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Swahili Translation

Swahili Translation

Are you in need of Swahili translation services? Are you looking for an experienced English to Swahili linguist or Swahili to English linguist? Simply relax now! Target Language Translation Services offers a complete set of advice to satisfy the needs of its worldwide customers. Native Swahili linguists work around the world 24/7 to deliver your projects on time and under budget. With a large network of in-country, native, specialized linguists with expertise in copywriting, translation, transcreation and search marketing services – we’re able to help your business successfully reach new audiences in global markets.

Swahili-speaking regions

Regions where Swahili is the main language.

About Swahili (Kiswahili / کِسْوَهِيلِ)

Swahili is a Bantu language spoken mainly in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, and also in Burundi, Mozambique, Oman, Somalia the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa by about 98 million people. Swahili is an official language of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, and is used as a lingua franca throughout East Africa.

In 2012 there were about 47 million Swahili speakers in Tanzania, including 15 million native speakers. In 2015 about 34 million people in Uganda spoke Swahili, including 313,000 native speakers. In 2009 about 16 million people in Kenya spoke Swahili, including 111,000 native speakers. There are smaller numbers of Swahili speakers in other countries, including 183,000 in Somalia, 49,200 in Oman, 10,000 in Mozambique, 9,600 in Burundi, and 2,000 in South Africa.

The majority of people in Tanzania and Kenya speak Swahili as a second language, and most educated Kenyans are fluent in the language, as it is compulsory in schools, and also taught in universities. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Swahili is spoken in the five eastern provinces, and overall almost half of the population speak it. In Uganda Swahili is widely spoken among non-Baganda people, and is taught in schools.

The name Swahili comes from the Arabic word سَوَاحِل (sawāḥil), the plural of سَاحِل‏ (sāḥil - boundry, coast) and means "coastal dwellers". The prefix ki- is attached to nouns in the noun class that includes languages, so Kiswahili means "coastal language".

Swahili includes quite a bit of vocabulary of Arabic origin as a result of contact with Arabic-speaking traders and and inhabitants of the Swahili Coast - the coastal area of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, and islands such as Zanzibar and Comoros. There are also words of German, Portuguese, English, Hindi and French origin in Swahili due to contact with traders, slavers and colonial officials.

The earliest known pieces of writing, in the Arabic script, in Swaihili are letters dating from 1711, and the earliest known manuscript, a poetic epic entitled Utendi wa Tambuka (The History of Tambuka), dates from 1728. During the the 19th century Swahili was used as the main language of administration by the European colonial powers in East Africa and under their influence the Latin alphabet was increasingly used to write it. The first Swahili newspaper, Habari ya Mwezi, was published by missionaries in 1895.

Arabic script for Swahili

Arabic script for Swahili

Swahili alphabet (alfabeti ya kiswahili) and pronunciation

Swahili alphabet (alfabeti ya kiswahili) and pronunciation

Did You Know?

English has borrowed a few words and phrases from Swahili, several of them familiar from movies and TV. Some words were popularized by Walt Disney’s “Lion King.”

English word from Swahili

safari---‘journey, expedition’ from Arabic safar ‘journey’

Simba---simba, generic term for ‘lion’

bwana---‘sir, mister’

Hakuna matata!---‘No worries!’ (from Lion King)

Kwanzaa---matunda ya kwanza ‘first fruits’

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