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The views expressed herein are mine and not those of the Peace Corps.

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Kiswahili changu

A quick primer on Swahili I’m likely to use without realizing it:

Lakinibut or though. More like though, since it’s usually tacked onto the end of a sentence.
Pole–Accurately described by a friend as “like sorry, but better.” An expression of sympathy, for anything from dropping an orange or tripping to the death of a family member.
Sanavery. Pole sanavery sorry.
Kumbe–“Like surprise, but better.” Tanzanians don’t use it sarcastically, but PCVs do.
Labdamaybe. Ask a linguist about why this word is fascinating, I don’t remember.
Kwa hiyoso or therefore. I don’t use this a lot but several of my friends do.
Safi–literally clean but more colloquially used as nice or awesome or just generally good. PCVs call stores that carry luxury items safi dukas (a duka is a store). When someone makes a good play at a soccer game, the students on the sidelines yell “Safi!” It’s a common response to any “how are you?” type greeting, meaning excellent.
Sawaokay or clear
SijuiI don’t know.
Vipi?–literally How?, more like What’s up? The most common response is Safi.
Nini?What [thing]?
Bee (pronounced “bay” or “abay”)–for a woman, like saying yes? or yeah? when someone says your name, or what? if you haven’t heard what someone said. Men say nam in the same situations.

Swahili has also been messing with my English. Don’t judge too harshly if I say “even me” instead of “me too”, or “Peace Corpse” instead of “Peace Corps”. Also, pronunciation note: Swahili is said exactly like it’s spelled, unlike some languages I could name.

Comments

Comment from norax
Time October 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

heh, Peace Corpse.
“Safi” sounds sort of like “neat.”

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