Nyanja phrasebook

Nyanja ("chinyanja"), also known as Chewa ("chicheŵa") after the largest tribe speaking it, is a Bantu language spoken by over 15 million people in southern Africa. Chewa/Nyanja is an official language and common "lingua franca" in Malawi and Zambia, and is spoken by some in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa as well.

The name "Nyanja" actually means "lake", so "chinyanja" is the "language of the lake" — referring to the language of the Chewas and other tribes who have adopted their language. In Malawi, the official name is Chichewa, while Zambia and Mozambique call it Nyanja.

source : Wikivoyage

Pronounciation Guide and Phrase List

  • Vowels

    · All vowels are pronounced "pure" and as in Italian.

    · a,as in father

    · e,as in bed or weigh

    · i,as in machine

    · o,as in vote

    · u,as in hoop

  • Consonants

    · Note that the consonants 'n' and 'm' can form initial clusters as in "ndapita" ("I'm going") or "mpingo" ("church").

    · b,like 'b' in "bed" (this English sounding explosive "b" is usually preceded by "m" to make a consonant blend)

    · b,like 'b' in the American southern dialect "down by the Bayou" (implosive 'b')

    · c, ch,like 'ch' in "chip" (without aspiration)

    · d,like 'd' in "dog" (this English sounding explosive 'd' never begins a word)

    · d,like 'd' in the American southern dialect "Down by the bayou" or the modern slang, "Dude!" (implosive 'd')

    · di,like 'dzi'

    · f,like 'ph' in "phone"

    · g,like 'g' in "go", like 'j' in "jello"

    · h,like 'h' in "help", emphasized in diphthongs

    · j,like 'dg' in "edge"

    · k,like "sKat" (unaspirated 'k')

    · kh,like 'c' in "cat"

    · l,like 'l' in "love"

    · m,like 'm' in "mother"

    · n,like 'n' in "nice"

    · ng,like 'ng' in "song" "plus" a hard 'g' afterward (two sounds)

    · ng',like 'ng' in "song" (one sound)

    · ny,like 'ñ' in Spanish "mañana"

    · p,like "sPat" (unaspirated 'p')

    · ph,like 'p' in "pig"

    · r,pronounced softly like 'l', often interchangeable

    · s,like 'ss' in "hiss"

    · si,like 'she' in "sheet"

    · t,like "sTop" (unaspirated 't')

    · th,like 't' in "top"

    · tch,like 'ch' in "chip" (normally aspirated)

    · w,like 'w' in "wheel"

    · ŵ,bilabial fricative (IPA [ɸ], not found in English), best said like a weak 'w' edging towards 'f'

    · z,like 'z' in "adze"

  • Basics

    · Hello.,Moni.

    · Sir (or) Mister,Abambo

    · Madam,Amayi

    · How are you?,Muli bwanji?

    · Fine, thank you. (And you?),Ndili bwino.(Kaya inu? Kaya anzathu?)

    · What is your name?,Dzina lanu ndani?/Dzina lanu ndi yani?

    · My name is ______ .,Dzina langa ndi ______.

    · Please.,Chonde.

    · Thank you.,Zikomo. (very common - ends most conversations)

    · Yes,Ee / Eya / Inde (can also mean "indeed").

    · Truly (or) Really,Ndithu

    · No,Iyayi (used strongly) or ayi (more polite)

    · Bad,Woipa (person), or choipa (thing)

    · Thanks,Zikomo

    · I'm sorry.,Pepani

    · "See you later"/We shall meet.,Tionana.

    · Goodbye (meaning,I'm going.) : Ndapita.

    · Have a safe journey.,Yendani bwino / Muyende bwino.

    · Stay well.,Tsalani bwino. / Mutsale bwino.

    · I don't speak Nyanja.,Sindimalankhula chinyanja.

    · Do you speak English?,Mumalankhula chizungu/chingelesi?

    · Is there someone here who speaks English?,Alipo munthu pano olankhula chizungu?

    · Help me!,Mundithandize! Ndithadizeni

    · Don't be rude (or) cheeky.,Osapanga chipongwe.

    · Swear words,Mau Otukwana

    · Good morning.,Mwauka bwanji? / Mwadzuka bwanji? (greeting) Ndadzuka bwino. (response)

    · Good afternoon.,Mwasewela bwanji? (greeting) Ndasewela bwino. (response)

    · Good evening.,Mwachoma bwanji. (greeting) Ndachoma bwino. (response)

    · Good night.,Usiku wabwino.

