The Info List - Kiswahili

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Swahili, also known as Kiswahili (translation: coast language[7]), is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).[8] Comorian, spoken in the Comoros
Islands is sometimes considered to be a dialect of Swahili, though other authorities consider it a distinct language.[9] Estimates of the total number of Swahili speakers vary widely, from 50 million to over 100 million.[2] Swahili serves as a national language of four nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the DRC.[citation needed] Shikomor, the official language in Comoros
and also spoken in Mayotte
(Shimaore), is related to Swahili.[10] Swahili is also one of the working languages of the African Union
African Union
and officially recognised as a lingua franca of the East African Community.[11] A significant fraction of Swahili vocabulary is derived from Arabic[12] through contact with Arabic-speaking Muslim inhabitants.


1 Classification 2 History

2.1 Origin 2.2 Colonial period 2.3 Current status

3 Phonology

3.1 Vowels 3.2 Consonants

4 Orthography 5 Grammar

5.1 Noun classes

5.1.1 Semantic motivation

5.2 Agreement

6 Dialects and closely related languages

6.1 Dialects

6.1.1 Old dialects

6.2 Other regions 6.3 Swahili Poets

7 See also 8 Notes 9 References 10 External links

Classification[edit] Swahili is a Bantu language of the Sabaki branch.[13] In Guthrie's geographic classification, Swahili is in Bantu zone G, whereas the other Sabaki languages are in zone E70, commonly under the name Nyika. Local folk-theories of the language have often considered Swahili to be a mixed language because of its many loan words from Arabic, and the fact that Swahili people
Swahili people
have historically been Muslims. However, historical linguists do not consider the Arabic influence on Swahili to be significant enough to classify it as a mixed language, since Arabic influence is limited to lexical items, most of which have only been borrowed after 1500, while the grammatical and syntactic structure of the language is typically Bantu.[14][15] History[edit]

Swahili in Arabic script—memorial plate at the Askari Monument, Dar es Salaam (1927)

Origin[edit] Its old name was Kingozi, but as traders came from Arabic and Persian countries, their vocabulary intermingled with the language. It was originally written in Arabic script.[16] The earliest known documents written in Swahili are letters written in Kilwa in 1711 in the Arabic script
Arabic script
that were sent to the Portuguese of Mozambique
and their local allies. The original letters are preserved in the Historical Archives of Goa, India.[17] Colonial period[edit]

Although originally written with the Arabic script, Swahili is now written in a Latin alphabet introduced by Christian missionaries and colonial administrators. The text shown here is the Catholic version of the Lord's Prayer.[18]

Christian missionaries were the ones that spread the Latin alphabet to the Swahili people. They used it to communicate with the natives, spreading it further. Since Swahili was the language of commerce in East Africa, the colonial administrators wanted to standardize it.[19] In June 1928, an interterritorial conference attended by representatives of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, and Zanzibar
took place in Mombasa. The Zanzibar dialect was chosen as standard Swahili for those areas,[7] and the standard orthography for Swahili was adopted.[20] Current status[edit] Swahili has become a second language spoken by tens of millions in three African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
countries (Tanzania, Kenya, and the DRC) where it is an official or national language. It is the only African language in the African Union. In 2016, Swahili was made a compulsory subject in all Kenyan schools.[21] Swahili and closely related languages are spoken by relatively small numbers of people in Burundi, Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia
and Rwanda.[22] The language was still understood in the southern ports of the Red Sea
Red Sea
and along the coasts of southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
in the 20th century.[23][24] Some 80 percent of approximately 49 million Tanzanians speak Swahili in addition to their first languages.[25] The five eastern provinces of the DRC are Swahili-speaking. Nearly half the 66 million Congolese reportedly speak it.[26] Swahili speakers may number 120 to 150 million in total.[27]

Phonology[edit] Unlike the vast majority of Niger-Congo languages,[28] Swahili lacks contrastive tone. Due to this and the language's shallow orthography, Swahili is said to be the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn.[29] Vowels[edit] Standard Swahili has five vowel phonemes: /ɑ/, /ɛ/, /i/, /o/, and /u/. Vowels are never reduced, regardless of stress, but they are pronounced in full as follows:[30]

/ɑ/ is pronounced like the "a" in father. /ɛ/ is pronounced like the "e" in let. /i/ is pronounced like the "ee" in see. /o/ is pronounced somewhat like the "o" in ford. /u/ is pronounced like the "u" in zulu or "oo" in loop.

Consonants[edit] There are 36 consonant phonemes in Swahili.[31]

Swahili consonant phonemes[32]

Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar / palatal Velar Glottal

Nasal m ⟨m⟩

n ⟨n⟩ ɲ ⟨ny⟩ ŋ ⟨ng'⟩

Stop prenasalized ᵐb ⟨mb⟩

ⁿd ⟨nd⟩ ᶮɟ~ⁿdʒ ⟨nj⟩ ᵑɡ ⟨ng⟩

voiced b ⟨b⟩

d ⟨d⟩ ʄ ⟨j⟩ g ⟨g⟩

voiceless p ⟨p⟩

t ⟨t⟩ tʃ ⟨ch⟩ k ⟨k⟩

Fricative prenasalized ᵐv ⟨mv⟩

ⁿz ⟨nz⟩

voiced v ⟨v⟩ (ð ⟨dh⟩) z ⟨z⟩

(ɣ ⟨gh⟩)

voiceless f ⟨f⟩ (θ ⟨th⟩) s ⟨s⟩ ʃ ⟨sh⟩ (x ⟨kh⟩) h ⟨h⟩


r ⟨r⟩


l ⟨l⟩ j ⟨y⟩ w ⟨w⟩


Swahili in Arabic script
Arabic script
on the clothes of a woman in Tanzania
(ca. early 1900s)

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Swahili is currently written in an alphabet close to English, except it does not use the letters Q and X.[33] There are two digraphs for native sounds, ch and sh; c is not used apart from unassimilated English loans and, occasionally, as a substitute for k in advertisements. There are also several digraphs for Arabic sounds not distinguished in pronunciation outside of traditional Swahili areas. The language used to be written in the Arabic script. Unlike adaptations of the Arabic script
Arabic script
for other languages, relatively little accommodation was made for Swahili. There were also differences in orthographic conventions between cities and authors and over the centuries, some quite precise but others different enough to cause difficulties with intelligibility. /e/ and /i/, /o/ and /u/ were often conflated, but in some spellings, /e/ was distinguished from /i/ by rotating the kasra 90° and /o/ was distinguished from /u/ by writing the damma backwards. Several Swahili consonants do not have equivalents in Arabic, and for them, often no special letters were created unlike, for example, in Persian and Urdu scripts. Instead, the closest Arabic sound is substituted. Not only did that mean that one letter often stands for more than one sound, but also writers made different choices of which consonant to substitute. Here are some of the equivalents between Arabic Swahili and Roman Swahili:

Arabic Swahili Roman Swahili

Final Medial Initial Isolated

ـا‬ ا‬ aa

ـب‬ ـبـ‬ بـ‬ ب‬ b p mb mp bw pw mbw mpw

ـت‬ ـتـ‬ تـ‬ ت‬ t nt

ـث‬ ـثـ‬ ثـ‬ ث‬ th?

