Saturday, March 19, 2016


These days I feel like I understand Ugandlish better than American English. Things like “You go that side” and “I’ll meet you at exactly midday” no longer confuse me. Instead, they have become part of my vocabulary. Many of these phrases have a British origin, as Uganda was a British colony until the 1960s. So if you call me up anytime soon (Please do! We just have to plan for the time difference.), don’t be surprised to hear some of these oddities.
*Please note: Ugandlish is slightly different within different regions, since different regions speak different local languages. Many of these interesting phrases are perfectly normal in local language. It’s just when they are translated to English that they sound strange to us.

You go that side. = Go over there. (And Ugandans always seem to understand exactly where “there” is, though I’ve yet to figure that part out.)
I’ll meet you at exactly midday. = I’ll meet you sometime between 10 and 3.
I’m around. = I’m available and in your vicinity, so just call me if you need me.
I slept late. = I went to sleep late.
Pupils = Primary (elementary or middle school) students
Students = Secondary (high school), college, or university students
Teachers = Primary teachers
Tutors = College teachers (Maybe it is the same as students, but I’m not sure.)
You pick that. = Pick that up.
You drop me here. = Drop me off here.
Here. = Somewhere within the next five minutes
Here here = Here
Now = Now-ish
Now now = Right now
This/that one (there) = (He, she, him, her, you, etc. It is used to refer to a person, usually when they are not speaking for themselves, but not always. Also, it can be similar to an interjection before a sentence, but not as forceful as in American English. For example, “That one. It is good.” is like saying “That! That is good!” but in Ugandlish it’s more a fact than an expression.)
Are you picking me? = Are you understanding me?
Would you like to go and dig? = Would you like to go and garden?
Toilet = Bathroom
Chips = Fries
Chips plain = Side of fries
I am just here. = (When said to a boda driver) I am not going far. (Otherwise, see above) I am around.
Is that okay? = Is that okay?, but the answer is always yes, even if it’s not.
*raises eyebrows* = Yes
*shakes fist* = 500 shillings
Compound = neighborhood (Roughly. It can also mean an enclosed compound.)
I’ll raise you. = I’ll call or text you.
Flash me = Call just long enough to leave a missed call, so that you don’t have to use airtime, and I will call you back, using my airtime to fund our call.
You give me a rubber. = Give me an eraser.
Can I rub this? = Can I erase this?
You are smart! = I love your outfit!
Intelligent = Smart
Hard = Rock hard
Difficult = Difficult/hard
It is good. = (This can mean anything positive.)
Good time. = Have a good day/evening/night. (It’s a farewell.)
Store = Storage room
Shop = Store (You never say “I’m going to shop.” You only say “I’m going shopping.”
Sorry sorry = Sorry (almost always said in pairs)

EDIT: See Ugandalish 2.0!

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