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‘Uglish’ Gets Its Own Dictionary in Uganda

VOA News   in 
March 25, 2015

The official language in Uganda is English. But visitors to this African country soon recognize that the English spoken here is different from British or American EnglishUgandan English has a stronglocal flavor. For examplewhat does it mean when someone orders a “rolex” at a food stand or “beeps” someone on the telephone?

To make life easier for foreigners in Ugandalinguist Bernard Sabiiti made a small dictionary. It is a helpful guide for those interested in understandingUgandan Englishalso known as Uglish.

There are certain periods when Ugandans coin words. And one of those (is) the election seasonsYou knowthere are politicians here whose entire vocabulary almost is ‘Uglish.’  And they are very successful people in this country, who cannot actually use Standard EnglishSo at first I thought, you know, why don‘t I actually do something about this and let the outside world know why we speak the way they do?”

He notes that, from businesspeople to high-level politiciansnearly everybody in Uganda uses Uglish.

There are over 40 languages spoken in this country and over 60 ethnic groups. So you find that, you knowevery small group takes up the English language and make it their own. And you end up with a very unique, some people callstrange variety of English. “


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