Author Topic: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili  (Read 8591 times)

Franco Pepe Kalle

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Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« on: August 01, 2013, 12:58:44 am »
We have a great language but unfortunately done so differently.

We have the great language Swahili but they are two versions.

Congo Swahili

vs

East African Swahili

It sucks to have two versions because people tend to favor one over the other when they are both swahili. But unfortunate people like to at the differences instead what is similar. With East African Swahili, you tend to have arabic accent into words (like MIMI). With Congo Swahili, you tend to have a more french accent into words (like MIYE). See Mimi and Miye are both swhaili words for I with Mimi being arabic version while Miye being the french version. Or with money, fedha (arabic version of Money) whilie falanga (being french version of money).

This may explain the disconnection between Congo Swahili speakers and East African speakers. I know this because my parents are from the East Congo where Swahili tends to be spoken with French unlike West Congo where Lingala tends to be more spoken. I remember I asked my dad about going to Tanzania and he said it was a nightmare. Why? Because their "SWAHILI". He said the Swahili spoken in Tanzania to him was so damn rubbish. I am going why? Because he says it sounds too Arabic. How ironic. I go to a church where my pastor is a Kenyan and speak East African Swahili. I asked him about what he thinks of Congo Swahili. He says almost the same thing by saying that is too french and too arrogant sounding.

Well I am learning Swahili and I am loving speaking it because doing briefly is fun and I am getting better with short sentences with words I know well. I am not there with Swahili but I have made great improvements. But my mom is livid because she says it sound too EAST AFRICAN like but I am like I am also going on the Congo Swahili version. I told her give me some Swahili words that is only used in Congo and there probably many. Who knows. More importantly, my grandma has said that she wants me to know Swahili since she is poor in French and I am also learning and made even greater improvements (but I have long ways to go but I am getting there).

For me personally I am saying that I favor both versions because they are not as different as many East African and Congolese want you to believe. Yes they are different but I hear them use some very familiar pessages and words like Shetani (satan), Nzuri (good), Nakupena (I love you), and Mungu (God). I want to speak both because I can speak one Swahili version in Congo but also be able to speak another in East Africa (ie Tanzania).

Forget about me, if you guys had to learn which you prefer? East African version or Congo version.

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newfan

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2013, 09:33:49 am »
I've always been told that the purest form of Swahili is from Tanzania, plus it is the national language there.
But I suppose it is adaptable, like any language, so nobody should be making value judgments comparing one block of speakers with another. It's just a regional difference with different influences.   

Douglas

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2013, 10:26:15 am »
I've always been told that the purest form of Swahili is from Tanzania, plus it is the national language there.
But I suppose it is adaptable, like any language, so nobody should be making value judgments comparing one block of speakers with another. It's just a regional difference with different influences.   
Whenever you talk about the "purest" form of a language it implies that one dialect is superior to other dialects when, in fact, all dialects of the same language should be equal.  Most places, someone or some government has declared a particular dialect to be the "Standard".  For Swahili, the Zanzibar town dialect was declared the Standard in colonial times but it just as easily could have been the Mombasa dialect, Lamu, or some other coastal town.  The standard dialect for Tanzania is what's spoken in Dar es Salaam now.  But, of course, even that changes with time. 
Congolese Swahili is a full dialect that has considerable differences from the Tanzanian Standard but when I was in Kinshasa, I found people from the East I could talk with easily even though I learned the Zanzibar dialect in school.  And when Papa Wemba came to my hometown, Seattle, I had a nice conversation with him in Swahili.  (I don't know where he learned his Swahili.)

Alli

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 01:30:10 pm »
 Papa Wemba is Kasai.  then he would have grownup in the Kasai Oriental where he was born Memoy escapes me where .. He would speak Thsiluba along with Swahili that was  widely spoken in these areas including Katanga or formerly known as Shaba Province. IN Lubumbashi it is not often that Lingala is spoken unless you are visiting from Kinshasa otherwise the local languages are spoken Keep in mind that at one point Swahili was going to be the main language spoken in most African countries in the vicinity. A lot of trading is done and the railway line from Dar es Salaam Tanzania  travels to Zambia.  In Kitwe  and Kasembulesa border Swahili is also widely spoken even by many Zambians. It is not a difficult language to pick up. I do agree that Zanzibari Swahili is  ( I know purer is not the correct word) perhaps distinct would better describe it. than lets say Mombasa and especially Kenya as a whole Kenya has so many other languages and dialects and the more "distinct " form of the language is not as prevelany also a lot of slang thrown in the mix. There is a vast difference from Tanzania & Kenya Swahili

Franco Pepe Kalle

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2013, 05:47:21 pm »
Thank you guys for this discussion. It is controversial but worth speaking about.

