Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post presents video and comment examples of various KiSwahili words of Arabic origin. Some comments in this post refer to words of Arabic origin in other languages.
The content of this post is presented for educational and cultural purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
Click https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Swahili_terms_derived_from_Arabic for an alphabetized list of Swahili words derived from Arabic.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT KISWAHILI
"Swahili, also known as Kiswahili (translation: coast language), is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Comorian, spoken in the Comoros Islands is sometimes considered to be a dialect of Swahili, though other authorities consider it a distinct language.
Estimates of the total number of Swahili speakers vary widely, from 50 million to over 100 million. Swahili serves as a national language of four nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the DRC. Shikomor, the official language in Comoros and also spoken in Mayotte (Shimaore), is related to Swahili. Swahili is also one of the working languages of the African Union and officially recognised as a lingua franca of the East African Community.
A significant fraction of Swahili vocabulary derives from Arabic through contact with Arabic-speaking Muslim inhabitants. For example, the Swahili word for "book" is kitabu, traceable back to the Arabic word كتاب kitābu (from the root k.t.b. "write"). However, the Swahili plural form of this word ("books") is vitabu, following Bantu grammar in which ki- is reanalysed as a nominal class prefix, whose plural is vi-.
Swahili is a Bantu language of the Sabaki branch. In Guthrie's geographic classification, Swahili is in Bantu zone G, whereas the other Sabaki languages are in zone E70, commonly under the name Nyika. Local folk-theories of the language have often considered Swahili to be a mixed language because of its many loan words from Arabic, and the fact that Swahili people have historically been Muslims. However, historical linguists do not consider the Arabic influence on Swahili to be significant enough to classify it as a mixed language, since Arabic influence is limited to lexical items, most of which have only been borrowed after 1500, while the grammatical and syntactic structure of the language is typically Bantu.
Its old name was Kingozi, but as traders came from Arabic and Persian countries, their vocabulary intermingled with the language. It was originally written in Arabic script.
The earliest known documents written in Swahili are letters written in Kilwa in 1711 in the Arabic script that were sent to the Portuguese of Mozambique and their local allies. The original letters are preserved in the Historical Archives of Goa, India."...
Example #1: Africa Insights: The Swahili Language
Combat Films and Research, Published on Mar 4, 2016
Example #2: 20 Words: Swahili and Arabic
Polyglot Pal, Published on Mar 25, 2014
A look at 20 words that Swahili (left) and Arabic (right) have in common - stay tuned for more videos in more languages!
Swahili is a language spoken across East and Central Africa (many of you may know a few words like Simba, Kwanzaa and Hakuna Matata), while Arabic is spoken across the Middle East and North Africa. During the Middle Ages, traders from the Arab world brought Islam to East Africa, married into the local population and helped create a hybrid Arab-African culture that would later be called "Swahili" (Arabic for "coastal people"). All of the words in this video originally came from Arabic and were borrowed over the course of the last thousand years."
Here are some comments from this video's discussion thread (Numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only):
1. Nixycat, 2014
"I love this! I love seeing how so many languages derive from each other or have a common ground which can make learning a language easier and help form your vocabulary base if you already know the sister language :-) Really interesting!"
2. Hamou Makaynch, 2014
"wonderful prononciation ( tufahaton is singular ;tufahon is plural )"
3. Пан Станислав, 2014
"Not bad. I see that Arabic is really similar to Swahili, without saying about its similarity to such languages as Turkish, Tatar and Bashkir( I just know a couple of words in those languages)."
4. Gala. 9696
5. KG Versoo
"There're some words that similar to Malay, like kamus, akhbar, kitab, askar and shair/syair.. All same meaning of the Arabic"
6. Ironik M
"The same can be applied to Somali. A lot of Somali words are borrowed from Arabic( I recognized several of them in this video)"
7. Aziz Rasheed
"Somal is an arabian country so.."
8. Ironik M, 2015
"A Muslim country is the better definition. Someone doesn't have to be an Arab to be a Muslim"
9. ELLENIKA12111, 2015
"+Abdulaziz Rasheed they do not speak Arabic in Somalia, at least not natively. It is not an Arab country. It is a Muslim country."
10. ChaoChan, 2015
"+ELLENIKA12111 it is an arab country and part of the arab league lotsa people are arabic speakers but also somali speakers"
11. TechnoDhagax, 2017
"No, only two tribes tribes claim to have Arab ancestors and we don't speak Arabic. We speak Somali and we have so many loan words from Arabic due to the trade between Somalis and the Arabs maybe they loaned some words from us who knows same goes to the Swahili people. They are Bantu speaking people and only have Arabic loan words. I can speak both Somali and Swahili but i can't speak Arabic because i never learned it."
12. Ay Hagar, 2015
"This is great! I am trying to learn both Somali (language of my parents) and Arabic and just like Swahili, Somali has many loan words/slightly tweaked words from Arabic, so vocabulary-wise, learning isn't that bad
I also have a lot of Swahili friends who I hear a lot of their language from which makes it even easier to learn Arabic and Somali!"
13. Ahavah Lichtenstein, 2015
"Wow, that's great! And what really shocked me is how much each of them are like Hebrew- you can get the same root words in so many languages!"
