A shortening of -shika miguu ya ("to fall at one's feet").
1) Used by an inferior to greet a superior.
From Wiktionary: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shikamoo
Hello to an older person or authority figure.
Shikamoo (shee-kah-moh) (response: Marahaba). Some people frown on the use of Shikamoo because it started out as a servant's greeting to his/her master.
From Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Swahili_phrasebook
It's typically used as a sign of respect, meaning 'I hold your feet' (signifying that you are beneath them). Marahaba as a response means 'You are welcome to'.
Another sign of respect is to hold your right elbow with your left hand when shaking the hand of an older person/authority figure.
No problem! We're all learning this together, so I appreciate the information you add as well. Sometimes that little bit of background knowledge helps you to understand the culture/language more.
The first time I got this wrong with "Welcome mother", the correct translation given was "Hello mother". This time, understanding the respect implicit in this greeting I typed "I greet you with respect mother" and was given "I respect you mother" as the correct translation.
My question: would you ever use this phrase in the middle of a conversation to show repect or is it only ever used as a greeting?
It is a greeting, so could be used if another elder woman joins the conversation (only example I can think of where it would be used within).
I am American and I call my mama, mama! I do not call her mom. So mama should be accepted.
I use mum (never the Amenrican mom) but that is not accepted either. I now always type "mother" which I have never used to address my mum!
It is not only your mother; women old enough to have children can be addressed "mama" commonly; I used to be addressed as "dada"; young men as "kaka" and men as old as your father "baba" (same goes for "bibi"/"nyanya" in Kenya and "babu" or "mzee" ). They do not have to be related to you or even known previously.
Shikamoo is not as stated. Shikamoo is a greeting of any Time. The Response is Marahaba mwanagu... Meaning it is well my son
Nobody stated it was only a greeting of a specific time? (I didn't see it) Thanks for adding the response! :)
Somtimes waiters and serving staff will hand things to you in the manner David mentions also (holding elbow with opposite hand). I wasn't sure of its meaning until now. I thought it might be submisive gesture - for example if you are being handeda knife, to signal good intention.
It is respectful - you can remember it as "I don't have evil intentions, hiding anything (like a weapon) behind my back with the other hand."
Marahaba is generally only used for people older than you (or very senior). It carries a lot of cultural baggage and some Tanzanians don't like using because of the extemely submissive connotation
Its shikamo not shikamoo. And its only used to say hello to elders not to those in your peer groups.
Yes, only for people older than you. However, it IS "shikamoo" with two 'o', otherwise the stress would be wrong - Swahili stress is always on the second-to-last-syllable.
Duolingo rejected both “I respect you, mother” (because of the comma ?!) and “I respect you mama” (come on, “mama” is more common in English speech than “mother” — and in other lessons “mama” and “mother” are interchangeable).
That’s just silly.