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Although aliwakunywa, walimnyonya

Sheng has evolved over the years from being a conglomeration of Swahili and English words to indigenous languages in Kenya.


Youth. Photo/COURTESY

Mwingi Times has been hearing two sheng words spoken in the vast region and sought to find out their meanings.

The first word is Kuwakunywa. Kuwakunywa means kuvutia madem, says Alfred Mutua, a comrade from Tseikuru. He further divulges that its synonym (words with similar meaning) is kutesa.

Another word that is often used by young adults in the region is Kunyonya. Mr Mutua says that Kunyonya stands for kukulwa pesa na mtu.

Some sheng phrases have stood the test of time while others have become clich├ęs.  Dem means a girl and chali means a boy. Bunda is dad while Masa is mum.

But use of sheng has not been without its disadvantages. Experts think it erodes Kiswahili Sanifu by corrupting East Africa’s language that is often spoken in many places across the region such as Kenyan coast and Tanzania which is the seat of EAC.

OpenEdition journal traces the origin of sheng to be Nairobi in 1960s. This is according to Mazrui (1995) who says the slang was majorly English and Swahili as well as other Kenyan languages like Kikamba, Dholuo, Luyha and Kikuyu.

Economically challenged neighbourhoods of Nairobi are associated with sheng. These include slums and lower middleclass areas.

Kenyan political class use sheng to communicate with the youth and sell their manifestos. This makes them connect with the up and coming demographic.

What sheng words do you use in your locality? Comment on this page for interactions. We will sample a few of the new words and publish next time.

Story by MUSYOKA NGUI

 

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