article comment count is: 0

Swahili becomes the first African language recognised by Twitter

#SwahiliIsNotIndonesian and #TwitterRecognizeSwahili are the hashtags behind popular social-media platform Twitter finally offering translation for Swahili, the most spoken language in Africa

After years of user lobbying, Swahili has become the first African language to be recognised by Twitter. Twitter now detects Swahili words and offers a near-perfect translation – as it does with most other foreign languages. This makes for a refreshing change for Africans, given that for the past decade no African language had been afforded the same differentiation on the platform, instead being clumped together under the tag “Indonesian”.

This has been a gross oversight: More than 10 percent of the African continent speaks Swahili, making it the most spoken common language in Africa, followed by Amharic and Yoruba. Swahili is spoken in Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Mayotte, Mozambique, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda and in part of the UAE. Ultimately, about 5 million people speak Swahili as their native language, and a further 135 million speak it as a second language.

Read: Nigeria to introduce indigenous languages to teach Mathematics and Science

On the downside, the transition on Twitter has not been fully completed – the language has not yet been added to the language settings and some translations fall short of conveying the essentials of the message.

Nevertheless, this is definitely a win for users of social media, who rallied under the #SwahiliIsNotIndonesian and #TwitterRecognizeSwahili hashtags and made this development and recognition possible.

Tell us what you think

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.

By continuing to use our website, you agree to our use of cookies. If you'd like to learn more about the cookies we use, please read our Cookie policy.