ـج‬ ـجـ‬ جـ‬ ج‬ j nj ng ng' ny

ـح‬ ـحـ‬ حـ‬ ح‬ h

ـخ‬ ـخـ‬ خـ‬ خ‬ kh h

ـد‬ د‬ d nd

ـذ‬ ذ‬ dh?

ـر‬ ر‬ r d nd

ـز‬ ز‬ z nz

ـس‬ ـسـ‬ سـ‬ س‬ s

ـش‬ ـشـ‬ شـ‬ ش‬ sh ch

ـص‬ ـصـ‬ صـ‬ ص‬ s, sw

ـض‬ ـضـ‬ ضـ‬ ض‬ dhw

ـط‬ ـطـ‬ طـ‬ ط‬ t tw chw

ـظ‬ ـظـ‬ ظـ‬ ظ‬ z th dh dhw

ـع‬ ـعـ‬ عـ‬ ع‬ ?

ـغ‬ ـغـ‬ غـ‬ غ‬ gh g ng ng'

ـف‬ ـفـ‬ فـ‬ ف‬ f fy v vy mv p

ـق‬ ـقـ‬ قـ‬ ق‬ k g ng ch sh ny

ـك‬ ـكـ‬ كـ‬ ك‬

ـل‬ ـلـ‬ لـ‬ ل‬ l

ـم‬ ـمـ‬ مـ‬ م‬ m

ـن‬ ـنـ‬ نـ‬ ن‬ n

ـه‬ ـهـ‬ هـ‬ ه‬ h

ـو‬ و‬ w

ـي‬ ـيـ‬ يـ‬ ي‬ y ny

That was the general situation, but conventions from Urdu were adopted by some authors such as to distinguish aspiration and /p/ from /b/: پھا‎ /pʰaa/ 'gazelle', پا‎ /paa/ 'roof'. Although it is not found in Standard Swahili today, there is a distinction between dental and alveolar consonants in some dialects, which is reflected in some orthographies, for example in كُٹَ‎ -kuta 'to meet' vs. كُتَ‎ -kut̠a 'to be satisfied'. A k with the dots of y, ﮛ‬ﮝ‬ﮜ‬ﮚ‬, was used for ch in some conventions; ky being historically and even contemporaneously a more accurate transcription than Roman ch. In Mombasa, it was common to use the Arabic emphatics for Cw, for example in صِصِ‎ swiswi (standard sisi) 'we' and كِطَ‎ kit̠wa (standard kichwa) 'head'. Word division differs from Roman norms. Particles such as ya, na, si, kwa, ni are joined to the following noun, and possessives such as yangu and yako are joined to the preceding noun, but verbs are written as two words, with the subject and tense–aspect–mood morphemes separated from the object and root, as in aliye niambia "he who told me".[34] Grammar[edit] See also: Swahili grammar Noun classes [edit] Semantic motivation[edit]

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The ki-/vi- class historically consisted of two separate genders, artefacts (Bantu class 7/8, utensils and hand tools mostly) and diminutives (Bantu class 12), which were conflated at a stage ancestral to Swahili. Examples of the former are kisu "knife", kiti "chair" (from mti "tree, wood"), chombo "vessel" (a contraction of ki-ombo). Examples of the latter are kitoto "infant", from mtoto "child"; kitawi "frond", from tawi "branch"; and chumba (ki-umba) "room", from nyumba "house". It is the diminutive sense that has been furthest extended. An extension common to diminutives in many languages is approximation and resemblance (having a 'little bit' of some characteristic, like -y or -ish in English). For example, there is kijani "green", from jani "leaf" (compare English 'leafy'), kichaka "bush" from chaka "clump", and kivuli "shadow" from uvuli "shade". A 'little bit' of a verb would be an instance of an action, and such instantiations (usually not very active ones) are found: kifo "death", from the verb -fa "to die"; kiota "nest" from -ota "to brood"; chakula "food" from kula "to eat"; kivuko "a ford, a pass" from -vuka "to cross"; and kilimia "the Pleiades", from -limia "to farm with", from its role in guiding planting. A resemblance, or being a bit like something, implies marginal status in a category, so things that are marginal examples of their class may take the ki-/vi- prefixes. One example is chura (ki-ura) "frog", which is only half terrestrial and therefore is marginal as an animal. This extension may account for disabilities as well: kilema "a cripple", kipofu "a blind person", kiziwi "a deaf person". Finally, diminutives often denote contempt, and contempt is sometimes expressed against things that are dangerous. This might be the historical explanation for kifaru "rhinoceros", kingugwa "spotted hyena", and kiboko "hippopotamus" (perhaps originally meaning "stubby legs"). Another class with broad semantic extension is the m-/mi- class (Bantu classes 3/4). This is often called the 'tree' class, because mti, miti "tree(s)" is the prototypical example. However, it seems to cover vital entities neither human nor typical animals: trees and other plants, such as mwitu 'forest' and mtama 'millet' (and from there, things made from plants, like mkeka 'mat'); supernatural and natural forces, such as mwezi 'moon', mlima 'mountain', mto 'river'; active things, such as moto 'fire', including active body parts (moyo 'heart', mkono 'hand, arm'); and human groups, which are vital but not themselves human, such as mji 'village', and, by analogy, mzinga 'beehive/cannon'. From the central idea of tree, which is thin, tall, and spreading, comes an extension to other long or extended things or parts of things, such as mwavuli 'umbrella', moshi 'smoke', msumari 'nail'; and from activity there even come active instantiations of verbs, such as mfuo "metal forging", from -fua "to forge", or mlio "a sound", from -lia "to make a sound". Words may be connected to their class by more than one metaphor. For example, mkono is an active body part, and mto is an active natural force, but they are also both long and thin. Things with a trajectory, such as mpaka 'border' and mwendo 'journey', are classified with long thin things, as in many other languages with noun classes. This may be further extended to anything dealing with time, such as mwaka 'year' and perhaps mshahara 'wages'. Animals exceptional in some way and so not easily fitting in the other classes may be placed in this class. The other classes have foundations that may at first seem similarly counterintuitive.[35] In short,

