Kalchi Koddi

Yesterday's curry

Kalchi koddi  used to be a very common phrase in the days gone by. Today it may not only sound stale but it may even be considered to represent something stale. Who would opt for yesterdays curry, after all?

But such wasn’t the case in those days. Kalchi koddi owes its origin to the fact that in the olden days there were no refrigerators. So our ancestors used to cook and eat fresh food everyday. Either they had the time, or they would make the time, for cooking daily, which was therefore a major activity and perhaps the prime duty of a housewife. And the only way people could preserve their food was by warming it up, perhaps even twice a day.

Now if you go on warming up the curry, it is bound to dry up and get gradually reduced in quantity. Of course one could always prevent the drying up process by adding more water so as to retain its fluidity. But such a thing wasn’t usually done. Why?

People in those days were not used to having a heavy breakfast. And since they usually worked hard in the fields, they needed a second breakfast. That was called pez, or congee, i.e., rice porridge prepared by somewhat overcooking rice in a lot of water. Now pez by itself is too bland and isn’t too palatable. So it would be had with something called tonddak launk, which could be some fish, meat, pickle or anything else that would go with the congee, and perhaps the most relishing of these was kalchi koddi which was an excellent sauce for the congee. Kalchi koddi, or “yesterday’s curry”, is a thickish paste that can be eaten either with a spoon or just with your finger.

If you really want to get a taste of it, you have to make prawn curry in a kunddlem. Then enjoy it with rice and let the leftover curry simmer in the kunddlem1  until it dries up into the delicacy that is kalchi koddi.

1. Kunddlem is a flattish earthen pot, used for most of the Goan cooking, except rice, which is cooked in a taller earthenware vessel called buddkulo. Similar to kunddlem, but slightly deeper and usually bigger, is tôplem.

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Words /Apellations Referring to Various Types of Relationships

How family members and other relatives are addressed and referred to

Although it might be more appropriate to class this post as a vocabulary item, for practical reasons I have decided to include it here in the Spoken Konkani section.

The list given below is admittedly limited to the usage mostly among Goan Catholics and not all Konkani speaking people. The reason is not that we are not interested in Konkani spoken elsewhere, but only that we are not competent enough to represent them. Secondly, it is not an exhaustive enumeration of all types of relationships. More words will be added by and by, and as we get more suggestions and contributions, this section will be edited and enlarged.


Apellation Relationship   Apellation Relationship
Pai Father Mãi Mother
Ghôv, Ghorkar Husband Bail, Ghorkarn Wife
Put Son Dhuv Daughter
Bhav Brother Bhoinn Sister
Irmanv Elder brother Mana Elder sister
Akoi Father’s sister General) Mavxi Mother’s sister (general)
Akoimãi Father’s elder sister Mavximãi Mother’s elder sister
Akoimana Father’s younger sister Mavximana Mother’s younger sister
Tiv, Titiv Father’s brother (general) Mam, Mamti Mother’s  brother
tiê Paternal uncle’s wife Mami Maternal uncle’s wife
Titivlo 1 Father’s younger brother Mamulo 1 Mother’s younger brother
Azo Grandfather Aji Grandmother
Xapai Paternal grandfather Papai Maternal grandfather
Xamãi Paternal grandmother Mamãi Maternal grandmother
Natu Grandson Nat Granddaughter
Manv Husband’s father Sasupai Wife’s father
Ghorkarnmãi Husband’s mother Sasumãi Wife’s mother
Saddu Wife’s sister’s husband Zav Husband’s brother’s wife
Dêr Husband’s brother Mivnno Wife’s brother
Nonnôn Husband’s sister Mivnni Wife’s sister
Vhoni Brother’s wife Kunhad 2 Sister’s husband
Sun Daughter-in-law Zanvui 3 Son-in-law
Bhapulbhav Father’s brother’s son Bhapulbhoinn Father’s brother’s daughter
Mavxibhav Mother’s sister’s son Mavxibhoinn Mother’s sister’s daughter
Soiro, i, em Relative Xezari, xezarn Neighbour
Ixtt, amig Male friend Ixttinn, amig Female friend
Padrinh, Podôrn Godfather Madrinh, Modôrn Godmother
Filiad Godchild Daiji Distant relation
Vei Son–in-law’s or daughter-in-law’s father  Vênn Son–in-law’s or daughter-in-law’s mother
Ponnttu Great grandson  Purvôz Ancestor


