East African English
The OED’s coverage of East African English includes the varieties of English spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, three countries which share a common Anglophone background despite their differing colonial histories.
The forms of English spoken in modern East Africa are […] complex to describe, heavily influenced by a speaker’s formal education and their occupation (impacting the necessity they have for speaking English). Some speakers will be native English speakers, though fewer than in Southern or West Africa, while most will speak it as a second language.
Sociolinguistically, the East African nations differ as to the status of Kiswahili and the changes in the official status of English since independence in the 1960s. It is also difficult to establish knowledge and use of English across the region in the absence of reliable data. Attitudinally, it is only in pronunciation that there is widespread acceptance of deviation from British English, with acceptance of Standard English syntax and grammar spoken with African accents. Yet African forms differ from the British ‘standard’ for a variety of reasons, including interference from the local native language, general language learning strategies, and written English exposure.Excerpt taken from Pronunciation model: East African English
East African English words recently recorded in the OED
- asante sana, int. and n.
- collabo, v.
- come-we-stay, adj.
- jembe, n.
- nyama choma, n.
- pressed, adj.1
- sambaza, v.
- Sheng, n.3 and adj.
- tarmac, v.
- unprocedural, adj.
See the full list of East African English words most recently added to the OED here.
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The OED works in partnership with external experts from or in East Africa to ensure that our entries for East African English words draw from local knowledge and expertise and reflect the everyday reality and distinctive identity of the East African English-speaking community.
The vocabulary of East African English is characterized not just by loan words, but also by lexical innovations based on English elements, several of which have now made their way into the OED. They include words formed through suffixation, such as unprocedural (1929)‘irregular, illegal’;through clipping, like collabo (2008) ‘especially of musicians: to collaborate’; and through compounding, such as deskmate (1850) ‘a person who sits next to another at school’. Some English words also have meanings specific to the region. In East African English, the noun tarmac (1982)is also used as a verb meaning ‘to walk the streets looking for work; to job hunt’. A person who is pressed (1958) needs to go to the bathroom, while a stage (1965) is a bus stop or a taxi rank.