Archive for the ‘Swahili’ Category


Posted on November 28th, 2012by jake
In Chinese, Swahili | Leave a Comment »

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]

Swahili in Chinese

Posted on April 28th, 2012by Michelle
In Chinese, Swahili, Translation | Leave a Comment »

Just last week I posted about a man who had made it his life’s work to produce a Yiddish-Japanese dictionary.

Now it’s revealed a Chinese man is compiling a Swahili-Chinese dictionary. Twenty-six year old Shen Yuning announced the plan on his blog last December, and has so far completed nearly 5,000 words.

Yuning is studying African languages at university in Germany, but is currently an exchange student in Kenya. He works up to 15 hours a day on the dictionary, and plans to include 25,000 words by August. The words included come from interaction with locals as well as Yuning’s study of books, newspapers and television.

Yuning’s friends say he is very interested in linguistics and can talk about word meanings for hours. He hopes that his dictionary will help international workers:

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.

“Of the several African languages I’ve learned, Swahili is my best,” Shen said, adding that Swahili is also the most important language in East African countries including Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, with more than 80 million speakers.

He hopes the dictionary will be helpful for Chinese workers in East Africa.

“There are free online translation tools, but they are rubbish when it comes to the translation of African language,” Shen said.

“Moreover, most Chinese workers in Africa don’t have easy access to the Internet, while a dictionary is portable and much more convenient to use.” (Source: China Daily)

Kids turn teacher

Posted on September 12th, 2009by Michelle
In Education, English, Language acquisition, Swahili, Tamil | Leave a Comment »

I came across a great article on BBC News today about a school in London that encourages children with a second language to teach their fellow students.

When a new student joins the school, they are encouraged to use the language they speak at home and teach it to others through the school’s “language of the month” scheme. Students of all ages are taught basics of the language such as good morning, thank you, and numbers up to ten. Through the project, the school has “collected” around 50 languages, from Tamil to Swahili.

Founder of the scheme and ethnic minority achievement teacher Joe Debono said: “It started simply as a common courtesy, but as we went on we found that children who have their language valued are more open then to learning English than if we just let them hide their language away.
“The children doing the language of the month are treated like little movie stars
and that’s the way they get to see themselves.”

The scheme seems like a fantastic way to celebrate diversity and recognise the importance of speaking a second language, something that is becoming especially important as there are less children taking languages at secondary school level in the UK. It was deemed no longer compulsory after the age of 14 in 2004, and since then, the number of students taking a second language has dropped.

This appears to have had a knock-on effect at university level, with reports that language departments will close and language courses dropped because of declining numbers of student applications. Campaigners are now saying the shortage of language graduates will “hold Britain back as it tries to emerge from recession”.

Kathryn Board, the chief executive of Cilt [National Centre of Languages], said: “English is one of the great global languages but it will only take us so far. Our engagement with the non-English speaking world will remain superficial and one-sided unless we develop our capacity in other languages.”

(Source: Times Online)

Let’s hope the government initiative to make language teaching compulsory in primary schools will help future generations to keep learning languages and continue to be treated like “little movie stars”.