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Swahili Language
Kiswahili
Spoken in  Burundi
 Congo DR
 Kenya
 Mozambique
 Rwanda
 Tanzania
 Uganda
 Oman[1]
Total speakers First language: 5–10 million[citation needed]
First and second language: 50+ million[2]
Language family Niger-Congo
Writing system Latin, Arabic
Official status
Official language in  African Union
 Kenya
 Tanzania
 Uganda
Regulated by Baraza la Kiswahili la Taifa (Tanzania)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 sw
ISO 639-2 swa
ISO 639-3 variously:
swa – Swahili (generic)
swc – Congo Swahili
swh – Coastal Swahili
Maeneo penye wasemaji wa Kiswahili.png

     Coastal areas where Swahili or Comorian is the indigenous language,      official or national language,      and trade language. As a trade language, Swahili extends some distance further to the northwest.

Swahili (Kiswahili) is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Indian Ocean coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoros Islands.[3] Although only 5-10 million people speak it as their native language,[2] Swahili is also a lingua franca of much of East Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a national or official language of four nations, and is the only language of African origin among the official working languages of the African Union.

Contents

Overview

Swahili is a Bantu language that serves as a second language to various groups traditionally inhabiting parts of the East African coast. About 35% of the Swahili vocabulary derives from the Arabic language, gained through more than twelve centuries of contact with Arabic-speaking traders. It also has incorporated Persian, German, Portuguese, English and French words into its vocabulary through contact during the last five centuries. Swahili has become a second language spoken by tens of millions in three countries, Tanzania, Kenya, and Congo (DRC), where it is an official or national language. The neighboring nation of Uganda made Swahili a required subject in primary schools in 1992—although this mandate has not been well implemented—and declared it an official language in 2005 in preparation for the East African Federation. Swahili, or other closely related languages, is spoken by nearly the entire population of the Comoros and by relatively small numbers of people in Burundi, Rwanda, northern Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. [4] and the language was understood in the southern ports of the Red Sea and along the coasts of southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf.[5] In the Guthrie non-genetic classification of Bantu languages, Swahili is included under Zone G.

Although originally written in Arabic script, Swahili orthography is now based on the Latin alphabet that was introduced by Christian missionaries and colonial administrators. The text shown here is the Catholic version of the Lord's Prayer.[6]

The name 'Kiswahili' comes from the plural sawāḥil (سواحل) of the Arabic word sāḥil (ساحل), meaning "boundary" or "coast" (used as an adjective to mean "coastal dwellers" or, by adding 'ki-' ["language"] to mean "coastal language"). (The word "sahel" is also used for the border zone of the Sahara ("desert")).

The earliest known documents written in Swahili are letters written in Kilwa in 1711, in Arabic-script, they were sent to the Portuguese of Mozambique and their local allies. The original letters are now preserved in the Historical Archives of Goa, India[7]. Another ancient written document is an epic poem in the Arabic script titled Utendi wa Tambuka ("The History of Tambuka"); it is dated 1728. The Latin alphabet has become standard under the influence of European colonial powers.

Methali (e.g."“Haraka haraka haina baraka — Hurry hurry has no blessing"". http://www.kiswahili.net/3-reference-works/proverbs-and-riddles/proverbs-and-riddles-east-african.html. ), i.e. “wordplay, risqué or suggestive puns and lyric rhyme, are deeply inscribed in Swahili culture, in form of Swahili parables, proverbs, and allegory”.[8] Methali is uncovered globally within ‘Swah’ rap music. It provides the music with rich cultural, historical, and local textures and insight.

Name

"Kiswahili" is the Swahili word for the Swahili language, and this is also sometimes used in English. 'Ki-' is a prefix attached to nouns of the noun class that includes languages (see Noun classes below). Kiswahili refers to the 'Swahili Language'; Waswahili refers to the people of the 'Swahili Coast'; and Uswahili refers to the 'Culture' of the Swahili people. See Bantu languages for a more detailed discussion of the grammar of nouns.

Sounds

Swahili is unusual among sub-Saharan languages in having lost the feature of lexical tone (with the exception of the numerically important Mvita dialect, the dialect of Kenya's second city, the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa).

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Vowels

Standard Swahili has five vowel phonemes: /ɑ/, /ɛ/, /i/, /ɔ/, and /u/. The pronunciation of the phoneme /u/ stands between International Phonetic Alphabet [u] and [o]. Vowels are never reduced, regardless of stress. The vowels are pronounced as follows:

  • /ɑ/ is pronounced like the "a" in father
  • /ɛ/ is pronounced like the "e" in bed
  • /i/ is pronounced like the "i" in ski
  • /ɔ/ is pronounced like the "o" in American English horse, or like a tenser version of "o" in British English "lot"
  • /u/ is pronounced between the "u" in rude and the "o" in wrote.

Swahili has no diphthongs; in vowel combinations, each letter is pronounced separately. Therefore the Swahili word for "leopard", chui, is pronounced /tʃu.i/, with hiatus.

Consonants

Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar
/ palatal
Velar Glottal
Nasal m /m/   n /n/ ny /ɲ/ ng’ /ŋ/
Stop prenasalized mb /mb/   nd /nd/ nj /ɲɟ/~/ndʒ/ ng /ŋɡ/
implosive b /ɓ/   d /ɗ/ j /ʄ/ g /ɠ/
tenuis p /p/   t /t/ ch /tʃ/ k /k/
aspirated (p /pʰ/)   (t /tʰ/) (ch /tʃʰ/) (k /kʰ/)
Fricative prenasalized mv /ɱv/   nz /nz/    
voiced v /v/ (dh /ð/) z /z/   (gh /ɣ/)
voiceless f /f/ (th /θ/) s /s/ sh /ʃ/ (kh /x/) h /h/
Trill     r /r/    
Approximant     l /l/ y /j/ w /w/

Notes:

  • The nasal stops are pronounced as separate syllables when they appear before a plosive (e.g. mtoto [m.to.to] 'child', nilimpiga [ni.li.m.pi.ɠa] 'I hit him'), and prenasalized stops are decomposed into two syllables when the word would otherwise have one (e.g. mbwa [m.bwa] 'dog'). However, elsewhere this doesn't happen: ndizi ('banana') has two syllables, [ndi.zi], as does nenda [ne.nda] (not *[nen.da]; 'go').
  • The fricatives in parentheses, th dh kh gh, are borrowed from Arabic. Many Swahili speakers pronounce them as [s z h r], respectively.
  • Swahili orthography does not distinguish aspirated from tenuis consonants. When nouns in the N-class begin with plosives, they are aspirated (tembo [tembo] 'palm wine', but tembo [tʰembo] 'elephant') in some dialects. Otherwise aspirated consonants are not common. Some writers mark aspirated consonants with an apostrophe (t'embo).
  • Swahili l and r are merged for many speakers (the extent to which this is demonstrated generally depends on the original mother tongue spoken by the individual), and are often both realized as alveolar lateral flap /ɺ/, a sound between a flapped r and an l (this is also found in Japanese).