Classes 1–2 include most words for people: kin terms, professions, ethnicities, etc., including translations of most English words ending in -er. They include a couple generic words for animals: mnyama 'beast', mdudu 'bug'. Classes 5–6 have a broad semantic range of groups, expanses, and augmentatives. Although interrelated, it is easier to illustrate if broken down:

Augmentatives, such as joka 'serpent' from nyoka 'snake', lead to titles and other terms of respect (the opposite of diminutives, which lead to terms of contempt): Bwana 'Sir', shangazi 'aunt', fundi 'craftsman', kadhi 'judge'. Expanses: ziwa 'lake', bonde 'valley', taifa 'country', anga 'sky'

from this, mass nouns: maji 'water', vumbi 'dust' (and other liquids and fine particulates which may cover broad expanses), kaa 'charcoal', mali 'wealth', maridhawa 'abundance'

Collectives: kundi 'group', kabila 'language/ethnic group', jeshi 'army', daraja ' stairs', manyoya 'fur, feathers', mapesa 'small change', manyasi 'weeds', jongoo 'millipede' (large set of legs), marimba 'xylophone' (large set of keys)

from this, individual things found in groups: jiwe 'stone', tawi 'branch', ua 'flower', tunda 'fruit' (also the names of most fruits), yai 'egg', mapacha 'twins', jino 'tooth', tumbo 'stomach' (cf. English "guts"), and paired body parts such as jicho 'eye', bawa 'wing', etc. also collective or dialogic actions, which occur among groups of people: neno 'a word', from kunena 'to speak' (and by extension, mental verbal processes: wazo 'thought', maana 'meaning'); pigo 'a stroke, blow', from kupiga 'to hit'; gomvi 'a quarrel', shauri 'advice, plan', kosa 'mistake', jambo 'affair', penzi 'love', jibu 'answer', agano 'promise', malipo 'payment' From pairing, reproduction is suggested as another extension (fruit, egg, testicle, flower, twins, etc.), but these generally duplicate one or more of the subcategories above

Classes 9–10 are used for most typical animals: ndege 'bird', samaki 'fish', and the specific names of typical beasts, birds, and bugs. However, this is the 'other' class, for words not fitting well elsewhere, and about half of the class 9–10 nouns are foreign loanwords. Loans may be classified as 9–10 because they lack the prefixes inherent in other classes, and most native class 9–10 nouns have no prefix. Thus they do not form a coherent semantic class, though there are still semantic extensions from individual words. Class 11 (which takes class 10 for the plural) are mostly nouns with an "extended outline shape", in either one dimension or two:

mass nouns that are generally localized rather than covering vast expanses: uji 'porridge', wali 'cooked rice' broad: ukuta 'wall', ukucha 'fingernail', upande 'side' (≈ ubavu 'rib'), wavu 'net', wayo 'sole, footprint', ua 'fence, yard', uteo 'winnowing basket', long: utambi 'wick', utepe 'stripe', uta 'bow', ubavu 'rib', ufa 'crack', unywele 'a hair'

from 'a hair', singulatives of nouns, which are often class 6 ('collectives') in the plural: unyoya 'a feather', uvumbi 'a grain of dust', ushanga 'a bead'

Class 14 are abstractions, such as utoto 'childhood' (from mtoto 'a child') and have no plural. They have the same prefixes and concord as class 11, except optionally for adjectival concord. Class 15 are verbal infinitives. Classes 16–18 are locatives. The Bantu nouns of these classes have been lost; the only permanent member is the Arabic loan mahali 'place(s)', but in Mombasa Swahili, the old prefixes survive: pahali 'place', mwahali 'places'. However, any noun with the locative suffix -ni takes class 16–18 agreement. The distinction between them is that class 16 agreement is used if the location is intended to be definite ("at"), class 17 if indefinite ("around") or involves motion ("to, toward"), and class 18 if it involves containment ("within"): mahali pazuri 'a good spot', mahali kuzuri 'a nice area', mahali muzuri (it's nice in there).


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Swahili phrases agree with nouns in a system of concord, but if the noun refers to a human, they accord with noun classes 1-2 regardless of their noun class. Verbs agree with the noun class of their subjects and objects; adjectives, prepositions and demonstratives agree with the noun class of their nouns. In Standard Swahili (Kiswahili sanifu), based on the dialect spoken in Zanzibar, the system is rather complex; however, it is drastically simplified in many local variants where Swahili is not a native language, such as in Nairobi. In non-native Swahili, concord reflects only animacy: human subjects and objects trigger a-, wa- and m-, wa- in verbal concord, while non-human subjects and objects of whatever class trigger i-, zi-. Infinitives vary between standard ku- and reduced i-.[36] ("Of" is animate wa and inanimate ya, za.) In Standard Swahili, human subjects and objects of whatever class trigger animacy concord in a-, wa- and m-, wa-, and non-human subjects and objects trigger a variety of gender-concord prefixes.

Swahili noun-class concord

NC Semantic field Noun -C, -V Subj. Obj -a Adjective -C, -i, -e[* 1]

- I (mimi) ni-

- we (sisi) tu-

- thou (wewe) u- ku-

- you (ninyi) m- wa-

1 person m-, mw- a- m- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-

2 people wa-, w- wa- wa wa-, we-, we-

3 tree m- u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-

4 trees mi- i- ya mi-, mi-, mye-

5 group, AUG ji-/Ø, j- li- la ji-/Ø, ji-, je-

6 groups, AUG ma- ya- ya ma-, me-, me-

7 tool, DIM ki-, ch- ki- cha ki-, ki-, che-

8 tools, DIM vi-, vy- vi- vya vi-, vi-, vye-

9 animals, 'other', loanwords N- i- ya N-, nyi-, nye-

10 zi- za

11 extension u-, w-/uw- u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-

10 (plural of 11) N- zi- za N-, nyi-, nye-

14 abstraction u-, w-/uw- u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe- or u-, wi-, we-

