‘Uglish’ Gets Its Own Dictionary in Uganda
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 English. Ugandan English has a strong, local flavor. For example, what 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 Uganda, linguist Bernard Sabiiti made a small dictionary. It is a helpful guide for those interested in understandingUgandan English, also known as Uglish.
“There are certain periods when Ugandans coin words. And one of those (is) the election seasons. You know, there are politicians here whose entire vocabulary almost is ‘Uglish.’ And they are very successful people in this country, who cannot actually use Standard English. So 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 politicians, nearly everybody in Uganda uses Uglish.
“There are over 40 languages spoken in this country and over 60 ethnic groups. So you find that, you know, every small group takes up the English language and make it their own. And you end up with a very unique, some people call, strange variety of English. “