Noun classes

In common with all Bantu languages, Swahili grammar arranges nouns into a number of classes. The ancestral system had 22 classes, counting singular and plural as distinct according to the Meinhof system, with most Bantu languages sharing at least ten of these. Swahili employs sixteen: six classes that usually indicate singular nouns, five classes that usually indicate plural nouns, a class for abstract nouns, a class for verbal infinitives used as nouns, and three classes to indicate location.

class semantics prefix singular translation plural translation
1, 2 persons m-/mu-, wa- mtu person watu persons
3, 4 trees, natural forces m-/mu-, mi- mti tree miti trees
5, 6 groups, aug Ø/ji-, ma- jicho eye macho eyes
7, 8 artifacts, dim ki-, vi- kisu knife visu knives
9, 10 animals, loanwords, other Ø/n-, Ø/n- ndoto dream ndoto dreams
11, 10 extension u-, Ø/n- ua fence, yard nyua fences
14 abstraction u- utoto childhood

Nouns beginning with m- in the singular and wa- in the plural denote animate beings, especially people. Examples are mtu, meaning 'person' (plural watu), and mdudu, meaning 'insect' (plural wadudu). A class with m- in the singular but mi- in the plural often denotes plants, such as mti 'tree', miti trees. The infinitive of verbs begins with ku-, e.g. kusoma 'to read'. Other classes are more difficult to categorize. Singulars beginning in ki- take plurals in vi-; they often refer to hand tools and other artifacts. This ki-/vi- alteration even applies to foreign words where the ki- was originally part of the root, so vitabu "books" from kitabu "book" (from Arabic kitāb "book"). This class also contains languages (such as the name of the language Kiswahili), and diminutives, which had been a separate class in earlier stages of Bantu. Words beginning with u- are often abstract, with no plural, e.g. utoto 'childhood'.

A fifth class begins with n- or m- or nothing, and its plural is the same. Another class has ji- or no prefix in the singular, and takes ma- in the plural; this class is often used for augmentatives. When the noun itself does not make clear which class it belongs to, its concords do. Adjectives and numerals commonly take the noun prefixes, and verbs take a different set of prefixes.

singular     plural
 
mtoto mmoja anasoma watoto wawili wanasoma
child one is reading children two are reading
One child is reading Two children are reading
 
kitabu kimoja kinatosha vitabu viwili vinatosha
book one suffices books two suffice
One book is enough Two books are enough
 
ndizi moja inatosha ndizi mbili zinatosha
banana one suffices bananas two suffice
One banana is enough Two bananas are enough

The same noun root can be used with different noun-class prefixes for derived meanings: human mtoto (watoto) "child (children)", abstract utoto "childhood", diminutive kitoto (vitoto) "infant(s)", augmentative toto (matoto) "big child (children)". Also vegetative mti (miti) "tree(s)", artifact kiti (viti) "chair(s)", augmentative jiti (majiti) "large tree", kijiti (vijiti) "stick(s)", ujiti (njiti) "tall slender tree".

Semantic motivation

Although the Swahili noun class system is technically grammatical gender, there is a difference from the grammatical gender of European languages: In Swahili, the class assignments of nouns is still largely semantically motivated, whereas the European systems are mostly arbitrary. However, the classes cannot be understood as simplistic categories such as 'people' or 'trees'. Rather, there are extensions of meaning, words similar to those extensions, and then extensions again from these. The end result is a semantic net that made sense at the time, and often still does make sense, but which can be confusing to a non-speaker.

Take the ki-/vi- class. Originally it was two separate genders: artifacts (Bantu class 7/8, utensils & hand tools mostly) and diminutives (Bantu class 12). Examples of the first are kisu "knife"; kiti "chair", from mti "tree, wood"; chombo "vessel" (a contraction of ki-ombo). Examples of the latter are kitoto "infant", from mtoto "child"; kitawi "frond", from tawi "branch"; and chumba (ki-umba) "room", from nyumba "house". It is the diminutive sense that has been furthest extended. An extension common to many languages is approximation and resemblance (having a 'little bit' of some characteristic, like -y or -ish is English). For example, there is kijani "green", from jani "leaf" (compare English 'leafy'), kichaka "bush" from chaka "clump", and kivuli "shadow" from uvuli "shade". A 'little bit' of a verb would be an instance of an action, and such instantiations (usually not very active ones) are also found: kifo "death", from the verb -fa "to die"; kiota "nest" from -ota "to brood"; chakula "food" from kula "to eat"; kivuko "a ford, a pass" from -vuka "to cross"; and kilimia "the Pleiades", from -limia "to farm with", from its role in guiding planting. A resemblance, or being a bit like something, implies marginal status in a category, so things that are marginal examples of their class may take the ki-/vi- prefixes. One example is chura (ki-ura) "frog", which is only half terrestrial and therefore marginal as an animal. This extension may account for disabilities as well: kilema "a cripple", kipofu "a blind person", kiziwi "a deaf person". Finally, diminutives often denote contempt, and contempt is sometimes expressed against things that are dangerous. This might be the historical explanation for kifaru "rhinoceros", kingugwa "spotted hyena", and kiboko "hippopotamus" (perhaps originally meaning "stubby legs").

Another class with broad semantic extension is the m-/mi- class (Bantu classes 3/4). This is often called the 'tree' class, because mti, miti "tree(s)" is the prototypical example, but that doesn't do it justice. Rather, it seems to cover vital entities which are neither human nor typical animals: trees and other plants, such as mwitu 'forest' and mtama 'millet' (and from there, things made from plants, like mkeka 'mat'); supernatural and natural forces, such as mwezi 'moon', mlima 'mountain', mto 'river'; active things, such as moto 'fire', including active body parts (moyo 'heart', mkono 'hand, arm'); and human groups, which are vital but not themselves human, such as mji 'village', perhaps msikiti 'mosque', and, by analogy, mzinga 'beehive/cannon'. From the central idea of tree, which is thin, tall, and spreading, comes an extension to other long or extended things or parts of things, such as mwavuli 'umbrella', moshi 'smoke', msumari 'nail'; and from activity there even come active instantiations of verbs, such as mfuo "metal forging", from -fua "to forge", or mlio "a sound", from -lia "to make a sound". Words may be connected to their class by more than one metaphor. For example, mkono is an active body part, and mto is an active natural force, but they are also both long and thin. Things with a trajectory, such as mpaka 'border' and mwendo 'journey', are classified with long thin things, as in many other languages with noun classes. This may be further extended to anything dealing with time, such as mwaka 'year' and perhaps mshahara 'wages'. Also, animals which are exceptional in some way and therefore don't fit easily in the other classes may be placed in this class.

