Tumbuka phrasebook

Tumbuka is a Bantu language which is spoken in parts of Northern Malawi, Eastern Zambia, and South-Western Tanzania.

The language of the Tumbuka is called chiTumbuka - the 'chi' in front of Tumbuka meaning 'the language of', similar to 'ki' in kiSwahili or 'se' in seTswana.

The World Almanac (1998) estimates approximately 2,000,000 Tumbuka speakers exist in the aforementioned three countries.

There are substantial differences between the form of Tumbuka spoken in urban areas (which borrows some words from Chichewa/Nyanja) and the "village" or "deep" Tumbuka spoken in villages. Furthermore there are many alternative spellings in written Tumbuka, and no standard orthography. The Rumphi variant is often regarded as the most "linguistically pure", and is sometimes called "real Tumbuka".

source : Wikivoyage

Pronounciation Guide and Phrase List

  • Vowels

    · a,like the "a" in "father"

    · e,like the "ay" in "pay" (like the French é)

    · i,like the "ee" in "tree" (like the French i)

    · o,like the "o" in "home"

    · u,something like the "oo" in "food"

  • Consonants

    · b,like 'b' in "bed", but sometimes interchangeable with 'w'

    · c,like 'k' in "kid"

    · ch,like 'ch' in "chair"

    · d,like 'd' in "dog"

    · f,like 'f' in "fit"

    · g,like 'g' in "go"

    · h,like 'h' in "help"

    · j,like 'dg' in "edge"

    · k,like 'c' in "cat"

    · l,like 'l' in "love", but often interchangable with 'r'

    · m,like 'm' in "mother"

    · n,like 'n' in "nice"

    · nkh,like a 'n' sound at the back of the mouth expelling air through the nose

    · p,like 'p' in "pig"

    · ph,like a breathy 'p'

    · r,like 'r' in "row", but often interchangable with 'l'

    · s,like 'ss' in "hiss", like 'z' in "haze"

    · t,like 't' in "top"

    · v,like 'v' in "victory"

    · w,like 'w' in "weight", but sometimes interchangeable with 'b'

    · y,like 'y' in "yes"

    · z,like 'z' in "haze"

  • Basics

    · The standard greetings are addressed as questions, most of which can be answered with the word "makola".

    · Ni- I, Mu- You, Ta-He/She,They

    · Tense ku- present Ka- past zamu-future

    · all verbs will start like kugona (to sleep)

    · to build a verb use prounoun +tense+ verb

    · So I will sleep, Ni+ Zamu+ gona= nizamugona

    · How are you?,Muli uli?

    · Good.,Nili Makola.

    · I'm fine, how are you?,Nili makola, kwali Imwe?

    · Thank You. (General positive response meaning hi, yes, thank you, etc.),Yebo/Yewo.

    · Hello? (Is anyone at home?),Odi?

    · Welcome. (Greeting.),response to "Odi" = "Odini"

    · Welcome. "Tempokani"

    · What is your name?,Zina linu ndimwe njani?

    · My name is ______ .,Zina lawo ndine ______ .

    · Nice to meet you.,Chatowa kuwonana nawe.

    · Please.,Chonde (when used, connotes begging)

    · Thank you.,Yewo = common,Tawonga = deeper thanks/deeper Chitumbuka.

    · You're welcome.,Palije suzgo = no problem

    · Yes.,Enya.

    · No.,Yayi.

    · Sorry. ("getting attention"),Pephani

    · Excuse me. ("begging pardon"),Pephani

    · I'm sorry.,Pephani. (also means sorry as with empathy)

    · Goodbye. (I'm going now.),Nakuluta sono.

    · Goodbye. (Go well, if someone else is leaving.),Mwende makola.

    · Goodbye. (Stay well, if you are leaving),Khalani makola.

    · Farewell. (We'll see each other later.),Tizamuonana.,Tisanganenge. Tiwonanenge.

    · I do not speak Tumbuka.,Ine nkhuyowoya chiTumbuka yayi.

    · English,ChiZungu, which means the language of the white people, especially in Malawi and Zambia

    · Do you speak English?,Kasi ... mukhuyowoya chiZungu?

    · Is there someone here who speaks English?,Pali uyo wakuyowoya chiZungu pano?

    · Help!,Novwire.

