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|Swahili Language Program
Swahili is the most widely spoken African Language in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the national language of Tanzania and Kenya, and is also spoken widely in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Comoros. Current estimates place the number of speakers at 100 million people. Swahili is the only official African language of the African Union and its status as a lingua franca in the east and central African region makes it an important language to learn. It is taught in more than 50 universities in the US. It is also taught in many universities in Europe and Asia
Swahili belongs to the Bantu group of languages but it has borrowed a lot of words from Arabic. This has come about as a result of over 10 centuries of contact with the Arabian peninsula. Flourishing trade between the East African coastal towns and the Persian Gulf and Asia elevated Swahili as a trade language. Subsequent settlement by Persians and Arabs and their intermarriage with local women promoted a vibrant Islamic culture which has left traces in modern Swahili. A good example is the structure of classical Swahili poetry and the popular Swahili music genre known as Taarabu.
Nowadays, Swahili is used in various situations such as offices, schools, homes and mass media. Like other languages in the world, English is becoming the greatest donor to Swahili vocabulary, especially in the area of computer and technology.
|Department of Linguistics
Gordy 383 - Athens, Ohio 45701
| College of Arts and Sciences
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|This page last updatedSeptember 20, 2010|