The other classes also have foundations that may at first seem similarly counterintuitive.[9] In short,

  • Classes 1-2 include most words for people: kin terms, professions, ethnicities, etc., including translations of most English words ending in -er. They also include a couple generic words for animals: mnyama 'beast', mdudu 'bug'.
  • Classes 5-6 have a broad semantic range of groups, expanses, and augmentatives. Although interrelated, it is easier to illustrate if broken down:
    • Augmentatives, such as joka 'serpent' from nyoka 'snake', lead to titles and other terms of respect (the opposite of diminutives, which lead to terms of contempt): Bwana 'Sir', shangazi 'aunt', fundi 'craftsman', kadhi 'judge'.
    • Expanses: ziwa 'lake', bonde 'valley', taifa 'country', anga 'sky'
      • from this, mass nouns: maji 'water', vumbi 'dust' (and other liquids and fine particulates which may cover broad expanses), kaa 'charcoal', mali 'wealth', maridhawa 'abundance'
    • Collectives: kundi 'group', kabila 'ethnic group', jeshi 'army', daraja 'stairs', manyoya 'fur, feathers', mapesa 'small change', manyasi 'weeds', jongoo 'millipede' (large set of legs), marimba 'xylophone' (large set of keys)
      • from this, individual things found in groups: jiwe 'stone', tawi 'branch', ua 'flower', tunda 'fruit' (also the names of most fruits), yai 'egg', mapacha 'twins', jino 'tooth', tumbo 'stomach' (cf. English "guts"), and paired body parts such as jicho 'eye', bawa 'wing', etc.
      • also collective or dialogic actions, which occur among groups of people: neno 'a word', from kunena 'to speak' (and by extension, mental verbal processes: wazo 'thought', maana 'meaning'); pigo 'a stroke, blow', from kupiga 'to hit'; gomvi 'a quarrel', shauri 'advice, plan', kosa 'mistake', jambo 'affair', penzi 'love', jibu 'answer', agano 'promise', malipo 'payment'
      • From pairing, reproduction is suggested as another extension (fruit, egg, testicle, flower, twins, etc.), but these generally duplicate one or more of the subcategories above
  • Classes 9-10 are used for most typical animals: ndege 'bird', nswi 'fish', and the specific names of typical beasts, birds, and bugs. However, this is also the 'other' class, for words which don't fit in well elsewhere, and about half of the class 9-10 nouns are foreign loanwords. Loans may be classified as 9-10 because they lack the prefixes inherent in other classes, and most native class 9-10 nouns have no prefix. Thus they do not form a coherent semantic class, though there are still semantic extensions from individual words.
  • Class 11 (which takes class 10 for the plural) are mostly nouns with an "extended outline shape", in either one dimension or two:
    • mass nouns which are generally localized rather than covering vast expanses: ugali 'porridge', wali 'cooked rice'
    • broad: ukuta 'wall', ukucha 'fingernail', upande 'side' (≈ ubavu 'rib'), wavu 'net', wayo 'sole, footprint', ua 'fence, yard', uteo 'winnowing basket',
    • long: utambi 'wick', utepe 'stripe', uta 'bow', ubavu 'rib', ufa 'crack', unywele 'a hair'
      • from 'a hair', singulatives of nouns, which are often class 6 ('collectives') in the plural: unyoya 'a feather', uvumbi 'a grain of dust', ushanga 'a bead'
  • Class 14 are abstractions, such as utoto 'childhood' (from mtoto 'a child') and have no plural. They have the same prefixes and concord as class 11, except optionally for adjectival concord.
  • Class 15 are verbal infinitives.
  • Classes 16-18 are locatives. The Bantu nouns of these classes have been lost; the only permanent member is the Arabic loan mahali 'place(s)'. (Though in Mombasa Swahili, the old prefixes survive: pahali 'place', mwahali 'places'.) However, any noun with the locative suffix -ni takes class 16-18 agreement. The distinction between them is that class 16 agreement is used if the location is intended to be definite ("at"), class 17 if indefinite ("around") or involves motion ("to, toward"), and class 18 if it involves containment ("within"): mahali pazuri 'a good spot', mahali kuzuri 'a nice area', mahali muzuri (it's nice in there).

Verb affixation

Swahili verbs consist of a root and a number of affixes (mostly prefixes) which can be attached to express grammatical persons, tense, and subordinate clauses, which require a conjunction in languages such as English.

Verbs of Bantu origin end in '-a' in the indicative. This vowel changes to indicate the subjunctive and negation.

In most dictionaries, verbs are listed in their indicative root form, for example -kata meaning 'to cut/chop'. In a simple sentence, prefixes for grammatical tense and person are added, as ninakata 'I cut'. Here ni- means 'I' and na- indicates a specific time (present tense unless stated otherwise).

Verb conjugation

ni- -na- kata
1sg DEF. TIME cut/chop
'I am cutting (it)'

Now this sentence can be modified either by changing the subject prefix or the tense prefix, for example:

u- -na- kata
2sg DEF. TIME cut/chop
'You are cutting'
u- -me- kata
2sg PERFECT cut/chop
'You have cut'

The animate/human subject and object prefixes, with the m-/wa- (human class) in the third person, is:

Subject prefixes
Person Sg. Pl.
1st ni- tu-
2nd u- m-
3rd a- wa-
  
Object prefixes
Person Sg. Pl.
1st -ni- -tu-
2nd -ku- -wa- (-mu-)
3rd -m- -wa-

In Standard Swahili, 2pl and 3pl objects are both -wa-. However, in Nairobi Swahili, 2pl is -mu-.

The most common tense prefixes are:

Tense and mood prefixes
-a- gnomic (indefinite time)
-na- definite time (often present progressive)
-me- perfect
-li- past
-ta- future
hu- habitual (does not take subject prefix)
-ki- conditional

The indefinite (gnomic tense) prefix is used for generic statements such as "birds fly", and the vowels of the subject prefixes are is assimilated. Thus nasoma means 'I read', although colloquially it is also short for ninasoma.

Persons in gnomic tense
1st na- twa-
2nd wa- mwa-
3rd a- wa-
na- soma
1sg:GNOM read
'I read'
mwa- soma
2pl:GNOM read
'You (pl) read'

Conditional:

ni-ki-nunua nyama wa mbuzi soko-ni, ni-ta-pika leo.
'If I buy goat meat at the market, I'll cook today.'

The English conjunction 'if' is translated by -ki-.

