On Defining Interpreting and Translation: An Ordinary Language and Terminological Analysis of the Current Meanings of Kiswahili Terms Ukalimani and Tafsiri


  • Titus Mpemba University of Dar es Salaam


This paper undertakes an ordinary language and terminological analysis of the current meanings of "ukalimani" and "tafsiri", the Kiswahili equivalents of the English terms "interpreting" and "translation", respectively. Specifically, the paper examines the semantic confusion between the two terms, their evolutionary trend and the distinction between their ordinary language and terminological conceptualisation. Following an increased need for interpreting and translation services, there has been the intensification of research, establishment and expansion of interpreting and translation institutions and courses worldwide, and in East Africa in particular. As a result, the terms "ukalimani" and "tafsiri" have recently gained prominence. The paper argues that following these recent developments, the terms have become terminological and ordinary. It argues further that, despite the prominence they now have, these terms have remained complicated and unclear to Kiswahili experts, interpreting and translation scholars, and the public at large. Their definitions, as reflected in Kiswahili publications on "ukalimani" and "tafsiri" and dictionaries, have failed to catch up, and hence have failed to capture the terms' current meanings in everyday use and in translation and interpreting studies contexts.


Keywords: ukalimani, tafsiri, source language, target language, interpreting and translation scholars/studies