Swahili, also known as Kiswahili (translation: language of the Swahili people), is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, some parts of Malawi and Zambia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Comorian, spoken in the Comoros Islands, is sometimes considered to be a dialect of Swahili, though other authorities consider it a distinct language.
The exact number of Swahili speakers, be it native or second-language speakers, is unknown and a matter of debate. Various estimates have been put forward and they vary widely, ranging from 15 million to 50 million. Swahili serves as a national language of the DRC, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Shikomor, the official language in Comoros and also spoken in Mayotte (Shimaore), is related to Swahili. Swahili is also one of the working languages of the African Union and officially recognised as a lingua franca of the East African Community. In 2018 South Africa legalized the teaching of Swahili in South African schools as an optional subject to begin in 2020.
A significant fraction of Swahili vocabulary derives from Arabic, in part conveyed by Arabic-speaking Muslim inhabitants. For example, the Swahili word for "book" is kitabu, traceable back to the Arabic word كتاب kitāb (from the root K-T-B "write"). However, the Swahili plural form of this word ("books") is vitabu, rather than the Arabic plural form كتب kutub, following the Bantu grammar in which ki- is reanalysed as a nominal class prefix, whose plural is vi-.
|Native to||Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bajuni Islands, Mozambique (mostly Mwani), Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Comoros, Mayotte, Zambia, Malawi, and Madagascar|
|Estimates range from 2 million (2003) to 15 million (2012)|
L2 speakers: 90 million (1991–2015)
Official language in
Swahili is a Bantu language of the Sabaki branch. In Guthrie's geographic classification, Swahili is in Bantu zone G, whereas the other Sabaki languages are in zone E70, commonly under the name Nyika. Local folk-theories of the language have often considered Swahili to be a mixed language because of its many loan words from Arabic, and the fact that Swahili people have historically been Muslims. However, historical linguists do not consider the Arabic influence on Swahili to be significant enough to classify it as a mixed language, since Arabic influence is limited to lexical items, most of which have only been borrowed after 1500, while the grammatical and syntactic structure of the language is typically Bantu.
The earliest known documents written in Swahili are letters written in Kilwa in 1711 in the Arabic script that were sent to the Portuguese of Mozambique and their local allies. The original letters are preserved in the Historical Archives of Goa, India.
Its name comes from Arabic: سَاحِل sāħil = "coast", broken plural سَوَاحِل sawāħil = "coasts", سَوَاحِلِىّ sawāħilï = "of coasts".
Since Swahili was the language of commerce in East Africa, the colonial administrators wanted to standardize it. In June 1928, an interterritorial conference attended by representatives of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, and Zanzibar took place in Mombasa. The Zanzibar dialect was chosen as standard Swahili for those areas, and the standard orthography for Swahili was adopted.
Swahili has become a second language spoken by tens of millions in three African Great Lakes countries (Kenya, Tanzania, and the DRC) where it is an official or national language. In 1985, with the 8–4–4 system of education, Swahili was made a compulsory subject in all Kenyan schools. Swahili and closely related languages are spoken by relatively small numbers of people in Burundi, Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda. The language was still understood in the southern ports of the Red Sea in the 20th century.
Some 80 percent of approximately 62 million Tanzanians speak Swahili in addition to their first languages. The five eastern provinces of the DRC are Swahili-speaking. Nearly half the 81 million Congolese reportedly speak it. Swahili speakers may number 120 to 150 million in total.
Swahili is among the first languages in Africa for which language technology applications have been developed. Arvi Hurskainen is one of the early developers. The applications include a spelling checker, part-of-speech tagging, a language learning software, an analysed Swahili text corpus of 25 million words, an electronic dictionary, and machine translation between Swahili and English. The development of language technology also strengthens the position of Swahili as a modern medium of communication.
Unlike the majority of Niger-Congo languages, Swahili lacks contrastive tone (pitch contour). As a result of that and the language's shallow orthography, Swahili is said to be the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn.
|Nasal||m ⟨m⟩||n ⟨n⟩||ɲ ⟨ny⟩||ŋ ⟨ng'⟩|
|Stop||prenasalized||ᵐb ⟨mb⟩||ⁿd ⟨nd⟩||ⁿdʒ ⟨nj⟩||ᵑɡ ⟨ng⟩|
|ɓ ~ b ⟨b⟩||ɗ ~ d ⟨d⟩||ʄ ~ dʒ ⟨j⟩||ɠ ~ ɡ ⟨g⟩|
|voiceless||p ⟨p⟩||t ⟨t⟩||tʃ ⟨ch⟩||k ⟨k⟩|
|Fricative||prenasalized||ᶬv ⟨mv⟩||ⁿz ⟨nz⟩|
|voiced||v ⟨v⟩||(ð ⟨dh⟩)||z ⟨z⟩||(ɣ ⟨gh⟩)|
|voiceless||f ⟨f⟩||(θ ⟨th⟩)||s ⟨s⟩||ʃ ⟨sh⟩||(x ⟨kh⟩)||h ⟨h⟩|
|Approximant||l ⟨l⟩||j ⟨y⟩||w ⟨w⟩|
Some dialects of Swahili may also have the aspirated phonemes /pʰ tʰ tʃʰ kʰ bʰ dʰ dʒʰ ɡʰ/ though they are unmarked in Swahili's Orthography. "[I]n some Arabic loans (nouns, verbs, adjectives) emphasis or intensity is expressed by reproducing the original emphatic consonants /dˤ, sˤ, tˤ, zˤ/ and the uvular /q/, or lengthening a vowel, where aspiration would be used in inherited Bantu words."
