Kirundi/Bantu(?): Yébabawé!

Anemona61

Senior Member
Serbian, Serbia
Hi everyone!
I'm translating the novel Petit Pays by G. Faye from French into Serbian and I bumped into the exclamation Yébabawé with no explanation/translation. It is an autobiographical novel about Faye's life in Burundi. I can only suppose that it is in Swahili.
I also suppose that it means something like "Oh, Lord!", "Good Lord!" or "Good heavens!", but I can't find confirmation for that.
I would really appreciate it if you could help me with this.
Thanks in advance.
 
  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't think it's Swahili. It's probably Kirundi, the native Bantu language of Burundi. I was able to find the word in the closely related Kinyarwanda language of Rwanda, which according to Wikipedia is mutually intelligible with Kirundi. This set of Kinyarwanda flash cards translates it as "Oh wow! OMG!"
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Swahili doesn't use any accented letters. It only has five simple vowels a e i o u, and doesn't have tones, so anything with accents is some other Bantu language.
     

    Anemona61

    Senior Member
    Serbian, Serbia
    Swahili doesn't use any accented letters.
    Thanks for this correction/explanation. I only copied the word from my French text and those accented letters were meant to help French readers to pronounce it correctly . It was so stupid of me! :oops:
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Well, I meant that other Bantu languages often have more complex vowel systems, so e and é could be different vowels. Also, most of them are tonal, so could use é for high tone and è for low tone. It would depend on the language, but Swahili has none of this.
     

    mfctto

    New Member
    "Portuguese-Brasil"
    Hi there! I am also translating the same book, but to Portuguese (Brazil) and I ended up in this page when searching the translationm which I knew was in kirundi, since the boy said the grandma and the uncle spoke in this language and they could not understand a word. Thanks for the explanation.
    However, Don't you believe that the meaning of "Au nom de Dieu" can be "Oh, shit!"?
    My best,
     
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