A Grammar of Vabungula

Part 5 - Miscellaneous Topics

The Word KE

The word ke in Vabungula is a very useful word and has many meanings. The basic meaning of ke is "like", "as":

     Tu skemaska fûn prak ke uma malaš.
     This car is now just like it was before.
     Falê ke de diragula.
     Do as he says.

A derived but distant meaning, by far more common than the above, is "it", "that":

     Fwil falê ke.
     Don’t do it.

     Ka alega ke?
     Do you see it?

     Ke lese do.
     That’s very good.

Ke also serves as a conjunction introducing a clause, like the English "that":

     So nigo ke de malaš lag.
     I know that he was there.

     De mala agula ke de sa mugsekûl.
     He said that he has a dictionary.

Ke also means "so" as in "to such a degree":

     Makagac malaš ke kace tudže mala dal valihamê komol va ke.
     The sidewalk was so hot that you could fry an egg on it.

Ke is used after the verb masak (to follow):

     Masak ke so.
     Follow me.

Ke also functions as an adjectival suffix. Here the original meaning of "like" is preserved:

     gedor            gedorke
     quiet (noun)     quiet (adjective) ("quiet-like")

     olkal            olkake
     circle           round, circular ("circle-like")

The Word CO

The word co also has several translations. Its basic meaning is "namely", "that is to say…". Often it is used as an emphatic particle. Note the following usages:

     Oko ono sum dal falê ke, co de.
     Only one person can do it - him.

     De co malaš sum osokam ka mala alega umalarêm.
     He’s the person you saw yesterday. (He’s the one, and no one else.)

     Tê sumi co mala falê ke.
     Those people are the ones who did it.

     De mala agula "hello", co "glam" onudž Vabungula.
     He said "hello", which is "glam" in Vabungula.

     Ke ênfal su kal, co kal gelarêd sufalarême.
     It’s a custom of yours that you celebrate birthdays.

     Pro ke co so mala masa la pla.
     This (namely this) is the reason I came here.
     Šalagê okam de mala džûmba la so co su de.
     Everything that he gave me is (namely) his.

Co is also suffixed to certain words for emphasis.


     right here



The fine distinction between soske and soco is that soske has more to do with "I by myself", "I alone"; whereas soco means "it’s me who…", "I am the one."

Co is also used where English uses an impersonal "it is", referring to a state or a condition.

     Co galûs ke de mala falê ke.
     It is odd that he did that.

For more discussion on the use of co see the section on Vabungula Word Studies.

The Word VI

The word vi ("so that", "in order that") is rarely used alone. It usually appears after the preposition pro (for).

     De mala masa janglu laf pro vi de cu dal agele ke.
     He went closer so that he could hear it.

The Word PRO

Pro means "for" primarily in the sense of "for the benefit of".

     So falê ke pro ka.
     I’m doing it for you.

Pro is also used as an infinite marker, like the English word "to":

     Ke lese lea pro falê.
     It’s very easy to do.


Ketudž, loosely translated as "then", is required for if-then sentences:

     Buna ka masa la lag ketudž ka mulu alega de.
     If you go there (then) you will see him.

It is incorrect to say:

     Buna ka masa la lag ka mulu alega de.

In Vabungula this sounds like an incomplete sentence with a garbled "if" clause, something like "If-you-go-there-you-will-see-him, then..."

The use of ketudž, however, extends far beyond "if-then" constructions, very frequently serving as a non-translatable conjuction that introduces the main clause of a sentence. The natural tendency in Vabungula is to place the main clause before any subordinate clause. However, subordinate clauses very often precede main clauses in Vabungula, and when that happens, the main clause is generally introduced by the non-translatable ketudž. This usage of ketudž must be duly noted, since it occurs very frequently in Vabungula.

     Ofûmna so zoifa sêna i sêna ketudž ke co šalar ezeras bêlê.
     When I add one and one I always get (lit: it always equals) two.

This sentence could be written as Ofûmna so zoifa sêna i sêna, ke co šalar ezeras bêlê, but in Vabungula this sounds a bit awkward and abrupt. With longer sentences, this use of ketudž becomes almost obligatory. The longer the preceding clause, the stronger the tendency to introduce the main clause with ketudž.

