So, what’s with that accent?


Swerncing is the act of sounding silly as you speak in an accent that your tongue just can’t be bothered with. Hello becomes helllorr, Stella becomes Stellarrr, go out becomes gorout.

Research shows that the moment the average Ugandan breathes in exhaust fumes of a place outside Uganda, even if it’s just Kenya, they’ll comeback swerncing, and more intensely if they’ve been to America or Europe (places associated with milk, honey and everything nice). A muzungu saying gyibarley nyabul is also a kind of swerncery, but of a more amusing variety.

English speaking Ugandans spend a lot of time analyzing, ridiculing, laughing at; generally being concerned with accents. You know a gossip session has risen on the scale of hatefulness when somebody says something like, “the way that heifer overuses ‘r’ to mbu Americanize her accent makes my ears vomit a little whenever she speaks”.

They’ve also made advertising agencies in Uganda rich. Whatever laughs can be squeezed out of Acholi and Luganda and Runyakitara accents have been collected and turned into money and now enough is enough. We shouldn’t even be reinforcing these differences in the minds of people, especially not in a country that’s a hop and a wiggle away from civil war on sectarian grounds. People don’t dig each other enough.

There are many reasons a person may swernce at any given moment, some more acceptable than others.

First of all, people are impressionable and even a little exposure to a different way of speaking can affect the way they’ll sound when they next speak. If you have friends with kiwi accents, you need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the time your words curl unexpectedly. You will likely be telling a riveting story; all your friends will be nodding appreciatively, giggling in all the right places when BAH! your next sentence will come out in a strange accent and shame you.

People swernce to be ‘professional’, especially on radio. Most presenters sound like they’ve got a fungal infection in their mouth, which makes it impossible for us to hear what they are saying and is responsible for the recent trend of people flinging their radios across the room.

Really don't.

There’s also travelers swencery that happens to people who leave the country for long while. In a few months, the accents they’ve had their entire lives disappear completely. When they come back home, they never really change back. This swencery is slightly more acceptable because they’ve earned it by having lived in an environment where they were required to blend in if they wanted to escape the attentions of xenophobes. As long as they sound authentic, I reserve my resentment.

It’s those ones that leave for 48 hours and come back speaking like an American who has had all their teeth removed that irritate me. What are they saying? That they’d rather sound like a toothless person than sound like me? Shya. Those ones I dislike openly. If you insist on coming home with an accent, practice until you sound more like Denzel and less like you’re gurgling bile because while it is your constitutional right to speak funny, it is our constitutional right to say mean things behind your back.

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8 thoughts on “So, what’s with that accent?

  1. Babe, you forget those that go to Malaysia and SA and return americanised! Me thinks all it takes is to put a Ugandan next to a mic or camera

  2. Pingback: Please don’t distort our language. « Balamaga Rogers

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