Swahili Struggles


Learning a new language as an adult is an experience and I’m learning a lot through the process! Since I live in a small town on the Tanzanian border, learning Swahili is pretty important. Everyone keeps telling me that it is ‘easy’ and that Swahili has no ‘tricks’ – and this may be true but if you don’t know the rules in the first place, it isn’t very helpful.

Although it is a bit frustrating at times, the process of learning a new language is teaching me so much more than proper greetings or how to buy the correct quantity of fruit without resorting to full body sign language (which has the effect of frightening local sellers by the way). Learning Swahili is teaching me many things – patience, grammar rules…silence but most importantly I am also learning to be a kinder person.

You see, I don’t know how to say mean things or how to use sarcasm in this new-to-me language. Sarcasm does not make much sense with English speakers either since folks are much too kind and genuine for all of that nonsense. And so, as it takes longer to put thoughts and words in any sort of order – I find myself saying – welcome, how are you, i miss you, you are so kind and thank you in almost every situation. These 5 phrases are working pretty well so far. At any rate, they are useful when making friends  🙂


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