Consider the following examples, which are very typical of this usage:

     Prafûm de mala lomafe bênslor, ketudž nyvalu mala mafu la natnêl mêtakamo. 
As soon as he entered the room, the cat ran under the chair.
     Odapro šisum su so, ketudž onsu su de fwil mala golamas ke.
As for my friend, his father was not interested in it.
     So geni ofûmna so malaš icemi gasumic ketudž so mala šimonû madot sekaran.
I remember when I was a young boy I liked to climb trees.
     Sate mna tun nigemûne ketudž mfa jê oeninelke dal pro nikapraka prak galamêl su ke.
With all these facts it should be theoretically possible to determine its exact location.

The following sentence is an example in which the use of ketudž is virtually obligatory, since the main clause does not begin until halfway through the sentence:

     Nidželate ke larlana jansa uzalaran, šakira su sumefû la sumefû, 
       ketudž sumi buda dal deralo ke onudž armonudže zofanin.
     Working on it for several centuries, from generation to generation, 
       people might be able to solve it by manual calculation.

Functional Pairs

Some words are used in pairs:

lebu - ketu (the more… the more…)

     Lebu jansa ka džumnirê ke, ketu lea ke mulun pro cabuda.
     The more you study it, the easier it becomes to understand.

kefûn - mefa (as long as…, may as well)

     Kefûn sol sa ke, sol mefa afên ke.
     As long as we have it, we may as well use it.

ke - tudže (so much… that…)

     Mala galasê ke jansa kamon va ke, tudže ke mala fanûg.
     There were so many things on it that it broke.

giflê - ges (even (though)… yet (still))

     Giflê de mala lami lag ke jansa alaran, ges de fwil aluga tê solam.
     Even though he lived there many years, (yet still) he doesn’t know the place.

Note that ges can also be used without giflê when a preceding clause has the sense of "even though".

    Is zana oekamja so mala bargodas ketudž so ges fwil mala dal šalar falpak. 
    But no matter how careful I was, I was (still) not always able to succeed.


Vabungula is a language of one word for one meaning; therefore there are no synonyms. "Large" and "big" are both translated by the one word jana. There is no other Vabungula word with the same meaning as jana. No two words ever have exactly the same meaning.

Vabungula is also a language of one meaning for one word. There are very few exceptions (la, su, ke).


The only true homonyms in Vabungula are the words da (fall) and da (about). These are two different and unrelated words which just happen to be spelled exactly alike, and, since Vabungula is completely phonetic, also pronounced exactly alike. The words bares (to map) and bares (forty) would also appear to be homonyms, since they are spelled and pronounced identically. However, the latter is not a native Vabungula word but a borrowed word from the Lorêm number system. No other homonyms exist in Vabungula. Su (from) and su (of), and la (at) and la (towards) are not homonyms, since they are not two different words, but merely the same word with two different meanings.

Telling Time

The word larûn is used to mark the hours of the day, and corresponds to the English "o'clock."  Its use, as in English, is optional when the time of day is understood by the context.

     sêna larûn
     one o'clock

     bêlê larûn
     two o'clock

     rebêlê larûn
     twelve o'clock

     one (o'clock

     two (o'clock)

     twelve (o'clock)

Increments of 15 minutes are expressed, as in English, either by the words for "half" and "quarter", or by the actual number of minutes.  Again, the use of larûn is optional.

     bêlê larûn i konûn     2:15
     bêlê konûn             2:15
     bêlê larûn i rekolo    2:15
     bêlê rekolo            2:15

     bêlê larûn i donûn     2:30
     bêlê donûn             2:30
     bêlê larûn i ares      2:30
     bêlê ares              2:30

     bêlê larûn i tokonûn   2:45
     bêlê tokonûn           2:45
     bêlê larûn i barekol   2:45
     bêlê barekol           2:45

Other increments are expressed by the number of minutes, with larûn optional.

     bêlê larûn i koresan   2:53
     bêlê koresan           2:53

     olo larûn i baredek    6:49
     olo baredek            6:49

     resêna larûn i asi     11:08
     resêna asi             11:08

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Page last modified on March 20, 2017
Vabungula is an artificial language invented by Bill Price in 1965.
Vabungula co nûsk mugola famêlêtke onudž Bill Price larla alara idekuzorekol.
Copyright © 1999 by Bill Price