language
Phrasebooks > Zarma phrasebook

Zarma is the local language of southwestern Niger, including areas along the Niger River and in the Nigerien capital Niamey, and with 2 million speakers is the second-most spoken language in Niger after Hausa. Zarma is one of the dialects of the Songhay language and is mutually intelligible with Songhay dialects spoken in Eastern Mali.

AlphabetEdit

Zarma uses the following letters of the Latin (Roman) alphabet: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, ɲ or ny, ŋ, o, p, r, s, t, u, w, y, z.

Pronunciation guideEdit

VowelsEdit

There are ten vowels: /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/ and their nasalized counterparts which are denoted by either a tilde or a following 'n' or 'ŋ'.

ConsonantsEdit

Common diphthongsEdit

Phrase listEdit

BasicsEdit

Keep in mind that greetings are very important in this region, and greeting someone often involves a plethora of questions (how are you/your family/your health/your work/etc.?). For most of these you can just respond "Baani Samay", or "Taali si no."

Hello.
Fo/Fofo. ( )
Welcome.
Fo'ndakayan/Kubayni
Hello, how are you?. (morning)
Aran kani baani?/Wor kani baani?. ( )
Hello, how are you? (afternoon)
Aran foy baani?/Wor hoy Baani?? ( ?)
How is your family?
Mate fu?
How is your health?
Mate ga ham?
How is your work?
Mate goyo?
How is the heat?
Mate doon'gay?
Fine, thank you. (Response to all above questions)
Sameyno/Baani Samey ( )
No problems. ("Response to all above questions")
Taali si no
I'm thankful (to God). ("Occasional response to above questions")
Ay g'Irkoy saabu
What is your name?
Mateno ni ma/Mate ga ti ni ma/Mate ga ti ni mayo?? ( ?)
My name is ______ .
Ay ma ga ti ____. ( _____ .)
Nice to meet you.
. ( )
Please.
Alhanan. ( )
I want cold water/Give me cold water.
Ay ga ba haari yeno/Ay no hari yeno (" ")
Thank you.
Fofo. ( )
You're welcome.
A sinda hay fo. ( )
Yes.
Ah'hoh. ( )
No.
Ha'a. ( )
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Alhanan. ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
. ( )
I'm sorry.
Alhanan. ( )
Goodbye
Kala tonton. ( )
Goodbye (until the following day)
kala han fo. ( )
Until tomorrow.
kala souba.
I can't speak Zarma (lit. I do not understand Zarma).
Ay sii ma Zarma. ( [ ])
Do you speak French?
Ni ga ma faransi ciine?/Ni ga ma faransi saani? ( ?)
Is there someone here who speaks French?
Boro go no kan ga ma faransi saani? ( ?)
Help!
Ay gaakasinay! ( !)
Look out!
Haggoy fa! ( !)
Good morning.
Aran kani baani?/kanibaani. ( )
Good afternoon.
Aran foy baani ?/Hoybaani. ( )
Good evening.
Matey aran wichira ?. ( )

' Good night. : Cino ma boori

Good night (lit. Sleep well.)
Iri ma kani baani. ( )
I don't understand.
ay sii ga faham. ( )
Where is the toilet?
Man no koso(ndo) go/Man no salan'ga/Man no dusero go? ( ?)
I'm going to go out.
ay go koy
I'm going to return.
ay ga ye ga ka
Quitely, a little.
Moso moso/kayna kayna/A fofo
Stranger. (European)
Annasara
Guest.
Yaw
Small.
Kayna
Large/big.
Ber/Beri/Iberi
Bambbata
OK.
Toh.

ProblemsEdit

Go away!
Wa koy!!
Don't touch me!
Wa si lambay ga!
I'll call the police! : Ay ga polisay ce!
Police!
Polici!
Stop!
Wa di Zay!
Help me, please. : Wa'y faba!
It's an emergency!
Cahakomey wonno!
I'm lost.
Ay darey no.
I've lost my [purse/wallet].
Ay [fola/zaalifonta] no darey.
I'm sick.
Ay go ga ma Doori.
I'm hurt.
Ay marey no.
I need a doctor.
Logotoro no ay ga ba.
May I use your telephone?
Ay ga hini ga goy da ni talfono?
Go!
Ir ma koy!
Quickly!
Waasi!

NumbersEdit

1
Ifo/Afo
2
Ihinka
3
Ihinza
4
Itaci
5
Igu
6
Iddu
7
Iyye
8
Ihaku/Ahaku
9
Iyagga/Egga
10
Iway
11, 12, 13, etc.
Iway cind'[1-9] (example: 11 is Iway cind'ifo)
20
Waranka
21
Waranka cind'ifo
30
waranza
40
waytaci
50
waygu
60
waydu
70
wayadu
80
wahakku
90
wayagga
100
zangu
200
Zangu hinka
300
Zangu hinza
1000
Zanbar fo
2000
Zanbar hinka
1,000,000
Milyo fo
Number ___ (train, bus)
lamba ___ (Zirjo, Karo)
Half.
Jare

TimeEdit

Now.
Sohon
Late.
Da tonton
Before.
Halaga
Morning. (after sunrise)
Susubey
In the morning.
Susuba ra
Afternoon.
Zaari/Alula
Evening. (before sunset)
Alasar
Evening. (after sunset)
Almari
In the evening.
Almaro ra
Night.
cinci

Clock timeEdit

The 12-hour clock is used.

