Miskitu Aisas!

Miskito Language Course

Lesson 8 9 Wan skulka
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Contents Our school

The -ka ligature after demonstratives

What do they mean?
  • Where does this road go?
  • I don't know. I see a village. This village is very small.
  • There is only one shop in this village. Here it is.
  • This shop is not big. It is small.
  • There is a school. What is there in this school?
  • There is this door, this room, those tables, that window and all these books.
  • Naha yabalka anira auya?
  • Nu apia sna. Tawan kum kaikisna. Naha tawanka sirpi pali sa.
  • Naha tawanka ra sap kum baman bara sa. Nahara sa.
  • Naha sapka tara apia sa. Sirpi sa.
  • Skul kum bara sa. Naha skulka ra dia bara sa?
  • Naha durka, naha rumka, baha tibilka nani, baha windarka an naha bukka nani sut bara sa.
Practice Change these sentences by incorporating naha or baha:
  1. Rum ba sirpi sa. (baha)
  2. Witin tawan ra sa. (naha)
  3. Sap ba kaikisma ki? (baha)
  4. Tibil ba tara pali sa. (naha)
  1. Baha rumka sirpi sa.
  2. Witin naha tawanka ra sa.
  3. Baha sapka kaikisma ki?
  4. Naha tibilka tara pali sa.

When naha this (these) or baha that (those) is placed in front of these nouns, -ka is added:


(naha) bukka


(naha) durka


(naha) rumka


(naha) sapka


(naha) skulka


(naha) tawanka


(naha) tibilka


(naha) yabalka

We will call this -ka suffix a ligature, that is, a "linking form", because the main function of the ligature is to link the noun to a preceding word (naha or baha in this case).

  • Although the above definition is true of most uses of ligatures, it is also possible for a noun with ligature to be used without anything preceding it, e.g. bukka. In this case, the ligature seems to make the phrase more definite: bukka ba the book (also buk ba).

Rules for adding -ka

What do they mean?
  • Some Miskitos speak English, but these Miskitos do not know English.
  • The other mothers buy fish, but that mother does not like fish.
  • Chicken (meat) is very tasty, but they did not eat this chicken.
  • Some young women have no money, so why don't those young women look for work?
  • I see a man. That man is asking for money.
  • A father came to the house. I know that father.
  • There is a woman and a child on the road. This woman and this child are asking for food.
  • Miskitu kum kum Inglis bila aisisa, kuna naha Miskituka nani Inglis bila nu apia sa.
  • Yapti wala nani ba inska atkisa, kuna baha yaptika inska laik apia sa.
  • Kalila wîna auhni pali sa, kuna witin nani naha kalilka piras kan.
  • Tiara kum kum lalah briras, bara baha tiarka nani dia muni wark plikras sa ki?
  • Waitna kum kaikisna. Baha waitnika lalah makabisa.
  • Aisa kum utla ra balan. Yang baha aisika nu sna.
  • Yabal ra mairin kum an tuktan kum bara sa. Naha mairka an naha tuktika plun makabisa.
Practice Say naha instead of na, or baha instead of ba; make all necessary changes:
  1. aisa na
  2. kalila na
  3. mairin na
  4. mangu ba
  5. tiara ba
  6. tuktan ba
  7. waitna na
  8. yapti ba
  1. naha aisika
  2. naha kalilka
  3. naha mairka
  4. baha manguka
  5. baha tiarka
  6. baha tuktika
  7. naha waitnika
  8. baha yaptika

In most cases the ligature -ka is added directly to the noun without any further changes: see the examples above, in which the noun ends in a consonant. This is also true when the noun ends in an i or a u, e.g.


naha Mirikika


naha yaptika


naha Miskituka


naha manguka

If the noun ends in an a preceded by one consonant, the a usually disappears when -ka is added, e.g.


naha kalilka


naha tiarka

Otherwise, the a changes to i when -ka is added, e.g.


naha waitnika


naha aisika

Mairin and tuktan are exceptions: in the form without ligature they end in an n.


