Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mind Your English

There are a number of utterances that people spew out that simply don’t make sense. Some people so I think, don’t actually think about what they are going to say before they say it so whatever first springs to mind is what they throw out.
Greg Petzer is a white South African who has been living in Uganda 2007 when the CHOGM Summit was on. His wife and three kids also joined him in Kampala a few months later when he took up the position of General Manager at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
When his family jetted in, I met both his wife and kids and then, his kids spoke what I would call near perfect English.
However as time went on, the quality of their English began to change that today, they speak English the Ugandan way. Here are a few classic examples.
First Come: “First come.” What on earth is first come? They used to be a time when called people simply blurted out the word ‘come’ and that was that. Then somebody decided it wasn’t enough and prefixed it with the word first. Why would anybody want to do that?
Just: Ask people why they were doing this or that and the most likely response is going to be ‘just’. So the conversation between the Julius and I went along the following lines.
TB: Julius why are you doing what you are doing?”
Julius: “Just”.
TB: “Just? What do you mean?”
Julius: “Just”.
I was obviously going to get nowhere so I left it at that. And this just word, is one that is favoured by students especially those at Makerere University.
I am here: This one is a classic for it always takes place by telephone. On a good number of occasions I have called up people to ask them where they are and the response given is: “I am here.” And when you press them further and ask what they mean by that they will still respond by saying that they are here. Is it really a burden to simply tell some exactly where you are?
Where are you coming from: This is a favorite of receptionists and security guards. Back in the day I had gone to meet Maria Kiwanuka at her Radio One office. When I got there, Receptionist asked: “Where are you coming from?” The question sort of threw me but I did respond and told her I was coming from home. To that she retorted, “No, I mean where are you coming from?” Confused, I told her the Old Taxi Park for I had taken a taxi from home.
I later found out that what she wanted to know where it is that I worked.
Do you know why we stopped you: This is the preserve of the traffic cops. On the numerous occasions that I get stopped in Namuwongo, I am asked if I know the reason they stopped me. I once tried to be sarcastic and told Female Traffic Cop that if she didn’t know why she had stopped me she ought to go to Butabika and have her head examined and that maybe the doctors there will be able to help you remember. Needleless to say she went mental on me and fined me for having a broken tail light.
They sent me: Blue collar workers like this one. When you ask them who sent you, the response is always: “They sent me.” Yes we know you were sent but who exactly sent you?