A third prefix is the object prefix. It is placed just before the root and refers a particular object, either a person, or rather as "the" does in English:

a- na- mw- ona
3sg DEF.T. 3sg.OBJ see
'He (is) see(ing) him/her'
ni- na- mw- ona mtoto
1sg DEF.T. 3sg.OBJ see child
'I (am) see(ing) the child'

The -a suffix listed by dictionaries is the positive indicative mood. Other forms occur with negation and the subjunctive, as in sisomi:

si- som- -i
1sg.NEG:PRES read NEG
'I am not reading/ I don't read'

Other instances of this change of the final vowel include the subjunctive in -e. This goes only for Bantu verbs ending with -a; Arabic-derived verbs do not change their final vowel.

Other suffixes are placed before the end vowel, such as the applicative -i- and passive -w-:

wa- na- pig -w -a
3pl DEF.T. hit PASSIVE IND.
'They are being hit'

Concord

Swahili phrases agree with nouns in a system of concord, though if the noun refers to a human, they accord with noun classes 1 & 2 regardless of noun class. Verbs agree with the noun class of their subjects and objects; adjectives, prepositions, and demonstratives agree with the noun class of their nouns. In Standard Swahili (Kiswahili sanifu) and in areas such as Zanzibar where Swahili is the native language the system is rather complex; however, it is drastically simplified in many local variants where Swahili is not the native language, such as in Nairobi.

In Nairobi, concord reflects only animacy. Human subjects and objects trigger a-, wa- and m-, wa- in verbal concord, while non-human subjects and objects—of whatever class—trigger i-, zi-, and infinitive verbs vary between standard ku- and reduced i-.[10] ("Of" is animate wa and inanimate ya, za.) In Standard Swahili, human subjects and objects of whatever class trigger animacy concord in a-, wa- and m-, wa-, while non-human subjects and objects trigger a variety of gender-concord prefixes.

Swahili noun-class concord
NC Semantic
field
Noun
-C, -V
Subj. Obj -a Adjective
-C, -i, -e[* 1]
1 person m-, mw- a- m- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-
2 people wa-, w- wa- wa- wa wa-, we-, we-
3 tree m- u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-
4 trees mi- i- ya mi-, mi-, mye-
5 group, aug ji-/Ø, j- li- la ji-/Ø, ji-, je-
6 groups, aug ma- ya- ya ma-, mi-, me-
7 tool, dim ki-, ch- ki- cha ki-, ki-, che-
8 tools, dim vi-, vy- vi- vya vi-, vi-, vye-
9 animals, 'other',
loanwords
N- i- ya N-, nyi-, nye-
10 zi- za
11 extension u-, w-/uw- u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-
10 (plural of 11) N- zi- za N-, nyi-, nye-
14 abstraction u-, w-/uw- u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-
or u-, wi-, we-
15 infinitives ku-, kw-[* 2] ku- kwa- ku-, kwi-, kwe-
16 position -ni, mahali pa- pa pa-, pi-, pe-
17 direction, around -ni ku- kwa ku-, kwi-, kwe-
18 within, along -ni mu- mwa mu-, mwi-, mwe-
  1. ^ Most Swahili adjectives begin with either a consonant or the vowels i- or e-, which are listed separately above. The few adjectives which begin with other vowels do not agree with all noun classes, since some are restricted to humans. NC 1 m(w)- is mw- before a and o, and reduces to m- before u; wa- does not change; and ki-, vi-, mi- become ch-, vy-, my- before o but not before u: mwanana, waanana "gentle", mwororo, waororo, myororo, chororo, vyororo "mild, yielding", mume, waume, kiume, viume "male".
  2. ^ In a few verbs: kwenda, kwisha

Swahili time

Swahili clock as provided by the Kamusi Project

(East African) Swahili time runs from dawn to dusk, rather than midnight to midday. 7am and 7pm are therefore both one o'clock while midnight and midday are six o'clock. Words such as asubuhi 'morning', jioni 'evening' and usiku 'night' can be used to demarcate periods of the day, for example:

  • saa moja asubuhi   ('hour one morning')   7:00 a.m.
  • saa tisa usiku   ('hour nine night')  3:00 a.m.
  • saa mbili usiku   ('hour two night')   8:00 p.m.

More specific time demarcations include adhuhuri 'early afternoon', alasiri 'late afternoon', usiku wa manane 'late night/past midnight', 'sunrise' macheo and 'sunset' machweo.

At certain times there is some overlap of terms used to demarcate day and night, e.g. 7:00 p.m. can be either saa moja jioni or saa moja usiku.

Other relevant phrases include na robo 'and a quarter', na nusu 'and a half', kasarobo/kasorobo 'less a quarter', and dakika 'minute(s)':

  • saa nne na nusu   ('hour four and a half')   10:30
  • saa tatu na dakika tano   ('hour three and minutes five')   five past nine
  • saa mbili kasorobo   ('hour two less a quarter')   7:45
  • saa tatu kasoro   ('a few minutes to nine')

Swahili time derives from the fact that the sun rises at around 6am and sets at around 6pm everyday in the equatorial areas where most Swahili speakers live.

Dialects of Swahili and languages closely related to Swahili

This list is based on Nurse, Derek, and Hinnebusch, Thomas J. Swahili and Sabaki: a linguistic history.

Dialects of Swahili

Modern standard Swahili is based on Kiunguja, the dialect spoken in Zanzibar town. There are numerous dialects of Swahili, some of which are mutually unintelligible, including the following.[11]

Old dialects

  • Chimwiini was traditionally spoken around the Somali town of Barawa. In recent years, most of its speakers have fled to Kenya to escape civil war. Whether Chimwiini is Swahili or a distinct language is a question that provokes division within each of the following groups: linguists specializing in Swahili, Chimwiini speakers, and speakers of other Swahili dialects.
  • Kitikuu, also called Kigunya and Kibajuni, spoken on the coast and islands on both sides of the Somalia-Kenya border and in the northern part of the Lamu archipelago.
  • Kiamu: spoken in and around the island of Lamu (Amu).
  • Kimvita: the major dialect of Mombasa (also known as "Mvita", which means "war", in reference to the many wars which were fought over it), the other major dialect alongside Kiunguja.
  • Kingare: subdialect of the Mombasa area.
  • Chijomvu: subdialect of the Mombasa area.
  • Chichifundi: dialect of the southern Kenya coast.
  • Kivumba: dialect of the southern Kenya coast.
  • Kipemba: local dialect of the island of Pemba.
  • Kiunguja: spoken in Zanzibar City and environs on Unguja (Zanzibar) Island. Other dialects occupy the bulk of the island.
  • Kitumbatu and Kimakunduchi: the countryside dialects of the island of Zanzibar. Kimakunduchi is a recent renaming of "Kihadimu"; the old name means "serf", hence it is considered pejorative.
  • Kimrima: spoken around Pangani, Vanga, Dar es Salaam, Rufiji and Mafia Island.
  • Kimgao: formerly spoken around Kilwa and to the south.
  • Kimwani: spoken in the Kerimba Islands and northern coastal Mozambique.
  • Kichagga: spoken by the Chagga people who are living around the Kilimanjaromountain in northern Tanzania.

