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Kiswahili: "Kenyan saga" Nipo kwa njia panda, nisaidieni wandugu.

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Lugha' started by Mkasika, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Mkasika

    Mkasika JF-Expert Member

    Mar 16, 2011
    Joined: Sep 11, 2010
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    And there was Kenyan Swahili, there are some words which will always confuse me and maybe funny while at it:-
     Nasikitika- Nasitikika
     Kukanganyana- Kukanyangana
     Mimba- Miba
     Lewa- Elewa
     Lowa- Lewa
    I had an American ask me after a turbulent ride to the Central Island, Lake Turkana what ‘I am drenched’ in Kiswahili is and a guy jumped in “ Niko na maji.”(I am with water). I laughed. Then I gave my own answer, slowly and unsure. “Nimelewa.” I thought twice about that, ‘Nimelewa’ is I am drunk, and then thought about it for a minute, water, sea water definitely has never made any person drunk. “Nimelowa.”

    I remember all these because I am in a field school and there are some Americans who we are trying to teach some Swahili words, in exchange of learning new exciting languages such as Spanish (America is a very diverse country, remember cousin Barry). But the last thing you want to do is teach Swahili when there is a Tanzanian involved because they will be out prove that Kenyan Swahili is the worst kind in the whole world, hence making Swahili look like a foreign language in the process. For instance we (all Kenyans) know that a Leso is what we (women) tie around our waists or wrap ourselves, with some writings on it. In Tanzania, a Leso is a handkerchief, whilst we must all admit that our Swahili is not the best in the world, A leso in Kenya will never be a handkerchief, I thought that was kitambaa cha kutolea makamasi (I doubt we have one word for that) and a Kikoi which by all means is Kenyan is not a male garment, and Kanga being any kind of fabric, in general terms other than a Leso, though I stand corrected.

    So who is fooling who, are they not both dialects of the same language, or is the Tanzania version way superior to the Kenyan one? If ‘Bibi’ in Kenya is wife and Tanzania it is grandmother, is the former one wrong and the latter right. Is ‘Mwakani’ within the year or is it in the coming year as the Tanzanians insist, does anyone have to be wrong?

    I am not writing about the bad Swahili that we use every other day, the point of emphasis is on basic words that are Swahili in the very sense but seems to mean different things to different Swahili speakers. It should be basic knowledge Zanzibarians speak different Swahili than the Tanzanians. Does it mean that the Tanzanian Swahili is incorrect when compared to it? And speaking of Kenya is bad Swahili just another of the language many dialects. Is Swahili itself as a result of intermarriage between the Coastal Bantus and the Arabs? I am sure they did not sit one day and decide that they needed to write a new language, it developed over time. Forget about sheng that has been around for decades and since we are never young forever it tends to die with a generation, think about Kenyan Swahili. That might actually be a genuine dialect.

    • Bad Swahili phrases that I have heard and might use a lot
    Nasikia njaa or niko na njaa, I must admit I use that a lot.
    Niko kwa nyumba, You can only be ndani ya nyumba

    • Notice how words in certain languages lack a one word translation in other languages, for instance there is no English word for Ugali and Mukimo, in the same way valentines would be siku ya wapendanao translated from English to Swahili.

    • Also notice how hymns loose meaning when they are translated from English to Swahili. There might be a consolation in Blessed assurance (Ndio dhamana). The verses are spot on: -
    Ndio dhamana Yesu wangu
    (Blessed assurance Jesus is mine)
    Hunipa furaha ya mbingu
    (Oh what a foretaste of glory divine)
    Heir of salvation
    Mrithi wa wokovu wake…

    But the chorus…
    This my story this is my song
    (Habari njema raha yangu)

    In short the translation would be Good news oh my heart. Close enough, hymns like ‘Come thou font of.” The Swahili translation is totally different from the English one and depending on which one you are used to then one doesn’t make sense.

    • The thing about our national language, it has translations for various countries from their original form to Swahili but leaves out others, was that under the assumption that Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda while Russia is ‘Urusi, Portugal is Ureno, Mozambique is Msumbiji.

    Then Swahili time is so different from the English time. “Set the alarm at 9:30 while in actual sense they meant 3:30 in the morning, my Tanzanian friend does that all the time. Saa moja should be one o’clock, not seven in the morning. I am not complaining neither are most Kenyans since you get used to time in many different languages. For most Bantu languages this is not even a problem for instance in Kikuyu, thaa mugwanja is one o’clock though mugwanja is seven in Kikuyu.

    Lastly, is Friday the last day of the week in Swahili since Saturday is Jumamosi the first day of the week, mosi means one after all.

    Studying language is interesting because language is the museum of culture, it reminds us that we are not Americans that is why snow is not a word in most African languages, its arbitrary and makes sense to its speakers only. For instance ‘Ngui’ the Americans may not know that it’s a four legged creature that they call ‘dog’ unless I or you told it to them. Neither are Americans Italians no wonder they don’t have an English word for Pizza.

    My American friend, who is fluent in Spanish, when I write down the word Jose, short name for Joseph he pronounced it as Hoze, Making languages so interesting to learn because it’s all about culture.