Kenyalogy Kenyalogy - Kenya Safari Web - By Javier Yanes

All the Web
        Online Kenya travel guide founded in 2000
        Home | About Kenyalogy/Contact | Links | Site Map | Advertising | Español Español
  You are here: Home > Downloads: Learn Swahili
  Planning your safari
  Visas & money
  Time & weather
  What to pack
  Sanitary info
  Useful facts
  FAQs about Kenya
  Moving around
  Photo & video tips
  Parks & reserves
  Historic places
  Country basics
  Special features
  Kenyalogy's 'Top 10s'
  Photo galleries
  And more...

  GPS waypoints
  Learn Swahili
  Kenyalogy in ebook


Downloads: Learn Swahili

Swahili (or Kiswahili) can be quite a difficult language to learn, since its Bantu roots make it very different from any other language you might already know. It is important to note that although Swahili is now a lingua franca for more than 100 million speakers in East Africa, it has become so in roughly the time course of a century. Also, most of the speakers actually use it as a second language after their mother indigenous tongues, and there are multiple dialects in different regions which somewhat differ from standard Swahili. For all these reasons, Swahili seems to be a rapidly evolving language, both over time and geographically.

The above complexity can be illustrated with a couple of basic examples. For instance, there are at least three different words to say "no": "hapana", "la" and "siyo" (the latter being actually the negative of "ndiyo", "yes"). Their use is different in geographic regions, but it is also changing over time. Another example can be found with greetings. There are many different ways and each one must be corresponded with its own reply. The expansion of tourism is spreading the somewhat artificial greeting "jambo", which is not traditionally used among Swahili speakers.

As a general introduction, here are some highlights about the basic grammar and structure:

  • Swahili is all about prefixes. Almost everything that modifies nouns or verbs, whether it is plurals, negatives, persons, tenses, etc., is achieved by adding prefixes (and sometimes suffixes) to root words.
  • The use of prefixes is based on concordance. There are different classes of nouns which use different prefixes, and adjectives added to them must use the prefixes corresponding to the concordance class to which the noun belongs.
  • There are no articles.
  • Adjectives always go after nouns, even if they are numbers.
  • There are five vowels, a, e, i, o, and u. All of them are pronounced roughly as in Spanish or Italian.
  • Consonants are mostly pronounced as in English. Of course there are some differences, but this is enough for a start.

If you wish to learn Swahili, use the link below to download a free audio & textbook course. It was developed by the US Department of State's Foreign Service Institute and it is in the public domain. However, bear in mind that this course was prepared in 1968 and, as said above, Swahili is a rapidly evolving language.

Swahili Course, Foreign Service Institute
(zip file, 300 MB)


Home | About Kenyalogy/Contact | Site map | Advertising | Privacy & disclaimer
© Kenyalogy 2000-2013. All rights reserved.