1. Titivlo and Mamulo are very informal, almost slang, yet not disrespectful
2. Kunhad comes from the Portuguese word cunhado
3. Ghorzanvui is a son-in-law who makes his home at the in-laws’, usually because his wife is the only child

Note: You will notice some uncovered gaps in the list of relationships. For example, what is a father’s sister’s son called? Such lacunae seem to occur in cases of asymmetry within that section of the family tree. That could be attributed either to the language’s natural affinity for symmetry or perhaps to the fact that I may not be knowledgeable enough on the matter. Your contributions in this regard are therefore welcome.

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Tor for, Mhojem ghor

There is no place like home

Tor for, mhojem ghor , is perhaps best expressed in English as “My home is my home”, despite the latter’s apparent tautology.

As we all know, a home has two important qualities. First, it is a place where you are free to do what you like — of course within limits. There is a Latin proverb somewhat to that effect: “domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium”  [each man’s home is his safest refuge]. And there is a similar saying in English as well, though it is expressed as if it is only an English gentleman’s privilege: “An Englishman’s home is his castle”, meaning that he is lord in, and of, his own home. But this doesn’t seem to be the main message behind Tor for, mhojem ghor.

The other quality of a home is that, no matter how poor or in what condition one’s home is, it is still the most comfortable place on the planet for me. Honestly, I don’t know the exact meaning of the phrase, “tor for”, but what I understand by it is that the place could be in a torn and worn-out condition, but it is still my beloved cozy home. However, the proverb does imply a tinge of the first quality mentioned above, as well.


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Using Postpositions with Nouns or Pronouns

What prepositions are to English and other European languages

I have written earlier about postpositions, but a little repetition here will perhaps not be out of place. Some of us are so used to prepositions in English and perhaps other European languages, that they would naturally expect an equivalent in Konkani as well, and rightly so. We do have almost an exact equivalent of that in Amchi Bhas. Except that ours are not called prepositions: instead, they are called postpositions. And it isn’t just that we have changed their name or that we are so proud of our language that we want to adopt a different nomenclature. It is just that, if we were to use the word preposition to denote the Konkani words for “under”, “above”, “outside”, etc. , the word would simply be a misnomer.

Why don’t we have prepositions?

The reason is plain and simple. The word “preposition” stands for “placement before”. In the sentence, “The shirt is above the chair”, we call “above” a preposition because in that sentence, the word “above” is placed before the word, “chair”. But if, instead, if it were correct to say, “The shirt is the chair above“, that is, if it would mean the same as we understand by “the shirt is above the chair”, then we would have to call “above” a “postposition” instead of a “preposition”. And that is exactly what happens in Konkani and in other Indian languages as well. In Konkani we say the same thing this way: “Khomis kodeli voir asa.”   Notice that in this last sentence, the word “voir”comes after the word for chair, viz., “kodeli“. That is why we call “voir” a postposition, instead of a preposition.

A few postpositions
Examples of postpositions are: voir  (above), sokol  (below), pondak  (under), borabor  (with), samkar  (opposite), adim  (before), uprant  (after), patthlean  or fattlean  (behind), kuxik  or merêk  (beside), fuddê  or mukhar  (in front of), bhonvtonnim  (around) and bhair  (outside).

We shall now use some of these words in sentences, using only nouns of the first declension as well as pronouns, which we have already covered. Note that the noun that precedes a postposition must always show itself in its flex stem.

  • Tollea samkar ek ghor asa  = There is a house opposite (facing) the lake
  • Ghoddea bhonvtonnim udok poddlam  = Water is spilled around the horse
  • Sorôp follea pondak gela  = The snake has gone under the plank
  • To mhojê adim pavlo  = He reached before me
  • Hanv tachê kuxik bostolom  = I will sit (masc.) beside him (or her as neuter, e.g., a little girl)
  • Posrea bhair ek mottor asa  = There is a car outside the shop

Note again that the words, tollea, ghoddea, follea, mhojê, tachê and posrea, which the corresponding postpositions, samkar, bhonvtonnim, etc. refer to, all appear in their naked flex stems, without any case endings.