15 infinitives ku-, kw-[* 2] ku- kwa- ku-, kwi-, kwe-

16 position -ni, mahali pa- pa pa-, pe-, pe-

17 direction, around -ni ku- kwa ku-, kwi-, kwe-

18 within, along -ni mu- (NA) mwa mu-, mwi-, mwe-

^ Most Swahili adjectives begin with either a consonant or the vowels i- or e-, listed separately above. The few adjectives beginning with other vowels do not agree with all noun classes since some are restricted to humans. NC 1 m(w)- is mw- before a and o, and reduces to m- before u; wa- does not change; and ki-, vi-, mi- become ch-, vy-, my- before o but not before u: mwanana, waanana "gentle", mwororo, waororo, myororo, chororo, vyororo "mild, yielding", mume, waume, kiume, viume "male". ^ In a few verbs: kwenda, kwisha

Dialects and closely related languages[edit] This list is based on Swahili and Sabaki: a linguistic history. Dialects[edit] Modern standard Swahili is based on Kiunguja, the dialect spoken in Zanzibar
Town, but there are numerous dialects of Swahili, some of which are mutually unintelligible, such as the following:[37] Old dialects[edit] Maho (2009) considers these to be distinct languages:

Kimwani is spoken in the Kerimba Islands and northern coastal Mozambique. Chimwiini is spoken by the ethnic minorities in and around the town of Barawa
on the southern coast of Somalia. Kibajuni is spoken by the Bajuni minority ethnic group on the coast and islands on both sides of the Somali–Kenyan border and in the Bajuni Islands (the northern part of the Lamu
archipelago) and is also called Kitikuu and Kigunya. Socotra Swahili (extinct) Sidi, in Gujarat (extinct)

The rest of the dialects are divided by him into two groups:

Mombasa– Lamu


Kiamu is spoken in and around the island of Lamu
(Amu). Kipate is local dialect of Pate Island, considered to be closest to the original dialect of Kingozi. Kingozi is an ancient dialect spoken on the Indian Ocean coast between Lamu
and Somalia
and is sometimes still used in poetry. It is often considered the source of Swahili.


Chijomvu is a subdialect of the Mombasa area. Kimvita is the major dialect of Mombasa (also known as "Mvita", which means "war", in reference to the many wars which were fought over it), the other major dialect alongside Kiunguja. Kingare is the subdialect of the Mombasa area.

Kimrima is spoken around Pangani, Vanga, Dar es Salaam, Rufiji and Mafia Island. Kiunguja is spoken in Zanzibar
City and environs on Unguja (Zanzibar) Island. Kitumbatu (Pemba) dialects occupy the bulk of the island. Mambrui, Malindi Chichifundi, a dialect of the southern Kenya
coast. Chwaka Kivumba, a dialect of the southern Kenya
coast. Nosse Be (Madagascar)

Pemba Swahili

Kipemba is a local dialect of the Pemba Island. Kitumbatu and Kimakunduchi are the countryside dialects of the island of Zanzibar. Kimakunduchi is a recent renaming of "Kihadimu"; the old name means "serf" and so is considered pejorative. Makunduchi Mafia, Mbwera Kilwa (extinct) Kimgao used to be spoken around Kilwa District and to the south.

Maho includes the various Comorian dialects as a third group. Most other authorities consider Comorian to be a Sabaki language, distinct from Swahili.[38] Other regions[edit] In Somalia, where the Afroasiatic Somali language
Somali language
predominates, a variant of Swahili referred to as Chimwiini (also known as Chimbalazi) is spoken along the Benadir
coast by the Bravanese people.[39] Another Swahili dialect known as Kibajuni also serves as the mother tongue of the Bajuni minority ethnic group, which lives in the tiny Bajuni Islands as well as the southern Kismayo
region.[39][40] In Oman, an estimated 22,000 people speak Swahili.[41] Most are descendants of those repatriated after the fall of the Sultanate of Zanzibar.[42][43] Swahili Poets[edit]

Shaaban bin Robert Mathias E. Mnyampala Euphrase Kezilahabi Christopher Mwashinga Tumi Molekane

See also[edit]

Africa portal Languages portal

Mandombe script Swahili literature UCLA Language Materials Project


^ Thomas J. Hinnebusch, 1992, "Swahili", International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Oxford, pp. 99–106 David Dalby, 1999/2000, The Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities, Linguasphere Press, Volume Two, pp. 733–735 Benji Wald, 1994, "Sub-Saharan Africa", Atlas of the World's Languages, Routledge, pp. 289–346, maps 80, 81, 85 ^ a b c "HOME - Home". Swahililanguage.stanford.edu. Retrieved 19 July 2016. After Arabic, Swahili is the most widely used African language but the number of its speakers is another area in which there is little agreement. The most commonly mentioned numbers are 50, 80, and 100 million people. [...] The number of its native speakers has been placed at just under 2 million.  ^ Hinnebusch, Thomas J. (2003). "Swahili". In William J. Frawley. International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Subscription required (help)). First-language (L1) speakers of Swahili, who probably number no more than two million [...]  ^ Swahili at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) Congo Swahili at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) Coastal Swahili at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) Makwe at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) Mwani at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Swahili (G.40)". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online ^ a b http://aboutworldlanguages.com/Swahili ^ Prins 1961 ^ Nurse and Hinnebusch, 1993, p.18 ^ Nurse and Hinnebusch, 1993 ^ http://www.eac.int/treaty/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=206&Itemid=331 ^ The Routledge Concise Compendium of the World's Languages (2nd ed.), George L. Campbell and Gareth King. Routledge (2011), p. 678. ISBN 978-0-415-47841-0 ^ Derek Nurse, Thomas J. Hinnebusch, Gérard Philippson. 1993. Swahili and Sabaki: A Linguistic History. University of California Press ^ Derek Nurse, Thomas T. Spear. 1985. The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800-1500. University of Pennsylvania Press ^ Thomas Spear. 2000. Early Swahili History Reconsidered. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 257-290 ^ Juma, Abdurahman. "Swahili history". www.glcom.com. Retrieved 2017-09-30.  ^ E. A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa, London, 1975.., pp. 98–99 ; T. Vernet, "Les cités-Etats swahili et la puissance omanaise (1650–1720), Journal des Africanistes, 72(2), 2002, pp. 102–105. ^ "Baba yetu". Wikisource. Retrieved 15 November 2015.  ^ http://www.swahilihub.com/JifunzeKiswahili/-/1306806/1333292/-/jbyx02z/-/index.html ^ Mdee, James S. (1999). "Dictionaries and the Standardization of Spelling in Swahili". Lexikos. pp. 126–7. Retrieved 2 June 2017.  ^ Wanambisi, Laban (5 December 2016). "International schools must teach Kiswahili, Kenya's history – Matiang'i". Capital News. Retrieved 8 December 2016.  ^ Nurse & Thomas Spear (1985) The Swahili ^ Kharusi, N. S. (2012). "The ethnic label Zinjibari: Politics and language choice implications among Swahili speakers in Oman". Ethnicities. 12 (3): 335–353. doi:10.1177/1468796811432681.  ^ Adriaan Hendrik Johan Prins (1961) The Swahili-speaking Peoples of Zanzibar
and the East African Coast. (Ethnologue) ^ Brock-Utne 2001: 123 ^ Kambale, Juakali (10 August 2004). "DRC welcomes Swahili as an official AU language". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2009.  ^ (2005 World Bank Data). ^ "Niger-Congo languages". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-03-26.  ^ " BBC
- Languages - Swahili - A Guide to Swahili - 10 facts about the Swahili language". Retrieved 2017-09-30.  ^ "Swahili alphabet, pronunciation and language".  ^ "Swahili About World Languages". aboutworldlanguages.com. Retrieved 2017-09-30.  ^ Modern Swahili Grammar East African Publishers, 2001 Mohamed Abdulla Mohamed p. 4 ^ "A Guide to Swahili - The Swahili alphabet". BBC.  ^ Jan Knappert (1971) Swahili Islamic poetry, Volume 1 ^ See Contini-Morava for details. ^ Kamil Ud Deen, 2005. The acquisition of Swahili. ^ H.E.Lambert 1956, 1957, 1958 ^ Derek Nurse; Thomas Spear; Thomas T. Spear. The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800-1500. p. 65.  ^ a b "Somalia". Ethnologue. 1999-02-19. Retrieved 2015-11-15.  ^ Mwakikagile, Godfrey (2007). Kenya: identity of a nation. New Africa Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-9802587-9-0.  ^ "Oman". Ethnologue. 1999-02-19. Retrieved 2015-11-15.  ^ Fuchs, Martina (2011-10-05). "African Swahili music lives on in Oman". Reuters. Retrieved 2015-11-15.  ^ Beate Ursula Josephi, Journalism education in countries with limited media freedom, Volume 1 of Mass Communication and Journalism, (Peter Lang: 2010), p.96.


