Translation:I respect you
There are three main greetings in Swahili:
1. Shikamoo - This a greeting required for elders. It comes from "nashika miguu yako" which means "I hold your feet/I am beneath your feet". Back in colonial times the natives had to say this to the white people.
The required response to this is "Marahaba"
2. Hujambo OR U hali gali - This is the greeting to anyone else. It means "How are you"/"Is anything wrong with you"
The typical response is Sijambo which means "I am fine" or "Nothing is wrong with me"
3. Vipi OR Mambo - This is the informal greeting to a friend or person younger. It means "What's up" or "Hi".
The response to this is "poa" or "safi" or "sawa".
"Back in colonial times the natives had to say this to the white people."
Damn, some origins of words are really just painful. It's brilliant how they're now using it as a sign of respect, and making it something us eager language learners can be genuinely curious about. Also it makes complete sense how it'd be translated roughly as "i respect you". I'm assuming based off what I've researched, this links with how the older someone is, the more influence they have over their area?
I don't know anything about influence over their area. That sounds like more of an older tribal times thing than modern day.
A side thing, most Swahili speakers don't know where Shikamoo comes from, you just say it. Duolingo people like to know the why and how, while regular people just know that what.
Shikamoo is the greeting used to elders. There is proper translation for this word; it is an untranslatable word. It might come from "nashika miguu yako" which means "I hold your feet/I am beneath your feet". Back in colonial times the natives had to say this to the white people.
I think the nearest approximation in English would be "Hello sir" or "Hello ma'am."
Is that right? The intent is to greet while indicating appropriate respect and honor to their age and station in the world?
In the American south, our parents place heavy emphasis on children giving respect and deference to any person older than them - "respect your elders" is said a lot. Indicating that we are being respectful and showing deference requires the use of "sir" or "ma'am." It's not unheard of for "sir/ma'am" to be used between peers in formal settings, but its rare in informal settings for social peers to use those titles with one another.
We're using Duolingo to learn our target language, not English. The use of "I respect you." is to show the importance of this specific greeting. A simpler translation won't allow English speakers to make the connection between this greeting and it's magnitude. The translation is to help us understand. If it were an English course for Swahili speakers, then they could change the translation to teach them how one would go about this in English.