And in case you happen to be in the process of learning Konkani, I would suggest that you repeat the above sentences until you get the feel of them.

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Regular Conjugations — Introduction

How all conjunctions are to be embedded in the vocabulary

Incorporating grammar into the vocabulary is nothing new. That is the way students of Latin learn nouns and verbs, and that little extra load on vocabulary learning more than compensates for the easy acquisition of the corresponding grammar. That is the model I have adopted here. And that, in fact, is the only way to learn irregular verbs while it will make life easy if the method is used for regular verbs as well. All the same, I will be covering regular verbs as classified into different conjugations, with verbs of each conjugation following the same rules across different tenses and moods.

Three typical verbs
In order to illustrate the main parts of the verbs that will be incorporated into the vocabulary, I shall take two different regular verbs, one of them being intransitive, viz., poddonk (= to fall)  and the other transitive, viz., moddunk  (= to break), as well as one irregular verb, viz., korunk  (= to do OR to make). Across all these parts, if any subject is implied, it will be the first person masculine singular, and if any object is implied, it will be the third person neuter singular. As we proceed, you will understand what I mean by that.

My plan, while going through all the regular conjugations, is to limit ourselves only to the present, past definite, and the future tenses. After we have covered all the conjugations, we shall walk through the other tenses and moods, each time with a sweep across all the regular conjugations and a few irregular verbs as well.

Five principal parts
Why have these five principal parts been selected to represent all verbs? It is because all the rest of the tenses and moods are derived from one or the other of these five principal parts. For example, the future simple is derived from the second principal part. In the case of the three verbs we have selected, poddtam changes to poddtolom, môddtam to môddtolom, and kôrtam to kôrtolom. The present participles (which are adjectives) are also derived in a parallel fashion from the second principal parts, thus: poddtolo, môddtolo  and kôrtolo.

Similarly the pluperfect is derived from the fourth principal part: poddlolom, môddlelem  and kelelem.  Again the past participles, which are also adjectives, are derived from the fourth principal part thus: poddlolo, môddlolo  and kelolo. The general rules for the derivation of these other tenses and moods from the predetermined principal parts will be explained in detail when we come to those particular sections.

The first principal part is the infinitive. Examples: poddonk, moddunk, korunk.

The second part is the present indicative affirmative. In our three cases it will be poddtam , môddtam, and kôrtam, respectively, thereby assuming that the subject is hanv.

The third part is the present indicative negative. That is, poddonam, moddinam, and korinam. Again, the subject is hanv.

The fourth part is the past definite. Here is where you will know whether the verb is transitive or intransitive (or anomalous — we shall discus this later). These fourth parts are poddlom, môddlem  and kelem, respectively. Notice here that while poddlom is first person masculine singular, môddlem and kelem are third person neuter. That is because an intransitive verb (like poddonk) in the past still agrees with the subject. But in the case of the other two verbs, in the past tense, the subject takes the instrumental case and so forfeits the loyalty of the verb. The verb now shifts its loyalty and agrees with the object instead (which object, for the sake of clarity, is assumed to be neuter). That is why the fourth principal part of poddonk ends in lom, whereas the fourth principal parts of the other two verbs end in lem.

Finally, the fifth and the last principal part is the future simple negative. In the case of our three verbs, it is poddchonam, môddchonam  and kôrchonam  respectively.

So when you want to learn the Konkani words for to fall, to break and to make, the words will be presented thus:

  • poddonk, poddtam, poddonam, poddlom, poddchonam 
  • moddunk, môddtam, moddinam, môddlem, môddchonam 
  • korunk, kôrtam, korinam, kelem, kôrchonam 

For instance, to read would be: vachunk, vachtam, vachinam, vachlem, vachchonam. Which means that if you ask for just one Konkani word for any verb, not just one but five words will be thrown into your lap! Enjoy!

