Hello mai dia. Hw wz yr de. Hwz work dia Op ure k
Are U enjoin yr self in Ug?
Did you understand that? The above are some normal SMS's I receive from Ugandans. At first I stumbled through the messages trying to sound everything out. Reading messages was like playing Mad Gab. If you say the phrase fast enough the american phrase pops out and it becomes crystal clear.
So, let's try it again.
Hello mai dia. Translation: Hello my dear.
Hw wz yr de. Translation: How was your day.
Hwz work dia. Translation: How was work dear.
Op ure k. Translation: Hope you're okay.
Are U enjoin yr self in Ug? Translation: Are you enjoying yourself in Uganda.
So, there is your crash course in Ugand-lish via texting.
Another difference that Ugandans have to Ex-pats is the phone calls.
It is acceptable, totally normal, and expected that an individual will call you 3-6 times in a row all before 7am. There is not a voicemail, so instead your phone just vibrates and rings incessantly until you ignore it…then it starts all over again. So,either master getting up early (I have yet to do that), or master silencing your phone in your sleep (I've mastered that one…but sometimes I silence my alarms. whoops).
Another language difference is when it comes to actually speaking. My american accent is a little too much for some Ugandans to handle, so I have slowly tweaked how sentences are structured, words are said, and where the enunciation occurs. Asking a boda driver, "What is your name?" never seems to make much sense, but by simply inquiring, "What are you called?" they give you their name easily.
Sandra enjoys "talking like me", which means that her voice becomes higher pitched and letters seem to disappear off the ends of words. The dirT road suddenly becomes the Dir road. Also, certain words seem to get longer when she talks like me. Sandra is no longer 2 short syllables, it becomes Saaanndra.
Then there is the use of rhetorical questions in normal conversations. Florence will be explaining to me some skill she is teaching the girls in regards to completing a pattern or finishing a shirt, and in the same breathe will inquire "the what?" and finish her thought.
To get through a normal day you should be aware that clothes is pronounced cloth- es; mosquitos are mo- squee- toes; traffic jam is a jem; we go, means I am ready to go; you have small money? means do you have change?; helmet is pronounced elemet and don't be alarmed if someone tells you "I will flash you". All it means is that they will call you and hang up before you answer, so that airtime is not wasted, but the receiver of the call will be aware that the caller is waiting.
Another common phrase that alarmed me at first was when everyone I met would respond with, "I have a little flu" or "I have little malaria" when I asked them how they were feeling. These illnesses really could mean anything from "My heads hurting a little bit" to "I have a cold". Nothing too extreme, like 'a lot' of malaria can become.
This is just the start of the little quirks and differences between my American English and Ugandan English. Every day is filled with laughter and learning (even if its just, because I don't understand some phrase for far too long a time). <--Someone saying they will flash me is a perfect example of the awkwardness of not understanding.
So, I hope you all enjoyed the what? the brief lesson on Ugandlish.