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Oriental influences in Kiswahili

Participant Abdulaziz Y. Lodhi (Uppsala University)

Linking historical and linguistic sources, starting with a background survey of Swahili lexicon of Oriental origin, theories of language and culture contact and a history of such contacts in the Western Indian Ocean, this study attempts at presenting a description of Oriental influences in Eastern Africa.

The first part (Ch. 1-6) deals with the historical background of the Oriental contributors in East Africa (i.e. Arabians, Iranians, Indians, Turks, Indonesians and Chinese in descending order of importance). The study of Arabic linguistic elements is limited to an in-depth description of Arabic grammatical and structural loans in Swahili, which is followed by a sociological description of Persian and Indian speakers in East Africa and their influences in Swahili. A description of culinary influences from the Oriental contacts and a phonological analysis of Indic items concludes this part.

The second part (Ch. 7) consists of a cumulative, updated and annotated list of Persian, Indian, Turkish, Indonesian and Chinese loanwords in Swahili, with suggested alternative etymologies where necessary. This list includes a number of previously unidentified Oriental loans, corrected or additional definitions, and relevant linguistic or historical discussions.

The main conclusions drawn from the present study are:

  1. that Oriental loans in Swahili are not satisfactorily documented, and further research may be needed to assess their currency in the modern usage;
  2. that contrary to earlier assumtions, Persian and Indic loans in Swahili occur also as verbs, adjectives and adverbs;
  3. that Oriental elements are of high frequency and are found in all areas of activity;
  4. that Swahili culture is an Afro-Oriental member of the North-Western Indian Ocean civilization at large.

Project-related publications, papers and reports

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y., Tommy Otterbrandt & Sigvard von Sicard. 1973. Kortfattad swahili-svensk ordbok. (A short Swahili-Swedish dictionary.) Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Pp 340.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1974. Jifunze kusema: Kiswahili. Uppsala: NAI. Pp 187. (5th edition. 1990. Pp 166.)

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. & Mohamed Y. Lodhi. 1974. Majina ya Kiswahili. (A study in Swahili onomastics.) Daressalaam: East African Literature Bureau & Institute of Kiswahili Research. Pp 40.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 197-. The institution of slavery in Zanzibar & Pemba. Research report no 16. Uppsala: NAI. Pp 48.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 197-. Language and cultural unity in Tanzania. In: Kiswahili, vol 44(2), pp 10-14. Daressalaam: Institute of Kiswahili Research.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. & Tommy Otterbrandt. 1978. Kortfattad svensk-swahili ordbok. (A short Swedish-Swahili dictionary.) Uppsala: NAI. Pp 114.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y., Annette Rydström, Gunnar Rydström & Benkt Öberg. 1979. A small book on Zanzibar. Stockholm: Writers' Bookmachine. Pp 166.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y., Annette Rydström, Gunnar Rydström & Benkt Öberg. 197-. En liten bok om Zanzibar. (Swedish edition of the above.) Stockholm: Writers' Bookmachine. Pp 175.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. & Tommy Otterbrandt. 197-. Kordfattad swahili-svensk ordbok. (A short Swahili-Swedish dictionary.) Revised edition. Uppsala: NAI. Pp 195.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. & L. Kalugila. 197-. Methali zaidi za Kiswahili. (More Swahili proverbs.). Uppsala: NAI. Pp 107.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1981. Book review: 'Spoken Swahili' by Anthony Vitale. In: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, vol 3, pp 198-199. Leiden.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1981. Swahili kokkonst. In: Habari, no 2, pp 10-11. Stockholm.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1982. A preliminary analysis of Indic lexical elements in Swahili (Part 1). In: Lugha, vol 2, pp 65-69. Uppsala.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1982. Some notes on Swahili cookery and food culture. In: Lugha, vol 2, pp 77-80. Uppsala.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1984. A preliminary analysis of the Indic lexical elements in Swahili (Part 2). In: Lugha, vol 3, pp 77-90. Uppsala.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. & Lars Ahrenberg. 1985. Swahililitteratur - en kort šversikt. (Swahili literature: a short overview.) In: Nytt från Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, no 16, pp 18-21. Uppsala. (Reprinted in Habari, vol 18(3), 198-.)

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1986. The Arabs in Zanzibar: from sultanate to peoples' republic. In: Jimma, vol 7(2), pp 404-418. Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, London.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1984/1986. The status of Arabic in East Africa. In: On the dignity of man (Oriental & classical studies in honour of Frithiof Rundgren), Orientalia suecana, vols 33-35, pp 257-262. Uppsala University.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1992. National language, culture and identity: the role of Kiswahili in the context of Zanzibar. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on the History and Culture of Zanzibar, 14-16 December 1992, Zanzibar.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1993. Liyongo's navel: an epic on Swahili cosmogony and the hero legend. Uppsala. Pp 68.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1994. Verbal extensions in Bantu: the case of Swahili and Nyamwezi. Uppsala. Pp 21.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 1994. Arabic grammatical loans in the languages of eastern Africa. In: Working papers in linguistics, no 22, pp 60-74. Dept of Linguistics, Trondheim University, Norway.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 2000. A note on the Baloch in East Africa. In: Language in society: eight sociolinguistic essays on Balochi, Studia iranica upsaliensia, no 3, pp 91-95. Edited by Carina Jahani. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 2000. Oriental influences in Swahili: a study in language and culture contacts (= PhD dissertation). Orientalia et africana gothoburgensia, no 15. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. ISSN 1404-3556; ISBN 91-7346-377-9. Pp xiii, 257.

  1. Introduction, 1
  2. Theoretical issues and dynamics of borrowing, 25
  3. Loanwords in Swahili, 33
  4. Historical, linguistic and cultural background of Orientals in eastern Africa, 49
  5. Arabic loans in Swahili, 91
  6. Indic loans in Swahili, 123
  7. List of Oriental loans (other than Arabic) in Swahili, 131
  8. Summary and conclusions, 227

References, 233
Maps, 254

Distributors & Orders
Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis
Box 222
SE-40530 Göteborg

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 2000. Arabic loans in Swahili. In: Orientalia suecana, no 49, pp 71-81. Uppsala.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. Forthcoming. Language and culture contacts in the western Indian Ocean corridor: the case of Swahili. In: Proceedings of the Conference on The Northwestern Indian Ocean as Cultural Corridor, 17-19 January 1997. Dept. of Social Anthropology, Stockholm, 1998. 10 pp.

Sidansvarig: Annika Andersson|Sidan uppdaterades: 2010-09-14

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