What are your favorite Swahili words?

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eddeux
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What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby eddeux » 2013-06-01, 7:00

I haven't started studying Swahili full-time yet, but from the dabbling I've done over the past few years here and there I'd have to say my favorite words I can remember are:

- Mwananchi (citizen)
- Kipepeo (butterfly)
- Ndege (airplane)
- Penda (love).... :oops:
- Ng'ombe (cow) :lol:

Swahili is just so beautiful.
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Set
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Re: What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby Set » 2013-06-01, 8:55

I like 'matope'. It's the plural of 'tope' - mud, but means lots of mud.
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Re: What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby eddeux » 2013-06-05, 18:43

Set wrote:I like 'matope'. It's the plural of 'tope' - mud, but means lots of mud.

Ha! Any special reason? :lol:
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Re: What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby johnklepac » 2013-07-06, 21:29

I kinda like mbwa ("dog").

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Re: What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby Allekanger » 2013-07-07, 8:24

I like the words mbu ('mosquito') and nzi ('fly') a lot! If I had two cats with no names, I'd name them Mbu and Nzi. :D
Når trollmora lagt di elva små trolla å bunde fast dom i svansen
Då sjunger o sakta för elva små trolla di vackresta orl o känner
O aj aj aj aj buff...


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Re: What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby linguoboy » 2019-07-25, 17:13

I just learned that the Swahili word for "parliament" is bunge (and MP is mbunge). I'd love to know where that comes from.
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Re: What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-07-25, 18:27

linguoboy wrote:I just learned that the Swahili word for "parliament" is bunge (and MP is mbunge). I'd love to know where that comes from.

It's of Bantu origin, apparently meaning "meeting place" or something similar.

The book Language Use and Social Change (2017) says "A main concern of the Swahili promotion section was to lay down the procedure to be followed in adopting new words. The first step was to look deep into Swahili itself to see if there were old or obsolete terms that could be reviewed or given a new shade of meaning. Failing this, recourse was to be had to other Bantu languages. As a result of this policy a number of words from other Bantu languages are being added to Swahili. Notable of these words are bunge (parliament) — from Kisambaa and related languages, meaning "a meeting-place".

There is also this article from 1981 which says "...borrowing is a productive process, but with a clearly established hierarchy among the source languages. Firstly, Tanzania's Bantu languages are searched for a suitable item. Thus, 'bunge', Parliament, is from Ha."

And several articles in the Journal of African Languages and Linguistics say it is a borrowing from Luganda.

This site suggests that bunge comes from Proto-Bantu *bung, *bong meaning "to assemble, gather together".

So I don't know whether the use of bunge for "parliament" was borrowed from Kisambaa (Kishambala) or Ha (Giha) or Luganda or some other Bantu language (or several Bantu languages) or evolved from Proto-Bantu, but the consensus seems to be that bunge was a word that was deliberately chosen for its Bantu origin. "Meeting place" or "to gather together" are the only explanations I found of the original meaning. (The m-prefix of mbunge simply turns the word parliament into the word for the person who works there.)

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Re: What are your favorite Swahili words?

Postby linguoboy » 2019-07-26, 16:17

Thank you!

I'd be interested in knowing how the official language-regulating bodies of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda coordinate the work of fashioning and promoting Swahili neologisms.
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