Rare Languages we provide

Here at Vandu, we pride ourselves on being able to provide interpreting for the rarer languages needed by our customers. In this blog series, we’ll have a look at these wonderful languages and the unique people that speak them.


Swahili is probably the most famous of all African languages but is comparatively rare in Sussex and the surrounding areas; it is spoken by a number of sub-Saharan countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There’s no consensus for the amount of Swahili speakers around the world or in Africa, but its generally thought to be between 50 and 100 million speakers.

The language originates from the widely-spread Bantu people of sub-Sahara Africa, and of these peoples (of which there are hundreds of different languages/dialects) Swahili is though to have originated from East Africa, and the name of the language is thought to come from the Arabic word for “coast”; indeed, Arabic has had an major influence on Swahili which you can see in Swahili’s use of many Arabic words such as the numbers 6, 7 and 9 or "sita", “saba” and “tisa”, its previous use of Arabic as its script and the fact that many Swahili speakers are Muslim, though there is not enough influence for it to be considered a mixed language. The reason that Arabic is prevalent in Swahili is the trade between the two regions – only the narrow red sea separates eastern Africa with the Middle-East, and the proliferation of the language is likely thanks to Christian missionaries; those that landed there learnt the language and used it to communicate with everyone else they came across in Africa…Swahili is now considered the lingua franca of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Swahili is now prominent on the world scene, and apart from Arabic, the most prevalent African language. Its actually a lot more pervasive than you may think – there is a BBC Swahili radio station, its commonly seen in African art and indeed non-African art such as a Michael Jackson song, and the famous Disney movie Lion King (simba means lion, hakuna matata really does mean no worries!)

Do you require interpreting for Swahili? It's one of the many rare languages we provide for here at Vandu. Call 01273 473986 or email for more information!