Newfan, I heard the exact thing. Some people (well many) say to me that East African Swahili is better Swahili version than Congo Swahili. But there are those who said to me that Congo Swahili is pure Swahili not some bs Swahili.

In addition, Papa Wemba is a tetela person and knows the tetela dialect as well as Tshiluba. I think Wemba knows English, French, Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba, and Tetela dialect. About Six Languages. That is very impressive.

I think the difference the Tanzanian Swahili and Kenyan Swahili is that Tanzanian Swahili is more Arabic than Kenyan Swahili. Tanzania Swahili has more Arabic sounding words as opposed to Tanzania Swahili.

It is true that Tanzanian Swahili, Kenyan Swahili, and Congo Swahili are very different. I just don't like when people that British English, American English, and Canadian English are so different. That is further from the truth. I went to Canada once, dude it was so easy for me to speak English with that person. Although they are different but most words are the same. I mean come on, especially swear words are the same and many phrases are the same (I mean almost every known phrases). If I moved to Great Britian or Canada, I would be fine. However it is different with Swahili language. It would be tough for a Kenyan to live in Tanzania or East Congo because the Swahili is very different from where they were from in a given area of Swahili speaking area.

Alli

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2013, 10:52:37 am »
Thank you guys for this discussion. It is controversial but worth speaking about.

Newfan, I heard the exact thing. Some people (well many) say to me that East African Swahili is better Swahili version than Congo Swahili. But there are those who said to me that Congo Swahili is pure Swahili not some bs Swahili.

In addition, Papa Wemba is a tetela person and knows the tetela dialect as well as Tshiluba. I think Wemba knows English, French, Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba, and Tetela dialect. About Six Languages. That is very impressive.

I think the difference the Tanzanian Swahili and Kenyan Swahili is that Tanzanian Swahili is more Arabic than Kenyan Swahili. Tanzania Swahili has more Arabic sounding words as opposed to Tanzania Swahili.

It is true that Tanzanian Swahili, Kenyan Swahili, and Congo Swahili are very different. I just don't like when people that British English, American English, and Canadian English are so different. That is further from the truth. I went to Canada once, dude it was so easy for me to speak English with that person. Although they are different but most words are the same. I mean come on, especially swear words are the same and many phrases are the same (I mean almost every known phrases). If I moved to Great Britian or Canada, I would be fine. However it is different with Swahili language. It would be tough for a Kenyan to live in Tanzania or East Congo because the Swahili is very different from where they were from in a given area of Swahili speaking area.

I have no idea who would have told you Congo swahili was purer I don't think so because even though Swahili was/is more of a Coastal language it is still one of the main languages in Congo. but used in a certain area more  i would also believe that in the most predominant area it is spoken in the Katanga region it remains  there because as i previously mentioned the rail routes fro Tanzania to Zambia.  Burundi, Rwanda Uganda also  have Swahili But as far as it being different or harder I would disagree I had no problem  understanding. however with  Kenya there is a lot of slang that is mixed with the language  Kind of a English-Swahili mix i find it a little more difficult to understand. However if you are from TZ or Kenya  the similarities are so similar you don't notice. When I moved to Congo  I was actually surprised that Swahili was in fact the main language.

As far as Canada Canadian English is the same as British English. we use the same spelling our language is the same the only main difference is from US to Canadian  we have the "U" in our words as in labour  you spell labor we spell neighbour yours is neighbor.. unless you were in Quebec didn't understand French then you may have difficulty but regular day to day it's the same.

Yovo

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2013, 04:27:49 pm »
Quote
I just don't like when people that British English, American English, and Canadian English are so different. That is further from the truth. I went to Canada once, dude it was so easy for me to speak English with that person. Although they are different but most words are the same. I mean come on, especially swear words are the same and many phrases are the same (I mean almost every known phrases). If I moved to Great Britian or Canada, I would be fine.

I'm sure you would be fine. But there are places and regions in Britain where you wouldn't be able to understand anyone unless they'd made an effort. Try to speak with a Cockney Londoner or a Scotsman or someone from anywhere in rural England, those folks who don't pronounce their h's and t's...

CARLOS

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 01:13:31 pm »
There is only ONE KISWAHILI....and that is from Tanzania.