    · Sleep well.,Gonani bwino. or Mugone bwino.

    · I don't understand,Sindimvetsa. or Sindikumvetsa.

    · I know,Ndimadziwa.

    · I don't know,Sindidziwa.

    · I want,Ndikufuna

    · I don't want,Sindikufuna

    · I heard,Ndamva

    · I didn't hear,Sindinamve

    · Where is the toilet?,Chimbudzi chili kuti? (Chimbuzi is a big goat :D)

    · Ladies (toilet),Chimbudzi cha Akazi (Gentlemen - never ask for the Kazi..!!)

    · Gents (toilet),Chimbudzi cha Amuna

    · White person,Mzungu / Azungu (plural)

    · Indian,Mmwenye / Amwenye

    · What?,Ati?

  • Problems

    · Leave me alone.,Ndilekeni or Ndisiyeni

    · Don't touch me!,Osandigwira

    · Don't swear (or) bad-mouth,Osatukwana

    · I'll call the police.,Ndiitana apolisi

    · Police!,Wapolisi!

    · Stop! Thief!,Gwirani! Wakubayo!

    · I need your help.,Mundithandize, or Thandizeni

    · It's an emergency.,N'zofunika mwamsanga

    · I'm lost.,Ndasochera

    · I lost my bag.,Ndataya chikwama

    · I lost my wallet.,Ndataya kachikwama kanga kandalama

    · I'm sick.,Ndikudwala

    · Head ache.,Ndikudwala mutu

    · Pain.,Kupweteka

    · Stomache ache.,Kupweteka m'mimba

    · Chest pain.,Kupweteka chifuwa

    · Cough.,Kutsokomola

    · Diarrhoea.,Kotsekula m'mimba

    · I've been injured.,Ndapweteka

    · I need a doctor.,Ndikufuna dokotala

    · Hospital.,Chipatala

    · Can I use your phone?,Ndingaimbe nawo foni yanuyo?

    · There's been an accident,Kuli Ngozi

    · Hurry quickly,Fulumira Msanga

    · Run!,Thamanga

    · Hit (or) clout,Menya

    · Go away (as in scram),Choka

    · I don't want,sindikufuna

    · Thank you and you ( after someone asks how are you ),zikomo khaya inu

  • Numbers

    · English numbers are very commonly used even when speaking in Nyanja.

    · 1,Modzi

    · 2,Wiri

    · 3,Tatu

    · 4,Nayi

    · 5,Sanu

    · 6,Sanu n'chimodzi (five and one)

    · 7,Sanu n'ziwiri (five and two)

    · 8,Sanu n'zitatu

    · 9,Sanu n'zinayi

    · 10,Khumi

    · 11,khumi n'chimodzi (ten and one)

    · 12,khumi n'ziwiri

    · 13,khumi n'zitatu

    · 14,khumi n'zinayi

    · 15,khumi n'zisanu

    · 16,khumi n'zisanu n'chimodzi (ten and five and one)

    · 17,khumi n'zisanu n'ziwiri

    · 18,khumi n'zisanu n'zitatu

    · 19,khumi n'zisanu n'zinayi

    · 20,makumi awiri (two tens)

    · 21,makumi awiri n'chimodzi

    · 22,makumi awiri n'ziwiri

    · 23,makumi awiri n'zitatu

    · 30,makumi atatu

    · 40,makumi anayi

    · 50,makumi asanu

    · 60,makumi asanu n'limodzi

    · 70,makumi asanu ndiawiri

    · 80,makumi asanu ndiatatu

    · 90,makumi asanu ndianayi

    · 100,zana limodzi

    · 200,mazana awiri

    · 300,mazana atatu

    · 1000,chikwi chimodzi

    · 2000,zikwi ziwiri

    · 1,000,000,one million ("...")

    · 1,000,000,000,one billion

    · 1,000,000,000,000,one trillion

    · number _____ ("train, bus, etc."),number _____ ("...")

    · half,theka

    · less,kuchepera

    · more,kuchulukira

  • Time

    · What is the time?,Nthawi ili bwanji?

    · now,panopa (or) Tsopano

    · later,mbuyo

    · before,patsogolo pa("...")

