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Kiswahili Grammar Notes: Introduction


The grammar notes in this volume are intended as a companion volume to the two volumes of language lessons. The language lessons have developed over a period of 14 years of teaching Swahili to Europeans and Americans who have come to serve in Tanzania. For most of these students English is a second language, so they are working at learning a third language through the medium of their second! We have tried to minimize this obstacle by working through the Swahili medium as early and as much as possible without trying to rigidly adhere to a direct method approach. Thus, if after students are introduced to a new term or structure in Swahili, its meaning and use is still not clear to them, then an explanation in English is given to try to clarify the issue.

Since many of these students have their areas of expertise in nonlinguistic fields and the language of grammatical description is a wilderness they have no desire to explore, we have tried to avoid using grammatical terms as much as possible. But some of this terminology is unavoidable; we use it with some diffidence, recognizing that terminology appropriate for Latin is not the ideal vehicle to use in describing a Bantu language. But in deference to shared backgrounds of the learners, we use the framework most likely to be familiar to them, and define the terms used. This may seem tedious to some, but they are welcome to skip over those parts; the book is not intended as a learned thesis, but a practical help for people plunged into a new culture and a new language sometimes the first foreign language they have ever tried to learn.

These grammar notes have not yet had the use and revisions that the language lessons have gone through over the years. They have grown out of a series of grammar reviews that were prepared for the students after they had been exposed to all the structures dealt with in any given review, to help them draw together all the various uses of a grammatical structure that they had encountered in their lessons up to that time. This, then, is a preliminary attempt at drawing all these reviews together in one volume, and adding some material that had not been dealt with in such reviews. We are well aware that revisions will be needed as the notes are used and deficiencies become apparent. With this in mind, we welcome the input of readers and students who use these notes and are willing to give us their suggestions for improvement.

We are grateful to Mr. Simon K.P. Bandio, Head of E.L.C.T. Language & Orientation School, Morogoro and Mr. Nathan Lwehabura, a journalist for Radio Tanzania, for their valuable suggestions and advice during the final stages of the preparation of the material. We also thank colleagues, students and friends who have given help and encouragement, but all the deficiencies are our own responsibility.

Morogoro, Tanzania, in June, 1984.

Helen L. Erickson

Marianne Gustafsson

Kiswahili Grammar Notes is Copyright 1984 and 1989, , used with permission. If you find this text valuable, the authors ask that you consider a small contribution to a charitable purpose.

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