If it cheers you guys up any, I saw a poster in Hausa at my local police station tonight.
I also found a link to the online Hausa-English-Hausa dictionary I used to consult: http://maguzawa.dyndns.ws/
. And I dug out my copies of Teach Yourself Hausa
and Newton's The Hausa language : an encyclopedic reference grammar
. So I can finally give examples of what Newton calls "Person-Aspect-Complexes" or PACs.
As you might expect, these derive diachronically from the fusion of subject pronouns (some of which in turn derive from earlier object forms) with TAM (Tense-Aspect-Mood) markers. In some cases (e.g. the completive), the merger is total whereas in others (e.g. the continuative) it's only partial and the pronominal component can be dropped where there's a nominal subject, e.g. Yaro yana gyara keke
> Yaro na gyara keke
"The boy is repairing a bicycle".
Newton gives an interesting example that I'll post to the Interesting Bits thread as well. Hausa has both a "completive" PAC (derived, as mentioned above, from an earlier set of direct object pronouns) and a "preterite". Historically, this preterite was unmarked, but the innovationary completive displaced it and now it's "functionally restricted to narrative uses or to the marked Rel[ative] environment".
One thing "Relative" forms are used for in Hausa is showing focus. But unlike in other languages (e.g. Welsh), the word order doesn't necessarily change. Time expressions, for instance, can occur initially without attracted focus (as is the case in many other languages). So you can have a minimal pair like this:Jiya sun sanar da mu.
"Yesterday they informed us."Jiya suka sanar da mu.
they informed us."
(Cf. wurin da suka tafi
"the place that they went".)
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons