Haley Millet, a graduate student in Global Health and Global Studies FLAS Fellow in Swahili, writes from Tanzania:

“Last Friday, I completed my Kiswahili course at the University of Dar es Salaam. Every day for the last six weeks I went to class for four hours to study intermediate Kiswahili with my two teachers, Mohamed and Kindole. I happened to be the only student in the class so we got to know each other pretty well. While this made for the student-teacher ratio your mom always dreamed of, it also made for a pretty intensive study.

​By the end I was analyzing Kiswahili poems and writing literary essays in Kiswahili.  Every morning for the last week or so I was sucked into a wormhole and spit out inside my senior high school English class, except not a single thing was happening in English.  The time warp was definitely worth it and I learned a lot and I am so thankful to my teachers. Some of what I learned was actual Kiswahili, and some of it was realizations about language in general.

Right now, I have the impression that Kiswahili is a really verb-centric language. Ideas are expressed in a way that hinges not on the nouns but rather what the nouns are doing, even if the noun is a rock. Verbs in Kiswahili are so rich that you can say in one verb what it takes five different words to say in English. For example, anawasimulia means she is telling them a story. There are 21 different affixes and suffixes that you can stick onto verbs in various places to make your nouns do various things, and those are just the ones I’ve learned so far."

Read Hailey's full post