Ashton, E. O. Swahili Grammar: Including intonation. Longman House. Essex 1947. ISBN 0-582-62701-X. Irele, Abiola and Biodun Jeyifo. The Oxford encyclopedia of African thought, Volume 1. Oxford University Press US. New York City. 2010. ISBN 0-19-533473-6 Blommaert, Jan: Situating language rights: English and Swahili in Tanzania
revisited (sociolinguistic developments in Tanzanian Swahili) – Working Papers in Urban Language & Literacies, paper 23, University of Gent 2003 Brock-Utne, Birgit (2001). "Education for all – in whose language?". Oxford Review of Education. 27 (1): 115–134. doi:10.1080/03054980125577.  Chiraghdin, Shihabuddin and Mathias E. Mnyampala. Historia ya Kiswahili. Oxford University Press. Eastern Africa. 1977. ISBN 0-19-572367-8 Contini-Morava, Ellen. Noun Classification in Swahili. 1994. Lambert, H.E. 1956. Chi-Chifundi: A Dialect of the Southern Kenya Coast. (Kampala) Lambert, H.E. 1957. Ki-Vumba: A Dialect of the Southern Kenya
Coast. (Kampala) Lambert, H.E. 1958. Chi-Jomvu and ki-Ngare: Subdialects of the Mombasa Area. (Kampala) Marshad, Hassan A. Kiswahili au Kiingereza (Nchini Kenya). Jomo Kenyatta Foundation. Nairobi 1993. ISBN 9966-22-098-4. Nurse, Derek, and Hinnebusch, Thomas J. Swahili and Sabaki: a linguistic history. 1993. Series: University of California Publications in Linguistics, v. 121. Ogechi, Nathan Oyori: "On language rights in Kenya
(on the legal position of Swahili in Kenya)", in: Nordic Journal of African Studies 12(3): 277–295 (2003) Prins, A.H.J. 1961. "The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of Zanzibar
and the East African Coast (Arabs, Shirazi and Swahili)". Ethnographic Survey of Africa, edited by Daryll Forde. London: International African Institute. Prins, A.H.J. 1970. A Swahili Nautical Dictionary. Preliminary Studies in Swahili Lexicon – 1. Dar es Salaam. Whiteley, Wilfred. 1969. Swahili: the rise of a national language. London: Methuen. Series: Studies in African History.

External links[edit]

Find more aboutSwahili languageat's sister projects

Definitions from Wiktionary Media from Wikimedia Commons Textbooks from Wikibooks Travel guide from Wikivoyage Data from Wikidata

Swahili edition of, the free encyclopedia

UCLA report on Swahili John Ogwana (2001) Swahili Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Factors of Its Development and Expansion List of Swahili Dictionaries

Links to related articles

v t e

Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Official language


National languages



Lingala Swahili Tshiluba

Indigenous languages (by province)


Boma Chokwe Ding Hungana Kwese Lia-Ntomba Mbala Mpuono Nzadi Pende Sakata Sengele Shinji Sonde Suku Tiene Yaka Yansi


Bala Bangi Bango Budza Central Banda Furu Losengo Mbaka Mbandja Mongo Mono Ndolo Ndunga Ngbaka Minagende Ngbinda Ngbundu Ngombe Pagibete Sango South Banda Yangere


Binji Bushong Chokwe Lele Lwalu Wongo


Budya Dengese Luna Nkutu Salampasu Songe Tetela


Bangubangu Bemba Bwile Chokwe Hemba Kaonde Kebwe Lunda Ruund Sanga Tabwa Zela Yazi




Hendo Zimba


Amba Havu Hunde Kinyarwanda Kirundi Nande Nyanga Talinga Tembo Vanuma Yaka


Alur Asoa Avokaya Bangala Bangba Barambu Beeke Bila Budu Bwa Bwela Dongo Guru Hema Kaliko Kango Kari Kele Lendu Lese Lika Likile Linga Loki Logo Lombo Lugbara Ma Mangbetu Mangbutu Mayogo Mba Mbo Ndaka Ngbee Ngelima Nyali Nyanga-li Nzakara Omi Pambia Poke Soko Tagbo Zande


Buyu Fuliiru Havu Kabwari Kinyarwanda Kirundi Shi Tembo

Sign languages

French African Sign

v t e

Languages of Kenya

Official languages

English Swahili

Indigenous languages


Bajuni Digo Embu Gusii Idaxo-Isuxa-Tiriki Ilwana Kamba Khayo Kikuyu Kuria Logoli Marachi Meru Nyole Pokomo Samia Suba Taita West Nyala


