Wiktionary talk:About Swahili

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Categories by noun class[edit]

Should we categorise nouns by noun class, e.g. Category:Swahili m-wa class nouns? —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 18:44, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

  • If I ever get around to studying Swahili, that sounds like the kind of additional information I would appreciate as a learner. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 19:01, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
    The information's already there, the question is whether we want a list of such entries in a category. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:35, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
    • Sorry, I should have been clearer -- I think that having the category itself would be useful. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 21:15, 25 July 2013 (UTC)


There is also {{sw-decl-sg}} (singular forms only) and {{sw-decl-pl}} (plural forms only), but perhaps these should be merged? Or would the template logic get too hairy? There should be a way to suppress certain forms at will, but I can't find an elegant way to do that. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 18:44, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

How about an optional parmeter |sing=1 or |sing=true generating singular-only table, and |pl=1 or |pl=true generating plural-only table, and by default (if none of these optional parameters are provided) both singular and plural are shown. Some languages have special templates for singularia and pluralia tantum, and some prefer a single template with optional parameters.
And how to optionally generate wiki table layout? Well one way is obviously by using Lua with its string concatenation facilities. But before that I used the method of transcluding subpages so that those |s for specifying layout don't interfere with |s of then- and else-clauses of the template language conditionals. For an example, see how {{sh-conj}} invokes {{sh-conj/aor}} depending on the existence of parameter {{{a.1s}}}, propagating all of the optional parameters. I don't know if there is any other simpler way.
And of course, the simplest alternative is to always show two columns, with the ones not used having - shown in rows. --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 01:01, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, I am technically able to do that, but the code is looking messy (see for yourself) and I just don't feel like complicating it. Even doing is a pain, and requires clothing every line in an #if. Especially because there are levels of animacy which I don't fully understand yet and am therefore not touching, but they'll need to generate a table missing certain rows (unlike this problem, which is leaving out a certain column). I guess I'll just go the easy way out unless you feel like messing with it yourself :) —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 04:42, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
Nah, I think I'll pass because I don't really know anything about Swahili... --Ivan Štambuk (talk) 07:36, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Animacy usage note[edit]

Swahili has an animacy marking system that unfortunately clashes with its noun class system. The problem is that all animate nouns (Swahili considers only people and animals to be animate) take the concords of the m-wa class (well, with an exception to the exception for animals modified by plural possessive adjectives) no matter what class the noun is really in. This seems to be good fodder for a couple of usage note templates, one for animals and one for people. However, it may be hard to add them to existing entries; a bot can use the topic categories, but it'll miss some. Is it still worth it? —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 18:44, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

  • By is it worth it, do you mean "is it worth having this information in Swahili entries"? If so, I'd say "yes", again from a potential learner's perspective. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 19:01, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Impoverished varieties[edit]

If I could track down enough information about all the impoverished varieties (KiVita, etc), I'd provide a sample of how the same thing would be expressed / inflected differently from dialect to dialect. At the moment, however, all I can find are random texts which I'll store here, including this KiHindi one from Whiteley (1969), quoted in Pidgins and Creoles: Volume 2, Reference Survey:

  • Pipili gapi wewe tia? Ni-me-tia kumi, bwana! Sababu ki-dogo hii namna? Nam m-ambia? Kan-ambia bibi!
  • Peppers how many you put? I-have-put ten sir! Reason PRF-small these sort? Who PRF-tell? PRF-tell wife!
  • Nani bibi bele yangu? Bibi ku-pa mu-sahara wewe? Tia ishrini saidi, mara ya pili mimi fukuzu wewe!
  • Who (is) wife over me? Wife INF-give PRF-money you? Put twenty more, time of next I dismiss you!

- -sche (discuss) 04:26, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for your edits. There are very few words in there that wouldn't be covered by Standard Swahili entries; I tried searching for one of them (saidi, which in Standard Swahili is zaidi), but I got too much interference from the name/title Saidi to tell if it's citeable. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 04:33, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, amusingly, even when searching with Swahili words that (roughly) limit the results to Swahili texts, the name crowds it out. Oh well, ha. Btw, in trying to find an example of KiVita, I came across this comment by Edgar C. Polomé (in his 1967 Swahili language handbook, page 26): "The differences between the local variants of these dialects are less considerable than one would expect: as the contact vernacular is characterized by oversimplification of the morphological and syntactic patterns, there is a close correspondance in the lines along which this process affects the language, and divergent development is due mainly to various influences of the local vernaculars. Such an influence is especially perceptible in the reshaping of the phonological and phonemic system and often, to a lesser degree, in the re-Bantuization of the vocabulary, when Arabic loans which are not readily understood inland are replaced by borrowings from the Bantu languages of the area. This is especially noticeable in the areas where coastal Swahili is not currently taught in the schools nor widely used by the administration[.]" I take that to mean the different impoverished varieties may all arrive at the same simplified sentences in many cases (just with different loanwords or un-loanwords, i.e. Bantu substitutions for Arabic loanwords). - -sche (discuss) 20:43, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

RFM discussion: December 2015–February 2016[edit]


The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for moves, mergers and splits (permalink).

