"Jina lako ni nani?"

Translation:What is your name?

February 24, 2017

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For anyone familiar with Christopher Tin's gorgeous song "Baba Yetu" (which was the theme to Civilization 4), it is The Lord's Prayer in Swahili. If "jina lako" sounds familiar, it appears in the line "jina lako e litukuzwe", which corresponds to "hallowed be thy name".

(I'm not invoking religion, I'm just pointing out something from pop culture. Regardless, it's a beautiful piece of music and if you haven't heard it, you should. -- I linked to that version even though it's not the original because it has the lyrics with translation. The original is here.)


This is part of why I want to learn Swahili. The phrase in the song is "mjina lako" (or possibly "m jina lako"), though. What does that mean?


It means Christopher Tin either needs to improve his Swahili, or he thought it sounded nicer.


At least, that's what I was able to find. "Mjina" is a word, and Google Translate says it means "the titles", but I don't want to blindly trust Google Translate.


That's interesting; I didn't know that.

I need to learn Italian too, now, as of Civilization VI.


I've been taking Italian. I find it relatively easy.


Thanks for the comment! Such an amazing song :)


As a Japanese speaker, "nani" (何) meaning "what" is welcomed. These little arbitrary connections are immensely helpful .


It means "who" though. It appears in this sentence because you're asking for a person's name, but the word for "what" in other contexts is nini.


First thing that I thought also


Anyone have a way of remembering the correct order in Swahili of "What is your name" = "Your name is what?"


I could be mistaken at this early stage, but I think you mean: Name your is what?

I've been taking this course less than 5 minutes, so don't take what I'm writing as absolute, but It looks to me as if:

  1. Possessives follow the noun they are possessing. (For this sentence, at least.)
  2. The order of the sentence doesn't change from a statement.
  3. The question word replaces the word (or concept) it is asking about.

2 and 3 can occur in English, so shouldn't be too hard to get the hang of (even though they're not the most "normal" phrasing). 1 is the slightly trickier one to ingrain, but it should come with practice. I guess I like to do things like this with missing words (even if it becomes grammatically incorrect), so I'll say to myself:

Jina ni nani
Jina lako ni nani

And when I add lako back in, it will get the emphasis to stand out in my mind. I think it's important to ingrain the important parts of the sentence at this early stage; I think I try to remember the sound and feel of the sentence more than try to remember its word order. (I don't want to forever be thinking what's the correct word order, I just want my mind to supply lako whenever and it should.)

(I expect to find out that most of my early guesses about how the language is working are wrong, or at least too limited, but that's fine. It's a process of discovery and re-evaluation.)


Yeah that makes sense. I like the idea of saying "Name is what?" and then adding the possessive "Your" after name. Thnaks for the tip! Hope you find Swahili interesting :)


The order is here is actually: NAME YOUR IS WHAT? "Jina lako ni nani?" (Backwards) > NAME YOUR IS WHAT? | What is your name?


I have some information about this. Some languages have possessives after the noun. For example, in some Asian languages as Indonesian and Vietnamese. I prefer to mention Indonesian because Indonesians use many Arabic borrowings as in Swahili. Also, I can say that in Spanish (my native language) we can use possessives before and after the noun or a noun phrase.

For example, this sentence in Indonesian, formal and informal uses:

What is your name?

Siapa (who, pronunciation: si-A-pa) nama (name) Anda (your, for formal use)?

Siapa nama kamu? / Siapa namamu? (kamu, -mu, for informal use)

Siapa nama kalian? (kalian, for plural and the pronunciation is ka-LI-an; “Kalian” is used to children, pupils and very close relations.)

Note that the verb "to be" is implied between the words for "who" and "name". (Other uses of siapa: Siapa Anda/kamu/kalian? or just Siapa? = Who are you?)

Sometimes, you can find "siapa" in the ending place. Example:

Namamu siapa?


I include here other sentence in Swahili:


In Spanish, we have also many possibilities:

What is your name?

¿Cuál/cómo es tu nombre? or ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal, in this case we cannot translate "cuál" and "cómo" to "which" and "how", but "what")

The last is the common use, but I can easily change this order:

¿Tu nombre es cuál/cómo? / ¿Te llamas cómo?

¿El nombre tuyo es cuál/cómo? / ¿El nombre tuyo es cómo?

(I think this sentence is the same order as in Swahili sentence:

Jina (El nombre) - lako (tuyo) - ni (es) - nani (cuál/cómo)?, but in Swahili the last word is meaning "who" (quién))

Note that the uses for these less common sentences in Spanish can be for meaning admiration or susprise (perhaps, for people with the same name as yours or your parents' or relatives') ;)


en castellano, solamente se dice : como te llamas, como se llama Ud , cual es su nombre, cual es tu nombre, aunque lo mas común - de lejos - es como te llamas y como se llama Ud. los demás nunca los escuche. De que pais es Ud ?


Can nani be who and what?


Nani is who and nini is what


"nani" is "who" or "whose" and "what" only when talking about a name that belongs to and represents a person and may be specific to this question. There is another word for "what?" in Swahili. https://translate.google.com/#en/sw/Who%3F%0AWhat%3F%0AWhat%20is%20your%20name%3F%0A%0AWhat%20is%20that%20thing%3F



It might help to know that this adjective declines like so:



Nani remembers me of the japanese nani with the same meaning :3


it's basically reversed english lol: name your is what?


in Tumbuka it's 'Zina lako ndi njani?' v similar! :D


IPA: /'dʒina 'lakɔ ni nani/



Is lako actually derived from Arabic to some extent, as a possessive suffix too?


It's actually just -ako (your) inflected for ji class. A lot of words in Swahili come from Arabic, but I don't believe this one does.


Как твоё имя? Имя твоё есть какое?


Is there a table of My/his-her/he-she etc. re: name?


Wow! Thank you very much. I've book marked it for repeated reference!


Wow, thanks, appreciate the resource.


When I click on "nani" It doesn't state "what". It only states who, whose. That confused me.


what in swahili is nini and nani is who


I'm very happy to see the new phonetics on this language very very very grateful thank you Duolingo.

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Interesting to find "nani" means "what" both in Swahili and Japanese (何, なに).


That is 100% pure coincidence, and that happens sometimes.

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True. The two languages are too distant not only geographically but also linguistically, belonging to language families too far from each other. It is mnemonically helpful, though. :)


I'm all for mnemonics. I just generally advise people to not mistake a memory aid for truth.


Like a song, ni nani?


i wrote the correct answer


I thought I understood that 'jina langu ni' meant what is your, but 'jina lako ni' meant what is my


Whynis my answer wrong


Literally 'name your is what'


Hey im a beginer i needed tips so thanks!!!

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