    · Stop!,Leka!

    · Look out!,Labisya

    · Go Away! (strong and a bit disrespectful) Choka

    · Good morning. (How have you woken?),Mwawuka uli?

    · I have woken fine, how about you?,Tawuka makola, kwali imwe?

    · Good afternoon. (How has your day been?),Mwatandala uli?.

    · My day has been well, how about you?,Tatandala makola, kwali imwe?

    · Good night.,Mugone makola (Sleep Well). Usiku uwemi (Good night).

    · Sleep well. (To one who is going.),Mukugona makola.

    · I don't understand.,Nikupulika yayi.

    · Where is the toilet?,Chimbuzi chili nkhuni? (toilet = "chimbuzi")

  • Problems

    · Leave me alone.,Ni leke/ Ni lekani(many)("...")

    · Don't touch me!,Leka kunikola/Khwasya("Kunikhwasya yayi" - Don't touch me)

    · I'll call the police.,Niti cheme Kapokola("...")

    · Police!,Kapokola("...")

    · Stop that!,("Leka!")

    · Stop! Thief!,Munkhungu uyo("...")

    · I need your help.,Nkhukhumba kuti mundovwiri("...")

    · It's an emergency.,Ni suzgo gha mbuchimbuchi("...")

    · I'm lost.,Na sowa/soba("...")

    · I lost my bag.,na sovya chola chane, Nataya chola chane("...")

    · I lost my wallet.,na sovya chikwama chane, Nataya chikwama chane("...")

    · I'm sick.,Nalwala("...")

    · I've been injured.,na pwetekeka("...")

    · I need a doctor.,nkukhumba docotala/ng'anga("...")

    · Can I use your phone?,ningayimba fone yinu("...")

  • Numbers

    · Note that English numbers are often used even when speaking Tumbuka.

    · 1,moza ("...")

    · 2,bili ("...")

    · 3,tatu ("...")

    · 4,nayi ("...")

    · 5,nkondi, nkonde ("...")

    · 6,nkonde na kamoza ("...")

    · 7,nkonde na tubili ("...")

    · 8,nkonde na tutatu ("...")

    · 9,nkonde na tunayi ("...")

    · 10,Khumi ("...")

    · 11,Khumi na kamoza ("...")

    · 12,Khumi na Tubili ("...")

    · 13,Khumi na Tutatu ("...")

    · 14,Khumi na tunayi ("...")

    · 15,Khumi na Nkonde ("...")

    · 16,Khumi na nkonde na kamoza ("...")

    · 17,Khumi na nkonde na tubili ("...")

    · 18,Khumi na nkonde na tutatu ("...")

    · 19,Khumi na nkonde na Nayi ("...")

    · 20,ma Khumi ya bili ("...")

    · 30,ma Khumi ya tatu("...")

    · 40,ma Khumi ya nayi("...")

    · 50,ma Khumi ya nkonde("...")

    · halve,kuswa pakati,kugawa pakati ("...")

    · less,pachoko("...")

    · more,chomeni("...")

  • Clock time

    · The twenty-four hour clock is used in all Tumbuka-speaking areas.

    · now,Sono

    · later,panyuma

    · before,pambere

    · morning,mulenje,na mulenje (in the morning)

    · afternoon,mise,na mise (in the afternoon)

    · evening,mise, mazgetu("...")

    · night,usiku

    · What is the time?,Ni nyengo uli?,Nyengo yili uli

    · one o'clock AM,wanu koloko ya mulenje

    · two o'clock AM,Thu koloko ya mulenje

    · noon,namuhanya pakati

    · one o'clock PM,wanu koloko ya mise

    · two o'clock PM,Thu koloko ya mise

    · midnight,usiku pakati

  • Duration

    · Hour,ola (pl maola)

    · Day,dazi (pl madazi)

    · Week,sabata (pl masabta)

    · Month(s),_mwezi____ (".miyezi..")

    · Year,chaka (pl vyaka)

  • Days

    · today,muhanya uno

    · yesterday,mayiro

    · tomorrow,namachero

    · this week,Sabata Yino ("...")

    · last week,Sabata Yamala ("...")

    · next week,Sabata Yikwiza ("...")

    · Sunday,Sabata ("...")

    · Monday,(Chimoza) - Mande ("...")

