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  5. "Habari ya asubuhi?"

"Habari ya asubuhi?"

Translation:How is your morning?

February 21, 2017



We must accept that other languages are not word-for-word swap-outs. Here's a chance to glimpse into the poetry of another culture. Yes, it will be strange and sometimes difficult to grasp but it's worth it.


I am confused -- I learned "Habari za asubuhi?" from a book of mine. Is this a matter of dialectal variation, or maybe colloquial vs. standard?


I will attempt to explain but before I do that I must give a disclaimer that I have only started learning Swahili yesterday. That being said, I am a native speaker of one of the Bantu languages and speak several of them. So , many concepts are similar. Having said that, here is my attempt to make things clearer; "Habari ya asubuhi ?" literally means "News of morning ?" , which you can correctly guess to mean "How is your morning? " or better still, "Good morning" "Habari za asubuhi ?" also literally means "News of morning ?" What?! Wait a minute! So what is this "ya" vs "za" thing ? Simple answer: ya = "of" singular za = "of" plural How? But I thought news was uncountable? Yes it is uncountable in English but you can count it like "a piece of news", "three news items" It is this type of "counting" that is implied by the Swahili "Habari za asubuhi ?"

It may also help to think about news not as news but stories, in which case you can either have one story or many stories. I hope this helps to clear up some doubts.


Asante sana, ndugu! Which Bantu languages do you know, might I ask?


You are welcome. I don't want to scare you or the world here by the number :) .

Edit: It seems some people didn't like my initial joke about scaring frankk1m with the number so let me try to explain.

Ndau : native fluency, Shona: native fluency, Ndebele: native fluency, Zulu: speaking in Ndebele but understand Zulu well (90% plus) , Xhosa: can understand some basics(need a teacher), Nyanya/Bemba: learnt it a long time ago (need a partner to practice), Kinyarwanda/Kirundi: very limited. Trying to teach myself from YouTube music videos. I will appreciate native speakers' help. , Swahili: picking it up pretty fast.

I really don't think that this list is impressive at all because I am practically only fluent in 3 languages. I know a lot of my South African friends who fluent in 6 languages.

I really love learning languages. So if any of you guys here are native speakers of any of those languages I would be honoured to be connected with you. Even if you don't speak any of those languages I would still want to know something about your language. Thanks in advance.


I want to be scared!


I have updated my post so you can refer to it.


I just noticed that you're from Papua New Guinea! If you're still around, could I get your feedback on a basic course on Hiri Motu that I made on Memrise a couple months ago?


Hi ngwarai! I am a native speaker of Kirundi :)


Thanks! I hope to learn Kirundi from you. I have added you as a friend.


I lived in Zimbabwe and had some Shona lessons and I can see the connections with Kiswahili!


I have a friend who is fluent in English and Swahili if you want he can do video calls with you!


Really impressive, ngwarai! I only wonder if learning so many closely related languages confuses you or/and your multilingual friends? It was a challenge for me when I was trying to deal with Spanish and Italian at once.


Learning closely related languages at the same time can be confusing. That's why you need to reach a certain level before attacking a new language. At least that's the case with me. I would say, finish all the grammar topics before you start a very closely related language. If the languages are totally different, you can attack them at the same time. Good candidates would be learning Japanese and Ukrainian. But avoid learning Ukrainian and Russian or in your case Italian and Spanish at the same time, for example.


I would love to learn Ndebele, I know some Shona as well!


I will be happy to teach you Ndebele


that's really interesting, I'm a native speaker of Arabic, and I'm learning Indonesian too.


Bassant_Gamal, i speak some Arabic and a lot more Farsi, and i have noticed A LOT of the Swahili words are loan words and/or very similar to Arabic and Farsi. Have you noticed this too? Even in this lesson, we have asabahi, so close to the Arabic! I find it fascinating.


Wow! Where did you learn those languages?


I mainly learn by interaction with native speakers and then use other available resources or media as much as possible; that is, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, brochures, sign posts etc. In short, I use anything and everything I can.


Mamma mia!! In which language you think and dream?


Sawubona, Ngwarai. UmZulu here....


Ngwarai, your English is very impressive as well! I heard recently that in other parts of the world it is not impressive to "only" know one or two other languages, whereas in the US, people are impressed if you're fluent in two. Of course, Americans as a whole are a rather ignorant bunch, soooo... (As an American, I can say this from personal experience.)


You say ya when your not sayi g a persons name and za when you put a persons name in the sentence


Thank you for that information.


In this case, I believe the use of ya or za with Habari depends on the country. Ya /za should agree with the preceding noun in this case habari (news). Habari is an N class noun. Therefore, za should be used grammatically speaking since ya is for singular N class nouns and za is for plurals.

However, in Kenya, this rule is not followed. In Kenya, they say habari ya jioni, mchana, asubuhi, etc. I am told that in Tanzania the grammatically correct za is used. But, if you use za in Kenya they will understand what you mean. You will just sound like a tourist, which is fine.

Some people explain that za is used for general politeness and ya is used when you really want to know what's going on. See website below. http://www.learnswahili.net/swahilicourse/learnswahilicourse_lesson2.html

And, perhaps this is why even Duolingo uses ya and za at different times. What is the news of the day? (General) vs. What's your news of the day. (Personal)

So maybe Kenyans choose to be less formal and that's why it is commonly used in Kenya. I don't know. I just know Kenyans say Ya even though it should be za if you are following the rule.

