Friday, June 17, 2016

Mutual Intelligibility

Swahili is an official language in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Congo-Kinshasa. Although only 20-40 million people speak it at home, it is spoken by over 150 million people as a second language. There are about 250-500 Bantu Languages by criteria of mutual intelligibility. Speakers can understand each other without special effort or intentional study. In learning of the trading history of Africa with the east via the ports of Tanzania and northwards, the spread of this language as a tool of connection makes sense. Arabic, French and English have also played this role from the outside. I love the idea of mutual intelligibility. Recognising common flavours. Recognising unique twists. Listening to each other. Seeing each other.

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