    · tomorrow,mawa

    · early tomorrow,mawa, pa mamawa

    · morning,m'mawa

    · afternoon,masana

    · evening,madzulo

    · night,usiku

    · yesterday,dzulo

    · day before yesterday,dzana

  • Clock time

    · one o'clock AM,one o'clock AM ("(one)wanu koloko m'mawa kwambiri")

    · ten o'clock AM,two o'clock AM ("(ten)teni koloko m'mawa")

    · noon,noon ("twelve koloko m'masana")

    · two o'clock PM,two o'clock PM ("(two)tu koloko m'masana")

    · five o'clock PM,five o'clock PM ("(five)faivi koloko m'madzulo")

    · midnight,midnight ("(twelve)twelufu koloko m'usiku")

  • Duration

    · _____ minute(s),_____ minute(s) ("...")

    · _____ hour(s),_____ hour(s) ("...")

    · _____ day(s),_____ tsiku (masiku) ("...")

    · _____ week(s),_____ mulungu (milungu) ("...")

    · _____ month(s),_____ month(s) ("...")

    · _____ year(s),_____ chaka (zaka) ("...")

  • Days

    · today,lero

    · yesterday,dzulo

    · tomorrow,mawa

    · this week,mlungu uno / sabata ino

    · last week,mlungu watha / sabata yatha / sabata idapita

    · next week,mlungu wa mawa / sabata ya mawa / sabata ikubwera

    · Sunday,pasabata, lamulungu

    · Monday,lolemba

    · Tuesday,lachiwiri

    · Wednesday,lachitatu

    · Thursday,lachinayi

    · Friday,lachisanu

    · Saturday,loweluka

  • Months

    · January,January ("...")

    · February,February ("...")

    · March,March ("...")

    · April,April ("...")

    · May,May ("...")

    · June,June ("...")

    · July,July ("...")

    · August,August ("...")

    · September,September ("...")

    · October,October ("...")

    · November,November ("...")

    · December,December ("...")

  • Colors

    · black,kuda

    · white,yera

    · gray,gray ("...")

    · red,wofiira (also used, impolitely, to describe a white person)

    · blue,kamtambo ("...")

    · yellow,chikasu ("...")

    · green,abiriwiri ("...")

    · orange,ndimwi ("...")

    · purple,purple ("...")

    · brown,brown ("...")

    · what colour?,mtundu uti (also means 'what sort?')

  • Bus and train

    · How much is a ticket to _____?,Tikiti ndi bwanji ku _____? ("...")

    · One ticket to _____, please.,Tikiti imodzi ku _____. ("...")

    · Where does this train/bus go?,Sitima/Basi ikupita kuti?

    · Where is the train/bus to _____?,Sitima/Basi ya ku______ ili kuti?

    · Does this train/bus stop in _____?,Sitima/Basi iyi imayima pa _____? ("...")

    · When does the train/bus for _____ leave?,Sitima/Basi yaku ______ inyamuka nthawi yanji?

    · When will this train/bus arrive in _____?,Sitima/Basi iyi ikafika ku _______ nthawi yanji?

  • Directions

    · How do I get to _____ ?,How do I get to _____ ? ('Ndingakafike bwanji ku ...")

    · ...the train station?,...the train station? ("...steji ya njanji?")

    · ...the bus station?,...the bus station? ("...steji ya basi?")

    · ...the airport?,...the airport? ("...bwalo la ndege?")

    · ...downtown?,...downtown? ("...Town")

    · ...the youth hostel?,...the youth hostel? ("...")

    · ...the _____ hotel?,...the _____ hotel? ("...Hotela ya_____")

    · ...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate?,...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? ("...Embassy ya_____")

    · ...the office(s) of______,Ofesi ya______

    · Where are there a lot of...,Where are there a lot of... ("Ma... ambiri ali kuti?")

    · ...hotels?,...hotels? ("Mahotela...")

    · ...restaurants?,...restaurants? ("MaRestaurant...")

    · ...bars?,...bars? ("Mabara...")

    · ...sites to see?,...sites to see? ("Malo osangalatsa aleno ku awone...")

    · Can you show me on the map?,Can you show me on the map? ("Mungandionetse pa map?")

    · street,street ("Mseu")

    · Turn left.,Turn left. ("Khotani/Mukhote kumanzere")

    · Turn right.,Turn right. ("Khotani/Mukhote kumanja")

    · Road,Mseu (pronounced Msay-oo)

    · left,left ("Kumanzere")

    · right,right ("Kumanja")

    · straight ahead,straight ahead ("Straight")

    · towards the _____,towards the _____ ("mbali ya ku...")

    · past the _____,past the _____ ("Kudutsa pa...")

    · before the _____,before the _____ ("Osafika pa...")

    · Watch for the _____.,Watch for the _____. ("muyang-anile chizindikilo cha...")

    · intersection,intersection ("pokomano miseu/pa mphambano...")