14. F A, 2015
"They have roots in proto sematic languages,, along with Ethiopian too"
15. Lei A, 2015
"Some of these words are also in Somali, qalin means pen which is similar to qalim, and also imtihaan, kitab and waqti"
16. SAMAND33, 2015
"Well the Somalis centuries ago had spoken Arabic dialect which was called Lahjah Somal but disappeared in 16th century and it is evident in the Adal Sultanate and early Ajuran Sultanate Somal Arabic later developed into Somalis due to influency of the Oromo people therefore it become Cushitic language. Also another Arabic dialect was spoken western Africa by the African tribes and since each African tribe had its own language they communicated Arabic which was called shawa and the shawa Arabic was lingua franca in western Africa, until the Arrival of the European colonies in 19th century and today the shawa arabic disappeared almost from western Africa but unlike Somali Arabic it didn't disappear completely and it remains in Isolated villages in Chad, Niger and northern Nigeria and it is called Chadic Arabic today. Also the Arabic language that this appeared are the Siculo Arabic dialect that become Maltese, and the Andalusian Arabic dialect."
17. Anas Aloudeh, 2015
"Your Arabic is very good :)
But there was some mistakes:
*tufah is plural tufaha is singular
*the g sound is more Egyptian than Arabic (just the accent) it should be غ .
*that's all and really good job, you're AWESOME!!"
18. Anas Aloudeh, 2015
"*and the "quarter" "raba'a" should be "roba'a"
19. Julie Corday, 2015
"Book can also be 'daftari' but it is more commonly used in Tanzania than it is in Kenya"
20. Hassan Al-iraqi, 2017
"and it's also from Arabic :)"
21. faith Abigael, 2016
"...."those Swahili words are collect only two are wrong ,'sanduka' which is "sanduku" and 'imtihani' which is "mtihani "
22. Abdul-Rahim Faraji, 2016
"Swahili doesn't come from Arabic! How could you say that. Swahili is a bantu language that has borrowed some Arabic loanwords due to the Indian Ocean Trade. Arabic loanwords only make up 18% of the Swahili vocabulary."
23. arif banana, 2017
"Just notice that a'akari is the same as malay which is askar"
24. deep change, 2018
"رفيق Rafik means companion.. Friend is Sadiki"
EXCERPT FROM DISCUSSION THREAD FOR A VIDEO ABOUT KISWAHILI GREETING WORDS
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
Most of these comments were posted by Kulmansam (Samir/Swahili101), the publisher of a 2009 YouTube video about KiSwahili greeting words. Kulmansam identified himself as a Tanzanian man who comes "from the "Zanzibar Islands (bigger Island called Unguja)" and living in Houston, Texas (USA).
These comments are given in relative chronological order based on their publishing date. Numbers are added for referencing purposes only.
1. ahili101, 2012
..."In Swahili aunts and uncles from paternal and maternal side are called differently!
Father's sister (aunt) is "amoo"
Father's brother (uncle) is "ami"
Mother's sister (aunt) is "shangazi" - in Zanzibar "khaloo" with Arab influence
Mother's brother (uncle) is "mjomba" - in Zanzibar "khali" with Arab influence"
2. Swahili101, 2012
"@dawebni : you are right, there are many borrowed words. Nina kushukuru = I have to thank you = I thank you.
shukur from shukra or shukran in Arabic for thanks!"
3. Swahili101, 2014
"Rafiki is general friend (from Arabic - rafik), sahibu is much closer friend who is more like a friend and partner in many things you do (also comes from Arabic - Saahib)"
4. WketDZ, 2014
"These words are Arabic: habari ( khabar= news), asubuhi (subh), mchana (msaa), ahsante (ahsanta masculine, ahsanti-feminine-) , karibu (qarib), samahani (samihni), rafiki (rafiqi), mwalimu( mualimu). Swahili is a beautiful language , it should be the language of all African people. Thank you bro"
5. liiiisastyle, 2014
"I heard naam means hello?"
6. Swahili101, 2014
"Naam (na'am) is actually an Arabic word of response when someone calls you. Being that Zanzibar was heavily influenced by Arabic, 'naam', is response given to someone who calls. So if your name was "Tona" and I called "Tona!", you would respond "naam?". Response tone is typically in form of a question. Because the one called would like to know why they were called."
7. ndufcat, 2014
"Naam is like saying yes when someone calls your name. Especially someone older or your boss."
8. ndufcat, 2014
"+Swahili101 Yes, Swahili has Arabic influences. Naam would be something you would hear in the coastal part of Kenya too which has a lot of Arabic influence"
9. HASASON, 2015
"+Swahili101 In Tanzania Main Land Naam is used to respond a call for male only females cant respond by naam instead they should use Bee."
10. Swahili101, 2014
[The word "shikamoo"] "Comes from word 'shika mgoo', = touch/hold feet.. tradition was to bend down and touch elders feet in respect during greeting them. May have root from Indian tradition, who until today do that when they meet grand ma or a minister etc. As ndufcat indicated it is only used to greet elders. The answer to shikamoo is 'marahaba', from Arabic word 'marhabaa', meaning 'hello' or 'welcome'
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