that follows is based on a document used by Marion Medical Mission.
Monire mose -
hello all (words of greeting given when meeting more than one person)
Monire wa mama - hello (greeting extended to a woman)
Monire wa dada - hello (greeting extended to a man)
Monire wa gogo - hello (to old person)
uli? - How are you?
Nili makola, kwali imwe? - Im fine, how about you? (offered in
response to "Muli uli")
makola, kwali imwe? -Fine, and you?
Natandara makola, kwali imwe? -I had a fine day, how about you??
Mwatandara uli? - Second hello of the day (good afternoon, sort of)
chomene -We thank you
Nawonga chomene -I thank you
(or yevo) - thank you, very nice, excuse me, pardon, yes, etc.
yewo chomene - Thank you very much.
yewo (abbreviated response used in many situations, may mean "very
nice", "excuse me", "pardon me", or "good to see you")
uli? - How did you sleep?
Mwa uka uli? - How is your morning?
paweme - goodbye
pepani - sorry
chomene - very sorry.
imwe - you (plural)
makola - fine
muli - you are
ndili - I am
Nkhuyowoya Chizungu na Chitumbuka
pachoko. - I speak English and a little Chitumbuka (Chizungu is the
language of the muzungu or white man)
Chiuta - God
Chiuta dada - God the Father or Father God
fumu - Lord
mzimu - spirit
Tirombe - Let us pray.
kwa Chiuta - Glory be to God
Khristu - Jesus Christ
Tirombe. Tikumuwogani Chiuta dada
chifukwa chakutipa chakurya ichi. Muchitumbike mutumbikeso mathupi ghithu. Mutipeso
chakurya cha mzimu. Tikuromba mwa Yesu Khristu. Uchindami kwa Chiuta. Amen
is a blessing for food [chakurya] which asks that it be used to nourish our spirit. The
blessing is asked "in Christs name.")
greens used as a sort of relish eaten with nsima
sima - staple
food like a corn meal mush or porridge
switi - candy
vikhawo - cassava
bonda - baby
dada - father or generically man
gogo - old person (sign of respect)
mama - mother or generically woman
mnyane - my friend
msepuka - boy
msungwana - girl
muzungu - white man
mwana - child
nganya - friend
vimbuza - witch-hunt dance
wana - children
black and white crow
cokoko - heron
luhela - hawk
mbewa - mouse
mbuzi - goat
mtondoli - lizard
nchewe - dog (pronounced with v, not w)
ngombe - cattle, cow
nkhuku - chicken
- For what reason or why?
njani? - Who?
nkhuni? - Where?
odi odi - May I come in?
odini - come in.
pambuni? - When?
paweme - goodbye.
apo - there
chonde - please.
kufuntha chomene - very crazy
luta uku - go
maryelo - right
mazere - left
zangakuno - Come here.
Nkhugwira ku nyuzi pepala. - I work for a newspaper.
Mwanakazi wane ni Julie. - My wifes name is Julie.
Mwana wane munyamata ni August. - My sons name is August.
Tom Logan wana chinkhonono chikulu. - Tom snores loudly.
Nili wa chikanga chomene. - I am very brave.
Navuka. Nkhuluta namgona. - Im tired. Im going to sleep.
Nkhwiza luwiro - I am coming soon.
Malawi nicharo chakutowa. - Malawi is a beautiful country.
Chonde yowoyanga pachoko pachoko. - Please speak slowly.
Ndingamujambulani? - May I take your picture?
Tijambulani. - Take our picture.
Una vyaka vilinga? - How old are you?
Nina vyaka 34. -I am 34.
Nkhumanya (yayi.) - I (dont) know.
Nkhupurika (yayi.) - I (dont) hear.
Nkhupanikizga (yayi.) - I (dont) understand.
Kasi ukupanikizga? - Do you understand?
charu - earth
dimba - garden
dongo - dirt
galimoto - automobile
maji - water
moto - fire
mwezi - moon
ndowa - bucket or pail
zuwa - sun
This vocabulary list is based
on a list generated by Dennis Magee and updated by Jerry Miller. I have added a few words
and clarified others. Some corrections were suggested by Mike Malanzi.
Chitumbuka, the letters L and R are often interchanged.
For example it might be makola or makora and
still be the same word. This also leads to
interchanging the letters in English words, such as Grory to God.
Different regions in the northern part of Malawi have variations
in their usage of Chitumbuka - they may use slightly different words or spellings, but
they can all understand each other. The vocabulary listed here should not be taken
as gospel but should allow you to communicate.