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".
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.
"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)
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".
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.
Because it is not a general "hello", but a high register/respectful greeting.
if anybody is asking, writing litteraly "Formal Greeting" does not work...
"I respect you" is not a commonly used phrase in English. What is the common usage of "Shikamoo" in Swahili? Is it a greeting or...?
This is a term of respect offered to elders. Respect of older persons is a strong part of East African culture, which is reflected in the language. English doesn't really have a comparative term.
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.