During my trip to south of Uganda I interacted with people who mainly spoke a local language called Rukiga (pronounced rutʃɪga). 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.

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

Rukiga English
Webare Thank you (single person)
Webare kusiuma Response to webare
Mwebare Thank you (multiple people)
Engaji Gorilla 🦍
Kengaji Junior gorilla (used after Akana)
Akana Baby
Agandi / Ni gaahe How are you (used as greeting)
Nooruga he / hi? Where are you coming from?
Ninduga Rusoorooza I am coming from Rusoorooza
Nooza he / hi? Where are you going?
Ninza Muhahinga 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
Ekyo kihikire That’s right
Waariire? Have you eaten?
Tinkariire I haven’t eaten
Waahaaga? Have you had enough food
Ingaaha, nyongyera 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?
Nigye Good (response to Agandi)
I am very well, thank you Ni marungi / N’amahooro
Kare kare / Ogumeho Goodbye
Naiwe ogumeho Goodbye to you too (response to Goodbye)
Kache Small
Munonga A lot
Kihango Big
Byinji Many of something
Ruhanga wangye My Lord
Eshaha Time
Osiibe gye Good day
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)
Mulaleje Good night (many people)
Osiibire gye / Osiibire ota Good afternoon
Olileje / oraire gye / oraire ota Good morning (single person)
Eego / yeego / ee / mm Ndaire gye Good morning to you (response to good morning)
Mulileje Good morning (multiple person)
Kunaaba Take shower
Twena All of us
Embwa Dog
Ahamuheru End
Hamwe And
Enyonyi Bird, airplane
Ekinyonyi Bird
Omunywani Friend
Omwojo omunywani Boyfriend
Omuhara Girl
Omwojo Boy
Omusheija Man
Omukazi Woman
Ego Yes
Wapi No
Omujinya Jealous person
Omukundwa Sweetheart
Embuzi Goat
Echiroto Dream
Nyine enjara I’m hungry
Ndu hire I’m tired
Nikibi Ugly, a bad deed
Echiroto nkirungi Good dream
Wanji Response to someone calling you. Can be used when you don’t understand what they said, but also in general
Mpa ameizi Give me water
Embuzi Goat
Akana Kembuzi Baby goat
Entama Sheep
Musana, Mushana (different pronunciation) Sun
Omwanya gobsinge Peaceful Place
Echirwa Island
Chine Have
Nyingyi A lot
Ruhanga eizina rye rehimbisibwe Hossana
Akasero Basket with handles
Akatebo Basket
Akibo Small basket
Musingirio A kind of bean that grow while twining (while connected to something, grows around it
Enyawawa The crying bird
Sawa I’m ok (be careful: this word means “something bitter” in Swahili)
Nimarungy I’m ok (response to Agandi)
Mwakora You have done great (multiple people)
Wakora You have done great (single person)
Etanuru Bricks arranged in a dome shape with fire under and inside them, to dry the bricks
Tutamuzongoza A person’s name, means someone who is not to be disturbed (or disturb others)
Akana Kente Calf
Omwana Human baby
Omuzeire Parent
Mama Mother
Taata Father
Buhunga A food made with maize flour mixed with hot water and sugar (called porridge in some areas)
Entuhe Crusted Crane
Ruhanga God
Amina Amen
Matooke Mashed green banana
Chinnurile Delicious
Bun Bread bun
Omugisha Blessing
Abatabani Sons
Yaabagirati Said
Ekibi Sins
Byona Everything
Ezitarikuzira Those which you can’t refuse
Nyamaishwa Animals
Aha This
Buri That
Muhango Great
Enshaija Male (animal)
Enkazi Female (animal)
Enshaija n’enkazi Male and female (animals)
Omusheija omukazi Male and female (humans)
Otwareho You will take (a part of something, not all)
Ebinyugunyugu Butterfly
Ekirabo Gift
Esati Shirt
Eshero Hippo
Emporogoma Lion
Eizina ryangye Mahdi My name is Mahdi
Ndaruga Iran I’m from Iran
Nashemererwa kubanimwe I’m happy to be here
Webare munonga Thank you very much
Aha nyamaishwa eztarikuzira Those animals you can’t refuse (ritually clean)
Yesu asimwe Praise God
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
Mwije murye Come and eat
Ndakukunda munonga I love you a lot
Neshaha zokurya Time to eat
Neshaha zokuzakubyama Time to sleep
Orakundachi What do you prefer?
Embwa hamwe na pusi Dog or cat
Nishahazingahe What time is it?
Eizina ryawe niriha What is your name?
Eizina rye niriha What is his/her name?
Kunaaba twena All of us take a shower
Kafumbo 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

Numbers

Rukiga English
Omwe One person
Emwe One
Ibiri Two
Ishatu Three
Ina Four
Itahano Five
Mukaga Six
Mushanju Seven
Mundane Eight
Mwenda Nine
Ekumi Ten
Ekumi ne emwe Eleven
Ekumi ne ibiri Twelve
Ekumi ne ishatu Thirteen
Makumi abiri Twenty
Makumi abiri ne emwe Twenty one
Makumi ashatu Thirty
Makumi ana Forty
Makumi atahano Fifty
Makumi mukaga Sixty
Makumi mushanju Seventy
Makumi munana Eighty
Makumi mwenda Ninety
Igana Hundred
Igana makumi ana One hundred forty
Igana emwe One hundred one
Igana makumi abiri ne munana One hundred twenty eight
Bibiri Two hundred
Bishatu Three hundred
Bina Four hundred
Bitahano Five hundred
Rukaga Six hundred
Magana mukaga Six hundred (another way of writing it)
Rukumi One thousand
Eukumi igana makumi ana One thousand one hundred forty
Omutwaro Ten thousand
Emitwaro ebiri Twenty thousand

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.

Humans

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)

Animals

Eboneire (beautiful for singular animal)

Ziboneire (beautiful for plural animals)

Kaboneire (beautiful when used after Akana)

Other things

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)

Examples

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

Engaji eboneire

Engaji zeboneire

Akana kenjagi kaboneire munonga munonga: baby gorilla is very very beautiful

Additional resources

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.