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Swahili (Lonely Planet Phrasebooks) Paperback – July 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1741047059 ISBN-10: 1741047056 Edition: 4th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet; 4 edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741047056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741047059
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.7 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lonely Planet Phrasebooks. Portable, pocket-size, cheap, and available for almost any country you might want to visit..." (National Geographic Traveler 2006-09-00)

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

KARIBU!

Welcome! The word that greets you as a visitor to East Africa expresses the hospitality that will so often be extended throughout your stay. The word for 'stranger' in Swahili, mgeni, is also the word for 'guest' - and many East Africans enjoy the opportunity to welcome strangers as guests to their countries. We hope you will enjoy your time as mgeni. Communication in Swahili is the key to having a good time as you travel around East Africa, meet people, and feel the full extent of their welcome. This phrasebook will help you get started with Swahili and negotiate some of the situations you may experience along the way.

The Swahili language has a long and complicated history. It is a member of the Bantu language family found in Africa's mid-section. The Bantu languages have been spoken on the Indian Ocean coast from at least as early as the first millenium AD. Centuries of trade along the coast saw the influx of many linguistic influences from Arabic. By the time Portuguese ships began calling at East African ports in 1498, a version of the Swahili language was spoken by the coastal inhabitants, the WaSwahili, and over time a few Portuguese elements slipped into the language. While the Tanzanian mainland's three decades as a German colony had surprisingly little influence on Swahili, numerous words have been borrowed from the English (who colonized Kenya and then took control of what is now Tanzania). Generally, the Swahili people have kept the foreign words for the objects foreigners brought with them, such as kitabu from the Arabic kitab for 'book', mvinyo from the Portuguese vino for 'wine', and baiskeli for 'bicycle'. These imports behave grammatically as Swahili, but look and sound like their foreign ancestors.

Interaction with ocean-going trading ships probably provided the inspiration for the coastal Swahili people to travel inland in search of things to trade, including ivory. By 1800 long trade routes extended from the coast all the way across Lake Tanganyika. In the 19th century Arab and Swahili slave traders were combing the East African interior for slaves to work the plantations of Zanzibar and for export to Arabia. Traders, slavers, and later European explorers moved inland with large parties of Swahili porters from the coast. The language established itself as the medium of trade throughout much of the region, though people away from the coast continued to speak hundreds of other languages in their daily lives.

The importance of Swahili continued to grow throughout the 20th century. First, missionaries and colonial governments sought to simplify their tasks by encouraging Swahili as a standard language in Kenya and Tanzania. At the same time, citizens sought to master the language as they travelled to work on far-off plantations, engaged in trade, or went to schools. Later, the post-colonial independent governments in Tanzania and Kenya promoted Swahili as their national language. (English remains an official language of government in both countries, though Kenyans are generally more proficient in English than their Tanzanian neighbors.) Swahili as a lingua franca is spoken by many people in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, southern Somalia and northern coastal Mozambique. A version of Swahili is spoken as a first language by several million people in the eastern part of R.D. Congo (formerly Zaire). Most people in Kenya today speak at least some Swahili, and throughout Tanzania it is fast replacing local tongues as the first language of the new generations of children.

