Hi guys I’m Kenyan and I have a pretty casual question, is Swahili related to Japanese in some way because I have seen similarities in how words are said, and does that give a speaking advantage over a monolingual English speaker? :slight_smile:


Hard to give a conclusive answer as the origins of Japanese aren’t all that well understood, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any relation between Japanese and Swahili, so any similarities are going to be coincidental. Actually the only thing we know for sure is Japanese is related to several other Japanese languages like Ryukyuan, other hypotheses have (AFAIK) been sketchy at best, aside from a plausible (but still unproven) relationship with Korean.

If the similarities are purely phonetic, it’s probably going to be minimal - however, the fact that you’re bilingual is going to help in and of itself, because you’ve already internalised the idea that the way languages map real-world concepts to words differs between languages - so the concept expressed in one language using a single word might have multiple words in another language depending on context, and vice versa.

That said, you might have an easier time earlier on hearing and pronouncing similar sounds that others might struggle with. Hard to say.


I don’t know, man (?). You can really tell when someone’s native language is English when they talk Japanese sometimes.

My German friend also can’t pronounce the ら row.

What I mean is, not necessarily just earlier on. :sweat_smile:

1 Like

I think that’s largely a matter of their learning process, tbh. If you don’t bother improving your pronunciation it’s gonna suffer, big surprise. You see the same with literally any other language - you can immediately tell which Dutchies haven’t bothered with their English pronunciation because their TH is gonna sound like either a D or a Z :smile:

But really getting the pronunciation is gonna take a bit of work either way, it may just require less work if you’re already used to the sounds Japanese has

1 Like

Also found this Quora answer that I found funny.

1 Like

My favourite answer to that question has to be this one

In Swahili cake is Keki

In Japanese cake is Keki

In Swahili jam is Jamu

In Japanese jam is jamu

In Swahili soup is supu

In Japanese soup is supu

In Swahili ice cream is ayskrimu

In Japanese ice is aisukurimu

Sound almost the same in Swahili

In Swahili menu is menyu

In Japanese menu is menyu

In Swahili cream is krimu

In Japanese cream is kurimu