Translation:I am sorry for you.
Pole is used a lot in everyday life. Mostly it is an expression of sympathy, when something bad has happened (trivial or serious). It means "I feel sorry for you", not "I am sorry for what I did". If you're excusing yourself, you would say "Samahani".
In Northern Tanzania.it is used for an even wider range of situations. Here you can even expect to hear "Pole na kazi" (I'm sorry you have to work) when someone comes to your office, or "pole" when you look slightly tired, or are carrying something heavy.
I've only heard "Pole na kazi", but I'm not sure if that's only colloquial, or if it's grammatically correct.
No such thing, as far as I know. Pole na kazi is said to someone who had a hectic day at work and you want to console them.
Would you say "Pole" to an elder, or would you use a more formal word?
If you had done something wrong, you'd (or at least I do) say 'Samahani'. Pole is more like "I feel sorry for you". It's definitely acceptable if used in that context towards an elder.
I've been around Tanzanians my whole life and we use pole for "slowly" or "be careful". so it's used to show sympathy and to alert. this is a personal interpretation, I could be wrong, please correct me if so.
"Pole pole" is slowly. I believe they all come from the root "kupoa" to cool down. It's an imperative "cool down" but not as in settle down (nyamaza). More like "I am wishing that you will cool down/recover from this bad/hard thing." That's also why it's inappropriate to use as "I'm sorry" and why you can say "Pole na kazi" without meaning "sorry you have to work". "Pole pole," sometimes informally abbreviated "pole," is like "go cool-ly" or as an imperative the way people use "Slowly!" in English.
so if "Pole na kazi" doesn't mean or doesn't always mean " sorry you have to work", what would be a better translation?
It does mean "Sorry you have to work." "Sorry work is so hard on you." "I feel for you (not seeing your family so much/being stressed/... etc.) due to work." It would be used in a context that the other has just stated they must go to work now or they have a lot of work to do. (possibly other situations?)
Yes, literally, it still means "sorry for your work" but I think the connotation is more like "sorry for the hardship" whether because they're cultivating a field in the hot sun or they have loads of papers to grade.
I thought at first that I had to translate ’pole’ from English to Swahili, and I didn't know how to do that!
Pole does not only mean sorry. You can also use it to congratulate someone.
My understanding is that you can almost translate it to "I feel the way you feel" or "I share your emotions". Therefore it can be used as: I share your happiness or sorrow, Simply, Pole!
I have heard it used this way in Tanzania. Would be grateful I any native speaker could confirm if I'm correct.
Pole is not used to congratulate someone as far as I know. You can say hongera if you wish to congratulate someone. Pole is only used with emotions of sadness, or to console the downtrodden.
It is not a congratulation; "I feel the way you feel." - but only in a non-positive situation (it does not have to be particularly bad, but NOT nice :))
I dont seem to be getting souns for any of these lessons. I have sent my feedback to support but i have not gottwn any feedback. Has anyone of you had tge same problem, how did you sort it out
The feedback takes a couple of weeks to months as they are still developing it and there is a lot of feedback they have to go through.