Aweer Burji Daasanach Dahalo El Molo Orma Oromo Rendille Somali Southern Oromo Waata Yaaku


Kipsigis Luo Maasai Naandi Ogiek Omotik Pökoot Samburu Tugen Turkana

Sign languages

Kenyan Sign Language

v t e

Languages of Mozambique

Official language


Indigenous languages

Barwe Chewa Chichopi Chuwabu Dema Kimwani Koti Kunda Lomwe Maindo Makhuwa Makonde Makwe Manyika Nathembo Ndau Ngoni Nsenga Nyungwe Phimbi Ronga Sena Shona Swahili Swati Tawara Tewe Tonga Tsonga Tswa Yao Zulu

Sign languages

Mozambican Sign Language

v t e

Languages of Oman

Official language


Main foreign language


Minority languages

Balochi Bathari Harsusi Hobyót Kumzari Luwati Mehri Shehri Swahili

Varieties of Arabic

Bahrani Arabic Omani Arabic

Dhofari Shihhi

Sign languages

Omani Sign Language

v t e

Languages of Tanzania

Official languages

Swahili English

Indigenous languages


Northeast Bantu


Bena Hehe Kinga Kisi Manda Pangwa Sangu Vwanji


Central Kilimanjaro Gweno Rombo Rusa West Kilimanjaro

Great Lakes

Ha Hangaza Ikizu Ikoma Jita Kabwa Kara Kerewe Kuria Kwaya Ngoreme Nyambo Suba-Simbiti Sumbwa Vinza Zanaki Zinza



Northeast Coast

Digo Doe Gogo Kagulu Kami Kutu Kwere Luguru Ngulu Sagara Shambala Vidunda Zaramo


Holoholo Iramba Isanzu Kimbu Nyamwezi Sukuma Turu


Mbunga Ndamba Pogolo


Matengo Matumbi Mpoto Mwera Ndendeule Ndengereko Ndonde Ngindo Ngoni Nindi Yao


Bungu Fipa Lambya Malila Mwanga Nyakyusa Nyiha Nyika Safwa Wanda

Other Bantu

Bemba Makhuwa Mbamba Bay Mbugwe Rangi


Alagwa Asa Burunge Gorowa Iraqw Kw'adza


Datooga Kisankasa Kwavi Maasai Mediak Mosiro Ngasa Ogiek


Hadza Sandawe

Sign languages

Tanzanian sign languages

v t e

Languages of Uganda

Official languages

English Swahili Ugandan Sign Language

Indigenous languages


Amba Gungu Khayo Gwere Khayo Kiga Kinyarwanda Luganda Luhya Marachi Masaba Nkore Nkore-Kiga Nyole Nyoro Ruuli Samia Singa Soga Talinga Tooro


Acholi Adhola Alur Aringa Bari Elgon Ik Karamojong Kuku Lango Lugbara Nyangia Pökoot Southern Luo Tepes Teso


Kitara Nubi Oropom

v t e

Narrow Bantu languages
Bantu languages
(by Guthrie classification)

Zones A – B

Zone A


A11[101] Londo A12[101] Barue A13 Balong A14 Bonkeng A15 Mbo [A141 Bafo A151 Nkongho]


A21 Bomboko A22 Baakpe A23 Su A24 Duala A25 Oli A26 Pongo A27 Mulimba [A221 Bubia A231 Kole]


A31a North Bobe A31b Southwest Bobe A31c Southeast Bobe A32a Banoo A32b Bapoko A33a Yasa A33b Kombe A34 Benga


A41 Lombi A42 Bankon A43a Mbene A43b North Kogo A43c South Kogo A44 Banen A45 Nyokon A46 Mandi [A441 Aling'a A461 Bonek A462 Yambeta


A51 Fa’ A52 Kaalong A53 Kpa A54 Ngayaba [A501 Hijuk]


A61[601] Ngoro A62 Yambasa A63 Mangisa A64[601] Bacenga A65 Bati [A621 Baca A622 Gunu A623 Mbule]


A71 Eton A72a Ewondo A72b Mvele A72c Bakja A72d Yangafek A73a Bëbëlë A73b Gbïgbïl A74 Bulu A75 Fang [A751 South-West Fang]


A81 Mvumbo A82 So A83 Makaa A84 Njem A85a Konabem A85b Bekwil A86a Medjime A86b Mpompo A86c Mpiemo A87 Bomwali [A801 Gyele A802 Ukwedjo A803 Shiwe A831 Byep A832 Bekol A841 Bajue A842 Koonzime]


A91 Kwakum A92a Pol A92b Pomo A93 Kako

Zone B


B11a Mpongwe B11b Rongo B11c Galwa B11d Dyumba B11e Nkomi


B21 Sekiyani B22a West Kele B22b Ngom B22c Bubi B23 Mbangwe B24 Wumbvu B25 Kota [B201 Ndasa B202 Sighu B203 Sama B204 Ndambomo B205 Metombola B221 Molengue B251 Shake B252 Mahongwe]


B31 Tsogo B32 Kande [B301 Viya B302 Himbaka B303 Bongwe B304 Pinzi B305 Vove]


B41 Sira B42 Sangu B43 Punu B44 Lumbu [B401 Bwisi B402 Varama B403 Vungu B404 Ngubi B411 Bwali]


B51 Duma B52 Nzebi B53 Tsaangi [B501 Wanzi B502 Mwele B503 Vili]


B61 Mbete B62 Mbaama B63 Nduumo [B602 Kaning'i B603 Yangho]


B71a Tege-Kali B71b Njiningi B72a Ngungwele B72b Mpumpu B73a Tsaayi B73b Laali B73c Yaa B73d Kwe B74a Ndzindziu B74b Boma B75 Bali B76a Musieno B76b Ngee B77a Kukwa B77b Fumu B78 Wuumu [B701 Tsitsege]


B81 Tiene B82 Boma B83 Mfinu B84a[84] Mpuon B84b[84] Mpuun B85a Mbiem B85b East Yans B85c Yeei B85d Ntsuo B85e Mpur B86 Di B87[84] Mbuun [B821 Mpe

B822 Nunu

B861 Ngul (Ngwi) B862 Lwel B863 Mpiin B864 West Ngongo B865 Nzadi]

