Chinese student Shen Yuning has set himself the laborious task of compiling a Swahili-Chinese dictionary.

The 26-year-old plans to include 25,000 words in the dictionary by August before he heads back to university in Germany, where he studies African languages.

“There is an increasing exchange of labor between Africa and China, but many Chinese workers here can speak only Chinese, while locals only speak Swahili and poor English,” said Shen, an exchange student at Kenya’s Kenyatta University.

In writing for this site it has become apparent to me that the world of business has a dramatic impact upon language. Once again we find language learning is being undertaken in order to increase business relationships between nations. Swahili is spoken by many countries including Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and there are more than 80 million speakers worldwide

There was one Swahili-Chinese dictionary compiled in the 1970s, but this hasn’t dissuaded Shen from continuing.

“Vocabulary changes over time. Many words and meanings have gone through immense changes over the past decades considering China’s tremendous changes during the same period,” Shen said.

. [via: China Daily]