Monday, May 24, 2010

Fun Swahili Terms

When reading these words, remember, Swahili is extremely phonetic. Its not like English where we have sketchy silent letters to simply screw up the poor spellers. "I"s are pronounced like a hard "E" like in 'seek'. All "a"s are soft like in 'tall'. "E"s are like hard "a"s like it babe. All consonants are just like they are in English, although they may be in weird combinations. Just pronounce every letter.

Shita Sana: "a lot of problems." The irony with this term lies in the fact that many of the problem you may encounter when in Tanzania revolve around the at-home meeting of the first word, the followed by sana, in this context meaning a lot of, is very fitting.

Juzi Juzi (pronounced juicy juicy): "the day before the day before yesterday". The fun with this term more is in the contrast between how ridiculous it sounds in comparison to how bland its meaning is.

Poa Kachizi Kama Ndizi: "cool and crazy like a banana". The fact that anyone would even say this here, and they do quite frequently, makes you understand how much a staple bananas are in the Tanzanian culture. Plus, it rhymes.

Pole Sana: "I am very sorry". Everyone is sorry for everything. Please see my post from last year titled by this term if you have not already. It will give you a pretty accurate account of its usage.

Shikamoo: "I touch your feet." This is an acknowledgment of respect you offer as a greeting to anyone who is older than you. Although its meaning is quite nice, last year we turned it into something of a sexual innuendo, saying things like, maybe if you're lucky I'll shikamoo you later. Not only has this unfortunate trend continued, it has escalated. pole sana.

Nimeelewa: "I understand". The problem with this word lies in the fact that if you fail to pronounce both 'e's and simply say Nimelewa, the meaning changes to "I am drunk". Not really sure who came up with that one.

That is all for now. I figured it was time for a silly post.

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