Swahili is currently written in an alphabet close to English, except it does not use the letters Q and X. There are two digraphs for native sounds, ch and sh; c is not used apart from unassimilated English loans and, occasionally, as a substitute for k in advertisements. There are also several digraphs for Arabic sounds not distinguished in pronunciation outside of traditional Swahili areas.
The language used to be written in the Arabic script. Unlike adaptations of the Arabic script for other languages, relatively little accommodation was made for Swahili. There were also differences in orthographic conventions between cities and authors and over the centuries, some quite precise but others different enough to cause difficulties with intelligibility.
Several Swahili consonants do not have equivalents in Arabic, and for them, often no special letters were created unlike, for example, Urdu script. Instead, the closest Arabic sound is substituted. Not only did that mean that one letter often stands for more than one sound, but also writers made different choices of which consonant to substitute. Here are some of the equivalents between Arabic Swahili and Roman Swahili:
|Swahili in Arabic Script||Swahili in Latin Alphabet|
|ـب||ـبـ||بـ||ب||b p mb mp bw pw mbw mpw|
|ـج||ـجـ||جـ||ج||j nj ng ng' ny|
|ـر||ر||r d nd|
|ـط||ـطـ||طـ||ط||t tw chw|
|ـظ||ـظـ||ظـ||ظ||z th dh dhw|
|ـغ||ـغـ||غـ||غ||gh g ng ng'|
|ـف||ـفـ||فـ||ف||f fy v vy mv p|
|ـق||ـقـ||قـ||ق||k g ng ch sh ny|
That was the general situation, but conventions from Urdu were adopted by some authors so as to distinguish aspiration and /p/ from /b/: پھا /pʰaa/ 'gazelle', پا /paa/ 'roof'. Although it is not found in Standard Swahili today, there is a distinction between dental and alveolar consonants in some dialects, which is reflected in some orthographies, for example in كُٹَ -kuta 'to meet' vs. كُتَ -kut̠a 'to be satisfied'. A k with the dots of y, , was used for ch in some conventions; ky being historically and even contemporaneously a more accurate transcription than Roman ch. In Mombasa, it was common to use the Arabic emphatics for Cw, for example in صِصِ swiswi (standard sisi) 'we' and كِطَ kit̠wa (standard kichwa) 'head'.
Particles such as ya, na, si, kwa, ni are joined to the following noun, and possessives such as yangu and yako are joined to the preceding noun, but verbs are written as two words, with the subject and tense–aspect–mood morphemes separated from the object and root, as in aliyeniambia "he who told me".
The ki-/vi- class historically consisted of two separate genders, artefacts (Bantu class 7/8, utensils and hand tools mostly) and diminutives (Bantu class 12), which were conflated at a stage ancestral to Swahili. Examples of the former 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 diminutives in many languages is approximation and resemblance (having a 'little bit' of some characteristic, like -y or -ish in 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 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 is 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. However, it seems to cover vital entities 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', 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'. Animals exceptional in some way and so not easily fitting in the other classes may be placed in this class.
The other classes have foundations that may at first seem similarly counterintuitive. In short,
Swahili phrases agree with nouns in a system of concord, but if the noun refers to a human, they accord with noun classes 1–2 regardless of their 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), based on the dialect spoken in Zanzibar, the system is rather complex; however, it is drastically simplified in many local variants where Swahili is not a native language, such as in Nairobi. In non-native Swahili, 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-. Infinitives vary between standard ku- and reduced i-. ("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-, and non-human subjects and objects trigger a variety of gender-concord prefixes.
-C, -i, -e[* 1]
|1||person||m-, mw-||a-||m-||wa||m-, mwi-, mwe-|
|2||people||wa-, w-||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-, me-, me-|
|7||tool, DIM||ki-, ch-||ki-||cha||ki-, ki-, che-|
|8||tools, DIM||vi-, vy-||vi-||vya||vi-, vi-, vye-|
|N-||i-||ya||N-, nyi-, nye-|
|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-, pe-, pe-|
|17||direction, around||-ni||ku-||kwa||ku-, kwi-, kwe-|
|18||within, along||-ni||mu-||(NA)||mwa||mu-, mwi-, mwe-|
This list is based on Swahili and Sabaki: a linguistic history.
