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Learning the ‘Spoken’ Swahili

Learning the ‘Spoken’ Swahili

What really draws the difference between a local and a tourist in a foreign country, is the spoken word. The ‘intelligence’ guys (under persuasion) will tell you this. Next time you go to east Africa, and especially to one of the biggest tourist destinations- Kenya, and Tanzania; my advice is, speak the spoken swahili, HOWEVER broken you may sound. Greeting words like ‘Jambo’ (ehm) are jus…….yes, they are just OBSOLETE!! and condemned to tourists, like a ‘tourist only’ language.

The whole idea is to get in close contact with the country and the people, by trying to AVOID scaring kids and others alike by mumbling some ‘swahinglish’. Take time with any person who looks trustworthy, or is bound by his work to be, like drivers, chefs, waiters etc. A little for your consumption; REPLACE words like Jambo [pron; as jah… jambo] (which in this case means ‘hallo’) with a word like sasa [pron; a as in solfa ladder scale lah]. This is used in case you want to look and sound casual or shall we say a regular.

NOTE: It goes without say that if you are on a business trip use english to communicate but the best formal greeting to use in swahili is Habari [pron; like exclamation ha!therefore habari, but pronounce it to sound as if written habaari. Local swahili is a mix of english words with the swahili and slung called sheng. The guy on the streets of Nairobi and Dar e salaam will greet you and say ‘vipi’ [pron; sound like vee and pee]. It translates to watsup!

PS: The best spots and up-to-date ground info, IS NOT (rpt) IS NOT in those funny looking tourist guide books. Please, don’t miss out on the fun in town. AND DON’T WALK AROUND TOWN LIKE YOU ARE ON A NATURE TRAIL!!!! Leave your camping bag in the truck, carry some jeans and sun glasses.

STOP walking in ‘families’ of 8 people +. You end up looking like you are on some charity work or a ‘campaign’ walk against AIDS or POLIO. The only place where tourists look dumb, is in a foreign land. A word of advice, style up, learn the spoken swahili and insist on learning the spoken swahili or any other language for that matter. See you again on more of this kinda stuff.