English Influence on Kiswahili: The View of Language Purists


  • Anna J. M. Kishe


The focus of this paper is on the Anglicisation of Tanzanian Kiswahili and the different views Swahili purists have towards this process. I demonstrate how the structure of Kiswahili is anglicised particularly on the lexicon level. I show that both the official modernisation of Kiswahili (through language planning) and unofficial planning (spontaneously), inevitably leads to changes in the structure of the language.

Although Anglicisation is considered advantageous in contact linguistics, because it is a valuable tool of modernising languages, there are still conflicting views by Tanzanians on this phenomenon. A certain group of Kiswahili speakers, mainly educators, feel that Anglicisation is critical to the development of Kiswahili as a language of specialisation, the extension of vocabulary and the increased precision of the language. Others, like the purists, fear that the language is being ' flooded ' with English words. They claim that the majority of Tanzanians, who are not conversant with English, have difficulty understanding the new terms. The minority perspective argues that Anglicisation should be avoided because it dilutes the purity of Kiswahili. While acknowledging the reality of these attitudes, I believe that the Anglicisation of Kiswahili is a natural development given the historical contact between the two languages.


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