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Road sign in Swahili.
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Say Hello in the Swahili language
By The Internet Public Library.
Safari glossary
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On safari:
Virtually the whole tourist industry, and many urban East Africans, speaks English. As long as you stay on the beaten track, you will do fine speaking a little English. In general, East Africans aren't the least stuck-up when it comes to language, but will try words they know in any language, from Finnish to sign language, to communicate with you.

Most driver guides speak English, but some also speak other languages, such as German, French, Italian or Spanish.

Swahili and tribal languages
Most tribes in Kenya and Tanzania have their own language, but most Kenyans and Tanzanians also speak Swahili, a language originating from Bantu and Arabic, and today the lingua franca of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The language is sometimes referred to as 'Kiswahili', which is the name of the language in Swahili.

If you want to have a go at Swahili during a tour to East Africa, both phrase books and more comprehensive textbooks can be found in well-stocked bookshops.

Maasai village. The huts are made of cow dung on a frame of branches.

Swahili for beginners
Jambo (dju'mmbo) means "hello".
Answer Jambo.

Habari (hubbaa'ri) means "how are you?".
Answer Nzuri (nzuu'ree), "fine".

Karibu (kurree'bu) means "welcome".
Answer Asante (assu'nnte) or Asante sana (assu'nnte saa'na), "thank you"/"thank you very much ".

Kwaheri (koahe'ree) means "goodbye".
Answer Kwaheri.

Ndiyo (ndee'u) means "yes".
Hapana (huppaa'na) means "no".


Animal names in Swahili

Baboon Nyani
Bird Ndege
Buffalo Mbogo
Cheetah Duma
Elephant Ndovu, tembo
Giraffe Twiga
Hippo Kiboko
Hyaena Fisi
Impala Swala pala
Jackal Mbweha
Leopard Chui
Lion Simba
Monkey Tumbili
Mosquito Mbu
Rhino Kifaru
Snake Nyoka
Wildebeest Nyumbu
Zebra Punda milia
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Page updated 27 April 2013