You probably know more Mozambican Portuguese than you realize…
After first landing in Maputo three months ago, my jet-lagged brain strained to understand the small talk with my taxi driver. He excused himself as he answered his phone and said “Estou busy no meu job, brother.” Baffled, I realized I understood what he was saying not because of my Brazilian-Portuguese background, but because of my native language, English! I knew I would have to adjust my Portuguese accent, but wasn’t expecting to have to adjust my English accent in order to communicate in Mozambique.
Although Portuguese is the official language of Mozambique, there is an abundance of languages found throughout the country. Local culture is remarkably preserved despite globalization, but the fact that Mozambique is surrounded by English speaking countries has inevitably influenced local slang. On top of the English influence there are also about 20 unique local languages found throughout the country.
How are you today? I asked my coworker on my first day of work. “Manigue nice” she replied. "Manigue" comes from “many” and "nice" is an adjective to refer to anything well... nice or good. "Azgo" is a more efficient way to say "Let’s go" and several everyday words like “ya” have replaced “sim” as an affirmative agreement.
Some English words mean something completely different in Mozambique. “My love” in Mozambique refers to open flatbed trucks that transport workers from the rural areas to the city. You must hug your neighbor for dear life to make it though the bumpy ride- hence a very intimate commute on “my love”.
As a former English teacher it has been fascinating and often quite comical to learn the various adaptations of language in Mozambique. Check out our “many nice” Mozambican partners’ loans here!