SWAHILI: UNIT 7 – COUNTING AND

SWAHILI TIME
UNIT OBJECTIVES
By the end of this unit, you should be able to:

Count to a billion in Swahili

Describe numbers of objects for nouns of all classes

Tell Swahili Time

Master the following vocabulary: Swahili Unit 7 Vocabulary

NEW CONTENT
Here’s the lecture audio, if you’d like to listen along:
KUHESABU: TO COUNT
Basic Numbers

1: Moja

40: Arobaini

2: Mbili

50: Hamsini

3: Tatu

60: Sitini

4: Nne

70: Sabini

000: Milioni 20: Ishirini 1.5: Tano 80: Themanini 6: Sita 90: Tisini 7: Saba 100: Mia (mia moja) 8: Nane 1000: Elfu (elfu moja) 9: Tisa 100.000: Bilioni 30: Thelathini Composite Numbers .000.000: Laki 10: Kumi 1.000.000.

When forming composite numbers. tens. is said as. etc. “forty and nine. . pronounce every place (e.” Here are some examples — 21: ishirini na moja // 32: thelathini na mbili // 43:arobaini na tatu // 54: hamsini na nne // 65: sitini na tano // 76: sabini na sita // 87: themanini na saba // 98: tisini na nane.” etc. hundreds. For example. The number 49.) distinctly. with a “na” (and) before the ones place (or the last place ‘in use’).g. ones. then. 200: mia mbili // 300: mia tatu // 400: mia nne // 800: mia nane.. Multiple hundreds are pronounced “hundred two” or “hundred three.

The same rule applies for multiple thousands.728: laki moja elfu ishirini na tano mia saba ishirini na nane // 500. For example. mia tisa themanini na moja // 125. millions.000: laki nne // 7.000:milioni saba.981: elfu hamsini na tatu. 5000:elfu tano // 12.000.364: elfu moja mia tatu sitini na nne // 8. For example. etc.723: elfu nane mia saba ishirini na tatu // 19.200: laki tano (na*) mia mbili. More complex numbers combine all these rules.284: elfu kumi na tisa mia mbili themanini na nne // 53. hundred thousands.000: elfu sitini // 400. . 249: mia mbili arobaini na tisa // 928:mia tisa ishirini na nane // 1.000: elfu kumi na mbili // 60.

So. There are two important rules to remember when using numbers to answer the question -ngapi? (how many?): 1) The number (or any other adjective) always comes after the object being described. Don’t ask me why this is. 26: COUNTING OBJECTS Fun as it is to just count.” etc.” “1000 shillings. The numbers that take adjectival prefixes are: 1. numbers will be most useful to you when they function as adjectives to indicate the number of objects being described:”5 mangos.” Both are correct. when used as adjectives. 1000 shillings is. must be modified with the adjectival prefix for the class of the noun being described. “shilingi elfu moja. 3.” 2) Certain numbers.*As in English. This is a good time to introduce the basic adjectival prefixes for all noun classes (much more to come on adjectives later): . 2. Let’s practice.” “8 spoons. How would you say the following numbers? Check your answers against the audio. just as “five hundred thousand two hundred” and “five hundred thousand and two hundred” are both correct. you’ll often hear people add the “na” before the final consequential place: “Laki tano na mia mbili” rather than “laki tano mia mbili.” Two seeds (yay!) is “mbegu mbili. 4. 5. and 8.

Noun Class Sample Noun Basic Adjectival Prefix 1 mtu m- 2 watu wa- 3 mti m- 4 miti mi- 5 tunda (-) 6 matunda ma- 7 kitu ki- 8 vitu vi- 9 nyumba (-) 10 nyumba (-) .

the stem changes to “wili. when using the numbers 1.5. and 8 as adjectives. you must affix the appropriate adjectival prefix to them.4. as in the following examples: Mtu mmoja : One person // Kitabu kimoja: One book When affixing an adjectival prefix to “mbili”. So: Nyumba tatu : Three houses (remember.3.11 ukuta m- 14 upendo m- So.” so we get: Matunda mawili : Two fruits // Mikate miwili : Two breads None of the other number stems change when used as adjectives. noun class 10 has no adjectival prefix!) // Wanafunzi watatu : Three students // Viti vinne : Four chairs // Miti minne : Four trees // .2.

you do not have to add a prefix: Viti sita: Six chairs // Watu tisa: Nine people // Majiko ishirini: Twenty stoves // Walimu mia moja: One hundred teachers Note: You will sometimes hear Swahili purists use the adjectival prefixes within complex numbers. So.” . rather than saying “watu kumi na mbili” (12 people) they will say “watu kumi na wawili.Mashamba matano : Five farms // Wazee watano : Five elders // Mazao manane: Eight crops // Vitu vinane: Eight things When using any of the other numbers as adjectives.

