Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Important Swahili Words

 Swahili is widely spoken language in East Africa. Here are some few basic Swahili words you should know when traveling to East Africa.

Jambo – “Hello!” A friendly “Jambo” goes a long way.

Habari – Also “Hello / Good Morning.” Use this one when speaking with older people.

Nzuri – “Beautiful / Good / Nice / I am fine.”

Shikamo – Literally “I hold your feet.” This greeting is for your elders. Young children will often mutter Shikamo under their breath when you walk by. It may sound like “Sh…ooo”.

Marahaba - The reply to “Shikamo”. Literally translated to something like “ I am delighted, I don’t get that every day.”
Other useful phrases that will come in handy:

Asante – “Thank you!” You will use this word the most in your conversations.

Sana-- (very) Used as in Asante-sana- Thank you VERY much.

Pole- “I am sorry for your misfortune.” This applies to everything from getting chalk dust on your clothes, to tripping, dropping an item or sneezing.

Pole pole – “Slowly, slowly.” Everything is pole pole in Africa.

Chakula-- “FOOD!” If you hear this word, walk towards the place you heard it.

 Nydio / Hapana – “Yes and No” respectively. Some phrasebooks will tell you that hapana is rude. It is not. As long as you don’t say it forcefully, you are fine. I haven’t heard another word for ‘no’ since I have been here.

Hatari - “DANGER!!!!!” This could be a snake in the road or a warning about an endemic in the area. Take note and proceed with caution.


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