Zones C – D

Zone C


C11 Ngondi C12a Pande C12b Bogongo C13 Mbati C14 Mbomotaba C15 Bongili C16 Lobala [C101 Dibole C102 Ngando C103 Kota C104 Yaka C105 Mbenga C141 Enyele C142 Bondongo C143 Mbonzo C161 Bomboli C162 Bozaba]


C21 Mboko C22 Akwa C23[21] Ngare C24 Koyo C25 Mbosi C26 Kwala C27 Kuba [C201 Bwenyi]


C31a Loi C31b Ngiri C31c Nunu C32 Bobangi C33 Sengele C34 Sakata C35a Ntomba C35b Bolia C36a Poto C36b Mpesa C36c Mbudza C36d Mangala C36e Boloki C36f Kangana C36g Ndolo C37 Buja [C301 Doko C302 Bolondo C311 Mabaale C312 Ndoobo C313 Litoka C314 Balobo C315 Enga C321 Binza C322 Dzamba C323 Mpama C371 Tembo C372 Kunda C373 Gbuta C374 Babale]


C41 Ngombe C42 Bwela C43 Bati C44 Boa C45 Angba [C401 Pagibete C403 Kango C411 Bomboma C412 Bamwe C413 Dzando C414 Ligendza C415 Likula C441 Bango]


C51 Mbesa C52 So C53 Poke C54 Lombo C55 Kele C56 Foma [C501 Likile C502 Linga]


C61a Northeast Mongo C61b Northwest Mongo C62 Lalia [C63 Ngando C611 Bafoto]


C71 Tetela C72 Kusu C73 Nkutu C74 Yela C75 Kela C76 Ombo [C701 Langa]


C81 Dengese C82 Songomeno C83 Busoong C84 Lele C85 Wongo

Zone D


D11 Mbole D12 Lengola D13 Metoko D14 Enya [D141 Zura]


D21 Bali D22 Amba D23 Komo D24 Songola D25 Lega D26 Zimba D27 Bangubangu D28a West Holoholo D28b East Holoholo [D201 Liko D211 Kango D251 Lega-Malinga D281 Tumbwe D282 Lumbwe]


D31 Peri D32 Bira D33 Nyali [D301 Kari D302 Guru D303 Ngbinda D304 Homa D305 Nyanga-li D306 Gbati-ri D307 Mayeka D308 Bodo D311 Bila D312 Kaiku D313 Ibutu D331 Bvanuma D332 Budu D333 Ndaaka D334 Mbo D335 Beeke D336 Ngbee]


[J]D41 Konzo [J]D42 Ndandi [J]D43 Nyanga


[J]D51 Hunde [J]D52 Haavu [J]D53 Nyabungu [J]D54 Bembe [J]D55 Buyi [J]D56 Kabwari [JD501 Nyindu [J]JD502 Yaka [J]JD531 Tembo]


[J]D61 Ruanda [J]D62 Rundi [J]D63 Fuliiro [J]D64 Subi [J]D65 Hangaza [J]D66 Ha [J]D67 Vinza [JD631 Vira]

Zones E – H

Zone E


[J]E11 Nyoro [J]E12 Tooro [J]E13 Nyankore [J]E14 Ciga [J]E15 Ganda [J]E16 Soga [J]E17 Gwere [J]E18 Nyala [JE101 Gungu JE102 Talinga-Bwisi JE103 Ruli JE121 Hema]


[J]E21 Nyambo [J]E22 Ziba [J]E23 Dzindza [J]E24 Kerebe [J]E25 Jita [JE221 Rashi JE251 Kwaya JE252 Kara JE253 Ruri]


[J]E31a Gisu [J]E31b Kisu [J]E31c Bukusu [J]E32a Hanga [J]E32b Tsotso [J]E33 Nyore [J]E34 Saamia [J]E35 Nyuli [JE341 Xaayo JE342 Marachi JE343 Songa]


[J]E41 Logooli [J]E42 Gusii [J]E43 Koria [J]E44 Zanaki [J]E45 Nata E46 Sonjo [JE401 Nguruimi JE402 Ikizu JE403 Suba/Suba-Simbiti JE404 Shashi JE405 Kabwa JE406 Singa JE407 Ware JE411 Idaxo JE412 Isuxa JE413 Tiriki JE431 Simbiti JE432 Hacha JE433 Surwa JE434 Sweta]


E51 Kikuyu E52 Embu E53 Meru E54 Saraka E55 Kamba E56 Daiso [E531 Mwimbi-Muthambi E541 Cuka]


E61[621a] Rwo E62a[621b,622a] Hai E62b[622c] Wunjo E62c[623] Rombo E63 Rusa E64 Kahe E65 Gweno


E71 Pokomo E72a Gyriama E72b Kauma E72c Conyi E72d Duruma E72e Rabai E73 Digo E74a Dabida E74b[741] Sagala [E701 Elwana E731 Segeju E732 Degere E74 Taita]

Zone F


F11 Tongwe F12 Bende


[J]F21 Sukuma [J]F22 Nyamwezi [J]F23 Sumbwa [J]F24 Kimbu [J]F25 Bungu


F31 Nilamba F32 Remi F33 Langi F34 Mbugwe

Zone G


G11 Gogo G12 Kaguru


G21 [E74a] Tubeta G22 Asu G23 Shambala G24 Bondei [G221 Mbugu]


G31 Zigula G32 Ngwele G33 Zaramo G34 Ngulu G35 Ruguru G36 Kami G37 Kutu G38 Vidunda G39 Sagala [G301 Doe G311 Mushungulu]


G41 Tikuu G42a Amu G42b Mvita G42c Mrima G42d Unguja G43a Phemba G43b Tumbatu G43c Hadimu G44a Ngazija G44b Njuani [G402 Makwe G403 Mwani G404 Sidi G411 Socotra Swahili G412 Mwiini]


G51 Pogolo G52 Ndamba


G61 Sango G62 Hehe G63 Bena G64 Pangwa G65 Kinga G66 Wanji G67 Kisi [G651 Magoma]

Zone H


H11 Beembe H12 Vili H13 Kunyi H14 Ndingi H15 Mboka H16a South Kongo H16b Central Kongo H16c Yombe H16d Fiote H16e Bwende H16f Laadi H16g East Kongo H16h Southeast Kongo [H111 Hangala H112 Kamba-Doondo H131 Suundi]


H21a (North) Mbundu H21b Mbamba H22 Sama H23 Bolo H24 Songo


H31 Yaka H32 Suku H33 [L12b] Hungu H34 Mbangala H35 Sinji [H321 Soonde]


