Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I said what?!

Before  beginning my Kiswahili class I was a bit worried about making significant progress with a new language in just 3 weeks. I also had no clue how much I would absolutely love Kiswahili. It is such a fun language. I enjoy speaking and learning the language so much that homework is fun(!). Humor arises often as everyone in my class has, at some point in the last 10 days, accidentally said something very different than what they meant to say

  • One letter makes a lot of difference. Instead of saying "see you later" or tutaona I found myself telling my teacher tutaoana, which means "we will get married". Oops.
  • The order of the words doesn't always make sense when translated word for word; and using the familiar syntax of English? Well, the result can lead to comical errors. For example, one of the other students attempted to say "Ray is a good husband" but ended up telling us that "Ray has a good husband". 
  • Leaving words out can lead to awkward sentences. Another student accidentally left out the word 'news' in his sentence, resulting in him calling our teacher "the hot Mama Gaude".
  • Then there are just those times when you look at your homework the next day, and wonder what you were thinking when you did it. None of us are really sure how it happened, but while translating the sentence "we are visitors here" someone managed to change it to "I eat the visitors".  
Mistakes aside it is amazing how quickly we have all picked up the language. After 8 days of class, while far from fluent, we all know enough Kiswahili now to introduce ourselves, hold basic conversations, order food in a restaurant and provide great entertainment for all those who are fluent in Kiswahili as we continue making our own little blooper reels. We had our first 'field trip' today and ventured out into a market to buy fruits and vegetables for the kitchen. It was quite the experience. We actually left the markett with the correct items, and are all quite proud of ourselves and each other for passing our first test and surviving in the Kiswahili speaking world without our teacher!


  1. For extra credit in HS Spanish...I found a spanish speaking chat room on ICQ.....(You are probably to young to know what a chat room is) I printed out the convo and turned it in...turns out I kept announcing I was pregnant when I meant to say something about a girlfriend. Extra Credit DENIED.

  2. Visitors, like gushers, are juicy in the middle. However, visitors are not FDA-approved.

  3. Muy embarasado, MF.

    Here's a few other Swahili missteps from Twitter:

    Pumba ya dagaa = ground anchovies (for chicken feed).
    Pumbu la dagaa = An anchovy's testicle. #Swahili #wordstonotscrewup

    Nimeshangaa = I'm surprised ...
    Nina chang'aa = I have illegal liquor.

    Wameelewa kabisa = they've totally understood. ...
    Wamelewa kabisa = They're totally drunk.

    Tutaoana = we will marry each other. ...
    Tutauana = we will kill each other.

  4. Probably sardine, not anchovy. My bad.