    · Tuesday,Chibiri ("...")

    · Wednesday,Chitatu ("...")

    · Thursday,Chinayi ("...")

    · Friday,Chinkondi ("...")

    · Saturday,Chisulo ("...")

  • Months

    · English names are generally used but pronounced in Chitumbuka as follows:

    · January,Janyuwali("...")

    · February,Feburuwari("...")

    · March,marichi("...")

    · April,epurelo("...")

    · May,Me("...")

    · June,Juni("...")

    · July,Julayi("...")

    · August,Ogasiti("...")

    · September,Seputembala("...")

    · October,Okutobala("...")

    · November,Novembala("...")

    · December,Disembala("...")

  • Writing time and date

    · In chiTumbuka, traditionally times have been indicated by the position of the sun in the sky. The hand is used as in waving goodbye but turned round with the inside palm facing you and pointing to the eastern horizon for 6 o'clock am and western horizon for 6 pm. Pointing Overhead for midday.

    · 6 O'clock am: Dazi likufuma, namulenje ("6:00 is generally the time when the sun rises in the tropics")

    · 10 O'clock am: generally signalled as the position in the sky between sunrise and mid-day

  • Colors

    · The main distinguished colours are Black,Red and white.

    · black,ufipa("...")

    · white,utuwa("...")

    · gray,tuwulufu("...")

    · red,uswesi("...")

    · blue,ubidi("...")

    · yellow,ngati ntula("...")

    · green,ubiliwiri("...")

    · orange,ngati ma lalanje("Like oranges")

    · purple,("...")

    · brown,khofi("...")

  • Transportation

    · Journey/trip: ulendo

    · Depart: nyamuka

    · Arrive: Fika

    · Travel: kwenda ulendo

  • Bus and train

    · How much is a ticket to _____?,Ni ndalama zilinga kuluta ku ________("...")

    · One ticket to _____, please.,Khukhumba Tikiti yimoza("...")

    · Where does this train/bus go?,Sitima iyi yikuya nkhu? - where does this train go? Basi iyi yikuya nkhu? - where does this bus go?("...")

    · Where is the train/bus to _____?,Sitima/Basi yaku ______ yili nkhu? ("...")

    · Does this train/bus stop at _____?,Sitima/Basi iyi yikuyima pa _______? ("...")

    · When does the train/bus for _____ leave?,Sitima/Basi yaku____ yinyamukenge pauli?("...")

    · When will this train/bus arrive in _____?,Sitima/Basi yamfika pauli ku ________? ("...")

  • Directions

    · How do I get to _____ ?,Ningenda uli kukafika ku ____("...")

    · ...the train station?,Chiteskeni cha sitima ("...")

    · ...the bus station?,Chiteskeni cha basi ("...")

    · ...the airport?,Chibanja ("...")

    · ...the school?,...sukulu? ("...")

    · ...the market?,...musika? ("...")

    · ...the backpackers'?,Mala yakugona("...")

    · ...the resthouse?,resiti hausi("...")

    · ...the _____ hotel?,hotela ("...")

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

    · Where are ______,___ yili kuti? the noun comes first and there are different modifiers for different nouns ie: chili, yili, etck("...")

    · ...hotels?,Mahotelu yali nkhu?("where are hotels?")malo yakugona ghali nkhu? where is the place to sleep?

    · ...restaurants?,("...")

    · ...bars?,chilabo (traditional bar) mala yakumwa mowa (place to drink beer) ("...")

    · ...sites to see?,("...")

    · Can you show me on the map?,munganilongola pa mapu?("...")

    · Path,Ntowa ("...")

    · Road,Musewu/musewo ("...")

    · street,Muzele ("...")

    · City,Mzinda ("...")

    · Gov't center,boma

    · Turn left.,Petukila ku mazele ("...")

    · Turn right.,Petukila ku malyelo ("...")

    · left,mazele ("...")

    · right,malyelo ("...")

    · straight ahead,ku ntazi ("...")

    · towards the _____,chaku______("...")

    · past the _____,kujumpha ______("...")

    · before the _____,Pambere ______("...")

    · Watch for the _____.,("...")

    · intersection,("...")

    · north,Mpoto("...")

    · south,Mwela("...")

    · east,vuma("...")

    · west,kumanjiriro("...")

