What factors should be considered in interpreting Luganda

Interpreting Luganda is quite easy for a person who is well vast with  language. Luganda is the most spoken local language in Uganda. Although its speakers are mainly found in south and central region of the country notably in the capital city of Kampala, people in other regions also can at least try to construct few sentences in  Luganda. Luganda is one of the official languages for the famous Buganda kingdom where the name Uganda was derived from. In fact Luganda was the language of instructions for primary schools and religious institutions of Central and Eastern region in 1960’s.

Factors to consider when interpreting Luganda

interpreting Luganda
An interpreter for Luganda

Luganda interpreter should consider the following factors when interpreting Luganda.

Pronunciation. Luganda interpreters should consider the way of pronouncing some words and letters. In Luganda, letter L is pronounced as R and vice versa. For instance, the word local council is pronounced as “Rocar councir”, tomorrow is pronounced as “Tomollow”, shoe polish as “Shoe porish” and many others. Therefore, letter R replaces letter L and the revise is true. It should however be noted that it’s only the pronunciation that changes but the spelling will remain as its in English version.

Culture. Culture is one of the major factors to be considered to avoid translation blunders brought about by little experience of the culture. As we all know that every society has un acceptable words so does Buganda. For, example the word “Embolo” means penis but the society takes the word as very offensive and not accepted at all. Therefore, the recommended word is “Kasolo” instead of Embolo yet the former literally means any kind of animal. As a matter of fact, an interpreter for Luganda should not under estimate culture so as to avoid embarrassment and misconception.

Location.  An interpreter for Luganda should take in to account the geographical location of the audience. Much as many people in Uganda speak Luganda especially in Buganda kingdom, its believed that some districts use dilute Luganda. For example, Masaka district is believed to be the original place for finding concrete Luganda. No doubt that in other districts code mixing is the order of the day. That is to say when carrying out interpreting task in other districts rather than Masaka, the use of plain language is recommended. Therefore,  geographical location should be considered to minimize misunderstanding of the message.

Nature of the audience. Its very good to consider the nature of your audience. If interpreting for the youth, the use of flat and simple language is recommended. This is because most of the youth do not have time to learn concrete vocabulary. Also most of the Luganda youth speakers are taken up by other foreign languages like English. Therefore, they end up using simplified Luganda mixed with English. On the other hand however the old people prefer concrete Luganda. Therefore, an interpreter must highly consider the nature of the audience when advancing interpreting services.

Who should interpret Luganda

First and foremost, a native linguists is the only  eligible person to interpret Luganda. The interpreter should be from the district of Masaka and Lwero where Luganda is not much mixed up with other languages. Furthermore, an interpreter for Luganda should be well versed with  terminology and etymology of words used, culture, religion, nature and geographical location of the target audience.

Other districts speaking Luganda include the following

  • Luwero                     Buikwe
  • Wakiso                     Lyantonde
  • Mpigi                        Butambala
  • Mukono                   Bukomansimbi
  • Mubende                 Gomba
  • Nakasongloa           Mityana
  • Rakai                       Kyankwansi
  • kiboga                      Nakaseke
  • Kalangala                Lwengo
  • Sembabule             Kayunga
  • Kampala                etc

In the nutshell, an interpreter should always understand the correct pronunciation of Luganda words, their spelling and etymology. Furthermore,  an interpreter should also consider the nature of the target audience. This will help to reduce translation blunders thus effective communication.

Leave a Reply