The problem statement is as follows:

Problem Statement

Question: Indicate which translation goes with each Maasai sentence.

My current approach:

  1. The word {word1} Maasai word appears a total of 8 times in the Maasai sentences given and the word warrior appears 8 times in the given English sentences. So {word1} matches to warrior.
  2. The word {word2} Maasai word and the word {word3} Maasai word appears a total of 3 times. Since {word1} matched to a noun, I assume {word2} and {word3} also would match to nouns and thus can correspond to snake and tree.
  3. Sentences (2) and (7) do not contain the word {word1}. Similarly, sentences (H) and (J) do not contain the word warrior. So these two pairs must correspond to each other.
  4. Proceeding in a similar manner, we can make out that {word2} would correspond to tree and {word3} would correspond to snake.
  5. Now we are left with pronouns and verbs. Proceeding with some assumptions and in a similar manner as above, we might get some results, but that involves a lot of assumptions.

After this, I am not able to proceed forwards, maybe because I am not being able to categorize the pronouns in first person, second person, and/or third person. Also, the verbs and pronouns in some sentences seem to be mixed in one(To me, the Maasai language appears to have the concept of Sandhi like in Sanskrit, or maybe has the concept of affixes of morphemes, like in English).

Please tell me if I stumped somewhere and guide me how to proceed forward. Also, I am not able to find the answer key to this problem, so I cannot verify any solutions. Providing the same would be helpful.

P.S. Sorry for the inconvenience caused by using {word1}, {word2} etc. I could not post more than 8 image links here.

  • I would love to help you out, (iol participant from India), but seeing the stack exchange rules, it would be better that you asked this at chat Apr 14, 2018 at 6:04
  • @WiccanKarnak How do I message you? I am new to stack exchange. :) Apr 14, 2018 at 6:14
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    Welcome to Linguistics! As per the image links, you can upload the images normally and either (1) paste links in comment or (2) commit an edit to your question, removing some existing image links and adding the new ones. The images reside on Imgur permanently, and your edits are stored in edit history. So a high-reputation user can edit the post from both revisions and make all images available at the same time. Apr 14, 2018 at 10:16
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    @WiccanKarnak Looks like I figured it out. Please check the answer section. Apr 15, 2018 at 16:52
  • 1
    Will go through! Apr 16, 2018 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


Well, looks like I solved it myself.

My first assumption, as mentioned in the question itself, is correct. Thus, Maasai word corresponds to warrior.

In my second assumption, there can be two cases:

Case I:

Maasai word corresponds to tree and Maasai word corresponds to snake.

Proceeding on to my point 3 in the question with this assumption, we find that Maasai prefix prefix would correspond to I and Maasai prefix prefix would correspond to me.

Similarly, Maasai verb would correspond to cut and Maasai verb to sees(s).

However, if we move on with the current assumption-based results, and try to decipher sentence 9, we would get an English translation with the keywords: Warrior, sees, I, which could meaningfully translate to I see the warrior, or unmeaningfully translate to The warrior sees I.

The second translation would be gramatically incorrect and we do not find the first translation in the English sentences given. Therefore, our assumption was wrong.

Case II:

Maasai word corresponds to snake and Maasai word corresponds to tree.

Proceeding in the same method as CASE I, we find the following results:

Maasai prefix -->> me
Maasai prefix -->> I
Maasai verb -->> see(s)
Maasai verb -->> cut

Note that these results give a suitable translation for sentence 9, which is, The warrior cuts me.

Now that we have these results, the problem becomes fairly easy to solve.

The results would be:

Maasai Answers

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