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.

Renaming or merging sta

Settler Swahili (known as Kisetla in Swahili) is one of the "morphosyntactically impoverished varieties" (to quote Mufwene's description) of Standard Swahili formerly spoken by white colonists in East Africa in order to conduct basic communication with the locals. Although somewhat pidginised, I think it can be considered a divergent and once dynamic part of Swahili (sw) rather than a truly separate language (and all the other so-called Swahili-based pidgins, like KiKAR, lack an ISO code altogether). If we do decide to keep it separate, however, it should certainly be renamed from its current "Kisettla" (sic) to "Settler Swahili", the more neutral name that Wikipedia uses as well. @-sche, if you're interested —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:10, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

Goodness, there do seem to have been a lot of 'impoverished' varieties of Swahili. Abdulaziz Lodhi calls Kisetla / Settler Swahili / Kitchen Swahili a "social dialect" and compares it to Kibabu or Asian Swahili, a "broken" Swahili used by Kenyan and Ugandan Asians (he also mentions Cutchi-Swahili, a Cutchi-based Swahili creole). Harold Nelson additionally mentions Kihindi or Indian Swahili and Kishamba or Field Swahili as other dialects; someone else mentions Kimanga or Arab Swahili. Thomas Albert Sebeok calls Kisetla a "pidginized form", along with Kivita or Army Swahili (why does the army have its own Swahili?). A 1944 Geographical Magazine article calls it "a less grammatical dialect [...] which is easy to learn". At least one publication, the East African Standard, is said to have used a "happy medium between high-falutin' Swahili and Ki-Settler Swahili"!
Joseph Muthiani (as part of rejecting the idea that Kisetla is just or originated as babytalk) writes that "Kisetla was formed by [adult] European settlers as a functional communication tool. [...] Anyone who can speak 'standard Swahili' could use [the reduced] rules [that Kisetla used] and produce perfect Kisetla." He gives some examples, e.g. for the present tense he says "just use the verb stem": yeye fanya kazi sana instead of yeye anafanya "he works hard" and karibu fika instead of karibu kufika "almost arriving", likewise for simple subjunctives: kwenda pika chakula instead of kwenda ukapike chakula "go and cook food"; for negatives use "no" + the verb stem: hapana simama hapa for usisimame hapa "don't stand here"; ... in general it seems to involve using verb stems rather than more complex things. (Another example: "A terrible business. Shouri baya sana." "Shouri ya Mungu, memsahib kidogo." "Don't talk to me about God's business, Kamau.") Hence, even though on a practical level merging the dialects into Swahili (a WT:WDL) would likely have the effect of excluding them, it seems like people might still be able to figure out dialectal texts based on our (standard) Swahili content. (Also, a few Kisetla words / phrases might meet WDL CFI and still be includable even as ==Swahili==.)
I agree that it should be renamed if kept. I am not sure if it should be merged or kept separate. On the one hand, the fact that it seems to have rules suggests it could be considered its own thing. On the other hand, the comparison to babytalk (adults using less complex grammar to speak to children) and the fact that other varieties like Kihindi don't have codes, suggests that it could be merged.
- -sche (discuss) 23:02, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
@-sche: Well, firstly I really appreciate your scholarship on this issue, and your continued attention to the many language issues we have. Your findings support my opinion above that it ought to be merged into sw and that we would lose little or no coverage by doing so. (Some of what we lose is oddly transcribed material by non-native speakers that's lost anyway, as a product of nonstandard ad hoc spellings like shouri for standard shauri in your quote above, or use of <c> or <ck> in place of standard <k>.) I'm not sure if anyone else cares enough about this to comment, though — @Angr, perhaps? —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 01:25, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
Me? I don't know anything about this. From -sche's description, I'm inclined to merge it, but there are sure to be more facts that I'm unaware of. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 08:22, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
Does anyone still speak it? It seems like the differences in verb conjugation could be covered in a short appendix (maybe I'll write one). And any unique vocabulary words that aren't attested three times are probably not important enough to include outside of another appendix like the ones we have for English nonces and such (although words that are attested three times but in different spellings will constitute annoying edge cases, as they always have). So, let's merge it. - -sche (discuss) 03:17, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Merged. We don't seem to have had any entries or translations in the language that would have needed updating. - -sche (discuss) 20:32, 1 February 2016 (UTC)