Maho (2009) considers these to be distinct languages:
The rest of the dialects are divided by him into two groups:
In Somalia, where the Afroasiatic Somali language predominates, a variant of Swahili referred to as Chimwiini (also known as Chimbalazi) is spoken along the Benadir coast by the Bravanese people. Another Swahili dialect known as Kibajuni also serves as the mother tongue of the Bajuni minority ethnic group, which lives in the tiny Bajuni Islands as well as the southern Kismayo region.
First-language (L1) speakers of Swahili, who probably number no more than two million
After Arabic, Swahili is the most widely used African language but the number of its speakers is another area in which there is little agreement. The most commonly mentioned numbers are 50, 80, and 100 million people. [...] The number of its native speakers has been placed at just under 2 million.
The Bank of Uganda (Swahili: Benki Kuu ya Uganda) is the central bank of Uganda. Established in 1966, by Act of Parliament, the bank is wholly owned by the government but is not a government department.Central Bank of Kenya
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) (Swahili: Banki Kuu ya Kenya) is the monetary authority of Kenya. Its head office is located in Nairobi. CBK was founded in 1966 after the dissolution of East African Currency Board (EACB). Dr. Patrick Ngugi Njoroge is current Governor of CBK and Sheila M’Mbijjewe is the Deputy Governor.Coast Province
The Coast Province (Swahili: Mkoa wa Pwani) of Kenya, along the Indian Ocean, was one of Kenya's eight provinces. It comprises the Indian Ocean coastal strip with the capital city at Mombasa and was inhabited by the Mijikenda and Swahili, among others. The province covered an area of 79,686.1 km² and would have had a population of 3,325,307 in 2009.Continental Europe
Continental or mainland Europe is the continuous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be referred to ambiguously as the European continent – which can conversely mean the whole of Europe – and by Europeans, simply the Continent.
The most common definition of continental Europe excludes continental islands, encompassing the Greek Islands, Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, Great Britain and Ireland and surrounding islands, Novaya Zemlya and the Nordic archipelago, as well as nearby oceanic islands, including the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Azores, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Svalbard.
The Scandinavian Peninsula is sometimes also excluded, as even though it is technically part of "mainland Europe", the de facto connections to the rest of the continent are across the Baltic Sea or North Sea (rather than via the lengthy land route that involves travelling to the north of the peninsula where it meets Finland, and then south through north-east Europe).
The old notion of Europe as a cultural and European unification term was centred on core Europe (Kerneuropa), the continental territory of the historical Carolingian Empire, corresponding to modern France, Italy, Germany (or German-speaking Europe) and the Benelux states (historical Austrasia).
This historical core of "Carolingian Europe" was consciously invoked in the 1950s as the historical ethno-cultural basis for the prospective European integration (see also Multi-speed Europe).Eastern Province (Kenya)
The Eastern Province (Swahili: Mashariki) of Kenya was one of 8 Provinces of Kenya. Its northern boundary ran along with that of Ethiopia; the North Eastern Province and Coast Province lay to the east and south; and the remainder of Kenya's provinces, including Central Province, ran along its western border. The provincial capital was Embu.Government of Kenya
The Government of the Republic of Kenya (GoK) is the national government of the republic of Kenya which is composed of 47 Counties, each county with its own semi-autonomous governments. The national government is composed of three arms: the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Each arm is independent of the other and their individual roles are set by the Constitution of Kenya.
The full name of the country is the "Republic of Kenya". Its official Swahili name is 'Jamhuri ya Kenya'. Other terms such as GoK, GK and Serikali are popularly used to refer to the Kenyan government.Kilimanjaro Region
Kilimanjaro Region is one of Tanzania's 31 administrative regions with a postcode number 25000 . The regional capital is the municipality of Moshi. According to the 2012 national census, the region had a population of 1,640,087, which was lower than the pre-census projection of 1,702,207. For 2002-2012, the region's 1.8 percent average annual population growth rate was the 24th highest in the country. It was also the eighth most densely populated region with 124 people per square kilometer.The region forms part of the Northern Tourism Circuit in Tanzania. It is home to the Kilimanjaro National Park, the Mkomazi National Park, the Pare Mountains, Lake Jipe, Lake Chala, tropical forests and waterfalls. The region is bordered to the north and east by Kenya, to the south by the Tanga Region, to the southwest by the Manyara Region, and to the west by the Arusha Region.Mattock
A mattock is a hand tool used for digging, prying, and chopping. Similar to the pickaxe, it has a long handle and a stout head which combines either a vertical axe blade with a horizontal adze (cutter mattock) or a pick and an adze (pick mattock). A cutter mattock is similar to a Pulaski.Nyanza Province
Nyanza Province (Kenyan English: [ˈɲaːnzə]; Swahili: Mkoa wa Nyanza) was one of Kenya's eight administrative provinces before the formation of the 47 counties under the 2010 constitution. Six counties were organised in the area of the former province.
