Arabic loans in some Nilotic-Saharan languages

Journal title

Folia Orientalia




vol. LIV

Publication authors


Nilotic-Saharan languages ; Swahili ; Arabic loans ; Bantu languages

Divisions of PAS

Nauki Humanistyczne i Społeczne


Most of the people of coastal East Africa were ancestors of the modern Swahili. The occurrence of Swahili loans in unrelated neighbouring languages is quite frequent. The influence of Arabic loans, mainly via Swahili, was not confined to East Africa, or to Nilotic and Bantu languages (particularly Mijikenda and Pokomo), but also to Central African languages like Kikongo, Lingala up to the Sango. This is clear because Islam penetrated mainly and exclusively through Swahili speaking people and not directly from Arabic, so all the words dealing with the new religion, and which so abundantly arrived in West African languages, were not necessarily lent. In this paper, a research in progress is presented. It started one year ago by collecting Arabic loans in languages spoken in East and Central Africa. The main object of investigation is to organise a data base similar to what done for West Africa, using the same methodology. Up to now a few dictionaries and other sources on these languages have been consulted: Acholi, Ankole, Anywa, Ateso, Bari, Bemba, Bende, Dholuo, Kikamba, Kikongo, Kikuyu, Kiluba, Kiw’oso, Kuria, Lega, Lingala, Lomongo, Lotuxo, Luena, Luganda, Lunyankole, Lunyoro, Macua, Madi, Matengo, Ngombe, Pokomo, Pokot, Rendille, Shona, Swahili, Xhosa and Zande, but this article is dealing with Nilo-Saharan languages only.


Polish Academy of Sciences — Cracow Branch




Artykuły / Articles


ISSN 0015-5675