Sotho Parts of Speech - Interjectives - Imperatives

Imperatives

Imperatives have neither subjects nor subjectival concords. They are 2nd. person forms, and have the same force as other interjectives, but, being verbal, they may also take objects and assume extensions.

The rules for the formation of the singular imperative are as follows:

  • Verbs with more than one syllable are used without any modification
    matha run!
  • Most monosyllabic verbs may either suffix -a or prefix e-
    -tswa exit ⇒ etswa! / tswaa get out!
  • The verbs -re (say), -ya (go), and -ba only use the prefix
    -re say ⇒ ere
  • The imperative of the verb -tla (come) is tloo

Sometimes an epenthetic h or y may be inserted between the two a's or o's for emphasis.

The negative may be formed in several ways:

  • By prefixing se- to the basic verb and changing the final -a to -e
    -ja eat ⇒ eja / jaa eat!, se je do not eat!
  • By using se- with the infix -ka- with no change in the verb's final vowel
    -kena enter ⇒ se ka kena don't come in!
  • A commonly used negative, although technically not an interjective (as it contains a subjectival concord) is made by employing the (inflected) Group IV deficient verb -ke in the subjunctive mood (that is, with the "auxiliary concord" prefixed to the main verb). The above negative is most probably a contraction of this form (hence the final vowel was not changed due to the contracted concord)
    bua speak ⇒ o se ke wa bua don't say a word!

If the first person is included in the plural subjects, the hortative prefix ha- is used in the subjunctive mood. This is an example of the cohortative mood (a form of the subjunctive)

ha re se ke ra ya let us rather not go

Again in the subjunctive mood, an object may be specified in all of the above forms by an objectival concord. This is in the subjunctive mood, and so the final vowel of the verb changes to e (in the positive) or e (in the negative) when the deficient verb -ke is not used

-jwetsa tell ⇒ ba jwetse tell them!, le se ke la ba jwetsa y'all should not tell them!, ha re ba jwetse let's tell them!

Except for forms employing subjectival concords, the plural is formed by adding the suffix -ng to the verb (or the deficient verb -ke when it is used). This -ng may regularly result in vowel raising if the verb ends with the open vowel e

se matheng y'all must not run!

When subjunctive tenses are used "imperatively" they are not interjectives since they have subjectival concords (and have more typical verbal tonal patterns), but note that in this case there is a distinction between singular, dual, and plural number in the 1st. person. In this case dual number is marked by the hortative prefix ha- and 1st. plural subjectival concord, and plural is marked by the prefix, the concord, and the suffix -ng to the verb (or the deficient verb -ke if it is used).

matha! run! (singular 2nd. person)
ha re mathe! let (the two of) us run! (dual 1st. person)
ha re matheng! let us (more than two) run! (plural 1st. person)
ha re se keng ra matha let us (more than two) not run! (plural 1st. person negative)

All imperatives addressed to the 2nd. person (even if that person is included in a 1st. person plural) may be strengthened by using the enclitic -bo. This formative leaves the stress in place, thus resulting in words with stress on the antepenultimate syllable.

matha bo! run I say!

Read more about this topic:  Sotho Parts Of Speech, Interjectives

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