"Tunafuta chumba."

Translation:We are dusting the room.

February 21, 2017

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I found another strange mnemonic, this time to remember "chumba". I like playing the Sims. What do the sims eat? Pizza! What is the Simlish word for "pizza"? Chumcha! Where do the Sims eat pizza? In their room alone because they have no friends! Chumcha in a room, chumba!


Uuuh... I think the easier (and probably even real origin?) is to remember simple "chamber"? Chamber=room? Just like gari/car, karoti/carrot, sukari/sugar, many Swahili words have this English twist to them.


"Chamber" is a great way to remember it, but its similarity to "chamber" or anything European is completely coincidental. Chumba (room) and nyumba (house) are the same noun root "-umba" (which I guess may be related to the verb root "-umba" meaning "create") with different class prefixes ... something like ni-umba and ki-umba with sound change over time became nyumba and chumba. The KI-VI class is often used for diminutives, so chumba is basically a "small house". Augmentatives ("big") often go in the MA class, so there's:

nyumba = house (N class) (pl same)
chumba = room ("small house", KI-VI class) (pl. vyumba)
jumba = building, mansion, palace ("big house", MA class) (pl. majumba)

The prefixes can double up too.

unyumba = domesticity, marital relations ("house-ness", U class)
kinyumba = household utensil; concubine ("house tool", "house little-one", KI-VI class) (pl. vinyumba)
kichumba = driver's cabin, compartment ("little room", KI-VI class) (plural vichumba)
kijumba = booth, cell, hut, compartment, small house ("very little house", KI-VI class) (plural vijumba)
mchumba = fiancé(e), lover ("room person", M-WA class) (pl wachumba)

Cognates to nyumba are found throughout the Bantu languages, so it's clearly an original Bantu element.


Thanks for the great explanation. I couldn't have said it better. I just want to add a couple of examples of Bantu languages which have cognates to "nyumba"

Bemba (from Zambia) and Chewa (from Malawi) use the word "nyumba" for house and home. Shona ( from Zimbabwe) uses the word "imba" for house. Incidentally , the word zimbabwe has something to do with "nyumba" . Breaking it down gives zi + mba + bwe with zi (augmentative i.e meaning big), mba meaning house, and finally bwe meaning rock/stone. So Zimbabwe actually means "big house of rocks" , a refence to the Great Zimbabwe ruins found in Masvingo Zimbabwe.

Please also note that -bwe is a cognate to the Swahili -we such that the Swahili "mawe" corresponds to the Shona "mabwe"


Whoah, 52 lingots! Thanks, anonymous person!


Asante! Great input.


Wonderful! Where did you find all this? Maybe in Google Books? =)

I would like that diminutives and augmentatives be included in the course. I have still read a little bit about it (I mean without a deep attention) because I would like to practice this firstly with some exercises in Duolingo. Asante sana rafiki!


I can't remember where I first learned about the semantic features of different noun classes - little bits and pieces from all over the place. My brain picks up things here and there to form an understanding of things, but I never remember where it came from, which has its downsides.

In any case, I have a text file of the Kamusi Project dictionary on my computer (copied it from a pdf file) and to find examples, all I had to do was search for "umba (" (the part of speech is in brackets after the headword, so there's always a space and an open bracket after every headword, which is great for finding related nouns with different prefixes and also for finding words that rhyme) and I listed the ones that are obviously related to "house".


Amazing and fascinating, thank you.


By the way, gari is not from English either. It's from Hindi, and the Hindi word is not from English either. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gari#Swahili It's just a coincidence that may help us remember the word a bit quicker, but really, languages have very large vocabularies and it would be really remarkable if there were no coincidental similarities at all. The word for "wet" in Dakota Salish is "nas" ... which sounds exactly like the German word for "wet": "nass". It's not borrowed from German - it's just a coincidence.


I also don't think "sukari" is from English. The word for sugar in Arabic is "sukkar." Arabic didn't take it from English. In this case, it's not a coincidence, the English word for sugar is of Arabic origin (through French, Italian, then Medieval Latin).


fun fact: in the case of sukari it stems from asukar (please noone kill me for not knowing how to spell arabic in neither arabic nor latin alphabet) which means sugar in arabic and is in both cases where the word is most likely to come from. (compare: German: Zucker, French: sucre: Spanish: azucar -> you can literally get closer the further you follow it ^^)

Car might actually come from English As of carrots I don't have the faintest idea who introduced them, could well be arabic in the case of swahili- or not; and no clue for English (maybe it exists in latin? - German and French both have it, that's mainly what English is composed off so... go one step older?)


What about 'sweeping'? 'Dusting a room' would imply meticulously wiping every surface, every piece of furniture, ornament, book, etc, in the room. Sweeping is just cleaning the floor with a broom.


There is a separate word for sweeping, at least on Duolingo. -fagia


How can you tell which definition of kufuta is expected. Why is cleaning or sweeping the room wrong?

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