Speaking the Lingo!!

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Thought it was about time I (Anita) had a go at ‘blogging’ so here goes…

20+ years ago I was living in Malawi and was speaking and teaching in the local language ‘Chichewa’.

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Teaching a health prevention class
“Mwana ku mwana” (Child to child),
in a rural Malawian village (1992)

In Tanzania, it seems that another Bantu language ‘Kiswahili’ (ie Swahili) is spoken.  “Great :), having learned one it can’t be that hard to learn a 2nd one surely!”, I naively thought, until I started studying a Learn Swahili book and then the confusion set in.  I thought the way to approach it would be comparing the 2 languages but I ended up getting very muddled, there seem to be more noun classes (though I haven’t counted them) and some of the words have very different meanings eg the ‘na’ prefix in Chichewa indicates the past, but in Swahili it means the present!!

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Me, teaching a health lesson

So I went to plan B which has been to forget the Chichewa and learn Swahili using an audio language learning programme.  It takes just 30 mins a day, and today will be lesson 10.  This seems to be working much better and I now know how to order 2 beers and say useful phrases such as “I would like to buy something” “Where would you like to eat?” and “I want a cup of tea/coffee with you”.  This way the Chichewa knowledge seems to be helping as some nouns are similar eg the word for house is “nyumba” in Chichewa and “nyumbani” in Swahili.  Of course the test will be when I try it out with someone who can actually speak Kiswahili!!

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Hopefully once I’ve gone through the oral lessons, I can then go back to the book and it’ll then make more sense – well that’s the plan!!!

Not forgetting Swahili Bubble Bath 🙂 (edit – Graham) and your cousin Helen!!

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6 responses to “Speaking the Lingo!!

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  4. You’re doing great already!!! But nyumba is still “house” here … nyumbani just means in the house … similar to soko and sokoni (market)!

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  5. Heather & Geoff Sandiford

    Well done Anita for starting your language learning already. When you were in Malawi we saw you on video speaking Chichewa fluently (or should that be heard you?) just 6 months after you arrived! Guess it’ll take a bit longer – without the ‘surround sound’ of actually living in an African village – but I have every confidence you’ll have enough Swahili to get by when you arrive!

    How about the rest of the family? Are they having a go yet? Come on Bex & Matt & Graham – you can do it!

    We’re proud of you all for taking up this challenge!

    Lots of love
    Mum & Dad

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