The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
20th of June, 2013

Towards a New Luganda Transliteration System

I am hoping to flesh out a new transliteration system for Luganda, which may be useful for other Bantu languages. The system is based on the Latin script, but extended with diacritics to help preserve tone information in the words, which is extremely important in our languages. Apart from that element, the system also extends the current grammatical rules a bit, to make common features of our languages more-intelligible when they are written.

The works by which I will develop and demonstrate the system are the Luganda Bible, Ekitabo Ekitukuvu, and the recent book about Paul Kafeero and his lyrics, One Little Guitar. This is a big job, since the system is likely to be critically examined—especially by me—as it gets applied. This may all happen in the open.

The job of applying, testing, and improving the system is too big, so I expect that I will only start it. My son would likely join in the work with me and then continue it after me. It is not a day-to-day work; you just translate what you want, when you want, according to the prevailing compulsions. This, then, is the kind of low-intensity work that is fit for such a model.

The translation, therefore, will be piece-by-piece. Where it is the Bible we are working on, the posts will probably go to the Colloquial Translation, because the spirit of that site would be reflected in the utterly vulgarised Kampala dialect that shows up in the Luganda I’ll write.

The rest—the Paul Kafeero stuff, for instance, the explanations, the developments, the errata—will be here. For the love of the game.