naha mairka


naha tuktika

Other uses of ligature

What do they mean?
  • Which book do you want?
  • Which chicken are they going to kill?
  • She slept in her room.
  • Her mother doesn't like fish.
  • We learnt English in our school.
  • He opened the school door with the key to the door.
  • There was a bed in the bedroom.
  • Ani bukka want sma?
  • Witin ra ani kalilka ikaisa ki?
  • Ai rumka ra yapan.
  • Ai yaptika inska laik apia sa.
  • Yawan wan skulka Inglis lan takan.
  • Witin skul durka ba dur kîka ba wal kwakan.
  • Yapaia rumka ra krikri kum bara kan.
Practice Insert the word given into the sentences, making all necessary changes:
  1. Yang yapti ba nu sna. (ai)
  2. Aisa ba naiwa aula. (wan)
  3. Mangu kum want sma ki? (ani)
  4. Krikri ba sirpi sa. (naha)
  5. Kî ba brisma ki? (utla)
  1. Yang ai yaptika ba nu sna.
  2. Wan aisika ba naiwa aula.
  3. Ani manguka want sma ki?
  4. Naha krikrika ba sirpi sa.
  5. Utla kîka brisma ki?

Other attributive elements besides the demonstratives naha and baha which precede the noun also require ligature, such as the question-word ani when it means "which" (you have already learnt how to use ani when it means "where"):


ani skulka? which school?


ani kalilka? which chicken?


ani tuktika? which child?

ai his, her, their and wan our (inclusive: your and my):


ai sapka? his/her/their shop


ai yaptika his/her/their mother


wan skulka our (inc.) school

or any element that precedes a noun to form a compound-noun-like expression, e.g.


skul durka school door

dur kîka door key, key of the door


Miskitu bila skulka Miskito language school


yapaia rumka sleeping room, bedroom

The genitive construction

What do they mean?
  • They learn Miskito in Maria's school.
  • John's mother killed a chicken yesterday.
  • I will open my father's door.
  • The child's bed is very small.
  • Maria skulka ra Miskitu bila lan takisa.
  • Nahwala Jan yaptika kalila kum ikan.
  • Aisiki durka kwakaisna.
  • Tuktan krikrika ba sirpi pali sa.
Practice Ask where things or people are, following this pattern:

A B kum brisa. → A B-ka ba anira sa?

  1. Luisa buk kum brisa.
  2. Jan aisa kum brisa.
  3. Tuktan nani ba yul kum brisa.
  4. Naha waitnika ba krikri kum brisa.
  5. Baha tawanka ba sap kum brisa.
  6. Wan yaptika tawanka ba skul kum brisa.
  1. Luisa bukka ba anira sa?
  2. Jan aisika ba anira sa?
  3. Tuktan nani yulka ba anira sa?
  4. Naha waitnika krikrika ba anira sa?
  5. Baha tawanka sapka ba anira sa?
  6. Wan yaptika tawanka skulka anira sa?

Furthermore, any noun phrase placed in front of another noun with ligature may be interpreted as a genitive, i.e. a "possessor" of the following noun, as in these examples:

Maria + skul

Maria skulka Maria's school

Jan + yapti

Jan yaptika John's mother

Vocabulary and review

his, her
young woman
our (inclusive)

Say in Miskito:
Has he got a bed? Yes, he is sleeping in his bed now.

Witin krikri kum brisa ki? Au, ai krikrika ra nanara yapisa.

What work do these young women want?

Naha tiarka nani ba ani warkka want sa ki?

First we'll listen to the women of the village and afterwards to the men of the village.

Yawan taura tawan ba mairka nani ba ra walaisa, ningkara tawan ba tawan ba waitnika nani ba ra.

Those children are very poor, they don't have food; who is going to help (them)?

Baha tuktika nani ba umpira pali sa, plun briras (sa); ya hilp munaisa?

On this road the windows of the houses are small.

Naha yabalka ra utla nani ba windarka nani ba sirpi sa.

All those Miskitos stayed in this school and learnt well.

Baha Miskituka nani sut naha skulka ra takaskan bara pain lan takan.

Which door did Karla's mother open?

Karla yaptika ba ani durka kwakan?

Yesterday John's father killed all our chickens.

Nahwala Jan aisika wan kalilka nani sut ikan.

Lesson 8  
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