Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kinyarwanda verb of the month: kumva

When speaking English, Rwandans often make mistakes like “I hear it” when referring to food, or “I touch it” when talking about a sound. This is because Kinyarwanda has only one verb for feeling, tasting, touching, hearing, and even understanding: kumva (koom-vah) “to sense, to understand.” Therefore, simbyumva means “I don’t understand it” but also “I don’t hear it,” “I don’t feel it,” etc etc. It takes some getting used to for Rwandans learning English, but also for those of us learning Kinyarwanda.

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