What would be the difference between eighteen thousand and ten thousand and eight in Swahili?

October 6, 2017


Good question. Google translate gives the same translation for both

In this course: it shows "elfu" sometimes coming after the thousands rather than before, seemingly after a fairly large number of thousands ... but I don't think it's explained there anywhere. I'm guessing it shifts around to avoid this problem, but damn, it would be nice if somewhere actually fully explained the Swahili number system.

Also, why is the name of this thread your name????

So I asked someone about this. The delaying the elfu until later is apparently typical of Zanzibar but uncommon elsewhere. Elsewhere, this doesn't happen, and these numbers are distinguished like this:

18,000 = elfu kumi na nane

10,008 = elfu kumi, na nane

So you say the same words in the same order, but you use intonation and timing to distinguish them.

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