    · uphill,chikwera("...")

    · downhill,kusika("...")

  • Taxi

    · Taxi!,matola ("...")

    · Take me to _____, please.,Muniyeyeko kuluta ku_____("...")

    · How much does it cost to get to _____?,Ni mutengo uli kuluta ku______ ("uli uli?...")

    · Take me there, please.,Kaniperekezgani chonde - escort me please , Muniyeyeko chonde- give me a lift please("...")

  • Lodging

    · Do you have any rooms available?,malo yalipo?("...")

    · How much is a room for one person/two people?,Ni ndalama zilinga chipinda chimoza("...")

    · Does the room come with...,Kasi malo/vipinda vili na...("...")

    · ...bedsheets/Blankets?,vyakudika?("...")

    · ...a mosquito net?,("...")

    · ...a bathroom? toileti,("...")

    · ...a telephone?,("...")

    · ...a TV?,("...")

    · May I see the room first?,Niyawone malo("...")

    · Do you have anything quieter?,("...")

    · ...bigger?,chikulu("...")

    · ...cleaner?,("...")

    · ...cheaper?,("...")

    · OK, I'll take it.,Mbwenu, ningatola ("...")

    · I will stay for _____ night(s).,Nikhalenge nausiku.. ("...")

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

    · Do you have a safe?,("...")

    · ...lockers?,("...")

    · Is breakfast/supper included?,Muli na chakurya cha mulenji? ("...")

    · What time is breakfast/supper?,Chakurya cha mulenji/namise pa nyengo uli?("...")

    · Please clean my room.,("...")

    · Can you wake me at _____?,("...")

    · I want to check out.,Nkhukhumba kuluta pa...("...")

  • Money

    · Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?,("Ka mukuzomera ndalama zachina America/Canada/Australia?...")

    · Do you accept British pounds?,("Mukuzomera ndalama za ma paundi za ku Britain?...")

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

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

    · Where can I get money changed?,Kasi ningasintha ndalama nkhu?("...")

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

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

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

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

  • Eating

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

    · Can I look at the menu, please?,("Ningawona menu, chonde?...")

    · Can I look in the kitchen?,Kasi ningawona mu kitchini?("...")

    · Is there a house specialty?,("Mwapika vichi muhayauno?...")

    · Is there a local specialty?,Kuli chakurya cha Malawi? ("...")

    · I'm a vegetarian.,Nkurya nyama yayi. ("...")

    · I don't eat pork.,Nkurya nyama ya nkumba yayi. ("...")

    · I don't eat beef.,Nkurya nyama ya ng'ombe yayi. ("...")

    · I only eat kosher food.,("Nkurya chakulya cha WaIslam/WaMwenyi pela...")

    · Can you make it "lite", please? ("less oil/butter/lard")Kasi mungapika na mafuta pachoko?,("...")

    · fixed-price meal,("...")

    · à la carte,("...")

    · breakfast,chakurya cha mulenji("...")

    · lunch,("chakurya chamuhanya")

    · tea ("tiyi"),("...")

    · supper,chakurya cha namise("...")

    · I want _____.,Nkhukumba _____. ("...")

    · I want a dish containing _____.,("Nkhukumba mbale yimoza ya______ pamoza na______...")

    · chicken,nkhuku ("...")

    · beef,Nyama ya Ng'ombe("...")

    · fish,somba ("usipa...")

    · small fish,kapenta ("...")

    · ham,("nyama ya nkhumba...")

    · sausage,("ori...")

    · cheese,("...")

    · eggs,masumbi ("...")

    · salad,mphangwe (this is usually cooked greens)("...")

    · (fresh) vegetables,kwambula kupika("...")

    · (fresh) fruit,vipaso("...")

    · banana,ntochi ("...")

    · maize porridge,nsima ("...")

    · relish (served with nsima),dende ("...")

    · bread,chingwa, bredi ("...")

    · toast,("...")

    · noodles,("...")

    · rice,mpunga ("...")

    · beans,Nchunga("...")

    · May I have a glass of _____?,Nkhumba...("...")

    · May I have a cup of _____?,ni paniko nkhombo ya______?("...")

    · May I have a bottle of _____?,("...")

    · coffee,("...")

    · tea ("drink"),tiyi ("...")

    · juice,jusi("...")

