Rukiga: An African Language
A tiny introduction to Rukiga
During my trip to south of Uganda I interacted with people who mainly spoke a local language called Rukiga (pronounced ruʃɪga). They said there is no dictionary for their language as of yet (although it is apparently being worked on), so I just kept asking them to teach me words and phrases and their grammar bit by bit. So here I’m sharing what I learned from my friends here in Uganda with you. Thanks to Tabitha and Tutamuzongoza and Jovan Tumwijukye specially who taught me and my friend a lot of these words and they spent time correcting the writing and pronunciation.
Refer to the Wikipedia page of the language which includes an orthography of the language as a guide for pronunciation.
Pronunciations may vary depending on the region. As an example, in one area we were told Musana means sun, but in another region we were told it’s pronounced as Mushana.
A tiny dictionary of words
|Thank you (single person)
|Response to webare
|Thank you (multiple people)
|Junior gorilla (used after Akana)
|Agandi / Ni gaahe
|How are you (used as greeting)
|Nooruga he / hi?
|Where are you coming from?
|I am coming from Rusoorooza
|Nooza he / hi?
|Where are you going?
|I am going to Muhahinga
|Nokoora ki aha?
|What are you doing here?
|Nimpandiika ebi ncondoize ahari Nyabingi
|I am writing what I have researched about Nyabingi
|Ka tugyendane omu tawuni
|Let us go together to the town
|Ke mbanze njware gye
|Let me first dess up properly
|Reka tubanze twarya
|Let us first eat
|Have you eaten?
|I haven’t eaten
|Have you had enough food
|No, give me more
|Ezi noobaasa kumpingaaniramu shiringi za Yuganda?
|Can you change this into Uganda shillings please?
|Pawunda / doora emwe neechingaana zingahe?
|What is the exchange rate for a pound / dollar?
|Good (response to Agandi)
|I am very well, thank you
|Ni marungi / N’amahooro
|Kare kare / Ogumeho
|Goodbye to you too (response to Goodbye)
|Many of something
|Yee/ee/yeego/naiwe osiibe gye
|The same to you (Good day response)
|Olaleje / Oraare gye
|Good night (single person)
|Yee/ee/yeego/naiwe oraare gye
|The same to you (Good night response)
|Good night (many people)
|Osiibire gye / Osiibire ota
|Olileje / oraire gye / oraire ota
|Good morning (single person)
|Eego / yeego / ee / mm Ndaire gye
|Good morning to you (response to good morning)
|Good morning (multiple person)
|All of us
|Ugly, a bad deed
|Response to someone calling you. Can be used when you don’t understand what they said, but also in general
|Give me water
|Musana, Mushana (different pronunciation)
|Ruhanga eizina rye rehimbisibwe
|Basket with handles
|A kind of bean that grow while twining (while connected to something, grows around it
|The crying bird
|I’m ok (be careful: this word means “something bitter” in Swahili)
|I’m ok (response to Agandi)
|You have done great (multiple people)
|You have done great (single person)
|Bricks arranged in a dome shape with fire under and inside them, to dry the bricks
|A person’s name, means someone who is not to be disturbed (or disturb others)
|A food made with maize flour mixed with hot water and sugar (called porridge in some areas)
|Mashed green banana
|Those which you can’t refuse
|Male and female (animals)
|Male and female (humans)
|You will take (a part of something, not all)
|Eizina ryangye …
|My name is …
|I’m from Iran
|I’m happy to be here
|Thank you very much
|Aha nyamaishwa eztarikuzira
|Those animals you can’t refuse (ritually clean)
|Asimwe munonga, amen
|Response to Yesu asimwe
|Ruhanga ni muhango
|God is great
|Ruhanga ny mulingi
|God is good
|Ekibi kya Noa
|Sins of noah
|Come and eat
|I love you a lot
|Time to eat
|Time to sleep
|What do you prefer?
|Embwa hamwe na pusi
|Dog or cat
|What time is it?
|Eizina ryawe niriha
|What is your name?
|Eizina rye niriha
|What is his/her name?
|All of us take a shower
|Village with people with good ideas
|Oyinihre omujinya omunwani wange omwojo
|You are jealous of my boyfriend
|Echirwa chine emitti nyingyi
|Island with a lot of trees
|Murikuza bunyonyi erizooba
|We are going to bunyonyi today
|Ekibo kyebichiga chiga
|Basket of chiga beans
|Aha obuhunga bunnurile
|This buhunga is delicious
|Mwebare ahabwakujira omitima murungi
|thank you for your kindness
|Ekumi ne emwe
|Ekumi ne ibiri
|Ekumi ne ishatu
|Makumi abiri ne emwe
|Igana makumi ana
|One hundred forty
|One hundred one
|Igana makumi abiri ne munana
|One hundred twenty eight
|Six hundred (another way of writing it)
|Eukumi igana makumi ana
|One thousand one hundred forty
How to say beautiful
The adjective changes based on what we are talking about, and based on letters of previous words or context, in a way they try to rhyme words when possible.
Oboneire (beautiful for singular human telling them directly)
Muboneire (beautiful for plural human, when telling themselves directly)
Aboneire (beautiful for singular human, when telling a third person)
Baboneire (beautiful for plural human, when telling a third person)
Eboneire (beautiful for singular animal)
Ziboneire (beautiful for plural animals)
Kaboneire (beautiful when used after Akana)
There are many different variations of the adjective, here are two pairs used in different situations:
Pair 1 (kind of things that have life):
Goboneire (beautiful for singular non-human)
Eboneire (beautiful for multiple non-human)
Pair 2 (kind of things that have no life):
Leboneire (beautiful for singular non-human)
Gabonaire (beautiful for plural non-human)
Eizina riboneire: beautiful name
Eizina rya we liboneire: your name is beautiful
Omushozi (singular mountain) goboneire
Emishozi (multiple mountain) eboneire
Omuti (tree) goboneire
Emiti (multiple trees) eboneire
Eibare (stone) leboneire
Amabare (stones) gaboneire
Ente (cow) eboneire
Ente (cows) zeboneire
Akana kenjagi kaboneire munonga munonga: baby gorilla is very very beautiful
The local people told me there is no dictionary of Rukiga yet, but it is being worked on and will be piblished soon. however, one potentially useful resource for learning Rukiga is using a bible in Rukiga and comparing it to an English bible. A bible in Rukiga is available online.