Thursday, December 01, 2005

learning Swahili


I have a new project: I am going to learn to speak Swahili.

Believe it or not, after much study I am already fluent in English. I impressed my coworkers today when they learned that I am also literate in the language of my origin. In addition, I am also fluent in Piglatin and LF's. As a trilingual American I think I have a national duty to persue my talent for languages for the sake of diplomacy.

One of my coworkers is from Kenya. She is fluent in English, Swahili, and the tribal language that was spoken in her home. During our lunch I am learning Swahili from her.

You might think that I'm kidding. But you would be wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I will now share my multilingual education with you. This is how we count to ten: Swahili, English, Piglatin, LF's.

moja (one, unwa, wolfun)
mbili (two, owta, twolfu)
tatu (three, eethra, threelfee)
nne (four, ourfa, oralfor)
tano (five, ivetha, fialfive)
sita (six, ixsa, silfix)
saba (seven, evensa, selfeven)
nane (eight, eighta, eilfeight)
tisa (nine, inena, nielfine)
kumi (ten, enta, telfen)

Other important Swahilian phrases:
jambo (hello, hi)
kwaheri (bye)
habari gani (how are you)
mzuri (I'm fine!) (Incidently, this is pronounced like the state Missouri.)
tuonane (see you later)
nimechoka (I'm tired.)

Do you remember the radio commercials for the teach-yourself-Spanish-at-home audiobooks? They used to play them on the radio all the time. I ask people if they remember these commercials, and they think I'm crazy mostly, but I know they existed. The big punchline at the end was, 'if you can spell socks, you can speak Spanish!" Apparently "S-O-C K-S" translates to 'it is what it is' or something like that. People who speak Spanish never get it when I say "S O-C K-S"! And it might be just like that when I learn Swahili, although the odds of running into someone who speaks Swahili will be way lower than someone who speaks Spanish. But it could happen. They might say jambo.

And I might answer habari gani.

And all you have to remember if something like that happens to you, is the state of Missouri. But don't say Branson by mistake; it'll make you look ignorant.

If you would like to learn more about Swahili, go here.

7 comments:

Angry Dissenter said...

"Eso si que es" = S O C K S

Sí.

I plan on testing your Swahili the next time we get together. Which is when, by the way?

genderist said...

Yes.

Jeff Kozlowski said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

genderist said...

Swahili update. My teacher said that the bonus of learning her langugae is that she would teach me one ugly word a week.

And I didn't even have to ask!

nicole said...

You know, I had a friend who spoke Swahili. He had the coolest name: Nyirabu Nyirabu. His first and last name were identical. Okay I admit, that comment didn't have much to do with your post.

aak said...

hi! I am staying in Tanzania and am also learning Swahili. Don't learn Swahili from a Kenyian though. Their swahili sucks!! I really do mean this. If you want to know anything (including swear words) I can help...

I hate to crash the party on your blog...

Habari gani? (which is not really even used, Usually it is Habari by itself or followed bu something else).
Nzuri.

Not mzuri. That is how the Kenyians fuck up and we laugh at them when they say it that way here!
I hope you come by my site and say hi!

flyingpurplemoose said...

Saw you stopped by my site. did you learn any fun swahili swear words?

aak