the Present Perfect Tense.

The Nkwen Language makes a distinction of three main tenses, the Present the Past and the Future Tenses. The past and the future tenses are subdivided into three forms each. The differences between these tenses in some cases are shown by different tense markers which come before the verb or simply tone melody on verbs and nouns.

TABLE 1: TENSE MARKERS

Today past P1tomorrow past P2Remote Past P3
O/tɛ̌/ghǝ̌ + verb kǝ̀
+ verb
O/lyǝ
+ verb
Today Future F1Tomorrow Future F2Remote Future F3

+ verb
bǝlya
+ verb
bǝlyǝ + verb

THE PAST TENSE

THE TODAY PAST TENSE (P1)                

    This tense marks actions or situations which took place earlier than the moment of speaking and may be translated into English as the Present Perfect Tense. There are two tense markers, (tɛ̌ and ghǝ̌) that stress the time of action. In some cases there are tonal differences on verbs and nouns (without any marker), with the low tone dominating. E.g.

  1. Talà kwùrә ǹnà.

Talà eaten meat  (word for word translation) 

Tala has eaten meat.  (free translation)

2. Ngәlà cù’u àkù’u   

Ngәla pounded achu.  

Ngǝla has pounded achu.

NB: There is no tense marker in the above examples but low tone dominating)

3. Ətàa tɛ̌ njyǝ.

Father p1 eaten

Father has eaten.

4.Talà tɛ̌ ǹtswì’ì nǝbyɛ̌.

Tala p1 fished fish          

Tala has just done fishing.

5. Ngәlͻ ghǝ ntͻŋә àzu’u.   

Ngәlͻ p1 dug yam       

Ngәlͻ has dug a yam. (some hours back)

6. Talà ghǝ̌ bà’à mәlù’ù.

Tala p1 tapped wine       

Tala has tapped wine. (some hours ago)

THE YESTERDAY PAST TENSE (P2)

    The yesterday past tense is sequentially lexicalized by a marker ‘kә̀’.  This tense marks actions which took place not only yesterday but as far back as last year. E.g.

-Talà kә̀ kwurә nna әzͻ̌.

Tala p2  eat meat  yesterday.

Tala ate meat yesterday.

-Talà kǝ̀ ba’a mәlù’u ŋghà yi.

Tala p2 tapped wine last week.    

Tala tapped wine last  week.

-Talà kә̀ tswì’i nә̀byε ngù’u yi.

Tala p2 fished fish year last   

Tala did fishing last year

-Ngәlà kә̀ cù’u akù’u njwε yi.

Ngәla p2 pounded achu’u day before yesterday.

Ngәla pounded achu day before yesterday.

THE REMOTE PAST TENSE (P3)

This tense marks events which took place in the distant past or at a period when the definiteness of the time is not of great consequence at the moment of speaking. It is lexicalized by a marker ‘lyә’ or only by a tone melody. E.g. 

  1. Tala lyә kwurә nnà ŋgù’u tsә. 

Talà p3  ate meat year certain.

Tala ate meat a certain year.

   Or

Talǎ kwurә ǹnǎ ŋgù’u tsә̌.

Tala ate meat year certain. Tala ate meat a certain year.

2.Ngәlͻ lyә tͻŋә әdzu’u ŋgù’u tsә̌.   

Ngәlͻ p3 dug yams year certain

Ngәlͻ dug yams a certain year.

  Or

Ngәlͻ̌ tͻŋә әdzu’u ŋgù’u tsә̌.   

Ŋ̀gәlͻ dug yams year certain

Ngәlͻ dug yams a certain year.

Nkwen Language Lessons https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJUCogrcLvo&list=PL_ihUsy6_PLKYRhQJ1B65SZ5XN1sLjNBk The Future Tense in Nkwen Language The quarantine is doing more good than harm. My home skills just got better Corn Fufu and Njyama-njyama. African Dish. Recipe and Preparation My Patroness Amazes Me How my backyard garden came to reality

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