Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ugandan - English

The official languages of Uganda are Ki-Swahili and English. However, this is very much Ugandan-English and should not be confused with English as we know it. It is also important to note that R and L are interchangeable thus pray = play, load = road etc.

A (as in apple): short and sweet, it shows surprise, is a greeting, can be used when things break/power goes off etc.

Boda boda: motorbike taxis, so named because when they first started they took people to the border of Rwanda and used to shout ‘border, border’.

Eeee (said ay as in say but for a prolonged time) this means yes, an agreement noise.

Fine: the only accepted answer to the question ‘how are you?’. Giving another response confuses people, especially children and they will just ask the question again. Unlike in Britain, the weather is never described as fine, it is a temperament reserved exclusively for humans.

It’s OK: This phrase gets a bit tricky, rather than meaning ‘no, its ok’, here it means ‘yes, its ok’. Ie. If someone says can I get you a chair and I say it’s ok, I mean no thanks I will get one, here if I say it’s ok, someone will think I mean yes, and will go and get me one. Best avoided.

Matatu: A public minibus that generally travels between towns, although in larger cities they also travel within the city boundaries. They are almost all only licensed to carry 14 passengers but expect to be sharing with up to 22 other passengers.

Mzungu: A white person. People have no qualms here with making overt references to your colour and calls of mzungu mzungu should be expected daily

Mzungu Price: An inflated price reserved especially for white people and travellers, lucky old us. A bit of bartering and repeat business generally ensures that shopkeepers top with this nonsense pretty quickly.

Now now: A reference to the present time. A singular now could mean any time between right now and an hour whereas now now is much more immediate.
ie. Are we going now now or do I have time to buy some water?

Pick: 1. To pick your phone (to answer it)
2. To pick someone (to go and meet them and then move to another place)

Short call: The polite way to say that you need to go and urinate

Somehow:  Used when describing feelings or events ie I am somehow ok, it was somehow good etc.

Sorry, sorry, sorry: It is rare to hear a solitary sorry, they generally come in blocks of three. Most commonly used when someone injures themselves/stubs their toe/falls down.

Yamawe: The local variation of oh my god, said to express surprise, shock etc even at the smallest thing (including seeing me walking down the road).

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