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Is Swahili language an Arabic dialect?


Date Posted: 4/28/2019 9:57:03 AM

Posted By: SAW  Membership Level: Silver  Total Points: 122

Is Swahili language an Arabic dialect?
Well Swahili is a language widely spoken in the east African countries as well as part of central Africa eg DRC Congo.It is a native language in the east African coast.The native speakers can be traced from the Somalian coast,Kenyan coast in towns such as Kilifi,Malindi,Mombasa down to the Tanzanian coast and Zanzibar island and northern part of Malawi.

The language has been for long associated with the Arabic language with some claiming that it is an Arabic dialect, It sounds like a smart guess owing to the multitude of words of Arabic origin that coat the language( Swahili) vocabulary right from the greeting like As-salaam Aleykum,masa-ul khair subalkhair.
On the flip side Swahili has only 30% of its vocabulary made of words borrowed from Arabic language furthermore these words have been "swahilised" to conform with the Swahili morphology and even phonology and indication that they are actually borrowed words just like some other words were borrowed from Hindi, Portuguese, and English like shabash,meza and komyuta respectively among other words.
The claim that Swahili is an Arabic dialect is attributed by the illusion of Islamic tradition among the Swahili ( more than 80% are Muslims) and practice the yearly celebration of Maulid festivals as don't in other Arab countries like Saudi Arabia,Qatar and Oman.

During Arab rule along the coast the Africans were treated as inferior with Indians and Arabs ranking high in the social class.As such African envied the Arabs, spoke Swahili with Arabic accent using more of Arabic words to become more acceptable. African who had either a parent of Arabic origin preferred to be called Arabs to get favours from Arabs.This continued for long even After Arab rule.
Moreover many Swahili poets always begun their poems by praising Allah and prophet Muhammad in Arabic language, invoking

Quran in the first stanzas of the poem believing they have cleared their conscience of ant evil thought.the poems were writing in Arabic script but in Swahili language this may easily make one believe that the language was Arabic.

All these factors could easily lead one or rather mislead one to speculate Swahili as an Arabic dialect however Swahili just like other African languages in the Bantu group share a lot in common right from history to culture to language structure.

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