Friday, 20 March 2015 | 11:47

In an e-mail a while back, I noted that communications are difficult. Even in English, it’s not as easy as you’d think. I quickly noticed that the missionaries use “Ugandan English” when speaking with Ugandans. Surprisingly, it actually makes the communications go more smoothly. I wish I could describe it, but such powers are beyond me.

Yesterday, on my walk out to the village study and back, I found that I had started doing the same. I’m sure it’s an atrocious version, but it just kind of happens. The funny part was that when Pastor Al, one of the missionaries, was taking me to the clinic, I found I was still doing it. Oh, well.

I think I understand the basic Karamojong greeting now, so here’s a primer.

Person 1: Ejoka? [Are you fine?]
Person 2: Ejok. Ejoka? [I am fine. Are you fine?]
Person 1: Ejok. [I am fine].

Sounds pretty simple, right? But then I got confused when somebody would respond with “Ejok a nooi” run together basically into one word. It turns out that “nooi” (the two “oo” letters together indicate an “o” sound held for a longer time, not a different sound) essentially means “very good”, and the “a” is added because of the two consonants being back to back, creating a response meaning “I am very fine”. Of course, the other person may continue with something else, which I can’t understand, but at least I can greet and respond!

The other words in my ŋaKarimojoŋ vocabulary:

  • Mam [no, pronounced like “mom”]
  • Emun [snake, said with emphasis if you want somebody to come and kill it, thankfully not necessary yet, but handy should I need it]