Note on Transliteration

In: An Azanian Trio
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Note on Transliteration

The three manuscripts are replete with Arabic names which in some instances have a Swahili equivalent. The names have on the whole been transliterated in accordance with the system used by the Middle East Studies Association. Since, however, Swahili has certain sounds for which there is no Arabic equivalent, the manuscripts adapt some Arabic letters to cover these. The authors of the three manuscripts have not been consistent in doing so. The divergence has been noted in the footnotes.

The following is a table of the most common letters and their equivalents.

Arabic words

Swahili words

Arabic words

Swahili words8

‮ا‬‎

Ā

‮ش‬‎

sh

‮ب‬‎

B

‮ص‬‎

‮ت‬‎

T

‮ض‬‎

‮پ‬‎

P

‮ط‬‎

‮ث‬‎

Th

‮ظ‬‎

‮چ‬‎

ch/g

‮ع‬‎

ʿ

‮ج‬‎

J

‮غ‬‎

gh

‮ح‬‎

‮ف‬‎

f

‮ڤ‬‎

V

‮ق‬‎

q

‮خ‬‎

kh

‮ك‬‎

k

‮د‬‎

D

‮ل‬‎

l

‮غ‬‎

g/ng

‮م‬‎

m

‮ذ‬‎

dh

‮ن‬‎

n

‮ر‬‎

R

‮ه‬‎

h

‮ز‬‎

Z

‮و‬‎

w

‮س‬‎

S

‮ى‬‎

y

The hamza is not indicated at the beginning of a word.

The letter ghayn is used for NG or NG’ in Swahili words, and sometimes the modified letters of jīm, and are used for CH, P and V.

The letter wāw sometimes indicates the consonant W and at other times a long vowel ū. The ḍamma represents a short vowel u or o.

The letter ʿayn is marked as ʿ and hamza as ʾ.

Terminology

Tribe

a politically or socially coherent and autonomous group occupying or claiming a particular territory.9

Clan

a group of persons of both sexes, membership of which is determined by unilineal descent, actual or putative, with ipso facto obligations of an exclusive kind.10

8

J.W.T. Allen, Arabic Script for Students of Swahili. Supplement to Tanganyika Notes and Records. November 1945. See also R.L. Pouwels, The Shafʿi Ulama of East Africa, ca. 1830–1970: A Hagiographic Account. Madison: University of Wisconsin African Studies Program, 1989, pp. 1 ff.

9

Royal Anthropological Institute (ed.), Notes and Queries on Anthropology. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971, p. 66. In a Semitic context, the term has been used to refer to the “tribes of Israel,” e.g. Ex. 28:21.

10

Ibid., p. 89; J. De V. Allen, Swahili Origins, pp. 219 ff.