Mwaa, ebitoke enmeli: agandi mbi muno!
Kihaya is a Bantu language spoken by about a million people around Tanzanian Lake Victoria. Despite being one of the larger surviving tribal tongues - with as many mother-tongue speakers as the mighty Kiswahili - at time of writing this, there were no resources online for it, and only one academic text in forty years.*
I was taught by several people, young and old, and they conflicted over basic meaning ("omushana" is used for 'afternoon' and 'rainy season' supposedly without homophony, for instance). I suppose this is to be expected in real, unliterary, unacademic languages. Anyway Kihaya shares a great deal of vocabulary and structure with Kiswahili, and the orthography I've used is its - 'e' for 'ay' and so on. It loans a lot less from English than Kiswa does: I only found two cognates in the 200 or so words I learned ('ebegi' - bag and 'etoche' - torch). Note the loans from Arabic, though - e.g. "kitab" for book, "ekyai" for tea.
Stress is almost always on the second-last syllable of each word. Adjectives, adverbs and intensifiers are placed after their nouns (e.g. very bad = 'mbi muno'); otherwise its grammar is forgiving and subject-verb-object. Pronouns are almost never necessary; you just say the verb and imply the subject.
I really recommend learning some if you plan on spending any amount of time in Kagera: it sounds great (really hard vowels), it's not going away, and any mzungu who speaks even a token amount is greeted with warmth and lower prices. So:
- Ego = Yes ("aygo")
- Che = No ("chay")
- Inga = Nothing
[also used as 'no']
- Ota? = How [are you]?
- Tata olailota = Good morning [man I respect]
- Mama olailota = Good morning [woman I respect]
- Agasi bao = Good morning [peer]
- Masibota = Good day [woman I respect]
- Tasibota = Good day [man I respect]
- Wasibiota = Hello again [peer/child]
- Agandi? = How are you? [lit.: News?]
- Orige? = How are you?
[Conventional reply: 'Ndige!']
- Waguma? = Alright?
- Wabonake? = Any problems?
[Jennifer Clark writes to point out the more specific response "tinabonakantu" - I see no problems before me.]
- Ogumile ge? = How is your endeavour? [Formal]
- Shumara mwaitu? = Morning [married man].**
My favourite Kihaya word of all is a greeting:
- wayokayo. (Roughly, "You look well upon your return")
Most of the above greetings can be answered merely with 'Ego' - yes. Inject a little joy and you'll get away with it.
'Tinku-' is a general negation prefix. Works with both nouns and verbs. "Ge?" is a particle indicating a question, but it isn't mostly necessary.
- Nyegera! = Welcome!
- Mpao = Goodbye.
- Mpore = Sorry / regrets
- Garungi = Good
- Garembe = Fine
- Ndungi = Great
- Mbi = Bad
- Ulio = OK [lit: I am present]
- Muno = very [used as affix e.g: "garungi muno"]
- Nganyila = please [rare: a begging measure]
- Wakora = Thankyou
- Kasinge = Thankyou [only during day?]
- Inye = I/me
- Yange = My/mine [possessing objects]
- Bange = My/mine [possessing abstracts like friendships]
- Iwe = You***
- Ichwe = We
- Namanya = [I] know
- Tinkumanya = [I] Don't know
- Nog ya Kamachumu = [I am] Going to Kamachumu.
The rules for pluralising are obscure to me:
- Omzungu = Foreigner
- Abazungu = Bunch of foreigners
- Munywanyi = Friend
- Banywanyi = Friends
- Dada/kaka/mama = [as in Kiswahili]
- Tata = Father
- Mae = Paternal grandmother
- Mwana = Child
- Mwaa = Now
- Anunku = Here
- Nyenkya = Tomorrow
- Bwankya = Morning
- Omushana = Afternoon
- Bwaigoro = Evening
- Omkiro = Night (after sunset)
"E-" is a general prefix for a noun; "Eki-" is a general prefix for an artefact (literally: craft-thing). "Ebi" is for plural artefacts (e.g. 'ekitabu', book, and 'ebitabu', books). "Ama-" and "En-" are for foods.
- Ebegi yange = My bag
- Ekitebe = Chair
- Ekitanda = Bed
- Ekiratwa = Shoe
- Ekitabu = Book
- Ekidonge = Pill
- Etara = Light
- Etoche = Torch
- Egras = Glass
- Omuswaki = Toothbrush
- Emiwani = Spectacles
- Ebitoke = Plantain
- Enfulu = Fish (mostly for tilapia)
- Ente = Cow
- Embuzi = Goat
- Enjangwa = Cat
- Enyama = Beef
- Enfuma = Sweet potato
- Amanumbu = Potato
- Amauli = Egg
- Ekyai = Chai
- Enjura = rainwater
Finally, and most importantly:
- Ompungulizemu ebei! = Lower that price!
- Nganyila, tinku ebitoke ya omkiro! = I beg you, not plaintain tonight!
* Recently found a World Bank Swahili-Haya translation with lots of relevant terms (p.4 onward)...** I got this one a lot. (I think they were being sarky.)*** This will get shouted at you a lot. Try not to hate the shouter: after, all, by using it they've refrained from calling you Mzungu.