    · north,north ("ku mpoto...")

    · south,south ("ku mwela...")

    · east,east ("ku mm'awa...")

    · west,west ("ku madzulo...")

    · uphill,uphill ("ku mtunda/kokwela...")

    · downhill,downhill ("ku musi...")

  • Taxi

    · Taxi!,Taxi! ("...")

    · Take me to _____, please.,Munditengere ku________, chonde.

    · How much does it cost to get to _____?,Ndibwanji kupita ku _____? ("...")

    · Take me there, please.,Munditengere kumeneko, chonde.

  • Lodging

    · Do you have any rooms available?,Alipo Malo?

    · How much is a room for one person/two people?,Ndalama zingati room ya munthu m'modzi/anthu awiri? ("...")

    · Does the room come with...,Room iri ndi ...

    · ...bedsheets?,Ma bedsheet?

    · ...a bathroom?,...kosambira? ("...")

    · ...a telephone?,...telephone? ("...")

    · ...a TV?,...a TV? ("...")

    · May I see the room first?,Choyamba, ndingathe kuona malo?

    · Do you have anything quieter?,Pali kwina kopanda phokoso? ("...")

    · ...bigger?,...yokulirapo? ("...")

    · ...cleaner?,...cleaner? ("...")

    · ...cheaper?,...yochipirapo? ("...")

    · OK, I'll take it.,Chabwino, nditenga yomweyi.

    · I will stay for _____ night(s).,NdiKhala kuno masiku_______

    · Can you suggest another hotel?,Mungandiuze hotel ina? ("...")

    · Do you have a safe?,Do you have a safe? ("...")

    · ...lockers?,...lockers? ("...")

    · Is breakfast/supper included?,Is breakfast/supper included? ("...")

    · What time is breakfast/supper?,What time is breakfast/supper? ("...")

    · Please clean my room.,Chonde, ndikonzereni room. ("...")

    · Can you wake me at _____? | Mundidzutse nthawi ya ________

    · I want to check out.,Ndikufuna ndituluke mu hotel. ("...")

  • Money

    · Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?,Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars? ("...") kodi mu vomera kutenga ndalama zaku ma chalo ena?

    · Do you accept British pounds?,Do you accept British pounds? ("...")

    · Do you accept credit cards?,Do you accept credit cards? ("...")

    · Can you change money for me?,Can you change money for me? ("...")

    · Where can I get money changed?,Where can I get money changed? ("...")

    · Can you change a traveler's check for me?,Can you change a traveler's check for me? ("...")

    · Where can I get a traveler's check changed?,Where can I get a traveler's check changed? ("...")

    · What is the exchange rate?,What is the exchange rate? ("...")

    · Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?,Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? ("...")

  • Eating

    · A table for one person/two people, please.,

    · Can I look at the menu, please?,Ndingaone menu?

    · Can I look in the kitchen?,Ndingakaone ku khitchini?

    · Is there a house specialty?,

    · Is there a local specialty?,

    · I'm a vegetarian.,Ndimadya masamba basi/

    · I don't eat pork.,Sindimadya nyama ya nkhumba.

    · I don't eat beef.,Sindimadya nyama ya ng'ombe.

    · Can you make it "lite", please? ("less oil/butter/lard"),

    · fixed-price meal,

    · à la carte,

    · breakfast,

    · lunch,

    · tea ("meal"),

    · supper,

    · I would like _____.,Ndifuna _____.

    · I would like a dish containing _____.,Ndikufuna chakudya chokhala ndi___________

    · chicken,nkhuku

    · beef,nyama ya ng'ombe

    · pork,nyama ya nkhumba

    · fish,nsomba

    · maize porridge,nsima

    · eggs,mazira

    · salad,saladi, masamba

    · (fresh) vegetables,masamba.

    · (fresh) fruit,chipatso (one), zipatso (many)

    · bread,buledi

    · rice,mpunga

    · beans,nyemba

    · May I have a glass of _____?,

    · May I have a cup of _____?,

    · May I have a bottle of _____?,

    · coffee,khofi

    · tea ("drink"),tiyi

    · maize drink,maheu

    · water,madzi

    · beer (Western),mowa

    · beer (maize),masese

    · May I have some _____?,Mundipatseko ________?

    · salt,mchere

    · black pepper,Tsabola

    · butter,

    · Excuse me, waiter? ("getting attention of server"),

    · I'm finished.,Ndakhuta

    · It was delicious.,Chakudya chinali bwino.

    · Please clear the plates.,Chotsani mbale, zikomo.

