Slowly, I am learning Zambian English. For example when you are walking away from someone, say for example to bring something back, you say “I am coming”. If you want something immediately, the word “now “ is not sufficient you must say “non now”! One of the most interesting and different forms of the same word we us I the U.S. and is used in Zambia is “failed”. Failed has severe negative connotations in American English. For example, if one “failed” a class, they likely did not put any effort into it or didn’t realize early that it may have been to advanced of a course to take. 

In Zambia the word “fail” is used much more loosely, or the repercussions of failing are not so bad. For example, if you ask someone to bring you tomatoes from the market, and they come back with none they may say “I failed”. So…perhaps next time they will succeed. Or if they were supposed to arrive for work on a scheduled data, but came two days later their explanation may be “I failed”. And the matter is considered resolved. 

Another phrase that took me time to get used to and David had to explain to me was “Just Okay”. When you ask someone how they are doing in Zambia and they say “Just okay”. That means they are great! What? This still doesn’t make sense to me. In the U.S. if someone told me they were “just okay” I would immediately ask what was wrong. For a while I did this in Zambia, for example when my assistant Desmond returned from his days off and said his family was “just okay” or he was “just okay”, I would be concerned.

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