Pendo Salu Malangwa



One of the methods employed in teaching a foreign language is the grammar translation method (Chang, 2011). In teaching Kiswahili to foreigners, teachers use translations from Kiswahili into English and vice versa. However, the common trend in the application of this approach is that teachers usually translate vocabulary and phrases from Kiswahili into English. Since Kiswahili and English vary grammatically, culturally and in terms of terminological developments (Malangwa, 2010), translating Kiswahili cultural expressions into English reveals a serious challenge. There is always a problem of obtaining equivalents for the cultural expressions in the target language. To make the learning process successful, teachers employ descriptive, literal and communicative techniques to translate certain expressions in their Kiswahili classes and in the teaching materials. However, certain concepts are hardly captured in these translations and, consequently, they have multiple or varied equivalents. This article attempts to discuss the challenges of translating Kiswahili cultural expressions in the Kiswahili classrooms and textbooks as well as other materials available for learning. The aim here is to expose the cultural variations between the two languages and the techniques used to handle such challenges. The data for this article has been collected through interviews and documentary reviews and is analyzed using a comparative technique whereas Kiswahili cultural expressions are presented parallel with their proposed English equivalents. The cultural expressions observed are presented under the following sub-headings: a) greetings expressions, b) food and drinks terms, c) kinship terms, d) expressions related to social practice and e) political expressions. It has been concluded through this study that these are the common categories of cultural expressions observed in teaching Kiswahili to foreigners. As a common practice, teachers, while teaching and in the training manuals, apply descriptive and literal translation techniques to handle none equivalent cultural expressions. Despite the application of these techniques, there are problems observed in the translations offered.

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