Survey of Swahili dictionaries: elements of the microstructure


  • Beata Wójtowicz University of Warsaw


Swahili dictionaries, bilingual lexicography, microstructure, entry structure


The present article investigates several elements of the microstructural level of Swahili bilingual dictionaries. The main emphasis is on the grammatical information, its content and presentation in the various dictionaries chosen for analysis. The other components of a dictionary entry analysed include the headword, its citation form, and additionally the pronunciation, usage labels and etymological information not found in every dictionary. We investigate the many ways in which information can be presented to the user, influencing the user-friendliness of a given dictionary.


A. Dictionaries

Abdulla, A., R. Halme, L. Harjula and M. Pesari-Pajunen. 2002. Swahili-Suomi-Swahili sanakirja. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.

Awde, N. 2009. Swahili Practical Dictionary. Swahili-English English-Swahili Dictionary. New York: Hippocrene Books.

Baba Malaika (G. Feeley). 1994. Modern Swahili Modern English. Arusha: Danish Training Center for Development Co-operation.

Cahill, W. F. 1972. Kamusi ya kwanza Kiswahili-Kiingereza. A first dictionary Swahili-English. Nairobi: Nelson.

Feeley, G. (Baba Malaika). 1990. Swahili-English Dictionary. MS-tryk Denmark.

Höftmann, H. and I. Herms. 1979. Wörterbuch Swahili-Deutsch. Verlag Enzyklopädie, VEB.

Jahadhmy, A. A. 1981. Learner's Swahili-English English-Swahili Dictionary. London: Evans Brothers Limited.

Johnson, F. 1935. Kamusi ya Kiswahili yaani Kitabu cha Maneno ya Kiswahili. London: Sheldon Press.

Johnson, F. (1939) 1985. A Standard Swahili-English Dictionary (founded on Madan's Swahili-English Dictionary). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Krapf, L.A. 1882. Swahili-English Dictionary. London: Trubner and Co.

Lodhi, A., and T. Otterbrandt. 1987. Kortfattad Swahili-Svensk Svensk-Swahili Ordbok. Uppsala: Nordiska afrikainstitutet.

Madan, A.C. (1903) 1992. Swahili-English Dictionary. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.

Miachina, E. N. (ed.). 1987. Suahili-russkij slovar. Moskva: Russkij Jazyk.

Ol’derogge, A. D. (ed.). 1961. Suahili-Russkij Slovar. Moskva: Gos. Izdatel’stvo inostrannyh i natsional’nyh slovarei.

Perrott, D.V. 1965. The E.U.P. Concise Swahili and English Dictionary Together with students’ notes and a short grammar. London: The English Universities Press LTD.

Rechenbach, C.W. et al. 1968. Swahili-English Dictionary. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.

Sacleux, C. 1939. Dictionnaire Swahili-Français. Paris: Institut d’Ethnologie.

Steere, E. 1870. A Handbook of the Swahili Language as Spoken at Zanzibar. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Stopa, R., and B. Garlicki. 1966. Mały słownik suahilijsko-polski i polsko-suahilijski. Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna.

Taasisi ya Uchunguzi wa Kiswahili (TUKI). 1981. Kamusi ya Kiswahili Sanifu. Nairobi /DSM: Oxford University Press.

Taasisi ya Uchunguzi wa Kiswahili (TUKI). 2001. Kamusi ya Kiswahili-Kiingereza. Swahili-English Dictionary. Dar es Salaam: Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es Salaam.

Velten, C. 1910. Suaheli-Worterbuch 1. Teil: Suaheli-Deutsch. Berlin: Reimer.

Velten, C. 1938. Taschen-Wörtebuch der Suheli-Sprache Suaheli-Deutsch u. Deutsch-Suaheli nebst einer Skizze der Suaheli-Grammatik. Leipzig: Kommissionsverlag von Otto Harrassowitz.

Wazaki, Y. 1980. Kamusi ya Kiswahili-Kijapani. Yotokusha Co., LTD.

B. Other literature

Atkins, B.T., and M. Rundell. 2008. The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography. Oxford University Press.

Bień, J. S. 1991. Koncepcja słownikowej informacji morfologicznej i jej komputerowej weryfikacji. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego.

Kiango, J. G. 2000. Bantu Lexicography: a critical survey of the principles and process of constructing dictionary entries. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Knowles, G., Mohd Don, Z. 2004. The notion of a “lemma”. Headwords, roots and lexical sets. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 9/1: 69–81.

Mdee, J. S. 1999. Dictionaries and the Standardization of Spelling in Swahili. Lexikos 9: 119–134.

Mohammed, M.A. 2001. Modern Swahili Grammar. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers.

Ohly R., Kraska-Szlenk I. and Z. Podobińska. 1998. Język suahili. Warszawa: Dialog.

Polomé, E. C. 1967. Swahili Language Handbook. Washington: Center for Applied Linguistics.

Zgusta, L. 1971. Manual of Lexicography. Praha: Academia.

Żmigrodzki, P. 2003. Wprowadzenie do leksykografii polskiej. Katowice: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego.




How to Cite

Wójtowicz, B. (2016). Survey of Swahili dictionaries: elements of the microstructure. Studies in African Languages and Cultures, (50), 41–70. Retrieved from