LangMedia

Swahili in Tanzania


Informal Greetings Among Age-Mates and Close Friends

In Swahili, there is no equivalent to "hello." Greetings are usually in a question-response format. The basic question is "how are you?" and has several variations. If you are greeting more than one person at a time, it is usual to use the different variations for each individual. Similarly, there are several choices for responses. It is very common to ask not only about the person you are greeting but also to include their family and relatives in the greeting, regardless of whether or not you are acquainted with them. Depending on the number of times you see each other during the day, an informal handshake may or may not accompany the greeting. Usually, you would shake hands the first time you meet each day and eliminate the handshake after that.


Videos


Audio

Click on the text to hear the spoken phrase.
  • "Greeting, literally meaning "News?""


    Habari?
  • "Greeting, literally meaning "How are things?""


    Vipi mambo?
  • "One response to either of the above greetings, literally meaning "Good.""


    Nzuri.
  • "Another response to either of the above greetings, literally meaning "Clean.""


    Safi.
  • "Another response to either of the above greetings, literally meaning "Just clean.""


    Safi tu.
  • "Greeting, literally meaning "Peaceful/Safe?""


    Salama?
  • "The response is the affirmation that things are "Peaceful/Safe.""


    Salama.
  • "Greeting, literally meaning "How are they at home?""


    Hawajambo nyumbani?
  • "One response to the above greeting, literally meaning "They are fine.""


    Hawajambo.
  • "Another response to the above greeting, literally meaning "They are well.""


    Wazima.