Douglas

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2014, 11:53:50 am »
There is only ONE KISWAHILI....and that is from Tanzania.
Sorry, I have to disagree with this.  Swahili is a language that originated on the East African coast and spread inland through the trade routes and later through institutions like the army, the police, and Christian missions and their schools.  On the coast, all dialects of Swahili were / are equally rich and valid among those who learned the language as a mother tongue.  It is true that the Zanzibar dialect got chosen as the official Swahili for the purpose of Standardization, but that in no way makes the other dialects inferior in a linguistic sense.  It may result in lowered status for the other dialects however.  If Swahili is a person's second or third language (or more) which can be the case up country away from the coast, the up country "Kenyan" Swahili will likely vary from the Standard version quite a bit.  In Tanzania, where a lot more emphasis was placed on learning the Standard version of Swahili, people actually DO know the Standard version better.  In this sense, Tanzanians may know Swahili better but along the coast among mother tongue speakers, one dialect is no better than another except in perceived status.  Congolese Swahili as a first language, may be quite different in pronunciation and vocabulary than the coastal dialects but is equally valid as a dialect of Swahili. 

Franco Pepe Kalle

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2014, 05:58:58 pm »
There is only ONE KISWAHILI....and that is from Tanzania.
Sorry, I have to disagree with this.  Swahili is a language that originated on the East African coast and spread inland through the trade routes and later through institutions like the army, the police, and Christian missions and their schools.  On the coast, all dialects of Swahili were / are equally rich and valid among those who learned the language as a mother tongue.  It is true that the Zanzibar dialect got chosen as the official Swahili for the purpose of Standardization, but that in no way makes the other dialects inferior in a linguistic sense.  It may result in lowered status for the other dialects however.  If Swahili is a person's second or third language (or more) which can be the case up country away from the coast, the up country "Kenyan" Swahili will likely vary from the Standard version quite a bit.  In Tanzania, where a lot more emphasis was placed on learning the Standard version of Swahili, people actually DO know the Standard version better.  In this sense, Tanzanians may know Swahili better but along the coast among mother tongue speakers, one dialect is no better than another except in perceived status.  Congolese Swahili as a first language, may be quite different in pronunciation and vocabulary than the coastal dialects but is equally valid as a dialect of Swahili. 

The problem with Swahili in East Africa and Congo is the base of the language. In Tanzania and Kenya, the base language there is English. In Congo and Burundi, the base language there is French. This is the biggest thing that kills the communication between East Africans and Congolese people who are English speaking. Accent does not help matters either. However what gives Tanzania advantage is that they focus more in Swahili than oppose to Congo and Kenya. Kenya has other languages that are similiar to Swahili. In Congo as known you have Tshiluba, Lingala, and Kikongo which they have some Swahili words with usual different meaning in English. We need to work hard in the future for Swahili speakers to bridge this gap. Douglas, you are right, it also depends if they have the dialect or not. Carlos, Swahili is not only used in Tanzania but used in Zambia (well smart parts of it), Burundi, Kenya, and DRC Congo.

soukousman

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2014, 11:42:12 pm »
Interesting topic! Thanks for passing on the knowledge, a lot to be learned. I'll have to learn if I want to buy Tanzanian rumba.

newfan

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2014, 11:53:59 am »
Soukousman said:

Quote
if I want to buy Tanzanian rumba

If???

 It's hard for me to believe that somebody so knowledgeable about African music isn't already an expert on Tanzanian music, but if so you have a treat coming.
For starters -- if indeed you have not already long since explored him --  try Mbaraka Mwinshehe -- one of the greatest ever for sure. If only he had lived another decade or so. His very last songs show him reaching a new level of mastery and excellence. 
And then make other discoveries -- when you add this body of music to that of Kenya, you will agree that East African music rivals that of Zaire/Congo.

soukousman

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 07:30:08 pm »
Soukousman said:

Quote
if I want to buy Tanzanian rumba

If???

 It's hard for me to believe that somebody so knowledgeable about African music isn't already an expert on Tanzanian music, but if so you have a treat coming.
For starters -- if indeed you have not already long since explored him --  try Mbaraka Mwinshehe -- one of the greatest ever for sure. If only he had lived another decade or so. His very last songs show him reaching a new level of mastery and excellence. 
And then make other discoveries -- when you add this body of music to that of Kenya, you will agree that East African music rivals that of Zaire/Congo.

The reason is because East African rumba is hard to trace - reason is the lack of resources; the late Remmy Ongala himself stated that. Also don't forget that there weren't any recording studios in Tanzania, and the only source for recording and producing the local music was to acquire a session. I'm already fond of "Musiki wa Dansi" thanks to the veteran musicologists (Tabora Jazz, Mlimani Park, Vijana Jazz, and others of the golden period), even posted some on my channel. Mbaraka was known as the "Tanzanian Franco" due to the similarity of guitar licks, but its quite sad that there are many duplicates of his previous material; Youtuber AboubacarSiddikh said that there are far more material released by him waiting to be discovered.

