Vol 1 No 7 Fall/Winter 2002

Learning Domari - Unit 4

Compiled by Dr. Donald Kenrick

Be-meh! This is how the Dom of Israel say "welcome." In an earlier lesson you learnt another phrase ar westi, literally meaning "come sit down."


Before introducing new grammar we want you to make sure you have absorbed the lessons so far. Start with the pronouns. You have learnt the Domari for I, you (one person), he, she, we, you (plural) & they. Review their form when they are the subject of a sentence: "I am going" and "you eat the meat." Then, review the form for the pronouns when they are the object of an action: "He sees me" and "I see you."

Next, review how to say the possessive pronouns: my, your, his, her, our, your (more than one) & their. Review using the phrases: "my son" and "your camel."

Move on to the verb (or action word). From the root verb par- (meaning to take or buy), you should be able to say in the present "I am taking" "you are taking" and "they are taking." From this form you can say: "I used to take," "I was taking," "I will take," and "I would take."

Now revise the past tense. Usually we add -d- for the past though there are exceptions. Review how to say in Domari "I saw," "you saw."

After revising the past tense move on to the noun and adjective. What is the plural of the nouns: kadjo and zari? Revise the feminine of the adjective kushtota. Do you remember what these words mean? If you could not do all the examples easily you should revise units 1-3 and read the story in "What is Domari?" before going on. Now for some new material.

Numbers 11-19 and 21 on

The number 11 is dez-wa-yikak. The numbers continue on using wa until the number 18 dez wa haysht. The number 19 is wis-ila-yikak.

Beginning with the number 21 wis u yikak the numbers following the pattern using u.

The Case Endings

There are three more case endings to look at: -ki "from" (Ablative), -kara "towards," and -sanni "with" (a person), cf. -ma (with a thing).

In this lesson we look at -ik. -ki means "from." Garom kuriaki means "I went out of the house." It is also used with the Arabic min, Garom min kuriaki, and after a noun preceded by other Arabic prepositions. Matras gives the example, ma'a SaHbimki meaning "with my friend" (SaHib). There is no need for you to use this case and you can say simply, min kuria; but you will hear it sometimes. We will deal with -kara and -sanni in the next unit.


Revise the simple past tense from Unit 2. Add the ending -a to make the pluperfect--one step back in the past (someone had done something before something else happened). For example, nandom "I brought." Nandoma-s (He asked me to fetch the camel but) "I had brought it" (already). Compare this use of -a with the same vowel used to change the present to the imperfect (nanami to nanama).

With the tenses you have seen so far you should have no problem talking Domari and distinguishing between past, present and future, and understanding basic conversation. For a more detailed explanation of the past tenses you can read Yaron Matras' description in the Mediterranean Language Review (1999).

Negative Past Tense

Can you form the negative present tense? It is quite different from languages like French and German which you may have learnt at school. The negative past is simpler: put ni before the positive form of the verb. There are two examples in the story below.

The Pronouns

We start with "I". You already know ama "I" and -m "me" (object) and "my". You will remember the noun has certain endings, five in fact (e.g. -ma, -ta). Three of these are used with ama. They are: ama-ta, ama-ma and ama-kara (see the next lesson for -kara). But -ki and -sanni are not used with ama. We say instead: "with me" washi-m and "from me" mnesh-im. Similar forms are found with the other personal pronouns and will be dealt with in a later unit.

More Animals

pig (also Arabic xinzir is used)
kali chmari
bitasma drari
hedgehog (earth-cutter)
bitas dirna
mole (earth digger)

With a children's picture book you could learn many more animals words and talk about them: what they eat, whey they live, etc.

A story

This is another tale collected by Macalister. By the way, Macalister reckoned that his informant was using his imagination and that Dom life was not always as dramatic as the tales he told suggest. We are printing this story with double spacing so you can make notes, but try to read the tale aloud first, identifying the verb (action) and its subject and object before you look at the vocabulary and work out the meaning of the story in Domari with the aid of the vocabulary and notes.

Ara baarom unkim mangari besaui-keramis maumus-lachia.

Mangarden mneshtis lachia.

Ni-rDahra boyos inderis.

Mangara mneshman tirin dez zer.

Pardosis maumus-pitr (=baarom) u nasra minji(s).

Rasrosis boyos, ni-mindosis

amma tirdom wis zerd

u nanden di kali u mardensan u nandensan sal u kesh.

Lachi u zaro illi pardosis minda-Halos, gare.

Imchirda maumus-siri u mamyish hastosis.

The following verbs (and their endings) have already occurred in the lessons: ara, pardo-sis, nasra, rasro-sis*, nanden, marden-san, nanden-san, gare.

New Verbs are:

ask for
did not want*
to give her
he kissed
besaui keramis
we make a marriage

These nouns hve occurred before: baarom, maumus, lachia (laftia), boyos, pitr, kali, zaro, siri (ser), hast-osis.

New Nouns are:

Old Turkish pound
to me
from him
mneshman (mneshim in this lesson)
from us
with her
tirin dez wis di
numbers, see earlier lessons
went themselves (in fact the form is singular; cf. mindom Haleman in an earlier story)

*nirDahra = ni-raDi-hra "did not want". raDi is from Arabic.

*rasr- is the past of ras-hocher (follow).

*The verb min- has several meanings. Here it is "catch". Hanun minari "he picks flowers." Minas kurian "pitch the tent" (=xlaul-).

Note the compound verbs: beswi ker "to make a marriage" (followed by the direct object, i.e., we do not use minj "with").

Other compound verbs with ker-:
dfin ker- occurred in an earlier story.
drara ker- "to satisfy".

Note compounds with hoch-:
besaui hoch- "to get/become married" (plus direct object)
besaui hromi djurak (also direct object) "I married a woman" (in an earlier story).
djedjan hoch- "to get pregnant".
kalif hoch- "to cost".

kalif hori lachi poista (husband) wis u taran zerd.
-ta is the dative ending ("to" or "for").

To remind you of the verb "become": homi, hweki, h(o)ri, honi, hwesti, hondi.

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