"Standard" Swahili is the language spoken in Zanzibar City. Several other variants, or dialects, of Swahili exist, notably those centered in Mombasa and Lamu. People inland often speak a somewhat less polished Swahili, or mix in elements from their own mother tongues. Congolese speakers have pronunciation differences and mix in a bit of French. Kenyans are especially prone to taking shortcuts with the language, and jokes abound about the roughness of Nairobi Swahili. Transcripts from our research, however, show that inland Taznazians who have spent their entire lives in remote rural corners of the country speak a Swahili every bit as complex as that spoken on Zanzibar. Written Swahili, the language of newspapers, textbooks and literature, usually conforms to the coastal standards. In this book we tend toward standard coastal Swahili, but other elements may have seeped in from other parts of the Swahili-speaking world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book was invaluable for my trip to Tanzania.
Gaea
Try that and some of the phrases from this book and you will have a much better experience in a Swahili speaking country.
Susanne
This is a very helpful and very effective phrase book.
Brian Grey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Laura Farra on November 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
There just aren't that many swahili dictionaries or phrasebooks out there, and this one turns out to be useful too. Its small size makes it easy to take everywhere and the sections give travelers a good feel for the language without being too overwhelmed by swahili's many noun classes. I would recommend it more as a reference than as a stand-alone teaching tool, but the english-swahili, swahili-english dictonary is comprehensive and useful for travelers with all degrees of Kiswahili fluency. My copy has turned somewhat brown from all the dust, but the book has held up well. I would hate to be stuck in East Africa without it.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By JoAnne Harbert on June 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have purchased a few different materials to try to learn the Swahili language. The was by far the best value. It is full of useful information, and unlike the others that I purchased, actually teaches you how to build sentences, and not just ask where the train station is. If you purchase this along with some tapes, you will learn the language much faster.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
It may not be the only book you'll need to grasp the concepts of the Swahili language, but it is definitely a must-have supplement. Covering a wide variety of topics, this inexpensive little book holds a lot of information. Grammar and pronounciation tips throughout the book help you to build confidence and understanding when putting those hundreds of new vocabulary words to use. Different scenerios are broken down into appropriate chapters, making words for every situation easy to find. And to top it off, reinforcing crossword puzzles and a two-way dictionary at the back of the book. Excellent!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Norman Sybesma on January 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
What's not to like? The compact size makes it easy to pack and tote on your trip to East Africa. It works great as a pre-trip study resource for the language - and equally well if you never open it until you are in a market in Tanzania and want to know "bei gani?" ("how much?") The book is organized in a way that makes sense - you can go to the section on shopping and find, not just a list of vocabulary words, but lots and lots of phrases to cover all kinds of situations. (If you have ever had to look up what you want to say word by word in a language guide, you will appreciate the value of this feature.) Like all Lonely Planet publications, it is written with a sense of attitude and energy - not dry like many language guides. My (Ki)Swahili is pretty good at this point - but I still pack this book whenever I go to East Africa.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Marcelo on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
The highlights of this book is that it contains not only the dictionaries and useful phrases but also good explanation of grammar which makes understanding easier. Can't learn a language without grammar. They also try not to complicate by teaching "survival Swahili".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rye Bread on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had this guide when I went to Kenya, and I highly recommend it! It was very useful when I got very ill and needed to explain to a Swahili speaking doctor what was wrong with me. I also used it when I'd go to the Masai Markets and I always got a much better deal when I'd barter in Swahili. The Kenyans can speak English, but they appreciate it when you try to speak to them in Swahili.

I loved this guide so much I am buying copies for the members of my family who will be joining me for a holiday in Kenya this coming year.

It's an absolute must for any traveler!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By desmond on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are many things in life I don't understand.

This is one of them.

On page 11, it says:
"There are no diphthongs in Swahili (i.e. vowel sound combinations, like in English 'day'.)"

Then, in chart below (paraphrasing), book instructs:
"Symbol 'ay' will be pronounced like 'may,' so 'wewe' will be pronounced 'wayway.'"

BUT WAIT, you just said there were NO DIPHTHONGS as in "day."

Now you're going to have us pronounce EVERY "E" as an incorrect DIPHTHONG?

("Wewe" is pronounced like "e" in English "leg." It rhymes with "heh heh," not "hey-hey". Why? Because it's not a diphthong!)

This might not be a big deal, except every time I read, I now have to "auto-correct" myself for the book's mistake ("ay" is pronounced "e" as in "leg"), every time.

And readers who don't catch the book's error will be pronouncing with an unmistakable accent.

Seems like someone there just turned off their thinking cap for a moment, and steered the whole book in a decidedly less useful direction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Tenderenda on June 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
For a compact book on Swahili this is the best I've seen. The contents of this little gem were easily divided into useful and practical sections, covering a broader use of the language than I've come across in other similar type books. Each section was uniquely and clearly identifiable allowing faster access to put your fingertips on the words or phrases you need. This book also succeeds in helping the reader obtain a basic yet concrete understanding of the Swahili language where other similar books have attempted but failed.
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