Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Friday, July 11, 2014

How do you order toast in Swahili?

That was my dilemma. Although it took me a while to find out that I was in a dilemma.

I take great pride in my ability to speak Swahili, a language spoken by an estimated 140 million people. It's my mother tongue, so I should not claim to hold exceptional qualities. But I take every opportunity to speak Swahili and will use a foreign language only when I have to.

Recently while having breakfast in a hotel in Dar es Salaam I ordered toasted bread. My request was in Swahili except for the word "toast" which the English-Swahili dictionary published by the Institute of Kiswahili Research translates to "tosti." But I only found this out after I consulted the dictionary. Hitherto, I had never heard anyone mention tosti.

In response, the waiter asked me in English: "how many [slices]?" And I, perturbed by a Tanzanian adressing a fellow Tanzania in English, asked in Swahili: "Do you speak Swahili?"

He switched to Swahili and as I sat in my chair waiting for my tosti it suddenly dawned on me that I was the one who created the confusion in the first place by ordering "toast."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hahaha....very interesting!!!