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About Swahili Lexicon

Gujaratilexicon is a landmark work in the history of Gujarati language containing resources of more than 45 lakh words. It aims to preserve, popularize and develop Gujarati language through the power of information technology. It is a small attempt in contemporizing Gujarati and developing Gujarati Language Resources.

Gujaratilexicon Project is the result of undying passion and relentless vision of Amar Shri Ratilal P. Chandaria, who spent more than 25 years on this project. Shri Chandaria had spent his initial years in Nairobi and had developed a special relation with Swahili language. Swahili and Gujarati were both close to his heart. Shri Chandaria desired to bring Gujarati and Swahili language together for the benefit of millions of Swahili speaking Gujaratis across the world. It was his pet project and he was working on it in his last days. He had dreamt of releasing this in Nairobi. On the first anniversary of Shri Chandaria’s Amar Jayanti, Gujaratilexicon family released the SwahiliLexicon.

SwahiliLexicon contains the most popular Swahili-Gujarati words in the dictionary mode. The Swahiliexicon is released in both website and mobile application form.

About Swahili Language:

The Swahili language is basically of Bantu (African) origin and the mother tongue of the Swahili people. It has borrowed words from other languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, English and Arabic. The word "Swahili" was used by early Arab visitors to the coast and it means "the coast". Ultimately it came to be applied to the people and the language.

It is spoken by various communities inhabiting the African Great Lakes region and other parts of Southeast Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Swahili serves as a national or official language of four nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also one of the official languages of the African Union. The closely related Comorian language, spoken in the Comoros Islands, is sometimes considered a Swahili dialect.

Although only around five million people speak Swahili as their mother tongue, it is used as a lingua franca in much of Southeast Africa. The total number of Swahili speakers exceeds 140 million.

Words from Other Languages:

It is an undeniable truth that Arab and Persian cultures had the greatest influence on the Swahili culture and the Swahili language. To demonstrate the contribution of each culture into the Swahili language, take an example of the numbers as they are spoken in Swahili. "moja" = one, "mbili" = two, "tatu" = three, "nne" = four, "tano" = five, "nane" = eight, "kumi" = ten, are all of Bantu origin. On the other hand there is "sita" = six, "saba" = seven and "tisa" = nine, that are borrowed from Arabic. The Arabic word "tisa" actually replaced the Bantu word "kenda" for "nine". In some cases the word "kenda" is still used. The Swahili words, "chai" = tea, "achari" = pickle, "serikali" = government, "diwani" = councillor, "sheha" = village councillor, are some of the words borrowed from Persian bearing testimony to the older connections with Persian merchants.

The Swahili language also absorbed words from the Portuguese who controlled the Swahili coastal towns (c. 1500-1700AD). Some of the words that the Swahili language absorbed from the Portuguese include "leso" (handkerchief), "meza" (table), "gereza" (prison), "pesa" ('peso', money), etc. Swahili bull-fighting, still popular on the Pemba island, is also a Portuguese legacy from that period. The Swahili language also borrowed some words from languages of the later colonial powers on the East African coast - English (British) and German. Swahilized English words include "baiskeli" (bicycle), "basi" (bus), "penseli" (pencil), "mashine" (machine), "koti" (coat), etc. The Swahilized German words include "shule" for school and "hela" for a German coin.

Global Spread

For centuries, Swahili remained as the language for the people of the East African coast. Long-time interactions with other people bordering the Indian Ocean spread the Swahili language to distant places such as on the islands of Comoro and Madagascar and even far beyond to South Africa, Oman and United Arab Emirates. Trade and migration from the Swahili coast during the nineteenth-century helped spread the language to the interior of particularly Tanzania. It also reached Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Central African Republic, and Mozambique.

Christian missionaries taught Swahili as the language of communication to spread the Gospel in Eastern Africa. So, the missionaries also helped to spread the language. As a matter of fact the first Swahili-English dictionary was prepared by a missionary. During the colonial time, Swahili was used for communication with the local inhabitants. Hence the colonial administrators pioneered the effort of standardizing the Swahili language. Zanzibar was the epicenter of culture and commerce; therefore colonial administrators selected the dialect of the Zanzibar (Unguja) town as the standard Swahili. The Unguja dialect (Kiunguja) was then used for all formal communication such as in schools, in mass media (newspapers and radio), in books and other publications.

Swahili is the most widely spoken language of eastern Africa and many world institutions have responded to its Diaspora. It is one of the languages that feature in some world radio stations such as, the BBC, Radio Cairo (Egypt), the Voice of America (U.S.A.), Radio Deutschewelle (Germany), Radio Moscow International (Russia), Radio Japan International, Radio China International, Radio Sudan, and Radio South Africa. The Swahili language is also making its presence in the art world - in songs, theatres, movies and television programs.

The promotion of the Swahili language is not only in its use but also deliberate efforts are made throughout the world to include it in education curriculum for higher institutions of learning. It is taught in many parts of the world.

Content source :
http://www.glcom.com/hassan/swahili_history.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swahili_language