Mzungu Memoirs

Why do you say that?

One of Caleb’s favorite questions lately has been “why do you say that?”.  It is his wordy way of asking the typical childhood question of “why?”.  What can I say?  The kid has a flair for the flamboyant.  Actually, I kind of like the phrase as it can be used for a lot of the things we hear around here.  While English is the national language in Uganda, it is definitely not the English spoken in the States.  It is more like British English with an African flair.

Some examples of Ugandan English:

“I need to go now now.”     Translation: “I need to go immediately.” (Caleb’s personal favorite)

“Can you come pick me?”     Translation: “Can you come get me (pick me up)?

“I am coming.”     Translation:  “I’m on my way.”

“We go.”     Translation:  “Let’s go.”

“You are smart!”     Translation: “You are looking very nice.”

“My back is paining me.”     Translation: “My back hurts.”

“You are lost.”     Translation: “I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Can you bring the balance?”     Translation:  “Can I have my change?”

“They have knocked me.”     Translation:  “They crashed into me.”

“I need to make a short call.”     Translation:  “I need to pee.”

“I need to make a long call.”     Translation: I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

So if you hear us using some strange phrases when we return to the States, please forgive us.  We are just speaking “Ugandan”.

“The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’   — Genesis 11: 6-7


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