Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Namlish

Speaking of reminders of home, several of the phrases I use bring happy memories of people from home.
For example, I made caramel corn the other day, and instead of thinking, “Hmmm, I wish I had a bigger bowl to make this in,” I thought, “Hmmm, if only I had a bunka!” I apologize if this is a misspelling, but I am not sure how you spell bunka because it is a word I have never read or written, but only heard spoken by my Swedish Papa when we cook in his kitchen.
Another instance is that when a meal is finished, and everyone discusses how full they are, I am always tempted to burst into a complex and extensive monologue I learned from my Dad about my gastranomic satiety, but quickly resist the urge by reminding myself that if only 3 people outside my family find it funny in America, I am unlikely to find anyone here to add to that 3.
For a non-food related example, I say “C├ęst la vie.” Not only do I iterate this phrase regularly in my journaling and in my real life (thanks to my room-sharing/pillow-talking friend Rachel) but I also inwardly say “la vie” (thanks to my Italy-traveling/Emma Stone loving friend Ben).
There are many phrases and vocabulary words I have brought with me here from America, but do not think all I do here is reminisce about days back in the “good ol’ U S of A.” There are a plethora of phrases I have picked up here. The official language here is English, but just like American English is different from British English, Namlish is different from what I am used to. Here are some examples:
Too replaces the word very. Example: “This fire is too hot.” (They don’t wish it were less hot, they are just making a comment.) “You are too tall.” (Tell me about it!)
!Na is a complimentary adjective similar to nice. Example: “That skirt is !Na!” (The exclamation mark is a click in the front of the mouth- without this meaning I might think be offended.)
Learners replaces students. Example: “Learners, you are being too loud!”
SMS replaces text. Example: “I have been SMSing you all afternoon and you never responded!” (I’m so sorry- my thumbs still haven’t adjusted to this phone, so it took me 4 hours to text you back!)
Toilet is used as the room with the toilet, not bathroom. Example: “Where is the toilet?” (Well, it’s in the bathroom- duh!)
Borrow replaces lend. Example: “Miss, borrow me a pen please” (Often borrow is actually replacing give- especially if coming from a learner)
! Ohh! is an exclamation of frustration. Example:! Ohh, keep quiet!” (The exclamation mark is a clicking sound, sort of sounding like tisking, and the ohh has a very round o. This phrase is hard to convey in writing.
Is it replaces really. Example: “I am a teacher in Oshakati.” “Is it?” (Is it what?)
Nay replaces yeah/uh huh/right. Example: “So then you went home, Nay?” (I haven’t actually said this one yet- I’m afraid people will laugh at me)

While I am still struggling with any Oshiwambo I should be learning, my Namlish is getting pretty good- so if I say anything weird in the first few weeks home (less than 2 weeks away), this is my apology in advance.

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