H41 Mbala H42 Hunganna

Zones J – M

Zone J*


[J]D41 Konzo [J]D42 Ndandi [J]D43 Nyanga


[J]D51 Hunde [J]D52 Haavu [J]D53 Nyabungu [J]D54 Bembe [J]D55 Buyi [J]D56 Kabwari [JD501 Nyindu [J]JD502 Yaka [J]JD531 Tembo]


[J]D61 Ruanda [J]D62 Rundi [J]D63 Fuliiro [J]D64 Subi [J]D65 Hangaza [J]D66 Ha [J]D67 Vinza [JD631 Vira]


[J]E11 Nyoro [J]E12 Tooro [J]E13 Nyankore [J]E14 Ciga [J]E15 Ganda [J]E16 Soga [J]E17 Gwere [J]E18 Nyala [JE101 Gungu JE102 Talinga-Bwisi JE103 Ruli JE121 Hema]


[J]E21 Nyambo [J]E22 Ziba [J]E23 Dzindza [J]E24 Kerebe [J]E25 Jita [JE221 Rashi JE251 Kwaya JE252 Kara JE253 Ruri]


[J]E31a Gisu [J]E31b Kisu [J]E31c Bukusu [J]E32a Hanga [J]E32b Tsotso [J]E33 Nyore [J]E34 Saamia [J]E35 Nyuli [JE341 Xaayo JE342 Marachi JE343 Songa]


[J]E41 Logooli [J]E42 Gusii [J]E43 Koria [J]E44 Zanaki [J]E45 Nata E46 Sonjo [JE401 Nguruimi JE402 Ikizu JE403 Suba/Suba-Simbiti JE404 Shashi JE405 Kabwa JE406 Singa JE407 Ware JE411 Idaxo JE412 Isuxa JE413 Tiriki JE431 Simbiti JE432 Hacha JE433 Surwa JE434 Sweta]


[J]F21 Sukuma [J]F22 Nyamwezi [J]F23 Sumbwa [J]F24 Kimbu [J]F25 Bungu

Zone K


K11 Chokwe K12a Luimbi K12b Nyemba K13 Lucazi K14 Lwena K15 Mbunda K16 Nyengo K17 Mbwela K18 Nkangala


K21 Lozi


K31 Luyana K32 Mbowe K33 Kwangali K34 Mashi K35 Simaa K36 Sanjo K37 Kwangwa [K321 Mbume K322 Liyuwa K332 Manyo K333 Mbukushu K334 Mbogedu K351 Mulonga K352 Mwenyi K353 Koma K354 Imilangu K371 Kwandi]


K41 Totela K42 Subiya [K402 Fwe K411 Totela of Namibia]

Zone L


L11 Pende L12 Samba & Holu L13 Kwese [L101 Sonde]


L21 Kete L22 Binji (Mbagani) L23 Songe L24 Luna [L201 Budya L202 Yazi L221 Lwalwa L231 Binji]


L31a Luba-Kasai L31b Lulua L32 Kanyoka L33 Luba-Katanga L34 Hemba L35 Sanga [L301 Kebwe L331 Zeela]


L41 Kaonde


L51 Salampasu L52 Lunda L53 Ruund [L511 Luntu]


L61 Mbwera L62 Nkoya [L601 Kolwe L602 Lushangi L603 Shasha]

Zone M


M11 Pimbwe M12 Rungwa M13 Fipa M14 Rungu M15 Mambwe [M131 Kuulwe]


M21 Wanda M22 Mwanga M23 Nyiha M24 Malila M25 Safwa M26 Iwa M27 Tambo [M201 Lambya M202 Sukwa]


M31 Nyakyusa [M301 Ndali M302 Penja]


M41 Taabwa M42 Bemba [M401 Bwile M402 Aushi]


M51 Biisa M52 Lala M53 Swaka M54 Lamba M55 Seba [M521 Ambo M522 Luano M541 Lima M542 Temba]


M61 Lenje M62 Soli M63 Ila M64 Tonga [M611 Lukanga Twa M631 Sala M632 Lundwe M633 Kafue Twa]

Zones N – S

Zone N


N11 Manda N12 Ngoni N13 Matengo N14 Mpoto N15 Tonga [N101 Ndendeule N102 Nindi N121 Ngoni of Malawi]


N21 Tumbuka [N201 Mwera of Mbamba Bay]


N31a Nyanja N31b Cewa N31c Manganja


N41 Nsenga N42 Kunda N43 Nyungwe N44 Sena N45[44] Rue N46[44] Podzo [N441 Sena-Malawi]

Zone P


P11 Ndengereko P12 Ruihi P13 Matumbi P14 Ngindo P15 Mbunga


P21 Yao P22 Mwera P23 Makonde P24 Ndonde P25 Mabiha


P31 Makua P32 Lomwe P33 Ngulu P34 Cuabo [P311 Koti P312 Sakati P331 Lomwe of Malawi P341 Moniga]

Zone R


R11 Umbundu R12 Ndombe R13 Nyaneka R14 Khumbi [R101 Kuvale R102 Kwisi R103 Mbali]


R21 Kwanyama R22 Ndonga R23 Kwambi R24 Ngandyera [R211 Kafima R212 Evale R213 Mbandja R214 Mbalanhu R215 Ndongwena R216 Kwankwa R217 Dombondola R218 Esinga R241 Kwaluudhi R242 Kolonkadhi-Eunda]


R31 Herero [R311 North-West Herero R312 Botswana Herero]


R41 Yei

Zone S


S11 Korekore S12 Zezuru S13a Manyika S13b Tebe S14 Karanga S15 Ndau S16 Kalanga


S21 Venda


S31a Tswana S31b Kgatla S31c Ngwatu S31d[311] Khalaxadi S32a Pedi S32b Lobedu S33 Sotho [S301 Phalaborwa S302 Kutswe S303 Pai S304 Pulana]


S41 Xhosa S42 Zulu S43 Swati S44 (Northern) Ndebele [S401 Old Mfengu S402 Bhaca S403 Hlubi S404 Phuthi S405 Nhlangwini S406 Lala S407 South Ndebele S408 Sumayela Ndebele]


S51 Tswa S52[53] Gwamba S53 Tsonga S54 Ronga [S511 Hlengwe]


S61 Copi S62 Tonga [S611 Lenge]

Note: The Guthrie classification is geographic and its groupings do not imply a relationship between the languages within them.

Authority control

LCCN: sh85130962 GND: 4078094-6 SUDOC: 027249700 BNF: cb119333361 (data) NDL: 00571