eldin raigmore wrote: Imralu wrote:What I called "EXT" is an indicator of "topic state" in Luganda, and, the word I had forgotten, is called an augment in Zulu grammar.
.... (plus other good stuff not repeated for reasons of space and time) ....
You're very welcome! I enjoyed looking for this stuff and talking about it, so ... yay!
Swahili is so simple.
Isn't that why it's the Bantu lingua franca
? The range in which, and population among which, it's the original native tongue, are (reportedly) rather smallish -- right?
There are several complexities which most Bantu languages have, but of which nearly each has its own flavor, that Swahili lacks entirely (isn't tone one of them?). Or so I understand, (assuming I remember right what I thought I understood). Isn't it's noun-class system also a bit simpler than the Bantu average?
Yeah, I'd actually wager that it's not why
Swahili is a lingua franca but because
it is. When large numbers of people communicate in a language they're not fluent in, it affects the language. It's probably part of the reason why the grammar of English is so different compared to the other Germanic languages. Swahili was probably a fairly ordinary Bantu language that simply happened to be in the right place when trade (incl. human trade) sprang up with the Arabs and it was carried inland along caravan routes by them, and it was further strengthened as a lingua franca by British (and to a lesser extent German) colonialism. If I remember correctly, the Brits used the Swahili people to help unify the people further inland under British rule and tried to paint a picture of the Swahili language and people not as African people speaking an African language with some Arabic influence but an even blend of Arabic and African forebears in order to seem less "arrivey and takey overy" and more like "you guys are just like us ... now please help us control the African Africans". (Don't quote me on any of this ... this is pulled from my "knowledge of unknown source" file.) It was the Brits and European missionaries who established the Unguja (Zanzibar Island) dialect of Swahili as the standard.
Swahili lacks tone and I think it's the only Bantu language not to have tone ... I'm not sure about Comorian, but it's sometimes classed as a dialect of Swahili and it has also gone through quite a lot of Arabic influence (I believe they still write it with the Arabic script). Also, it also lacks any really difficult consonants or weird clusters that Bantu languages often have. In the south, Bantu languages tend to have clicks. Bantu languages closer to Swahili often have fairly bizarre things, like Shona, which has /dʲɡ/ <dy>, /dβz/ <dzv> etc. (the latter of which looks completely insane, but that's apparently how you describe whistled sibilants), and Kinyarwanda which has funny clusters like /ɾɡw/ <rw>, /tkw/ <tw> etc. I mean, those are not so difficult really, but you often read about Bantu languages being basically CVCVCVCVCVCVCV and ... that's often only if you count these funny clusters as single phonemes, which is a bit odd, but if it's simpler to describe the language that way, why not? And a bunch of languages near Swahili, such as Kikuyu have Dahl's law
which is a voicing dissimilation thing that messes up some of the prefixes (eg. Kikuyu would better be called Gikuyu).
Swahili lacks all of those features. The only things which are cross-linguistically fairly difficult are the borrowed phonemes from Arabic /θ ð ɣ x/ ... and the whole syllabic nasal thing, but that's pretty common across Africa. Also, where prenasalisation was lost on voiceless consonants, that has been retained as aspiration, which results in some minimal pairs such as aspirated paa
"gazelle(s)" (class 9/10) and unaspirated paa
"roof" (class 5/6), but most speakers are non-native speakers who probably don't reliably distinguish those. I do also remember reading that there is an increasing general tendency towards aspiration on word-initial and immediately pre-tonic consonants and no aspiration elsewhere. Aspiration in Swahili is no longer indicated in writing, but early romanisations of Swahili used an apostrophe for aspirated consonants. <h> would look nicer and would probably have stayed around, and it's used in Zulu, Chichewa etc to indicate aspirates, but I guess <th> and <kh> were needed for /θ/ and /x/ ... in any case, if you do care about it, it's often fairly predictable from noun class because class 9/10 historically had a prenasalising prefix.
The noun class system of standard Swahili (Kiswahili sanifu
) is actually almost identical to that of Zulu. Both have lost classes 12 and 13 and anything above 18. Zulu also lacks the locative classes 16 and 18, having only one locative class, 17, whereas Swahili has preserved all three ... although their prefixes have been lost on nouns, with only the suffix -ni being retained. It's interesting, reading about the locative forms of Zulu nouns ... there are nouns that only have a prefix to form the locative in Swahili and those that use a prefix and a suffix and the suffix is preserved in Swahili in essentially the same places, and where Zulu only uses the prefix, marking an explicit locative is impossible in Swahili without some other help.