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Irregular verbs: Zanno zaunk & Nokllo zaunk

Indicative Present of zanno zaunk and nokllo zaunk/em>

Like most languages, Konkani has a number of irregular verbs. We have already seen one of them: asonk, to be. Zanno zaunk (to know) and nokllo zaunk (not to know) are two others, which are very commonly used.
Zanno zaunk

Singular Plural
 1st Person  Hanv zannom  I know  Ami zannonv We know
 2nd Person  Tum zannoi Thou knowest  Tumi zannot You know
 3rd Person  To zanno, ti zanno, tem zanno He/she/it knows  Te zannot, teô zannot, tim zannot  They know

Nokllo zaunk

Singular Plural
 1st Person  Hanv nokllom  I do not know  Ami nokllonv We do not know
 2nd Person  Tum noklloi Thou dost not know  Tumi nokllot You don’t know
 3rd Person  To nokllo, ti nokllo, tem nokllo He/she/it does not know  Te nokllot, teô nokllot, tim nokllot  They do not know


Note: Most of the time, in colloquial language, noko is used instead of nokllo, thus: hanv nokom, tum nokoi, etc.

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Regular Declensions — Declension 1

The First Declension

We are now starting with regular declensions. I have classified regular declensions by their flex stems. If any nouns form both their flex stems in the same manner, then they belong to the same declension, irrespective of their genders or the manner in which they form their plurals. Thus ambo and tollem belong to different genders, ambo being masculine and tollem, neuter. Though as a rule there is a close relationships between plural formation and flex stems, these two even form their plurals differently. Yet they form their flex stems in the same way and therefore both belong to the first declension.

Is it very important to know which declension a particular noun belongs to? Perhaps not. For I am of the opinion that it is more practical to learn the plurals as well as the flex stems of all nouns as a part of the vocabulary. Thus if you want to know what a mango is called in Konkani and refer to the vocabulary or the Konkani dictionary, it would be very convenient to learn the Konkani word for mango as ambo, ambea, ambe, ambeam. The order in which the words are presented is: 1) the (nominative) singular, 2) the singular flex stem, 3) the (nominative) plural, and 4) the plural flex stem. It is similar to the method used by students of Latin, and I find that it is very practical and makes life easy for the student of the language. If a student of Konkani follows this method, then he or she does not need to bother about which declension a particular noun may belong to.

All the same, it may be useful to learn the different declensions and how they differ from each other. Nouns of the first declension may be any of the following types:

  1. All masculine nouns ending in o.
  2. Disyllabic masculine nouns ending in two consonants (not necessarily just two letters) followed by i.
  3. Polysyllabic masculine nouns ending in i.
  4. All neuter nouns ending in em.
  5. Disyllabic neuter nouns ending in two consonants (not necessarily just two letters) followed by im.
  6. Polysyllabic neuter nouns ending in im.

All the above form their flex stems by replacing the ending vowel (o, i, em or im) by ea and eam to form their singular and plural flex stems respectively. The following are a few examples

Singular Plural
 ambo  ambea  mango  ambe  ambeam  mangoes
 tollem  tollea  lake  tollim  tolleam lakes
 paddo  paddea  bullock  padde  paddeam  bullocks
 vavraddi  vavraddea  worker  vavraddi  vavraddeam  workers
 suknnem  suknnea  bird  suknnim  suknneam  birds
 mocho  mochea  shoe  moche  mocheam  shoes
 khorem  khorea  spade  khorim  khoream  spades

Examples: suknneacho avaz  (the sound of a bird); paddeak dhanvddai  (chase the bullock)

How to learn Konkani nouns: When you learn a Konkani noun, such as ghoddo (horse) for the frst time, don’t just learn it as a single word. Instead find out from somebody who knows Konkani, how he would say “horse”, “to a horse”, “horses”,and “to horses”. You would then be told that the respective words are “ghoddo”,ghoddeak“,ghodde“, and “ghoddeank“. With that information you get to know the singular flex stem (knock out the k from ghoddeak) , you already have the plural (ghodde) and you can get the plural flex stem by again knocking out the k from “ghoddeank” and replacing the last n by m. Then you learn the Konkani for “horse” thus: ghoddo, ghoddea, ghodde, ghoddeam. With that you have mastered everything about ghoddo and you will be able to use the word in any inflection case, from nominative to vocative.