One disclaimer: It could also depend on where in Kenya. I stayed primarily in Nairobi where most of my friends live or work.


Asante sana! Nice clarification that explains that Swahili is not always as straight forward as some people suggest. Just like any language...


Thanks! I'm not an expert. But this is what I understand from Kenyan friends and researching online.

You are right about languages. There are always local nuances.


Thanks for this insight into Kenyan usage. Does this happen in other contexts? Does Kenyan Swahili maybe have a simplified noun class system?


Congolese Swahili definitely has a simplified noun class system. In Kenya you can find a big difference between the Nairobi variety, and the coastal variety. As in all capital cities in Africa (and other countries around the world where different languages and/or dialects are spoken in a country) the Nairobi version is really a blend of the language spoken throughout the country, and a special variety called Sheng exists, which is a mix of English and Swahili. The coastal Swahili would be very similar to the rest of coastal Swahili from South Somalia down to Northern Mozambique, aka Kiswahili sanifu - the standard / clean Swahili. Both Tanzania and Kenya have Swahili as (among their) national language(s), it being taught in school.


Thanks for the information, mamanura. How does the Congolese Swahili noun-class system work?


Hi frankk1m, I'm not sure about it. I've heard people say bato mingi instead of watu wengi. Possibly they only use mingi and not differentiate between wengi, mengi, vyingi, nyingi/zingi.


A friend of mine from Tanzania says he would only use "habari ya...", never "za". He's from the capital.


yeah, I also had "habari za asubuhi" just before "habari ya asubuhi" in the course and it says it means "how is your morning?"; I don't know the difference


asubuhi is a class 9 noun, and the ya/za is actually the root -a (meaning 'of') with y-, z- etc being added depending on which noun class you're talking about. So ya is used because y- is for noun classes 4,6 and 9. za is used for class 10 nouns, which is the plural of class 9 nouns. That's why you see both and both can be correct. Does that make sense?


how many classes of noun are there in Swahili? so is it like Article or what? what is the use of these classes?


there was originally 18 noun classes, but now there are only 15. Most of them are also paired, with one being the singular and the other plural form e.g. mtu (person) is class 1 and watu (people) is class 2. So I guess the 'use' of these noun classes is to mark singular or plural, and to tell you which prefix you need to add to possessives, determiners, adjective, verbs etc. so that they agree with the noun (because they have to grammatically agree).

Ya/za is not an article, it's called an associative. They're used to describe a type of possession ‘X of X’. So 'Habari ya/za asubuhi' means 'news of (the) morning'. This associative has to agree with the noun it's talking about, and it does so by adding the appropriate prefix (y- or z-) to the root -a.


Nice one: only 15 :)


So, already in this lesson set we have been told that this sentence is the equivilant of "Good Morning," even though it literally means "news of the morning," and can also be accurately translated as "How is your morning?" and this was reiterated by Ngwarai's comment...and yet, Duo is marking "Good morning" as wrong. Please change, Duo, you already counted it right in a different lesson set! (Or maybe it was evening or afternoon, but whichever, same difference.)


I don't think I've ever heard this phrase in English before, is it common in Swahili?


It basically means "good morning". The reason it's a question is because it literally means "news of the morning?" -- when you say this phrase, in literal terms, you're asking someone how their morning is.


Think of New Zealanders and Irish people saying "what's the story?" when they great you. It is asking for the story or the news. Or think of saying "How do you do?"


So is "ya" "of" or "the"... ?


It's similar to "of" -- there's no word for "the" or "a/an" in Swahili.


Asante! Also htf does your brain remember all of those languages ahah


It's a work in progress! :D


ngwarai wow! You know friends fluent in 6 languages, amazing! I've decided Swahili is going to be my foothold in African languages.


Wow, thank you for this discussion. I will try not to translate these sentences literally and remember them as idiom.


They have audio now


It is hard to hear this speaker


What is the difference between la, za, and ya? All I know is that they mean 'of'.


Where is the possessive pronoun? There is no indication of who's morning this is supposed to be.


what is the word for "You" in this sentence?


There is no word for "you" in the sentence. The sentence literally means "News of morning ?" which is understood to mean "How is your morning ?" or "Good morning" in English.


I think this literally translates to something like 'the news of the morning?' But we don't say that in English, so to make it make more sense in English, one could translate it as 'How is your morning?' because 'the morning' still doesn't quite sound right in English. I think it is the Swahili version of 'good morning'.

Of course, I could be wrong; I'm new to the language too. I'm just guessing based on the offered translations and other people's comments.


Use of "ya" is very unclear. It means "of" but is translated "the." And "news of the morning" is not accepted.


Thank you all for explaining the difference between za and ya. However, my problem is why does the voice say za and Duolingo indicates that I should have written ya?


I love the audio!


What is the difference between ya and za??


Mimi ni mtanzania halisi ( i am pure Tanzanian ) +255621103743


Good morning same thing tho indirectly


It means reallly how is your morning????


It's what you say when you greet someone in the morning: it literary means 'News of the morning'?. The standard reply is nzuri (well) or nzuri sana (very well).


What is the different between Habari za and habari ya???


What’s the difference between ya or za


Habari za is for me Habari ya is for woman

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