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Known more commonly in the west as Swahili, Kiswahili is the Bantu language of the Swahili peoples. In short, Swahili refers to the people and Kiswahili refers to the language that they speak.

It is estimated that up to 150m people could be native or second language Kiswahili speakers and these are spread across a large part of Africa.

Kiswahili is the official language of Tanzania, Uganda, the DRC and Kenya and is one of the working languages of the African Union.

Formed from a mixture of Bantu languages, Kiswahili changes depending upon where it is spoken. In Tanzania, it is spoken very quickly resembling the original Bantu languages whilst in Kenya the words are formed much more slowly.

Smaller numbers of people speak Kiswahili or one of its related dialects in Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda and Comoros and the language is relatively well dispersed across East Africa.

Broadcasting stations will use a mixture of Kiswahili and English to reach as wide a demographic as possible and a great deal of the marketing materials, films and interviews use Kiswahili as a common language.

Although we refer to Kiswahili as a fixed language, there is good evidence that it is one of the most rapidly evolving languages in the world which makes it even more important that native speakers are used for translations.

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