Language News: The Standard | Online Edition :: Kiswahili becomes Kenya official language

Ksawhili (also spelled Swahili) is a Bantu language that serves as a lingua franca in much of Eastern Africa, and it has just become an official language of Kenya.   

English speakers are often shocked by the structure of Kswahili.  English allows polymorphemic words (e.g. govern + ment + al), but Ksawhili’s morphemic system is even more complex.  It has so much inflection on its verbs, for example, that they can stand alone.  They are also usually surprised by the noun class system, which is like the grammatical gender system found in many romance classes, but, instead of a 2 or 3 category system, Kwahili has 18 semantic categories. 

However, what seems to be controversial here is the influence that Arabic has had on it.   (A substantial amount of it’s vocabulary comes from Arabic.) Kswahili is now one of two official languages in Kenya (English and Kswahili).  Read here for a cursory review of the legal ramifications:

The Standard | Online Edition :: Kiswahili becomes Kenya official language.


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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