The region is located in the southwest part of Kenya around Lake Victoria, includes part of the eastern edge of Lake Victoria, and is inhabited predominantly by the Luo people. There are also Bantu-speaking tribes, such as the Gusii, the Kuria, and some Luhya, living in the province. The province derives its name from Nyanza, a Bantu word which means a large mass of water.
The provincial capital was Kisumu, the third-largest city in Kenya. The province had a population of 4,392,196 at the 1999 census within an area of 16.162 km², or 12.613 km² of land.
The climate is tropical humid.Piri piri
Piri piri ( PIRR-ee-PIRR-ee, often hyphenated or as one word, and with variant spellings peri peri or pili pili) is a cultivar of Capsicum frutescens, a chili pepper that grows both wild and as a crop. Its name sometimes refers to the bird's eye chili.
It is a small member of the genus Capsicum. The cultivar was developed from the malagueta pepper (originally from the Caribbean) in southeastern Africa and was spread by the Portuguese to their Indian territories of Gujarat and Goa.President of Kenya
The President of the Republic of Kenya (Swahili: Rais wa Jamhuri ya Kenya) is the head of state and head of government of Kenya. The president leads the executive branch of the Government of Kenya and is the commander-in-chief of the Kenya Defence Forces. The official residence of the president is at State House, Nairobi.
The wife of the President is referred to as the First Lady of Kenya.
The President is elected by popular vote in the general election held during August every 5 years. For the first time in the history of any African country, the 2017 general election was annulled. For the election of the President to be determined valid, they must have
More than half of all the votes cast in the election
At least twenty-five per cent of the votes cast in each of more than half of the counties.President of Tanzania
The President of the United Republic of Tanzania (Swahili: Rais wa Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania) is the head of state and head of government of Tanzania. The president leads the executive branch of the Government of Tanzania and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.Prime Minister of Tanzania
The Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania is the leader of government business in the National Assembly. The position is subordinated to the President, the head of government.
The functions and powers of the Prime Minister are described in the Constitution of Tanzania:
The Prime Minister shall have authority over the control, supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the Government of the United Republic.
The Prime Minister shall be the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly.
In the exercise of his authority, the Prime Minister shall perform or cause to be performed any matter or matters which the President directs to be done.Safari
A safari (Swahili: safari) is an overland journey, usually a trip by tourists in Africa. In the past, the trip was often a big-game hunt, but today, safaris are often to observe and photograph wildlife—or hiking and sightseeing, as well.Socotra Swahili language
Socotra Swahili is an extinct variety of Swahili spoken on Socotra Island in Yemen. It was reported to be spoken by a fifth of the island (c. 2,000 people) in 1962.Sultanate of Zanzibar
The Sultanate of Zanzibar (Swahili: Usultani wa Zanzibar, Arabic: سلطنة زنجبار, romanized: Sulṭanat Zanjībār), also known as the Zanzibar Sultanate, comprised the territories over which the Sultan of Zanzibar was the sovereign. Those territories varied over time, and at one point included all of what is now Kenya as well as the Zanzibar Archipelago of the Swahili Coast. Later, the kingdom's realm included only a ten mile wide coastal strip of Kenya and Zanzibar. Under an agreement concluded on 8 October 1963, the Sultan relinquished sovereignty over his remaining territory in Kenya. On 12 January 1964, Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah was deposed and lost sovereignty over the last of his dominions, Zanzibar.Swahili Wikipedia
The Swahili Wikipedia (Swahili: Wikipedia ya Kiswahili) is the Swahili language edition of Wikipedia. It is the largest edition of Wikipedia in a Niger–Congo or Nilo-Saharan language, followed by the Yoruba Wikipedia.It was mentioned on August 27, 2006 in International Herald Tribune and New York Newsday articles on the struggles of smaller Wikipedia language editions. In 2009, Google sponsored the creation of articles in the Swahili Wikipedia. On June 20, 2009, the Swahili Wikipedia gave its main page a makeover. As of July 2019, it has about 52,000 articles, making it the 87th-largest Wikipedia.Tanzania Football Federation
The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) (Swahili: Shirikisho la Mpira wa Miguu Tanzania), previously Football Association of Tanzania, is the governing body of football in Tanzania. It oversees operations of the Tanznian football league system and the Tanzania national football team. It was founded in 1945 and has been affiliated with FIFA since 1964. Wallace Karia is the new President of the Tanzania Football Federation.Vice-President of Tanzania
The Vice-President of Tanzania holds the second-highest political position in Tanzania.