Release Date: October 31, 2014
Price: UgX 30,000
Listening to Ugandans speak English is a hilarious experience particularly to the uninitiated. This is because the variation of the language we speak is so unique, rare, and even weird that in several instances only we can understand each other. Also mockingly referred to as Uglish (/you-glish/) by locals, Ugandan English is one of the funniest and strangest English varieties in the world.
Uganda was a British colony, or “protectorate” as the politics of the time compelled the Empire to call it, for 68 years, from 1894 to 1962 when the country gained its independence. What Schneider’s Dynamic Model of Postcolonial Englishes would call “introduction” stage of English therefore happened around this time when the British set foot in Buganda kingdom and because they had to work with natives to spread their influence, they had to teach key people the language while learning the local Luganda language themselves.
Like everywhere else, the English spoken by Uganda has evolved over the years. During the colonial era, the British educated only those they wanted to serve their interests, mainly to assert their authority outside the capital Kampala, or the Buganda kingdom, through what came to be known as Indirect Rule. As a result, Buganda, placed strategically in the central region near the shores of the vast Lake Victoria, having emerged as the business and trade centre for Europeans, gained an advantage in early enlightenment and education. The Baganda immediately offered their services to the British as administrators over other smaller tribes across the country, an offer which was attractive to the economy-minded colonial administration. Baganda agents fanned out as local tax collectors and labour organizers in areas such as Kigezi, Mbale, and, significantly, Bunyoro. This subimperialism and Ganda cultural chauvinism were resented by the people being administered. Wherever they went, Baganda insisted on the exclusive use of their language, Luganda, and they planted bananas as the only proper food worth eating. They regarded their traditional dress—long cotton gowns called Kanzus – as civilized; all else was barbarian and backward. As a result, the language of the Baganda—Luganda—would later heavily influence the dialect and lexicon of the English spoken by Ugandans, or what is now informally known as Uglish.
About the book
This book, the first of its kind in Uganda, will make for hilarious reading for many people but most importantly upon reflection, it gives the reader an insight into the socio-economic and political factors for the growth of this ‘strange’ variety of English. Besides the extensive glossary of Uglish words and phrases, their meanings and origins, the book takes the reader through the historical chronology of Uganda’s education system and subsequent changes in English usage, Factors that have given rise to “Uglish” and emphasises why for Ugandan readers at least, this English variety is not something to only laugh about but reflect on as well.
The book elucidates the importance of articulate communication in a country like Uganda where English is the official lingua franca and gives detailed advice to Parents, students and educationists on how to improve pupils’ and students’ English communication skills. It also offers business people insights into how to better target their marketing with the use of appropriately worded advertisements to capture the interest of a significant section of the Ugandan society.
The book is the first of its kind that traces the evolution of Uglish, its lexico-grammatical and syntactic features and gives dozens of hilarious picture examples and a rich glossary of hundreds of Uglishes, their origins and meanings.
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 Schneider, Edgar W (2010). English around the world: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.