    · (bubbly) water,("...")

    · water,maji ("...")

    · beer,Mowa("...")

    · red/white wine,Vinyu liswesi/Vinyu lituwa("...")

    · May I have some _____?,ni paniko("...")

    · salt,muchele ("...")

    · black pepper,("...")

    · butter,margarina("...")

    · sugar,suga ("...")

    · Excuse me, waiter? ("getting attention of server"),("I-sayi...")

    · I'm finished.,("basi, nakuta chomeme...")

    · It was delicious.,Chakurya chikunowa. ("...")

    · Please clear the plates.,sukani mbale("...")

    · The check, please.,("...")

  • Bars

    · Do you serve alcohol?,("mukuguliska mowa?")

    · Is there table service?,("...")

    · A beer/two beers, please.,("mowa/mowa wubiri...")

    · A glass of red/white wine, please.,(kavinyo ka mukhombo..")

    · A pint, please.,("...")

    · A bottle, please.,("...")

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

    · whiskey,("kachasu...")

    · vodka,("...")

    · rum,("...")

    · water,maji ("...")

    · club soda,("...")

    · tonic water,(maji twa muchele)

    · orange juice,(malalanje/olenje)

    · Coke ("soda"),Coca cola (kakumwa ka ku zizimisya kusingo)

    · Do you have any bar snacks?,("twakukhwasula pa mowa tulipo?")

    · One more, please.,(unyakhe chonde)

    · Another round, please.,(unyakhe wa chiwerezga)

    · When is closing time?,("nyengo yakujalila ni vichi?")

  • Shopping

    · Do you have this in my size?,("mulinacho/mulinayo chanthene/yanthene ichi/iyi icho/iyo chinganikwana/yinganikawana?")

    · How much is this?,Nizilinga? ("...")

    · That's too expensive.,Wadula. ("mudulalizia...")

    · Would you take _____? Unga yegha?,("...")

    · to be expensive,kudula ("...")

    · cheap,chamtengo uchoko("...")

    · I can't afford it.,Ningakwanisya yayi("...")

    · I don't want it.,Nkuchikhumba yayi("...")

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

    · I'm not interested.,Nilije khumbilo (..)

    · OK, I'll take it.,Inya, niyeyenge("...")

    · Can I have a bag?,Munganipasako thumba?("...")

    · Do you ship (overseas)?,kusilya kwa nyanja("...")

    · I need...,Nkhukhumba ("...")

    · ...toothpaste.,makhwala ya mino("...")

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

    · ...tampons.,("...")

    · ...soap.,Sopo("...")

    · ...shampoo.,("...")

    · ...pain reliever. muchepesya ulwilwi("e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen"),("...")

    · ...antimalaria medicine.,makhwala ya nyimbo("...")

    · ...stomach medicine.,Munkwala wa Munthumbo("...")

    · ...a razor.,("nevala")

    · ...an umbrella.,("...")

    · ...sunblock lotion.,("...")

    · ...a postcard.,("...")

    · ...postage stamps.,("stamba")

    · ...batteries.,("Mabatili")

    · ...writing paper.,("...")

    · ...a pen.,Chilembelo("...")

    · ...English-language books.,("...")

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

    · ...an English-language newspaper.,("...")

    · ...an English-English dictionary.,("...")

  • Driving

    · I want to rent a car.,("...")

    · Can I get insurance?,("...")

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

    · one way,("...")

    · yield,("...")

    · no parking,("...")

    · speed limit,("...")

    · gas ("petrol") station,("...")

    · petrol,("...")

    · diesel,("...")

  • Authority

    · I haven't done anything wrong.,("nindanange chili chose")

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

    · Where are you taking me?,("mukunitolela nkhu?')

    · Am I under arrest?,("kasi ndakakika")

    · I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.,("Ine ndine muamerica/muaustralia, etc.")

    · I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.,("Nkhukumba kuyowoya na Wa embasi ya Amerika, etc.")

    · I want to talk to a lawyer.,("nkhukhumba niyowoye na mmanyi wa maBlango")

    · Can I just pay a fine now?,("Ningalipira sono apa nthena?")

  • Asking about language

    · How do you say _____ ?,("Ka ichi mukuti uli_____")

    · What is this/that called?,("ichi ni chi vichi______ku chitumbuka")