LESSON #93: World Cup must know vocabulary…

The world cup fever is well and truly on. So to help you enjoy the whole experience with locals as opposed to sitting at home cheering all by yourself (like me currently watching Holland vs Mexico), I’ve compiled a couple of words and phrases that you’d find useful.

  • Mpira – ball
  • Goli (magoli)  – goal/s
  • Mechi – match
  • Kipa – goal keeper
  • Mchezaji (wachezaji) – player/s
  • Mshambuliaji  – striker
  • Refa – referee
  • Shabiki (mashabiki) – fan/s
  • Shangilia – celebrate
  • Mpira unaanza saa ngapi?/ Mechi inaanza saa ngapi? – when does the match start?
  • Bado dakika ngapi? – how many more minutes left?
  • Mpira umeshaanza?/ Mechi imeshaanza? – has the match started?
  • Tumefunga!  – we’ve scored!
  • Tumeshinda  – we’ve won!
  • Dah! Tumefungwa bwana – – it’s a pity, we’ve been beaten man!
  • Tumeshinda kwa magoli xxx kwa xxx  – we’ve won by xxx to xxx goals
  • Bila –  nil
  • Moja, moja  – 1-1
  • Moja, bila – 1-0
  • Bila, bila –  0-0

So yeahs, no more excuses you’ve got about an hr and a half to go out there and cheer on whichever team you’ll be supporting. As for me am gonna enjoy Holland’s win but hope they are in no way responsible for taking out either Nigeria or Algeria in the future -#goteamafrika!

LESSON #92: Ati nini?!! (say what?!)

Just like English, Swahili has many variations. Of course there’s the ultimate standard Swahili, just like we have the Queen’s English and since I come from the birthplace of Swahili itself am gonna list a couple of things that have different names from the ones we know on my side of the border. We also have words that have different meanings depending on whether you are in the land of naomba or the land of hakuna matata.

Lets get cracking:

  • Grandmother/old woman, wife, tomato – yup, these are all related, just stay with me on this one. Starting with grandma, in Tanzania we call her bibi but in Kenya they call her nyanya. Here’s where it gets interesting though. If you go to Kenya and introduce your grandma as bibi you are sure to get funny looks because you just introduced her as your wife! Am not finished yet, if a Kenyan goes to TZ and introduces their grandma as nyanya then they’ll get even funnier looks as they just referred to the poor woman as a tomato! Confused? Ok let’s break it down, in TZ a grandma= bibi whilst a tomato= nyanya. In Kenya a grandma= nyanya whilst a tomato =…well still nyanya! So double meanings there. At the same time a wife= bibi  in Kenya whilst in TZ its= mke. Alright catch your breath then read on…

  • Electricity – not too complicated this one, just 2 different words. In TZ it’s umeme whilst in Kenya it’s stima.

  • Sweets/candy – in TZ it’s pipi whilst in Kenya particularly in the coastal area where their Swahili is pretty much on par with ours they call it peremende. Everywhere else most people just say sweet/s. Candy isn’t that common as British English is the standard around those parts.

  • Batteries – again not too complicated.  In TZ we swahilinize it and say betri whilst in Kenya they say makaaor sometimes mawe. Ok I’ll complicate that just a teeny weeny bit, i

    n TZ mawe means stones.

  • Skirt – very slight difference here, just a vowel’s worth. We both swahilinized this word so whilst in TZ we say sketi my cousins the Kenyans prefer skati.

  • Shirt – same idea as skirt,  so its sheti for TZ and shati for Kenya.

There’s plenty more of course which as always you can point out to me on the comments section and if you have any questions let me know as well. Tukutane punde!



Kutoa ni moyo, si utajiri…

As I’ve said before this saying means giving is all about a generous heart and nothing to do with having deep pockets.

Keeping that in mind, my student and friend Astrid left for Kenya two weeks ago to work on a charity project she and some friends are involved with. She’ll be away for two whole months-making a big difference to the lives of some less fortunate little malaikas. The idea is to raise 33,000 USD to build a school and for that these guys are gonna spend 33 nights with 33 different families. To support them just give them 3 USD for each night. A crazy but totally brilliant idea!

If you’d like to join the cause, click the link for more info. Kutoa ni moyo, well done Astrid,  proud of you!


Kombe la dunia! (Funlugha’s first Swahili books giveaway!)

So it’s that season again when men pretty much take over the remote and if they are unfortunate enough to be living with no nonsense ladies then it’s the season where they pretty much spend all their after work hours at the corner pub. Kombe la dunia literally means the (big) cup of the world a.k.a the world cup. I remember watching my very first world cup in 1994-USA. Then I missed France ’98 and Korea 2002 because I was in boarding school-boo! After that, I havent missed a single one and this year won’t be any different.

Only problem is the timings, so for example today’s match starts at 11pm EAT-which means we’ll be watching matches way past our bedtimes-I feel sorry for all the employers out there, the excuses people are gonna be coming up with in order to miss work 😉

And in the spirit of kombe la dunia am giving away 3 Swahili teaching books for free. One of which is the highly recommended Simplified Swahili and the other 2 are Swahili phrase books for the tourist needing to navigate their way around Swahili land or anybody else looking to learn some useful basic phrases.All you have to do is subscribe to my blog (I could seriously do with more subscribers!) and leave a comment on any post including the words “funlugha giveaway” and I’ll take note and hopefully good things will come your way. You can also leave a comment on my facebook page or on twitter-the more comments the better. Remember blog subscribers only. Winners will be announced after the WC of cuz-goodluck! (And may Afrika finally win the best team win!)

LESSON #91: Swahilinization

Not sure the above is a legit term but I use it to refer to the making of foreign words into Swahili sounding ones without losing the original word’s essence. The good thing about Swahili is that if you don’t know what a word (particularly an English one) is in Swahili, it’s absolutely acceptable to swahilinize it even though it may not be a recognised word in the kamusi. As long as the other party gets the meaning then well and good. (Though I advise my students to employ this technique sparingly as otherwise their Swahili vocabulary may suffer).

If you are a keen Swahili student then you must have come across noun classes (ngeli). One easily recognizable one is the N class whose main characteristic is that many of its nouns tend to be borrowed from other languages. In what sense are they borrowed? Swahilinization.

I haven’t come across a rule or formula to be used when swahilinizing but here’s a number of N class swahilinized nouns that may give you an idea of how to go about it. Am not gonna translate them for you since am confident you can figure that out pretty easily. Go on, impress me 😉

mashine, sinema, picha, baiskeli, skuli, shule, motokaa, trekta, kompyuta, soksi, sketi, shati, blauzi, boti, pea, papai, peni, penseli, begi, n.k.