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.