Historically recent idioms

  • Kingwana: spoken in the eastern and southern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sometimes called Copperbelt Swahili, especially the variety spoken in the south.
  • Sheng: a sort of street slang, this is a blend of Swahili, English, and ethnic languages spoken in and around Nairobi in informal settings. Sheng originated in the Nairobi slums and is considered fashionable and cosmopolitan among a growing segment of the population.

The rise of Swahili to regional prominence

There is as yet insufficient historical or archaeological evidence to allow one to state exactly when and where either the Swahili language or the Swahili culture emerged. Nevertheless, it is assumed that the Swahili speaking people have occupied their present territories, hugging the Indian Ocean, since well before 1000 CE. Arab traders are known to have had extensive contact with the coastal peoples from at least the 6th Century CE, and Islam began to spread along the East African Coast from at least the 9th Century.

People from Oman and the Persian Gulf settled the Zanzibar Archipelago, helping spread both Islam and the Swahili language and culture with major trading and cultural centers as far as Sofala (Mozambique) and Kilwa (Tanzania) to the south, and Mombasa and Lamu in Kenya, Barawa, Merca, Kismayu and Mogadishu (Somalia) in the north, the Comoros Islands and northern Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

Starting about 1800, the rulers of Zanzibar organized trading expeditions into the interior of the mainland, up to the various lakes in the continent's Great Rift Valley. They soon established permanent trade routes and Swahili speaking merchants settled in stops along the new trade routes. For the most part, this process did not lead to genuine colonization. But colonisation did occur west of Lake Malawi, in what is now Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, giving rise to a highly divergent dialect.

After Germany seized the region known as Tanganyika (present day mainland Tanzania) for a colony in 1886, it took notice of the wide (but shallow) dissemination of Swahili, and soon designated Swahili as a colony-wide official administrative language. The British did not do so in neighbouring Kenya, even though they made moves in that direction. The British and Germans both were keen to facilitate their rule over colonies with dozens of languages spoken by selecting a single local language that hopefully would be well accepted by the natives. Swahili was the only good candidate in these two colonies.

In the aftermath of Germany's defeat in World War I, it was dispossessed of all its overseas territories. Tanganyika fell into British hands. The British authorities, with the collaboration of British Christian missionary institutions active in these colonies, increased their resolve to institute Swahili as a common language for primary education and low level governance throughout their East African colonies (Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, and Kenya). Swahili was to be subordinate to English: university education, much secondary education, and governance at the highest levels would be conducted in English.

One key step in spreading Swahili was to create a standard written language. In June 1928, an interterritorial conference was held at Mombasa, at which the Zanzibar dialect, Kiunguja, was chosen to be the basis for standardizing Swahili.[12] Today's standard Swahili, the version taught as a second language, is for practical purposes Zanzibar Swahili, even though there are minor discrepancies between the written standard and the Zanzibar vernacular.

Current situation

At the present time, some 90 percent of approximately 39 million Tanzanians speak Swahili.[13] Kenya's population is comparable, but the prevalence of Swahili is lower, though still widespread. Most educated Kenyans are able to communicate fluently in Swahili, since it is a compulsory subject in school from grade one. The five eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (to be subdivided in 2009) are Swahili speaking. Nearly half the 66 million Congolese reportedly speak it;[14] and it is starting to rival Lingala as the most important national language of that country. In Uganda, the Baganda generally don't speak Swahili, but it is in common use among the 25 million people elsewhere in the country, and is currently being implemented in schools nationwide in preparation for the East African Community. The usage of Swahili in other countries is commonly overstated, being common only in market towns, among returning refugees, or near the borders of Kenya and Tanzania. Even so, Swahili is probably second only to Hausa of West Africa as the sub-Saharan indigenous language with the greatest number of speakers, and Swahili speakers may number some five to ten percent of the 750 million people of sub-Saharan Africa (2005 World Bank Data).[1]

Many of the world's institutions have responded to Swahili's growing prominence. It is one of the languages that feature in world radio stations such as the BBC World Service, Voice of America, Radio Deutsche Welle, Voice of Russia, China Radio International, Radio Sudan, and Radio South Africa.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Ethnologue list of countries where Swahili is spoken
    Thomas J. Hinnebusch, 1992, "Swahili", International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Oxford, pp. 99-106
    David Dalby, 1999/2000, The Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities, Linguasphere Press, Volume Two, pg. 733-735
    Benji Wald, 1994, "Sub-Saharan Africa", Atlas of the World's Languages, Routledge, pp. 289-346, maps 80, 81, 85
  2. ^ a b Lutz Marten, "Swahili", Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd ed., 2006, Elsevier
  3. ^ Prins 1961
  4. ^ Nurse & Thomas Spear (1985) The Swahili
  5. ^ Adriaan Hendrik Johan Prins (1961) The Swahili-speaking Peoples of Zanzibar and the East African Coast. (Ethnologue)
  6. ^ http://wikisource.org/wiki/Baba_yetu
  7. ^ E.A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa, London, 1975, pp. 98-99 ; T. Vernet, "Les cités-Etats swahili et la puissance omanaise (1650-1720), Journal des Africanistes, 72(2), 2002, pp. 102-105.
  8. ^ Lemelle, Sidney J. “‘Ni wapi Tunakwenda’: Hip Hop Culture and the Children of Arusha.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 230-54. London; Ann Arbor, MI Pluto Pres
  9. ^ See here for details.
  10. ^ Kamil Ud Deen, 2005. The acquisition of Swahili.
  11. ^ H.E.Lambert 1956, 1957, 1958
  12. ^ Whiteley 1969: 80
  13. ^ Brock-Utne 2001: 123
  14. ^ Kambale, Juakali (2004-08-10). "DRC welcomes Swahili as an official AU language". Mail & Guardian. http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=134530&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__africa/. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 

