Malawian English is the English language as spoken in Malawi. English is the country's official language.


English was introduced into Malawi towards the end of the 19th century, due to the influence of British explorers, missionaries, the arrival of the African Lakes Corporation, and colonial administrators present since the establishment in the 1890s of the British Central Africa Protectorate. The seventy years of British colonial rule that followed the Scramble for Africa, set the groundwork for English to grow into the area's dominant and most socially prestigious language.


Since Malawian independence, the dominance of English has continued:

This remains true despite a large majority of Malawians speaking Chichewa and the small number of English speakers outside urban centres. Also, in Malawian government schools, students are taught in Chichewa, and learn English as a second language from about age 10. But in international schools in Malawi (like Saint Andrew's International High School in Blantyre) which follow the British curriculum, English is the language students are taught in, and do not learn Chichewa at all, as it is regarded as a local language.

Replacement of local vocabulary

English words are replacing their equivalents in other Malawi languages. One study of a corpus of Chichewa discourse captured over a ten-year period found that references to numbers greater than 3 were exclusively in English, at least in urban areas.[1]

Non-linguistic expressions

Malawian English features some non-linguistic expressions that are still used, such as "eesh!", an exclamation meaning "oh my!"


  1. ^ Simango, Silvester Ron (2000). ""My Madam is Fine": The Adaptation of English Loans in Chichewa" (PDF). Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 21 (6): 487–507. doi:10.1080/01434630008666419. S2CID 143772034. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-07-18. See page 503. Abstract is in HTML format.