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Dsenyo Blog

  • Chichewa Lesson #4: Animal Vocabulary
  • Marissa Saints
  • Chichewafair tradeLittle FriendsMalawiSocial Entrepreneurship

Chichewa Lesson #4: Animal Vocabulary

I just got off the phone with Omex, an impressive young man from Ndiwasa village where Dsenyo works with a group of HIV widows. Omex's mom is part of the Dsenyo producer group. I first met him while working in their village one summer about 4 years ago. He stood out as just a really impressive young man with drive and ambition. On top of that he's a proud Malawian which means he's friendly, gracious, helpful and incredibly welcoming. Dsenyo now supports Omex in-part as he pursues a business certificate program so he can find work outside the village.

I gave Omex a quick call this morning via Skype. He picked up his cell phone on the other end. He'd just gotten home from class. I was looking for a quick chichewa lesson on animal vocabulary. I'm working on new hang tags for the Dsenyo line of little friends, kids plushie stuffed animals. Each animal will have a name (a chichewa name) and a fun little story to go with.

So here we go, this is what I learned!

First, a quick reminder for the readers here. Chichewa breaks down as follows: "chi" meaning "language of" and "chewa" meaning "the chewa people". Therefore Chichewa is the language of the Chewa people. There are many other tribal languages spoken in Malawi (ex - Chitimbuka the language of the Timbuka people)

Animals: English to Chichewa Translation

  • Bunny - Mbira (mmm-BEE-dah)
  • Elephant - Njobvu (nnn-joe-BVOO)
  • Lion - Mkango (mmm-KHA-nnn-GO)
  • Hippo - Mvuu (mmm-BVOO)
  • Zebra - Mbidzi (mmm-BEE-dzee)
  • Monkey - Nyani (nnn-YAH-nee)
P.S. I think my chichew pronunciation is quite decent for a westerner. I credit this to being fluent in Spanish and having a good ear for listening to how native speakers speak Chichewa.  I've completely made up the phonetic spellings above based on my understanding of proper pronunciation.  When the is an "mmm" or "nnn" this is almost like humming the sounds of the letter.  The sound comes from the back of your throat, not the front of your mouth with lips and tongue. I hope you will find these really helpful!
  • Marissa Saints
  • Chichewafair tradeLittle FriendsMalawiSocial Entrepreneurship