References

  • Ashton, E. O. Swahili Grammar: Including intonation. Longman House. Essex 1947. ISBN 0-582-62701-X.
  • Brock-Utne, Birgit. 2001. Education for all — in whose language? Oxford review of education, 27(1): 115-134.
  • Chiraghdin, Shihabuddin and Mathias Mnyampala. Historia ya Kiswahili. Oxford University Press. Eastern Africa. 1977. ISBN 0-19-572367-8
  • Contini-Morava, Ellen. Noun Classification in Swahili. 1994.
  • Lambert, H.E. 1956. Chi-Chifundi: A Dialect of the Southern Kenya Coast. (Kampala)
  • Lambert, H.E. 1957. Ki-Vumba: A Dialect of the Southern Kenya Coast. (Kampala)
  • Lambert, H.E. 1958. Chi-Jomvu and ki-Ngare: Subdialects of the Mombasa Area. (Kampala)
  • Marshad, Hassan A. Kiswahili au Kiingereza (Nchini Kenya). Jomo Kenyatta Foundation. Nairobi 1993. ISBN 9966-22-098-4.
  • Nurse, Derek, and Hinnebusch, Thomas J. Swahili and Sabaki: a linguistic history. 1993. Series: University of California Publications in Linguistics, v. 121.
  • Prins, A.H.J. 1961. The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of Zanzibar and the East African Coast (Arabs, Shirazi and Swahili). Ethnographic Survey of Africa, edited by Daryll Forde. London: International African Institute.
  • Prins, A.H.J. 1970. A Swahili Nautical Dictionary. Preliminary Studies in Swahili Lexicon - 1. Dar es Salaam.
  • Whiteley, Wilfred. 1969. Swahili: the rise of a national language. London: Methuen. Series: Studies in African History.

External links

Swahili language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dictionaries and grammar


Swahili may refer to:


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Swahili phrasebook article)

From Wikitravel

Swahili or Kiswahili, is the official language of Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Swahili speakers can also be found in surrounding countries, such as Burundi, Rwanda, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While only 5-10 million people speak Swahili as their first language, as a second language, there are over 50 million speakers, making it the most widely spoken African language in the world. As a part of the Bantu language family, Swahili is related to a variety of languages from Southern Africa to West Africa. While some Bantu languages, like Xhosa and Zulu are click languages, Swahili does not use clicks, so pronunciation is generally not difficult for English speakers.

Pronunciation guide

Vowels

Swahili has five vowels: a, e, i, o, u. If you are familiar with Spanish or Japanese, the vowels are pronounced the same. If not, they are pronounced:

A - ah (Like the "a" in "father")
E - eh (Like the "e" in "bench")
I - ee (Like the "ee" in "see")
O - oh (Like the "o" in "cone")
U - oo (Like the "oo" in "doom")

Vowels in Swahili always make the same sounds, even when combined with other vowels. There are no silent letters or diphthongs in Swahili, so vowels will always make the same sound, and it is important that you pronounce each vowel, even when one vowel follows another. For example, in the word "daawa" (lawsuit), you must say "dah-ah-wah", pronouncing both of the a's. Simply saying "dah-wah" (dawa) changes the meaning to "drug/medicine".

Consonants

The following consonants are pronounced the same as in English:

like the "b" in "bay"
like the "d" in "dog"
like the "f" in "fun"
like the "g" in "gut"
like the "h" in "hen"
like the "j" in "jam"
like the "k" in "kit"
like the "l" in "lump"
like the "p" in "pot"
like the "s" in "sun"
like the "t" in "tip"
like the "v" in "van"
like the "w" in "win"
like the "y" in "yellow"
like the "z" in "zebra"

Other consonants

like the "m" in "mop".
like the "n" in "numb"

Although "m" and "n" are pronounced the same in Swahili as they are in English, unlike English, these letters can often be found at the beginning of words followed by other consonants, such as "t", "d", etc. Since Swahili has no silent letters, it is important to pronounce these letters. So for words like "Mchana" (afternoon) and "Ndugu" (sibling/relative), you needs to pronounce the "m" and "n" sounds along with the following consonant sounds.

The "r" sound is not pronounced as it is in English. Actually, like the vowels, the "r" sound is the same as Spanish and Japanese; a soft "r" that sometimes sounds like a "d".

Consonant pairings

ch 
like the "ch" in "chat"
ng 
like the "ng" in "sing"
ny 
like the "ni" in "onion"
gh 
officially pronounced similiar to the "ch" in "loch", you can alternatively just pronounce it with a hard "g", like the "g" in "gut" (as mentioned above)
sh 
like the "sh" in "dash"
th 
like the "th" in "thank". It is never pronounced like the "th" in "those". That "th" is spelled "dh" in Swahili.
dh 
like the "th" in "the". It is important not to confuse "dh" with the Swahili "th" above.

Common diphthongs

There are no diphthongs in Swahili however, foreign names and loan words may contain them.

Phrase list

Basics

Note that greetings is Swahili are very important, and long and drawn out - you can go back and forth several times, using not one but all of the greetings you know.

Hello. (to one person) 
Hujambo (response: Sijambo)
Hello. (to a group) : Hamjambo (response: Hatujambo)
Hello to an older person or authority figure. 
Shikamoo (shee-kah-moh) (response: Maharaba)
Hello. (informal
Sasa / Mambo / Jambo (generally said only to tourists)
Response to informal hello 
Nzuri (fine), Safi (clean/in order), Poa (cool), Poa kichizi kama ndizi (crazy cool like a banana)
How are you? 
Habari (ha-ba-ree)
How are you today? 
Habari za leo?
How are you this morning? 
Habari za asubuhi
How are you this afternoon? 
Habari za mchana
How are you this evening? 
Habari za jioni
How was your journey / trip / safari? 
Habari za safari
How have you been today? 
Umeshindaje leo?
Fine, thank you. 
Nzuri, asante
What is your name? 
Jina lako nani?
My name is ______ . 
Jina langu ni ______
Where are you from? 
Unatokea wapi?
I am from _______. 
Ninatoka _______(your country)
Please. 
Tafadhali
Thank you (very much). 
Asante (sana)
You're welcome. 
Karibu.
Yes. 
Ndiyo
No. 
Hapana
I don't need. (Polite way of saying you don't want to buy anything) 
Sihitaji
Excuse me. (getting attention
Samahani
I'm sorry (in the sense of "pardon me"; used for minor transgressions). 
Samahani
I'm sorry (in the sense of "please forgive me for wronging you"; used for major transgressions) 
Nasikitika.
Goodbye 
Kwa heri.
Good night. 
Usiku mwema
Sleep well. 
Lala Salama
Did you sleep well? 
Umelalaje?
Umeamkaje (lit.: did you wake up well?)
See you later. 
Tutuonana
Later. 
Baadaye
See you tomorrow. 
Tutuonana kesho
My Swahili is terrible 
Kiswahili changu ni kibaya sana.
I can't speak Kiswahili. 
Siwezi kusema Kiswahili
I only speak a little Kiswahili. 
Ninaongea Kiswahili kidogo tu
Do you speak English? 
Wazungumza Kiingereza?
Bathroom 
Maliwato.
Toilet 
Choo
Help! 
Msaada!
Where is the _______? 
Iko wapi _____(e.g. bathroom, police station...)
Leave me alone. 
Uniache!
Don't touch me! 
Usiniguse!
I'll call the police. 
Nitaita polisi!
Police! 
Polisi!
Help! 
Msaada!
Stop! Thief! 
(saying this in Swahili could likely result in violent death for the thief at the hands of self appointed vigilantes. your item may or may not be recovered.) Simama, mwizi!
I need your help. 
Ninaomba msaada.
I'm lost. 
Nimepotea.
I lost my bag. 
Nimepoteza mfuko yangu.
I lost my wallet. 
Nimepoteza pochi.
I'm sick. 
Mimi ni mgonjwa.
I've been injured. 
Nina oma.
I need a doctor. 
Ninahitaji daktari.
Can I use your phone? 
Ninaomba kutumia simu yako?
One. 
Moja
Two. 
Mbili
Three. 
Tatu
Four. 
Nne
Five. 
Tano
Six. 
Sita
Seven. 
Saba
Eight. 
Nane
Nine. 
Tisa
Ten. 
Kumi
Twenty. 
Ishirini
Thirty. 
Thelathini
Forty. 
Arobaini
Fifty. 
Hamsini
Sixty. 
Sitini
Seventy. 
Sabini
Eighty. 
Themanini
Ninety. 
Tisini
One Hundred. 
Mia moja
One Thousand. 
Elfu moja
now 
Sasa
later 
Baadaye
before 
Kabla ya
after 
Baada ya
morning 
Asubuhi
afternoon 
Mchana
evening 
Jioni
night 
Usiku