So to learn the nouns mentioned in the table above, for instance, I would suggest that it would be best to learn them by rote thus:

  • ambo, ambea, ambe, ambeam, mango
  • tollem, tollea, tollim, tolleam, lake
  • paddo, paddea, padde, paddeam, bullock
  • suknnem, suknnea, suknnim, suknneam, bird
  • mocho, mochea, moche, mocheam, shoe
  • khorem, khorea, khorim, khoream, spade

Assuming that you are a student of Konkani, you may at first feel that all this involves too much effort just to learn one word at a time. However, once you get used to the system, it will become a part of you, and you will find it so very handy because it will make it smoother for you to use the learnt words in different situations with great flexibility.

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Declensions of Nouns — Introduction

General rules and case endings for the inflections

General rules

The way to form the various inflections is to take the crude form (singular or plural, according to the cases) and then add the particular case ending. In other words, the singular case or inflection is to be formed by adding the singular case ending to the singular flex stem, and the plural case ending to the plural flex stem. However, the plural flex stem is always nasal and in the case of the plural inflections, sometimes there is a little change to be made to the way the nasal sound of the plural flex stem is represented. There are only two letters that can represent a nasal sound, besides of course the tilde, i.e., “~“. These are m and n. So sometimes the nasal sound of the plural flex stem has to be represented by the letter n instead, in order to conform to our spelling rules. This is required for the genitive plural, dative plural, locative plural on, and ablative plural, whereas the spelling of the plural flex stem stays unchanged in the formation of the vocative plural, instrumental plural, and locative plural in.

We can now proceed to the formation of the various inflections.

The Genitive

All genitives, singular as well as plural, are nothing but adjectives, and the regular ones at that. That is why, while we have just two case endings for for every other inflection, i.e., one ending for the singular and one for the plural, in the case of the genitive, we have two case endings for each of the three genders, i.e., three for the singular and three for the plural.  The case endings for the genitive singular are cho, chi and chem  whereas the respective case endings for the genitive plural are che, cheô and chim.

Examples: The flex stems for madd (coconut tree)  are madda  (sing.) and maddam (pl.). Now let us suppose you want to say, “the height of the coconut tree”. The word for height is unchai, and unchai is feminine. So you take the singular flex stem, madda, and add the case feminine singular case ending (because height is feminine and it is singular), chi, and you get “maddachi unchai“. Now let us suppose you want to say “the shade of the coconut trees”. The Konkani for “shade” is savlli, which is feminine singular. Since we are referring to coconut trees, plural, we take the plural flex stem, maddam. To that we add the genitive feminine singular case ending, chi, because savlli is feminine and it is singular. However, as has been pointed to above, the flex stem, maddam, has to undergo a slight change before adding the suffix, and it becomes maddan before taking the case ending. Hence, “the shade of the coconut trees” = maddanchi savlli.

The Dative

Unlike the genitive case, which has been treated above, the dative is pretty simple. Just add a to the flex stem, whether it is a singular or plural. However, as mentioned above, in the case of the plural, the plural flex stem will have to undergo that slight transformation: the m changes into n. For example it you want to say, “I’m watering the coconut tree”, you would say “Hanv maddak udok ghaltam and if you want to put it into plural, you would say, “Hanv maddank udok ghaltam (I am watering coconut trees).

The Instrumental

I have written a great deal about the instrumental case. The instrumental singular is formed by adding n to the flex stem (Compare that with the locative in below — the two are not the same in form). The instrumental plural is formed by adding nim to the plural flex stem (Again compare that to the locative in — in this case they are, in fact, identical in form).  Examples: “Kombiên tantim ghalem = the hen laid an egg. Kombiê  is the singular flex stem whereas n is the instrumental singular case ending.(Remember about transitive verbs in the past tense?). The plural would be “Kombiamnim tantiam ghalim = the hens laid eggs. Kombiam  is the plural flex stem while nim is the instrumental plural case ending.