But yes, in Swahili as it's actually spoken by a lot of non-native speakers, especially in Kenya, the nouns retain all the same prefixes and pluralise the same way as in Kiswahili sanifu
, but the system of agreement is reduced to basically just 4 classes ... 1/2 for animates and 9/10 for inanimates. In standard Swahili, almost all agreements for animate nouns have fallen to class 1/2, but inanimate agreement follows grammatical consistency rather than semantic. The best example I have from this is a sentence an old Kenyan colleague of mine in Australia wrote to me: Kiswahili yako ni nzuri
. In Kiswahili sanifu
that would be Kiswahili chako ni kizuri
, but he used class 9 concords to agree with the class 7 noun ... which is what most people do. Everyone has to learn it in school and understand it passively but probably no one really cares about sounding like a Zanzibari and bothers to remember it. Kenyan music often has this kind of agreement too.
When thinking of native speakers, it's probably also pertinent to remember that there are essentially two types of native speakers: those from traditional Swahili areas along the coast (and their descendants) who have unbroken Swahili-fluent ancestry, and the "new native speakers" who are increasing in number, chiefly in urban areas outside of the original Swahili-as-native-language range, where people who have moved to the city have children with people of a different language background. Non-native Swahili is then the language at home and also among peers, so there is kind of a creolising effect on the language, although probably not to the extent where there is a completely sharp divide between creolised and non-creolised native speakers. I have a Lonely Planet Swahili phrasebook and in the grammar at the beginning, it only teaches this 4-noun-class variety of Swahili, calling it "survival Swahili" ... although in the phrases throughout the rest of the book, there is clean standard Swahili, except for where lists of interchangeable words of various noun classes make this impractical. It's interesting to see what will develop out of this. South Sudan has announced they are going to make it an official language as they move towards the East African Union and away from the Arabisation of northern Africa, and the South Sudanese government has apparently had dealings with Tanzania about getting help to start it up by bringing in Swahili teachers from Tanzania. Swahili seems to be strengthening rather than being overrun by a large non-African language.
I'm also quite interested in its significance in Pan-Africanism
and African-American identity politics. It's interesting because, even though it's an African language with significant non-African influences, it seems to have been chosen for its symbolism as a large, widely spoken sub-Saharan language ... probably also doesn't hurt that it's non-tonal and relatively simple for outsiders to learn compared to, say, Hausa.
Also, trivia for nothing: paa
"gazelle" is a direct cognate with impala
which comes from Zulu. The i-
is the class 9 augment (absent in Swahili), the m-
is the class 9 prenasalisation (disappeared in Swahili in front of voiceless consonants). Swahili, at least in the standard dialect, also had a sound change whereby an /l~r/ was deleted between the last two vowels of a word (ie. post-tonically) (although it's preserved dialectically and a lot of words haven't gone through this sound change, probably because of inter-dialectal sharing ... pala
also exists as a name specifically for the impala, with paa
generally referring to the duiker. Another word for antelope is swala
which has also obviously bypassed this sound change, and for example, there is swala pala
"impala", swala tomi
"Thompson's gazelle" and swala twiga
"gerenuk" (literally "giraffe antelope").
Considering it was "Macbeth" or "McBeth" in the original tlHingaan, I'd guess "uMabatha" or "umaBatha".
Given what you just said I'd go with "uMabatha" -- if "Mabatha" could be a clan name or a personal name.
Ah ... well, given the capitalisation in English, maybe uMaBatha
, lol! I guess that's a bit too ridiculous. I was wondering what the original was.
So how about "Double, double toil, and trouble!" in either Zulu or Swahili?
Until now, I've never even thought about what that might mean other than just a sequence of sounds. Is for a malicious spell, as a literal imperative directed at hard work and problems that they may increase by 100%? If so, I guess Rudufiwa, rudufiwa, kazi na ....
none of the words I can find for "trouble"
Or "She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word. Oh, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day ..."
Ah, I'm bad at this stuff when I don't know exactly what it means ... too artsy fartsy for me without context ... also "should have" is pretty hard and there are a few things that could mean in English. And hereafter
... with "should have" makes no sense to me. Is creeps a noun or a verb? I'll try. I won't gloss it just yet, but I'll translate it back freely to show you which sense I took and how far wrong it could be.
Alipaswa kufa baadaye; kungalikuwa na wakati wa neno kama hili. Ee, kesho, na kesho, na kesho, hutambaa huku siku kwa siku.
= S/he was obliged to die afterwards/later; there would have been time for a word like this one. All right, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, (unspecified subject habitually) crawls to a place around here day by day.
BTW does amaZulu mean the populace, or the ethnicity, or the language?
Hmm, well, I recognise that as class 6 but Swahili doesn't do anything like that with class six. Class six is sometimes used for abstract nouns though ... according to Glosbe
, it means the ethnic group ... it might be a collective, more or less like "Zulu nation" or something. According to the translations below, it also happens to mean "heavens". An individual Zulu person is an umZulu
(cl 1), with the plural being abaZulu
(cl 2) and the language is isiZulu
(cl 7). The word *ubuZulu
, if it exists, would probably mean something like "Zuluhood" or "Zuluness"