KISWAHILI Words and their meanings

Here's some interesting facts to pack up & share with the children:

  • Estimates say there may be over 3,000 languages spoken in Africa.

  • Kiswahili, a Bantu language, is the most spoken language in Africa, with over 100 million speakers.

  • Kiswahili is the official language of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, as well as what is used for instruction in schools. Other Kiswahili speaking nations include: Rwanda, Burundi, southern Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan northern Mozambique and the Comoros Islands.

  • They say Kiswahili is the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn. One reason is that Kiswahili is easy to read.  Kiswahili words read just the way they are written.  Give it a try!

  

PHONICS

A – short a ah

E – long a

I – long e

O – long o

U – long u oo

PEOPLE

Baba

+ Respectfully address a wise man

Father

Mama

+ Respectfully address a wise woman

Mother

Babu

Grandfather

Bibi

+ Respectfully address a female elder

Grandmother / Mrs.

Kaka

Brother

Dada

Sister

Kijana

Youth

Mtoto / Watoto

+ Babies or the children

Child

Mwanafunzi

Student

Rafiki

Friend

Daktari

Doctor

Mzee / Wazee

Elderly person

Mzungu / Wazungu

White person

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PLACES

Nyumbani

Home

Shule

School

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EXPRESSIONS / PHRASES

Jambo

Hello

Hujambo?

Hello, how are you?

Sijambo

Hello, I'm fine

Njema

Fine (healthy)

Na wewe je?

And you?

Salama

Healthy, fine

Hodi!

May I come in?

Karibu!

Welcome

Asante

Thank you

Karibu kiti

Have a seat

Karibu chakula

Have some food

Karibu kahawa

Have some coffee

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Nzuri

Fine

Nzuri tu

Just fine

Nzuri sana

Very fine

Safi (sana)

(Very) fine / Great

Yebo

Yes

La

No

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NUMBERS

1 = Moja
2 = Mbili
3 = Tatu
4 = Nne

 

5 = Tano
6 = Sita
7 = Saba
8 = Nane

9 = Tisa

10 = Kumi
11 = Kumi na moja

 

20 = Ishirini
30 = Thelathini
40 = Arobaini
50 = Hamsini

60 = Sitini
70 = Sabini
80 = Themanini
90 = Tisini

100 = Mia