Getting used to Kenyanese
I have to say that I am clumsy. I can trip over my own feet while standing still, or even sitting down – no kidding. And it is not the alcohol – honest – OK, not all the time.
So, I will be walking down the road and trip on a matchstick or whatever. “Sorry,” my companion would say. It took me a long time to understand this. There is no real equivalent in English English … er that is English as spoken in Great Britain.
Another one is “Yes” when we would say “No”. Because the speaker is saying “Yes, I agree with what you are saying,” as opposed to “No, I don’t think so either.”
But once I came to terms with these little nuances, I soon found that most Kenyans, even those upcountry, speak excellent English. And the kids in Nairobi speak better English than many kids here. They speak grammatically correct English – innit – and don’t interject any “Y’ know”, “er”, “like”, and certainly don’t swear – well, not in my company and not in English, anyway.
I sometimes wonder how a well-spoken Kenyan could possibly survive over here, where we beat up our own language until it is an unrecognisable pulp!
Ask a Kenyan kid “How was school today?” and the reply will be. “It was good (or bad). We did math, english and geography.”
Here, the answer would be something like, “Er, well, y’know, it was, like, yeah, good. Innit.”
And to think that I was considering bringing my girlfriend and her children over here! No way. I don’t want to ruin their education – and their good grasp of the English language.