Clock time

What time is it? 
Saa ngapi?

In Swahili, the morning does not begin at midnight (12 AM); instead it begins at 7:00 AM. Daytime revolves around the rising and setting of the sun, which typically begins to rise around 7 AM and set at 7 PM in the areas where Swahili is spoken. For English speakers, this can be confusing however, those who learn how to tell time in Swahili will admit that it is more logical than the English system, in which midnight is considered "morning", even though no one begins their day at midnight.

So, to say the time in Swahili, you need to add (or subtract) 6 from the English time. 7:00 in America will be expressed as the first hour in Swahili. AM is expressed with asubuhi (morning) and PM is typically marked with usiku (night). Because the daytime begins at 7 AM, hours from midnight to 6 AM will be expressed with usiku, as these are nighttime hours in Swahili. Jioni (evening) can be used in place of usiku for hours that are not so late, such as 7 PM.

7 o'clock AM 
saa moja asubuhi
8 o'clock AM 
saa mbili asubuhi
9 o'clock AM 
saa tatu asubuhi
Noon (12 o'clock PM) 
saa sita asubuhi
7 o'clock PM 
saa moja usiku
8 o'clock PM 
saa mbili usiku
9 o'clock PM 
saa tatu usiku
Midnight (12 o'clock AM) 
saa sita usiku

Duration

dakika_____ minute(s) 
saa (masaa)_____ hour(s) 
siku_____ day(s) 
wiki_____ week(s) 
mwezi (miezi)_____ month(s) 
mwaka (miaka)_____ year(s) 

Days

In Swahili, the first day of the week is Saturday. The name of Saturday combines juma (week) and moshi (one/first). You can think of it as meaning roughly "the first of the week". The other days are the same, with the exception of Thursday and Friday, which do not follow the pattern.

Saturday 
Jumamoshi
Sunday 
Jumapili
Monday 
Jumatatu
Tuesday 
Jumanne
Wednesday 
Jumatano
Thursday 
Alhamisi
Friday 
Ijumaa

Months

Month 
mwezi

In Tanzania the names of the months (in parenthesis) are rarely used. Instead, they refer to them as first month, second month, etc.

January 
Mwezi wa kwanza (Januari)
February 
Mwezi wa pili (Februari)
March 
Mwezi wa tatu (Machi)
April 
Mwezi wa nne (Aprili)
May 
Mwezi wa tano (Mei)
June 
Mwezi wa sita (Juni)
July 
Mwezi wa saba (Julai)
August 
Mwezi wa nane (Agosti)
September 
Mwezi wa tisa (Septemba)
October 
Mwezi wa kumi (Oktoba)
November 
Mwezi wa kumi na moja (Novemba)
December 
Mwezi wa kumi na mbili (Desemba)

Seasons

Swahili speaking countries generally experience 2 seasons: rainy/hot and cold/dry. Swahili does not have words for "autumn" or "spring", etc.

Season 

majira

Summer (Rainy season) 
Winter (Dry season) 

kiangazi

Writing time and date

black 

-eusi

blue 

-a kibuluu

brown 

-a rangi ya kahawia

colours 

rangi

gray 

-a rangi ya kijivu

green 

-a rangi ya kijani

orange 

-a rangi ya machungwa

pink 

-a waridi

purple 

-a rangi ya urujuani

red 

-ekundu

white 

-eupe

yellow 

-a kimanjano

Transportation

Bus and train

Minibus (Kenya, Uganda) 
Matatu
Minibus (Tanzania) 
Daladala
Passenger 
Abiria
How much is a ticket to _____?

Tikiti ya kwenda ____ shengapi?

One ticket to _____, please. 

Naomba tikiti moja ya kwenda ____.

Where does this train/bus go? 

Treni/basi hii inakwenda wapi?

Where is the train/bus to _____? 

Treni/basi ya kwenda _____ iko wapi?

Does this train/bus stop in _____? 

Treni/basi itakwenda ____?

When does the train/bus for _____ leave? 

Treni/basi itaondoka lini?

When will this train/bus arrive in _____? 

Treni/basi itafika lini _____?

Directions

How do I get to _____ ? 
...the train station? 
...the bus station? 
...the airport? 
...downtown? 
...the youth hostel? 
...the _____ hotel? 
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? 
Where are there a lot of... 
...hotels? 
...restaurants? 
...bars? 
...sites to see? 
Can you show me on the map? 
street 
Turn left. 
Turn right. 
left 
right 
straight ahead 
towards the _____ 
past the _____ 
before the _____ 
Watch for the _____. 
intersection 
north 
south 
east 
west 
uphill 
downhill 