So 7:00am (Sunrise) marks hour one of the daytime on the Swahili clock: saa moja (“saa” means hour).m. but as the legacy of subsistence culture remains strong. The Tanzanian clock is based instead on 12-hour cycles according to the hours of sunrise and sunset.m. as is the case for many of our friends and Partners. most Tanzanians still do not value it as much as we tend to. But the debate does offer an important window into the way the modes of economic production shape culture. a fact reflected in attitudes towards time: people recognize the importance of time.SWAHILI TIME Cultural Note on Relative Importance of Time One of the most common distinctions people (both Tanzanian and foreigners) make about the difference between Tanzanian culture and our own regards punctuality. In a true capitalist economy. We divide our days into two 12-hour cycles of “a. the Swahili method of telling time lends itself well to jokes about lack of punctuality—the Swahili clock actually runs six hours behind our own.” and “p. There is a real cultural difference here. The Swahili Clock To top this all off.” according to the 12 o’clocks (midnight and noon). it’s harder to be punctual when you don’t own any time-keeping device. which happen at 7:00am and 7:00pm every day. In a subsistence economy. Meetings in Tanzania just never seem to start on time. 7:00pm (Sunset) is hour one of the nighttime: saa moja again. After all. but it’s also one that can be slightly overblown. it is. and Tanzanians do not. . Simply put. we tend to place a high value on it. time is not money. The economy of rural Tanzania exists somewhere in between these two zones.

A rough breakdown: Saa kumi na moja hadi (until) saa nne (5:00am-10:00am): Asubuhi (morning) Saa nne hadi saa kumi (10:00am – 4:00pm): Mchana (day) Saa kumi hadi saa moja (4:00pm – 7:00pm) : Jioni (evening) Saa tatu hadi saa kumi na moja (8:00pm – 5:00am): Usiku (night) So: 8:00am = saa mbili asubuhi 12:00pm = saa sita mchana 6:00pm = saa kumi na mbili jioni 10:00pm = saa nne usiku .m. Swahili speakers distinguish according to the period of day. and p.m..The clock proceeds accordingly: 7:00am/pm = saa moja 8:00am/pm = saa mbili 9:00am/pm = saa tatu 10:00am/pm = saa nne 11:00am/pm = saa tano 12:00am/pm = saa sita 1:00am/pm = saa saba 2:00am/pm = saa nane 3:00am/pm = saa tisa 4:00am/pm = saa kumi 5:00am/pm = saa kumi na moja 6:00am/pm = saa kumi na mbili Rather than distinguishing times by a.

Since most people in villages don’t have clocks. 7:10am: Saa moja na dakika kumi asubuhi (the first hour and ten minutes of the morning) 9:15am: Saa tatu na robo (the third hour and a quarter of the morning) 10:27am: Saa nne na dakika ishirini na saba mchana (the fourth hour and twenty seven minutes of the daytime) 3:30pm: Saa tisa na nusu mchana (the ninth hour and a half of the daytime) In the last 30 minutes of the hour. CONCLUDING ADVICE Tardiness is unprofessional! EXERCISES Listening comprehension questions for Unit 7 dialogues are in the worksheet.Telling the exact time So. you’ll rarely discuss time with minute precision. you combine the current hour and minutes (note that multiples of 15 minutes are special). you read the time as a statement of subtraction from the coming hour. using “kasoro” to indicate “less than”: 7:40am: Saa mbili kasoro dakika ishirini asubuhi (twenty minutes short of the second hour of the morning) 9:45pm: Saa nne kasorobo usiku (A quarter short of the fourth hour of the night). . But it’s good to know the rules. “ni saa ngapi?”–“what time is it?” In the first 30 minutes of an hour.