Kenyan material isn't that difficult to find, luckily we have CDandLP.com. There's plenty of African Music that's just as good as the music from the two Congos, but they tend to be overshadowed.

Alli

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2014, 07:40:56 pm »



There is only ONE KISWAHILI....and that is from Tanzania.
Sorry, I have to disagree with this.  Swahili is a language that originated on the East African coast and spread inland through the trade routes and later through institutions like the army, the police, and Christian missions and their schools.  On the coast, all dialects of Swahili were / are equally rich and valid among those who learned the language as a mother tongue.  It is true that the Zanzibar dialect got chosen as the official Swahili for the purpose of Standardization, but that in no way makes the other dialects inferior in a linguistic sense.  It may result in lowered status for the other dialects however.  If Swahili is a person's second or third language (or more) which can be the case up country away from the coast, the up country "Kenyan" Swahili will likely vary from the Standard version quite a bit.  In Tanzania, where a lot more emphasis was placed on learning the Standard version of Swahili, people actually DO know the Standard version better.  In this sense, Tanzanians may know Swahili better but along the coast among mother tongue speakers, one dialect is no better than another except in perceived status.  Congolese Swahili as a first language, may be quite different in pronunciation and vocabulary than the coastal dialects but is equally valid as a dialect of Swahili. 

The problem with Swahili in East Africa and Congo is the base of the language. In Tanzania and Kenya, the base language there is English. In Congo and Burundi, the base language there is French. This is the biggest thing that kills the communication between East Africans and Congolese people who are English speaking. Accent does not help matters either. However what gives Tanzania advantage is that they focus more in Swahili than oppose to Congo and Kenya. Kenya has other languages that are similiar to Swahili. In Congo as known you have Tshiluba, Lingala, and Kikongo which they have some Swahili words with usual different meaning in English. We need to work hard in the future for Swahili speakers to bridge this gap. Douglas, you are right, it also depends if they have the dialect or not. Carlos, Swahili is not only used in Tanzania but used in Zambia (well smart parts of it), Burundi, Kenya, and DRC Congo.


FPK Please quote your source for the references you post as in the one above..... That is not yours..... the original author should receive credit.......

Franco Pepe Kalle

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Re: Congo Swahili vs East African Swahili
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2014, 06:25:30 pm »



There is only ONE KISWAHILI....and that is from Tanzania.
Sorry, I have to disagree with this.  Swahili is a language that originated on the East African coast and spread inland through the trade routes and later through institutions like the army, the police, and Christian missions and their schools.  On the coast, all dialects of Swahili were / are equally rich and valid among those who learned the language as a mother tongue.  It is true that the Zanzibar dialect got chosen as the official Swahili for the purpose of Standardization, but that in no way makes the other dialects inferior in a linguistic sense.  It may result in lowered status for the other dialects however.  If Swahili is a person's second or third language (or more) which can be the case up country away from the coast, the up country "Kenyan" Swahili will likely vary from the Standard version quite a bit.  In Tanzania, where a lot more emphasis was placed on learning the Standard version of Swahili, people actually DO know the Standard version better.  In this sense, Tanzanians may know Swahili better but along the coast among mother tongue speakers, one dialect is no better than another except in perceived status.  Congolese Swahili as a first language, may be quite different in pronunciation and vocabulary than the coastal dialects but is equally valid as a dialect of Swahili. 

The problem with Swahili in East Africa and Congo is the base of the language. In Tanzania and Kenya, the base language there is English. In Congo and Burundi, the base language there is French. This is the biggest thing that kills the communication between East Africans and Congolese people who are English speaking. Accent does not help matters either. However what gives Tanzania advantage is that they focus more in Swahili than oppose to Congo and Kenya. Kenya has other languages that are similiar to Swahili. In Congo as known you have Tshiluba, Lingala, and Kikongo which they have some Swahili words with usual different meaning in English. We need to work hard in the future for Swahili speakers to bridge this gap. Douglas, you are right, it also depends if they have the dialect or not. Carlos, Swahili is not only used in Tanzania but used in Zambia (well smart parts of it), Burundi, Kenya, and DRC Congo.


FPK Please quote your source for the references you post as in the one above..... That is not yours..... the original author should receive credit.......
Who said my previous statement before. It came just from my own mind.