LESSON #97: Je, wajua? (#11)

On je, wajua? (do you know?) today we are talking about animals, birds, fish and insects in Swahili and the one thing they have in common. These creatures’ names just happen not to have plural versions eg. in English we have the animal name sheep which remains the same in the plural. In Swahili, most of the aforementioned creatures’ names do not change in the plural, they remain the same, just like ‘sheep.’ Pretty cool huh?!

However note that the operative word here is most, which means we do have a few exceptions. Feel free to add any other names that are the exception to this but the two I know of are animals:

Kiboko (hippo) whose plural is viboko

Kifaru (rhino) whose plural is vifaru.

The rest pretty much fall within the rule and therefore remain the same in either singular or plural form.

Here’s a few examples:

Mende (cockroach/es), mbu (mosquito/es), panya (mouse/mice), ng’ombe (cow/s), papa (shark/s), sato (tilapia fish), kuku (chicken/s), bata (duck/s)

Note: In Swahili we have something called noun classes-basically nouns are categorized into different groups depending on certain characteristics they may have. The above nouns all belong to a class called N-class whose main characteristic is that its nouns remain the same in singular and plural form. More on noun classes someday soon-when I have the energy for it-it’s a really heavy topic! Or if you ask me really nicely…. 😉