Saturday, November 20, 2004

Learning Swahili together

A few weeks ago I met a fellow with a name whose false cognate, not immediately evident, did remind me of the language Swahili, which I understand is spoken in Congo, Zaire, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and Somalia, and the Malagasy Republic (Madagascar). In 1974 the population of native speakers was 45 million people.
Anyhow, I just came across jambo means hello, a Swahili Alphabet Book, by Muriel Feelings with illustrations by Tom Feelings. It's a very nice way for one to introduce the Swahili language to children, or just enjoy the read if you haven't kids to whom to read, with whom to share. It's brought to you by Dial Press of New York, copyright 1974. ISBN is 0-8037-4346-7 with a paperback edition, 0-8037-4350-5.
From this book one can learn that the language is properly referred to as Kiswahili. The prefix ki refers to the language as opposed to the people who speak it. There are no Q or X sounds, whatever that might mean; so there are only 24 letters in the alphabet. G is hard as in give, and the r is a rolling r as in Spanish.
I learned that to greet one formally is Hu jambo. Upon arriving at the lodgings of another, the visitor calls out Hodi? --Can I come in? The reply should always be, according to tradition, Karibu, meaning welcome.
Chakula is food, lipo is payment, and rafiki is friend. That should get you started, if you haven't already learned at least these few words.


At Wednesday, April 20, 2005 5:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, are you learing Kiswahili. I am so interested in learning but I do not want to learn alone and I'm hoping that I don't have to register for University to take one course. Are you still learning. I plan on buying the book "jambo means hello" for my daughter.


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