Your English gets badder and badder.

The title was taken from a Facebook page, “You know you’re a YWAMer when…”  This one especially made me laugh because it is very true: we spend a lot of time attempting to communicate with people for whom English is a second language.  It can be very frustrating at times, and so proper grammar & definitions are generally left behind in favour of having a greater chance at communicating effectively.  We end up speaking a kind of pidgin (combining North American English, British usage, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and some peculiar African uses of English words). We are looking forward to seeing many of you soon.  Yes, we know that we sound goofy.  For your amusement, here are some of our most common bad Englishes:

Now now:  It means immediately, or right now, as in “Do you want me to do that now now?”

Too much:  People here use this when what they actually mean is “so much.”  I initially often tried to explain the difference but when it seemed futile, I adopted it.

Slowly by slowly: this is a direct translation of a Kinyarwanda phrase that means something along the lines of, “over time we will accomplish something big.”  As I am writing this, I am realizing that I think the proper English equivalent would be “little by little.”

biscuit: cookie

Mop means something very different here.  To clean the floors, you pour a bunch of soapy water on the floors and then use a long-handled squeegee to push it out the door.  Its a skill we have improved at but have yet to master.

I’m coming:  This one is crazymaking.   It can mean anything from “I’m almost there” to “I’m going and coming back” to “I’m thinking about coming.”  Ugh.  (But again, I’ve been using it, because I can say it in Kinyarwanda or English to communicate a wide variety of things.)

This is just a sampling of funny things that we’ve noticed.  We have one bonus odd thing in our non verbal communication:  When you hug a Rwandan, you sometimes touch cheeks 3 times and ALWAYS shake hands after.  This has made for a very funny year of awkward hugs for us.  But we have finally gotten better at judging what situation merits which hug, and the handshake has become automatic.  So when you see us again and notice our hand twitch towards you before we remember and jerk it back, feel free to laugh with us.

2 thoughts on “Your English gets badder and badder.

  1. its like an expression used often here….”wait a minute”…..the person leaves…..never returns. The first couple of times I waited for quite a long time….now I understand a person doesn’t want to say he/she is leaving your presence because that would be rude but they need to go somewhere.

  2. hi mike and amanda how are you guys doing in Rwanda? i really ejoy all the updates you have. i am going to kisumu kenya in this coming march for 2 weeks for a mission trip im looking forward to it, if you have any info. you wish to pass along that i need to know that would great thanks.

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