Name ID 381

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Ngorongoro: The Eighth Wonder
Page Number: 016
Extract Date: 1972

Spelling of Masai place names

In the past the spelling of Masai place names has caused some confusion and controversy. Even the spelling of the name Masai is in doubt, some preferring Maasai. This is not a problem confined to this one area - it is a world-wide one which cartographers and geographers have as yet failed to solve. Frenchmen will continue to call London Londres, and Englishmen will refer to Wien as Vienna. Luckily, however, the present Conservator Mr Saibull is a Masai-speaker by birth, who has paid considerable attention to this problem. He has drawn up a list of spellings for place names throughout the area which I hope will become standard and eventually find their way into all publications and maps.

The early cartographers very frequently recorded the Masai name in full, for example Ol doinyo l'ol Kisale, Meaning 'the hill of the Kisale', five words in Masai (for the Masai language has an article, not a prefix, as has Swahili) and five words in English. But why laboriously spell this out at length every time? Mr Saibull has dropped the article in many cases, but retained it in some: as he sensibly says: 'For some words the article seems to enhance the Meaning and is indispensable: one has simply to try to decide which is correct.' Thus we have

Oldeani for Ol doinyo l'ol tiani (the hill of the bamboos) but

Sirua, not Esuria or Losirua for Ol doinyo l'ol Sirua (the hill of the Eland).

Extract ID: 1408

See also

Cartwright, Justin Masai Dreaming
Page Number: Introduction

Spelling of Masai

The vowel sound "aai" pronounced "eye" is very popular with the Masai. Masai has a long "a". Researchers and academics now spell Masai "Maasai". Long a's are more authentic and less touristy. There is no correct spelling of a Masai word, because Masai is not a written Language.

Extract ID: 1407