This week’s Amateur Traveler podcast was on traveling to Zanzibar in Tanzania. You can get by in English in Tanzania but you will have a better experience if you pick up even a little (kidogo) Swahili. Swahili is a simple language since it was formed as a pidgin language to help natives who spoke Bantu languages communicate with Arab traders.
Most letters have the same sound as in English. There are only 5 vowel sounds:
- a – like a in father
- e – like e in get
- i – like ee in see
- o – like o in old
- u – like oo in tooth
here are some different sounds:
- dh like th in this
- gh, kh like the ch in the Scottish loch or German Bach
- ng’ like ng in song
- ny like n in onion
- hujambo – how are you? (literally – you have no problems?)
- sijambo – (response) – I have no problems
- hamjambo – how are you ? (plural) (literally – you all have no problems?)
- hatujambo – (response) – We have no problems
- (at the door of a house) Hodi!
- Karibu! – come in
- Karibuni! – come in (plural)
- habari za safari – how was your trip?
- habari za asubuhi – how was your morning?
- habari za mchana – how is everything today?
- habari gani – what news?
Everything I want to know about Swahili I learned from Lion King
- Safari – trip
- Simba – Lion
- Hakuna Matata – no worries
- Pumbaa – simpleton
- Rafiki – friend
- Nala – gift
- Shenzi – uncouth
- Banzai – skulk
- Sarabi – mirage
- For more information on Swahili, I recommend Teach Yourself Swahili Complete Course Package (Book + 2CDs) (TY: Complete Courses)
- Swahili Dictionary