There have been many papers which have analyzed the multilingual situation in Tanzania, especially the relation between Swahili and English, on the one hand, and between Swahili and other ethnic languages on the other; in particular since the country's independence. Today Swahili, other than English or any other ethnic languages, is used in most functions in Tanzania. It is therefore true to say that Swahili has been given a high prestige as the National Language.
But, when we say ‘Swahili’ what variety of the language do we mean? The variety that is used in so-called official situations, such as in education, mass communication etc., is called ‘Standard Swahili’ (or ‘Kiswahili Sanifu’ in Swahili). However, not enough analysis has been done concerning the relation between Kiswahili Sanifu and the other Swahili dialects, how it has influenced them or been influenced by them at both the phonological and lexical levels. Furthermore, the Swahili speakers' knowledge and attitudes to Kiswahili Sanifu has not been the subject of much discussion.
The aim of this paper, then, is to analyse language use and language attitudes in the coastal areas where Swahili is the predominant language. We chose Zanzibar and Pemba Islands as the main research areas because they have many dialects that have not been well researched. We used a questionnaire of 28 questions, and interviewed 100 informants who were native Swahili speakers. The questions basically dealt with the speakers' language use and language attitudes, and especially the way they saw the relationship and differences between Kiswahili Sanifu and their own speech varieties.
Our findings show that there are big differences in perceptions of the speakers concerning the language they use, and their attitudes towards Kiswahili Sanifu, depending on their place of birth, their present place of residence, their education, their occupation, and so on. Although they acknowledge that they speak Swahili, they are not very clear on the relationship between their variety of Swahili and other varieties sharing the same designation. At the same time there seems to be a complex inter-twining of the different dialects in actual use, but it is an issue that requires further research.