Translation:I respect you
28 CommentsThis discussion is locked.
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".
By elders, do you mean anyone older than you, or people beyond a certain age?
A significantly older person, usually around 40-50 and older. When in doubt, say Shikamoo. You would much rather be respectful than accidentally rude.
If you have grandparents can you use "hujambo" or do you have to use "shikamoo" with them?
I've been reading up on this more, and to add to this, you typically say it to someone who is at the age where they would typically be in a different peer group than you.
It depends on what the relation is and where in the Swahili speaking world you are. Since I was a foreign person with a beard, older people in the region of Tanzania I lived in would greet me with a "Shikamoo" since most men didn't grow facial hair until a very old age. In a professional setting you would use it with anyone more seniority than you. For example in college one could greet their professor who is 5 years older with a shikamoo. Some areas though don't really use it except between children and adults as they were the tribes that were enslaved and sold to the Swahili traders.
"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.
Even though it is typically used for people in another peer group, when not knowing a person, one might also say it to a person only one or two years older than oneself. (at least that was the case in my childhood)
Shikamoo wasn't from white people, it was from the arabic slave trade, hence why "Marahaba" is the reply, which originates from "Marhaba"
I think that the translation in English of "i respect you" is misleading. It's simply "hello", but in high register. It can be dealt with in Duolingo with contextual cues.
Both meanings you said are pretty much the same thing. If Duolingo teaches shikamoo as "hello", that is even more misleading. Just like in some cultures you bow in greeting, with Swahili you say "I respect you".
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.
So is the pronunciation shi-ka-MO-o or shi-KA-moo? Not sure how the double vowels count for the stress accent (too bad we have no audio yet).
Just researched it with audio and it would be pronounced like shi-ka-MO-o, except that there is no distinct space pronounced between the last 2 o's.
shi-ka-MO. It would usually be the middle syllable, but it's an Arabic crossover.
When there is a double vowel at the end, it falls there. With few exceptions, the stress is on the second last vowel in a word.
One of the exceptions is when the second last syllable doesn't contain a vowel but is a syllabic nasal, such as M-bwa, N-chi, ku-zu-ngu-M-za or mwa-na-M-ke
Other exceptions are rare and the only one I can think of off the top of my head is the Arabic loan word lazima, which is stressed on the first syllable: LA-zi-ma. Some people say it like la-ZI-ma though.
It's not from Arabic. It's from the native Swahili phrase -shika miguu (yako).
Because it is not a general "hello", but a high register/respectful greeting.
Duolingo needs to change this.
In actual conversation, "Shikamoo" is how you greet an elder (a grandparent, for example). The elder/older person responds "marahaba."
If you're familiar with the Southeastern US, it's close to greeting older people with "Hello sir/ma'am"
if anybody is asking, writing litteraly "Formal Greeting" does not work...