Living in a different area of Uganda this year, I’ve begun to continue to work at another language (there are over 48 heart languages spoken here in Uganda)… however, it’s kind of fun to realize that even the use of English here is a bit different than back home. I’ve been keeping some notes on my phone for the last few months in this regard, and I wanted to share them with you. Enjoy.
“Flash Me”when you arrive,
(no that’s not quite as bad as it sounds!) actually means dial me on the phone and it will ring but I won’t answer so you won’t pay for the call, but I’ll know you’ve arrived. It’s a free “paging” service of sorts.
“Let me give you a push”
I will walk with you at least to the gate, and possibly to the end of the first road. A traditional polite way to say goodbye, you go with them the first distance.
“You’re Looking Smart!”
(No, that doesn’t mean you have glasses on and look like you’re at the library a lot...) it’s actually a compliment and means you are looking good!
“Let me take my (tea)” or “Do you take (tea)?”
No, it doesn’t mean you’re quickly swallowing a pill or something—but rather you are going to take some food or beverage at a leisurely pace, also used in the form of a question as an invitation to enjoy (tea) with them for a bit.
“I need to take a short call”
No, they’re not asking permission to quickly take a phone call, but rather to take a moment to step away and relieve their bladder of the (tea) they took. There’s also a similar term “long call” ... I think you can now interpret that one on your own.
“Give me some appreciation”
No, they’re not asking for words of encouragement or affirmation—they’re asking for a bribe. (Similar terms: “Expediting fee”, “Give me tea”)
There’s no word for please in many of the mother tongues here, so simply saying “you give me” in English is a sort of please consider.
Meaning simply, turn (left)
No, not raising children, nor raising someone from the dead—but rather you called or knocked and got them to answer your phone call or in person. (Raised them from their slumber?)
“How is the going?”
Meaning simply, how is life?
Usually a term of expressing delight, enjoyment—over the top excitement or appreciation for something.
This is a way of asking you, the community and their extended family for money. It usually comes handwritten or typed out on a piece of paper with very detailed line items, but usually rather exaggerated costs. It can be for anything from starting a business of their own, to going to school, to hosting a meal, to a wedding. It can also come from your local village to install a loudspeaker system for “public announcements” (I didn’t contribute to that one... but somehow they found the cash for that one on their own... unfortunately! We now have “public announcements” taking place each morning via this venue, sigh.)
Meaning, someone or something has arrived at the intended destination
Meaning they are coming your way and will pass by.
Said with great emphasis, meaning—I’m very serious about whatever statement I’ve attached this to. For example: “sIn-ceeer-ly, that one—so much trouble!”
Let’s remember to “Keep Time”
No, this isn’t referring to the time keeper at a futbol (soccer match) but rather a reminder to ...Be punctual!
No, not meaning to increase effort, but rather to Move slightly out of the way.
“You are free”
Yes, go ahead, do as you wish.
He’s “Footing it”
Simply, he’s walking somewhere on his feet :)
(Said as a statement, not a question) Meaning: absolutely-yes!
“But one...” i.e.: “There was gunfire yesterday, but one.”
Does it mean:
a. I heard one bullet fired yesterday
b. There was gunfire all day long, except at 1
c. There was a round of gunfire at 1pm
(email me your answer—this was actually a sentence I heard last week and we had two instances of gunfire, although at different times and days.)