Taxi

Taxi! 
Take me to _____, please. 
How much does it cost to get to _____? 
Take me there, please. 
Do you have any rooms available? 
How much is a room for one person/two people? 
Does the room come with... 
...bedsheets? 
...a bathroom? 
...a telephone? 
...a TV? 
May I see the room first? 
Do you have anything quieter? 
...bigger? 
...cleaner? 
...cheaper? 
OK, I'll take it. 
I will stay for _____ night(s). 
Can you suggest another hotel? 
Do you have a safe? (...)
...lockers? 
Is breakfast/supper included? 
What time is breakfast/supper? 
)
Please clean my room. 
Can you wake me at _____? 
I want to check out. 
Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars? 
Do you accept British pounds? 
Do you accept credit cards? 
Can you change money for me? 
Where can I get money changed? 
Can you change a traveler's check for me? 
Where can I get a traveler's check changed? 
What is the exchange rate? 
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? 
A table for one person/two people, please. 
Can I look at the menu, please? 
Can I look in the kitchen? 
Is there a house specialty? 
Is there a local specialty? 
I'm a vegetarian. 
I don't eat pork. 
I don't eat beef. 
I only eat kosher food. 
Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard
fixed-price meal 
a la carte 
breakfast 
lunch 
Food  
Chakula
tea (meal
supper 
I want _____. 
I want a dish containing _____. 
Banana  
Ndizi
Goat  
Mbuzi
chicken 
beef 
fish 
ham 
sausage 
cheese 
eggs 
salad 
(fresh) vegetables 
(fresh) fruit 
bread 
toast 
noodles 
rice 
beans 
May I have a glass of _____? 
May I have a cup of _____? 
May I have a bottle of _____? 
coffee 
tea (drink
juice 
(bubbly) water 
water 
Maji
beer 
red/white wine 
May I have some _____? 
salt 
black pepper 
butter 
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
I'm finished. 
It was delicious. 
Please clear the plates. 
The check, please. 
Do you serve alcohol? 
Is there table service? 
A beer/two beers, please. 
A glass of red/white wine, please. 
A pint, please. 
A bottle, please. 
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please. 
whiskey 
vodka 
rum 
water 
club soda 
tonic water 
orange juice 
Coke (soda
Do you have any bar snacks? 
One more, please. 
Another round, please. 
When is closing time? 
Cheers! 
Do you have this in my size? 
How much is this? 
That's too expensive. 
Would you take _____? 
expensive 
cheap 
I can't afford it. 
I don't want it. 
You're cheating me. 
I'm not interested. 
OK, I'll take it. 
Can I have a bag? 
Do you ship (overseas)? 
I need... 
...toothpaste. 
...a toothbrush. 
...tampons. 
...soap. 
...shampoo. 
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen
...cold medicine. 
...stomach medicine. 
...a razor. 
...an umbrella. 
...sunblock lotion. 
...a postcard. 
...postage stamps. 
...batteries. 
...writing paper. 
...a pen. 
...English-language books. 
...English-language magazines. 
...an English-language newspaper. 
...an English-English dictionary. 
I want to rent a car. 
Can I get insurance? 
stop (on a street sign
one way 
yield 
no parking 
speed limit 
gas (petrol) station 
petrol 
diesel 
I haven't done anything wrong. 
It was a misunderstanding. 
Where are you taking me? 
Am I under arrest? 
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. 
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. 
I want to talk to a lawyer. 
Can I just pay a fine now? 
United States 
Marekani
Canada 
Kanada
Mexico 
Meksiko
Brazil 
Brazil
United Kingdom 
Uingereza
Ireland 
Eire, Ayalandi
Russia 
Urusi
France 
Ufaransa
Netherlands 
Uholanzi
Germany 
Udachi, Ujerumani
Italy 
Italia
Kenya 
Kenya
Tanzania 
Tanzania
Zanzibar (Tanzanian Island) 
Unguja
Uganda 
Uganda
Democratic Republic of the Congo 
Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo
South Africa 
Afrika Kusini
Nigeria 
Nijeria
Ethiopia 
Uhabeshi
China 
Uchina
Japan 
Japani
Singapore 
Singapuri
South Korea 
Korea Kusini
India 
Uhundi
Israel 
Uyahudi
Australia 
Australia
New Zealand 
Nyuzilandi
Cheetah  
Duma
Elephant 
Tembo
Giraffe  
Twiga
Hippo  
Kiboko
Lion  
Simba
Ostrich  
Mbuni
Snake  
Nyoka
Zebra  
Punda Milia
This is a usable phrasebook. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use it to get by, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SWAHILI (Wa-Swahili, i.e. coast people, from the Arabic sdhil, coast), a term commonly applied to the inhabitants of Zanzibar and of the opposite mainland between the parallels of 2° and 9° S., who speak the Ki-Swahili language. The Swahili are essentially a mixed people, the result of long crossing between the negroes of the coast and the Arabs, with an admixture of slave blood from nearly all the East African tribes. Among Swahili are found every shade of colour and every type of physique from the full-blooded negro to the pure Semite. Usually they are a powerfully built, handsome people, inclined to stoutness and with Semitic features. They number about a million. They figured largely in the history of African enterprise during the 19th centary. The energy and intelligence derived from their Semitic blood have enabled them to take a leading part in the development of trade and the industries, as shown in the wide diffusion of their language, which, like the Hindustani in India and the Guarani in South America, has become the principal medium of intercommunication in a large area of Africa south of the equator. During his journey from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic (1873-1874)1874) Commander V. Lovett Cameron found that a knowledge of this language enabled him everywhere to dispense with the aid of an interpreter, as it was understood by one or more persons in all the tribes along the route. Owing to this circumstance the Swahili have been found invaluable assistants in every expedition from the eastern seaboard to the interior after they began to be employed by J. H. Speke and Richard Burton as porters and escorts in 1857. The language is somewhat archaic Bantu, much mixed with Arabic, while Indian, Persian and even English, Portuguese and German words have contributed to the vocabulary. Grammatical treatises on it have been published, and into it portions of the Bible have been translated by Bishop Steere.' The Swahili are Mahommedans, but in disposition are genuine negroes. Christian missions among them have met with little success.

See Johann Ludwig Krapf, Dictionary of Swahili Language (London, 1882); Bishop Steere, Handbook of the Swahili Language (London, 1894); Collection of Swahili Folk-Tales (1869); A. C. Madan, English-Swahili Dictionary (Oxford, 1894); Delaunay, Grammaire Kiswahili (Paris, 1898). See also Bantu Languages.


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also swahili

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Etymology

From Swahili swahili, from plural of Arabic ساحل (sāHil), coast).

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA: /swəˈhiːli/

Proper noun

Singular
Swahili

Plural
-

Swahili

  1. An agglutinative language widely spoken in East Africa. Born of the hybridization of the Arabic and Bantu cultures, it was the language of the traders in East Africa, and spread along the routes of trade.

Synonyms

Translations

See also

External links

  • ISO 639-1 code sw, ISO 639-3 code swa (SIL). It can be used to talk about the family or related languages or the specific language. The individual ones are:

Dutch

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Swahili

Wikipedia nl

Proper noun

Swahili n.

  1. Kiswahili (swahili language)

Wikibooks

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Area where Swahili is spoken in Africa

Simple English

Swahili may refer to:


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