    · The check, please.,Ndipatseni bill.

  • Bars

    · Do you serve alcohol?,Mumagulitsa mowa? ("...")

    · Is there table service?,table service iriko? ("...")

    · A beer/two beers, please.,Mowa umodzi/mowa uwiri, zikomo.

    · A glass of red/white wine, please.,Glass ya red/white wine, zikomo. ("...")

    · A pint, please.,A pint, please. ("...")

    · A bottle, please.,Botolo limodzi, zikomo. ("...")

    · _____ ("hard liquor") and _____ ("mixer"), please.,_____ and _____, please. ("...")

    · whiskey,whiskey ("...")

    · vodka,vodka ("...")

    · rum,rum ("...")

    · water,madzi

    · club soda,club soda ("...")

    · tonic water,tonic water ("...")

    · orange juice,orange juice ("...")

    · Coke ("soda"),Coke ("...")

    · Do you have any bar snacks?,Do you have any bar snacks? ("...")

    · One more, please.,One more, please. ("...")

    · Another round, please.,Another round, please. ("...")

    · When is closing time?,Mumatseka nthawi yanji? ("...")

  • Shopping

    · Do you have this in my size?,Do you have this in my size? ("...")Ilipo size yanga?

    · How much is this?,Ndi ndalama zingati ichi?

    · That's too expensive.,Chikudula kwambiri

    · Too much.,Zadullah

    · Would you take _____?,Would you take _____? ("...")Mumatha kutenga______?

    · expensive,Kudula

    · cheap,cheap ("Kuchipa...")

    · I can't afford it.,Sindingakwanitse

    · I don't want it.,Sindiri kufuna

    · You're cheating me.,Ukunama. ("...")

    · I'm not interested.,(..) Sindikufuna

    · OK, I'll take it.,Chabwino, Nditenga

    · Can I have a bag?,Muli ndi jumbo? ("...")

    · Do you ship (overseas)?,mumatumiza kwinakwache (kunja)?

    · I need...,ndirikufuna

    · ...toothpaste.,...toothpaste. ("...")

    · ...a toothbrush.,...a toothbrush. ("nswachi...")

    · ...tampons.,...tampons. ("...")

    · ...soap.,...soap. ("...") sopo

    · ...shampoo.,...shampoo. ("...") zochapila tsisi

    · ...pain reliever. ('e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen'),mankhwala(then specify ailment)

    · ...cold medicine.,...cold medicine. ("...") mankhwala achifuwa

    · ...stomach medicine.,...stomach medicine. ("...")mankhwala a mmimba

    · ...a razor.,...a razor. ("Leza or Lezala...")

    · ...an umbrella.,...an umbrella. ("...")

    · ...sunblock lotion.,...sunblock lotion. ("...")mankhwala wadzuwa

    · ...a postcard.,...a postcard. ("post card...")

    · ...postage stamps.,...postage stamps. ("stampa...")

    · ...batteries.,...batteries. ("mabatile...")

    · ...writing paper.,...writing paper. ("...")pepala lolembera kalata

    · ...a pen.,...a pen. ("cholembera...")

    · ...English-language books.,Mabuku achingelezi

    · ...English-language magazines.,...English-language magazines. ("magazine zachingelezi...")

    · ...an English-language newspaper.,...an English-language newspaper. ("nyuzi ya chingelezi...")

    · ...an English-English dictionary.,Dictionary ya chingelezi

  • Driving

    · I want to rent a car.,Ndikufuna rent Galimoto. ("...")

    · Can I get insurance?,Can I get insurance? ("...")

    · stop ("on a street sign"),stop ("...")

    · one way,one way ("...")

    · yield,yield ("...")

    · no parking,no parking ("...")

    · speed limit,speed limit ("...")

    · gas ("petrol") station,gas station ("...")

    · petrol,petrol ("...")

    · diesel,diesel ("...")

  • Authority

    · I haven't done anything wrong.,sindinapange mulandu ulionse. ("...")

    · It was a misunderstanding.,It was a misunderstanding. ("...")

    · Where are you taking me?,muli kundipereka kuti? ("...")

    · Am I under arrest?,kodi mwandi manga? ("...")

    · I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.,I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. ("...")

    · I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.,I need to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. ("...")

    · I want to talk to a lawyer.,I want to talk to a lawyer. ("...")

    · Can I just pay a fine now?,Can I just pay a fine now? ("...")

  • Learning more

    · How do you say my condolences in Nyanja?,(...)

    · What is this/that called?