In daily parlance, when we talk to people, we invariably ask and answer questions pertaining to daily life. Sometimes we add different nuances to questions by the intonation we put into them. Such is undoubtedly the case with Konkani as well.
But in Konkani, as in many other languages, we can add certain flavours to questions also by adding special endings to them. You are certainly aware of some of these terminal endings, which are similar to Marathi as well, like re, go ge, and ga, depending on whom you ask the question to. E.g. Az kitem randlam go? (“What has been cooked today?” as addressed to a young girl or a maid).
There are also other interrogative endings in Konkani which may not be quite translatable into English. These vary across communities and regions. For example, a common ending in Mangalore Konkani is gi, e.g., Tuzo bhav ghara asa gi? (“Is your brother at home?”)
However, I would like to make a special mention of two interrogative endings in Goan Konkani which I think are singularly expressive. These are “mum“ and “ki na“ .
Let me begin with the second one: ki na, which literally means “or not”. You ask someone a question which really doesn’t seek much information because you expect an affirmative answer (or a negative answer to a negatively worded question). A close English equivalent is a question ending with a comma followed by “right?”. E.g., “You are coming for the movie tonight, right?”
A ki na question often has one of the following two connotations:
a) One expresses a little concern for the respondent by expecting an affirmative answer to his question — or a negative answer if the question is worded negatively. E.g., Az sokallim tuka dud mell’lem ki na? which literally means, “Did you get milk this morning or not?” Or “Tuka thondd zaunk na ki na?” (You haven’t caught a cold, have you?)
b) Someone in authority is expecting a “yes” for an answer because one wants certain conditions to be fulfilled. For example, if you had asked your maid to wash the potatoes, you could ask her, “Tunvem bottatte dhulei ki na?” which is more or less equivalent to: “You have washed the potatoes, haven’t you?” or “You have washed the potatoes, right?”
While ki na doesn’t have much emotive content, the interrogative ending mum dabs a question with a quiet warmth and a personal touch. It is both a question and an expression of hope or wish combined. “Tum boro hai (asai) mum?” is equivalent to “Are you well?” and “I hope you are well” both bundled into one. Another example: “Tuka chitt ailea mum?” is more or less equivalent to “I hope you have received a letter. Have you?”
If you use ki na or mum when you speak Konkani in Goa, one thing that you will surely convey is that you are an assôl Gõykar.