Swahili is a Bantu language. The Bantu languages of Africa are those that, in turn, form a subfamily of others: the Niger-Congo languages.
Swahili is the official language of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, and also the “bridge” language between all the nations of East Africa.
It is spoken in Tanzania, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Mayotte, Mozambique, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and the United States.
The name of the language, and this is not just a random coincidence, takes its name from the Arabic word sawāhil, which means “coast” or “those who live on the coast”. Its vocabulary is enriched by the influence of Arabic, Persian, Malay, English, German and Portuguese.
The oldest known Swahili manuscript dates back to 1728. It is an epic poem written in Arabic script. During the nineteenth century, Swahili was the main language of the European colonial governments in East Africa. The first newspaper printed in Swahili, Habari Mwezi, was published in 1895.
* Swahili verbs always use a subject (sometimes also an object)
* The pronouns are the same for all genders.
* It is very rich in prefixes and suffixes.
* Saturday counts as the first day of the week, as in many Arab countries.
* Ninakula: I’m eating
Ni defines the first-person singular (I), and –na marks the present tense of this verb.
* Alitupa Zawadi: He/She gave us a present.
The prefix A indicates the subject. –li indicates the past tense. –tu is the indirect object “us”. –pa is the root of the verb “to give”.
Swahili, like all languages, reflects a worldview, and it is very different from most Western world views…
That’s why it’s not just the text that should be taken into account when translating material into Swahili. This is an entirely different culture, which is reflected in the different use of words.
And for a final work that is professional and reflects the spirit of a text, we must turn to language professionals.
If you need an answer on translations into Swahili, visit our “Translation Services“.
(Versión en español: http://blog-de-traduccion.trustedtranslations.com/unazungumza-kiswahili-2011-11-09.html)