Around 5 million people speak Swahili as a native language, and a further 135 million speak is as a second language. The language dates from the contacts of Arabian traders with the inhabitants of the east coast of Africa over many centuries. Under Arab influence, Swahili originated as a lingua franca used by several closely related Bantu-speaking tribal groups.Swahili is a Bantu language spoken in Tanzania, Burundi, Congo (Kinshasa) Kenya, Mayotte, Mozambique, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, UAE and the USA.
Swahili is said to be the easiest African language for an English speaker to learn. It's one of the few sub-Saharan African languages that have no lexical tone, just like in English. It's also much easier to read as you read out Swahili words just the way they are written.
Swahili is spoken by over 100m people in Africa so it's pretty hard to ignore a language that's spoken by so many people. Its importance as a lingua franca is recognised by foreign media organisations such as the BBC, which broadcasts radio programmes in Swahili.
How old is Swahili language?
Approximately 1000 years old, since the great separation of a common eastern Bantu language (Kikuyu, Embu, Kamba, and Mijikenda were part of the common eastern Bantu Branch ). There are the old and New Swahili; Old Swahili was called Kingozi, the native language of the Ngozi (skin wearing) people of Kenya. The new form is just modern Swahili.
Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Native speakers: Estimates range from 2 million (2003) to 15 million (2012); L2 speakers: 90 million (1991–2015)
ISO 639-3: – inclusive code; Individual codes: – Congo Swahili; – Coastal Swahili; – Makwe; – Mwani
Language family: Bantu languages, Niger–Congo languages, Benue–Congo languages
Writing systems: Latin script (Roman Swahili alphabet), Arabic script (Arabic Swahili alphabet)
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