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Dialects of Swahili

As of late, I've seen many comments in lessons from a few native speakers or those born in Swahili speaking countries mentioning significant differences between Kenyan Swahili and Tanzanian Swahili and other dialects.

Are there any of those in the know that can explain exactly how different these dialects are? I assume that they are at the least mostly mutually intelligible?

(Obviously, a google search would bring answers but I thought it would be a good discussion point!)

June 16, 2018



kenyan swahili is less formal. They use taka instead of omba to ask for things. In Kenya if you use omba to ask for something it is seen as begging or wanting something without paying. In Tanzania, nataka is not seen as the polite way of asking for things. Also the shikamoo/marahaba is used in Tanzania. Also Kenya swahili doesn't use as many classes as Tanzania even though a kenyan friend told me they do learn them in school.Also many places in kenya the swahili is mixed with english as well as words from the mother tongue. This is my observation as someone who lives in Tanzania and has visited Kenya. Kenya uses english more than in Tanzania. In the coastal areas of kenya, swahili is used more and is more similar to Tanzanian swahili.


my wife is Kenyan and has said what you've said pretty much verbatim.

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