1 o'clock
Guru fo
2 o'clock
Guru hinka
9 o'clock (lit. morning hour nine)
Susubey guru yegga
noon
midi (French loan word)
13.00 (lit. afternoon hour one)
Zaaro guru fo
18.00 (lit. evening hour six)
Wicirkanbu guru iddu
Midnight
minuit (French loan word)
7.30
Guru egga nda jere

DurationEdit

___ minutes
___ Minti
___ hours
___ guru
___ days
___ zaari
___ weeks
___ habu
___ months
___ handu
___ years
___ jiiri
weekly
habou ga ka habu
monthly
habou ga ka handu
yearly
Jiiri ga ka Jiiri

DaysEdit

today
Honzaari/Honkuna
yesterday
Bi
tomorrow
Suba
this week
habo wo
last week
habo kan bisa
next week
habo kan go ka
Sunday
Alhadi
Monday
Atinni
Tuesday
Atalata
Wednesday
Alarba
Thursday
Alkamisa
Friday
Alzuma
Saturday
Asibti

MonthsEdit

Many do not understand the Gregorian calendar and/or may use the Islamic calendar. The Gregorian calendar is thought of as "French" and, among those who do, the names of French months (in parentheses) are more readily understood.

January
X (Janvier)
February
X (Fevrier)
March
X (Mars)
April
X (Avril)
May
X (Mai)
June
X (Juin)
July
X (Juillet)
August
X (Aout)
September
X (Septembre)
October
X (Octobre)
November
X (Novembre)
December
X (Decembre)

Writing time and dateEdit

ColorsEdit

Black
Biiri (black person: Borobi)
blanc
Ikwaray (white person: Gakwaray)
grey
X
rrd
Cirey
bue
Boogu
yellow
Sey
green
Yargey
orange
X
purple
X
brown
X

TransportationEdit

Bus and TrainEdit

How much is a ticket to ____ ?
X ____ ?
A ticket to ____, please.
X ____ X.
Where does this bus go?
Man no zirjo ga koy ?
How do I get to ____ ?
Man no ____ go?
The bus arrives here at ____ ?
Man no ____ ga koy ?
When does the bus for ___ leave?
waatifo no zirjo/kaaro kan ga koy _____ ga tun?
When will the bus arrive at _____ ?
Waatifo no zirjo/kaaro ga to _____ ?

DirectionsEdit

Where is _____ ? ?
Man no _____ go ?
...la gare routière ?
X
...the airport ?
Bene hiyey zumbuyoNo do
...downtown?
X
...the neighborhood ?
X
...the youth hostel ?
X
...the hotel _____ ?
X
...the American/British/Canadian/Australian embassy?
?
Can you show me on the map the ?
X
road
X
Turn left
X.
Turn right.
X.
left
KanbaNari
right
Kanbouwo
straight ahead
X
In the direction of _____
X _____
After the _____
Banba _____
Before the _____
Djiné_____
North
AZawaKanbé
South
Dandikanbé
East
Weynofounay
West
WeynokaNay
Above
bene
Below
ganda

TaxiEdit

Taxi!
X !
Take me to ___, please.
X _____ X
How much does it cost to travel to _____?
X _____ ?
Take me there, please
X

LodgingEdit

MoneyEdit

EatingEdit

BarsEdit

ShoppingEdit

Do you have this in my size ?
X
How much does this cost ?
Marje no wone?
That's very expensive !
A tada gumo!
Do you accept _____?
Ni yadda _____?
expensive
Cada
cheap
Habo ma boori
I cannot pay for that.
Ay si hini ga a bana
Je n'en veux pas
Ay si bara.
You've mistaken me.
X
I'm not interested.
A mana ay bejandi
Good, I will buy that.
A boori, ay ga sambu
I would like to have a bag ?
Ay ga du saaku fo?
I need...
Ay ga ba
...toothpaste.
hinge safun
...a toothbrush.
hinge borosu fo
...tampons.
tampon
...soap.
Safun
...shampoo.
Sampo
...a pain reliever (aspirin, ibuprofen)
X.
...a cold medicine.
Hungum safari.
...stomach medicine.
X
...a razer.
Laamu fo (biledu)
...batteries.
Piili
...a raincoat
Layma.
...an umbrella
Layma
...sunscreen.
X
...a postcard.
Karte postal
...postage stamps.
Tambre
...letter paper.
wasikahatuniyan takarda
...a pen.
Bikki fo
...French-language books.
Fransiciine tiraya
...a French-language newspaper.
Fransiciine labaari tira fo
...a French-___ dictionary.
Fransiciine-da-___ciine kamusu fo


DrivingEdit

I would like to rent a car
Ay ga ba ay ma lue moto fo.
I can be assured) ?
X
stop (on a sign)
stop
yield
X
parking prohibited
X
speed limit
X
gas/petrol station
staso
gasoline/petrol
Esensi
diesel
gazual

AuthorityEdit

I didn't do anything wrong..
Ay mana taali kulu te
It's a mistake.
Darayyan no te.
Where are you taking me ?
Man no aran go ga konda ay?
Am I under arrest ?
X
I am a (French) citizen.
Ay wo fanransi laabize no.
I want to go to the (French) embassy.
ay ga hagu ay ma salan france ambassado se
I would like to speak to a lawyer.
Ay ga ba ay ma salan ay avoka se
Can I simply pay a fine?
ay ga hini ga bana jukkeyan nooru hine?

Learning moreEdit


    This article is significantly based on work which can be found at The French Wikivoyage. A list of authors can be found here.



This Zarma phrasebook is a usable article. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.