The Lingo

No footsubishis here

Around this time of year, a number of GHC fellows travel home. Regardless of the destination, it’s likely a few phrases we’ve picked up won’t make much sense to the folks at home. Certainly we now know a few sayings in the local language, but what I find even more fascinating are the English phrases that sound a bit odd to American ears. Below are a few such phrases I’ve picked up from Kampala (and from my co-Fellow, who invented a couple). Hopefully the translations will help Mom/Brother/Cousin interpret your vocabulary.

“footsubishi”= walking
No, we don’t have a car. We’ll be taking our footsubishi across town.

“hustle life” = used to describe situations that involve a hassle, often involving complicated transportation plans
Man, did I hustle life this afternoon. It took me four hours to get to the market and back.

“balance!” = change resulting from a purchase
I paid 20,000 Shillings for a 10,000 meal–could I have my balance, please?

“hoot” = honking a horn
I think the guard at the gate is sleeping. Should I hoot?

“stay” = your current home residence
Where do you stay? No way! I also stay in Bukoto!

“move” = go/drive
How will you move to the party? Ah, footsubishi?
“hire” = rent
I’m going to hire a tent for the party.

“jam” = traffic jam, often of epic proportions
Jam is so bad today, I should have taken a boda or even a footsubishi.

“sorry!” = oops, uh oh!
[trips and falls] Sorry!
“mmmm” =  general term of acknowledgment
How’s it going?
Pretty well.

The opposite of hustling life
[Latifah and I in Fort Portal, Uganda]