The Ablative

The ablative, like the dative, has the same case ending for the singular as well as the plural. However, the flex stems will be different. The common case ending for the ablatives is chean. Examples: “Mistirichean toxem korum ieta”   = the master (usually a male school teacher) can — or is allowed to — do that or act that way. Here mistiriis the singular flex stem, while chean is the singular case ending. The plural would be “Mistirinchean toxem korum ieta”  (School teachers can act like that). Mistirim  is the flex stem, which changes to mistirin in this case, while chean is the ablative case ending. There is, however, a thin line between the instrumentals and the ablatives and in some contexts they are even interchangeable. After all, as I have mentioned earlier, the ablative is actually the genitive instrumental, i.e., the instrumental of the genitive.

 The Locatives on and in

The locative on can have two endings, r and chêr. The ending r is used mainly, and is in fact preferred, for nouns in the singular and is rarely used in the plural, whereas chêr can be used for both but is used mainly for the plurals. Example: Mez is neuter (tem mez) and its two flex stems are meza  (sing.) and mezam  (pl.). If you want to say, “the papers are on the table”, you would say, “kagdam mezar asat. But if you want to say,”The papers are on the tables”, you would rather say, “kagdam mezanchêr asat“.Kagdam mezachêr asat” and “Kagdam mezanr asat” are both correct but are rarely used.

The locative in is more straightforward. The singular case ending is nt and the plural nim. Example: How would you put to following sentence in Konkani: “There is a stone in the pocket”? The Konkani word for pocket is bolos, neuter (tem bolos) whose singular flex stem is bolsa  and the plural is bolsam. So “in the pocket” would be bolsant  and “in the pockets”, bolsamnim. Fatôr  = stone, the plural being fator. So “Bolsant fatôr asa = “there is a stone in the pocket”, while “Bolsamnim fator asat = “there are stones in the pockets”.

 The Vocative

The vocative case is use when calling out to someone or something. It can be singular or plural, depending upon the number of people or things being called out to. In English, the vocative is denoted by placing an “O” before the noun. E.g., “O man”, or “Praise the Lord, O my soul”. In Konkani the vocative singular is just the flex stem, while the vocative plural is formed by adding to the plural flex stem. You must have heard the Konkani dulpod, “Chêddva gô, chedduva“. The word chêddva  is the flex stem as well as the vocative singular: “O girl” or “O girlie”. If you want to address two or more girls, you would say, “Chêddvam“.

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Conjugations — 3

Negatives of Asonk -- Indicative Present and Simple Past

Indicative Present (negative)

Singular Plural
 1st Person  Hanv nam  I am not  Ami nanv We are not
 2nd Person  Tum nai Thou art not  Tumi nant You are not
 3rd Person  To na, ti na, tem na He/she/it is not  Te nant, teô nant, tim nant   They are not


Simple Past (negative)

The past negatives of asonk are formed merely by adding an ‘n’ before the affirmatives. So “hanv aslom” becomes “hanv naslom“,  “tum asloi” or the colloquial “tum ahal’loi” changes to “tum nasloi and “tum nahal’loi“, etc. It is the same for all persons, singular or plural.

It must be remembered, though, as I have already mentioned earlier, that the verb asonk cannot be used to translate all cases of the verb to be. It can be used only to denote locations and temporary states of a person or thing. For example, the Konkani for “I am here” is “hanv hanga asam“.  But if you want to say “I am a girl”, you don’t say “hanv cheddum asam“,  because being a girl is a permanent feature and therefore the Konkani for that is just “hanv cheddum.  ” In such a case, the verb is simply dropped, at least in the present tense.

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Hat pãi zhorounk

to slog and slave for a cause

Hat-pãi zhorounk literally means to rub away or wear out one’s  hands and feet. The phrase is used to portray the dedicated hard work and intense labour one may have to go through for a relatively long period of time in order to further a particular cause like bringing up children or building up an  organization.

The word zhorounk  brings to mind the rubbing of a herbal root on a grinding stone with a spoonful of water to produce a little concoction, resulting in a sizable reduction in the size of the root. The focus is, of course, on the root that wears away and is thus sacrificed for a cause. However, zhorounk can refer to any type of rubbing away.

Zhorounk is a transitive verb and a causative one, since it refers to someone causing his hands and feet to wear away. The corresponding intransitive verb is zhoronk  as, for instance in the sentence, hi suri zhorona  (this knife doesn’t wear out).

Example: Tinnem hat pãi zhoroun apleam bhurgeank vaddoilim = She slogged and raised her children.

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