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.
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.
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 lived in Zimbabwe and had some Shona lessons and I can see the connections with Kiswahili!
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.
that's really interesting, I'm a native speaker of Arabic, and I'm learning Indonesian too.
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.
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.
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.
I don't think I've ever heard this phrase in English before, is it common in Swahili?
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?"
ngwarai wow! You know friends fluent in 6 languages, amazing! I've decided Swahili is going to be my foothold in African languages.
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.
Me to i said good morning and it become wrong and corrected Answer how is the morning whichever doesn't make good sounds
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?