Ugandan Survival Phrases

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Learn Ugandan English

Are you planning to visit Uganda? Wondering about the simple words you can grasp and get introduced to the locals during your holiday in Uganda? Let us introduce you to Ugandan survival phrases in Luganda that can help you get around easily.

Luganda Phrases

Greeting

Greetings & Civilities

Good morning ……………….Wasuze otya nno? (literally ‘how was your night?’)
Good afternoon………………Osiibye otya nno? (literally, ‘how was your day?’)
Good evening……………….. Osiibye otya nno?
[The one asked responds with “Bulungi” (i.e. ‘fine’) and repeats the inquiry]

Hi? (informal)……………………………………….Ki kati?
How are you?………………………………………..Oli otya?
I am OK……………………………………………….Gyendi
Have a nice day……………………………………..Siiba bulungi
Good night…………………………………………….Sula bulungi (on retiring)
Farewell (to one person)………………………….Weeraba
Farewell (to several people)…………………….. Mweraba
Welcome (to one person)…………………………Tukusanyukidde
Welcome (to several people)…………………….Tubasanyukidde
See you later………………………………………….Tunaalabagana
Please……………………………………………………Mwattu
Please shut the door…………………………………Mwattu ggalawo oluggi
Please clean my room……………………………….Mwattu longoosa ekisenge kyange
Please come in…………………………………………Mwattu yingira
Please sit down………………………………………..Mwattu tuula wansi
Thank you………………………………………………Weebale
You are welcome……………………………………. Kale
Excuse me (to get attention)……………………….Owange
Pardon? (What did you say?)……………………..Wangi? / Ogambye ki?
I’m sorry (apology)……………………………………Nsonyiwa

Meeting People

What is your name………………..Erinnya lyo ggwe ani?
My name is………………………….Erinnya lyange nze….

Forms of Address

It is considered polite to show respect to older people regardless of their station in life. Respectful forms of address should be used when addressing superiors.

Sir………………………………………Ssebo
Madam………………………………..Nnyabo
Mr………………………………………Mwami
Mrs……………………………………..Mukyala

Age

How old are you?……………………………Olina emyaka emeka?
I am………………………………………..Nina……

20 years old……………………………Emyaka abiri (20)
35 years old……………………………Emyaka asatu mu etaano (35)

Family

This is my…………………………………..Ono ye…

Mother………………………………………Maama wange
Father……………………………………….Taata wange
Wife………………………………………….Mukyala wange
Husband…………………………………….Mwami wange
Child………………………………………….Mwana wange
Nephew/Niece…………………………….Mwana wange
Grandchild…………………………………..Muzzukulu wange
Son…………………………………………….Mutabani wange
Daughter……………………………………..Muwala wange
Older brother/sister……………………….Mukulu wange
Younger brother/sister……………………Muto wange
Sibling (same sex)………………………….Muganda wange
Sibling (opposite sex)……………………..Mwannyinaze
Aunt (paternal)………………………………Ssenga wange
Aunt (maternal)……………………………..Maama wange omuto
Uncle (paternal)…………………………….Taata wange omuto
Uncle (maternal)…………………………….Kojja wange
Cousin (paternal)……………………………Muganda wange / Mwannyinaze
Cousin (maternal)…………………………..Kizibwe wange (also maama omuto/kojja)
Grandparent………………………………….Jjajja wange
Great uncle/aunt…………………………….Jjajja wange
Father-in-law………………………………..Ssezaala wange
Mother-in-law……………………………….Nnyazaala wange
Friend………………………………………….Mukwano gwange

Do you have any brothers or sisters……Olina bagandabo oba bannyoko?
Are you married?…………………………..Oli mufumbo?
I am not married…………………………….Siri mufumbo
I am married………………………………….Ndi mufumbo
Do you have any children?……………….Olina abaana?
I don’t have any children…………………..Sirina baana
I don’t have any children yet………………Sinnafuna baana
I have……………………………………………Nina..

One son…………………………………………Omutabani omu
One daughter………………………………….Omuwala omu
Three sons……………………………………..Abatabani basatu
Two daughters………………………………..Abawala babiri

Feelings

I am…………………………………….

Angry…………………………………………..Ndi munyiivu
Cold…………………………………………….Mpulira empewo
Determined…………………………………….Ndi mumalirivu
Full……………………………………………….Ndi mukkufu
Happy…………………………………………..Ndi musanyufu
Hot……………………………………………… Mpulira ebbugumu
Hungry………………………………………….Enjala ennuma
Sad………………………………………………Ndi munakuwavu
Scared………………………………………….Ntidde
Sick……………………………………………..Ndi mulwadde
Thirsty…………………………………………..Ennyonta ennuma
Tired…………………………………………….Nkooye
Worried………………………………………..Ndi mweraliikirivu

 

Languages Commonly Used in Uganda

A glimpse into what the languages are about; giving you the basics you need to start learning Ugandan languages.

Learning a new language can be exiting especially starting with the survival phrases – they can be quite handy ice breakers, introducing you to the local community and into their day-today life and activities.

If you are planning to travel around Uganda; to live and work with the local communities, then learning the local language of the area is ideal.

These Ugandan survival phrases will teach you easy and simple expressions to help you get by in Uganda. They are quite simple to practice and are grouped as used in various situations and conversations.

Uganda is one of those countries that is quite blessed with lots of different local languages – let alone the different dialects within these languages. Throughout the Ugandan regions, different languages are spoken by different tribes and groups.

Note; that English and Swahili are the two official languages of Uganda as per the constitution – not that they are predominantly spoken, in fact some of the local languages are more spoken than these two – depends on where you are!

… And also, majority, if not all Ugandan languages are tonal in nature. They don’t have a specific word for ‘please’; There is a lot of expression and politeness read into the tone one uses. Quite often therefore, you will find Ugandans very soft spoken.

Use the menu below as a guide to the different languages. I have carefully looked at the predominantly spoken ones and the list will keep growing as I add more languages.

These phrases are used in the most common situations that will quickly get you going.

Enjoy!

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