The L World

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

So something I’ve been expecting for nearly three years finally happened to me for the first time last week. I was ordering take out food for delivery from a restaurant, and the waiter asked for my name.

Me:  My name is “Brent.”

Waiter: “Blent?”

Me: No. “BRRRent”

Waiter: “BLLLent?”

Me: No. “B. R. E. N. T.”

Waiter: Oh. “Brrenti”

Me: Sure.

Like the stereotype of some Asian countries, people in Tanzany often confuse L with R. Apparently this is the case elsewhere in the region as well, as you can see from the photo of a “Daily” in Rwanda. That’s right, a Daily. You know: a place where they milk cows.

I don’t entirely understand why this is the case as people do use both sounds and have no problems using L in other contexts. It’s not that they can’t pronounce “R”, the way that, say, I can’t roll my “r”s in Spanish. It’s just that in some words they just want to use an L instead.

Anyway, it adds to a lot of confusion when it comes to names. One woman filled out application form that I reviewed, with the name “Laula.” She wrote that several different places on the form. The name on her drivers license? “Laura”

And another good friend of mine here gets called “GunnaL” so often that I’ve take to calling him that too.

When I lived in Mexico, people didn’t really get my name their either so I learned not to get too worked up about it. My favorite experience in Tanzany, has been the security guards at the gate to the Gymkhana Golf Course. (Which all by itself is a rich topic for a future post.) For these guys, “Brent” is a real mind-bender of a name. So one day, I decided to give them something easier.

Gaurd: Name please?

Me: Brrr.. er … Mark

Guard: Mork?

Me: No, Mark


Me: Sure.

To this day, I am still Mr. Mork to them. And that’s ok. Cause sometime soon I’m planning to drive our Toyota Plado down to Gymkhana to play a round of golf with my significant other.

You know. Mindy.

Mork & Mindy

Nanu nanu!