MOST people in Namibia who cannot converse properly in English claim that they speak ‘Namlish’. This is ridiculous! There is only one way out here: either you can speak good English or you speak bad English. To develop ‘Namlish’, as a variety of English, one has to develop the orthography and standardisation of ‘Namlish.’ Phrases such as ‘I am coming’ (instead of ‘I will be back’) ‘My mother went for shopping’ (instead of ‘my mother went shopping’) should not be viewed as ‘Namlish’ since these sentences are grammatically wrong.
The tendency in Namibia has been that if one does not speak and pronounce English words properly, ‘Namlish’ becomes an excuse. If you cannot pronounce a certain English word properly, there is a strong possibility that language interference has taken place and not ‘Namlish.’ Let me illustrate this clearly.
Some Oshiwambo speakers may experience difficulty in enunciating some of the English words that contain the letter ‘r’ but that does not mean they speak ‘Namlish.’ Additionally, some Otjiherero speakers may find it a bit troubling to pronounce words such as ‘dangerous’ without adding the letter ‘n’ to the letter ‘d’ (likely to read ‘ndangerous’). That is why some Otjiherero speakers are likely to pronounce Ongwediva as ‘Ongwendiva.’
Damara/Nama has got its share of interference – some speakers from these language groups may find it hard to pronounce the word ‘university’ or ‘Unam’ properly. For example, the word ‘Unam’ to some Damara/Nama may sound like /ju/nam. The letter ‘u’ becomes /ju/ as in ‘June’.
Moreover, some Lozi speakers are likely to have trouble in pronouncing words such as ‘health’ and ‘against’ – these words are likely to come out as ‘heuls’ for health and ‘agenest’ for against.
In the Kavango region some Rukwangali speakers may find it hard to pronounce the word ‘the.’ The reason is because Rukwangali language does not have the dental sound /th/. The word ‘the’ for some Rukwangali speakers comes out as /ze/. Afrikaners are no exception in this conundrum. Some Afrikaans-speaking people may have trouble pronouncing the word ‘help’ – it comes out as /yelp/.
With all the above differences I hope you understand why we should not confuse pronunciation and poor grammar with ‘Namlish.’ The word ‘Namlish’ seems to have a negative connotation because it is only used when someone speaks improper English.
Furthermore, the illustration above is to show you the differences in language interference in respect of the English spoken in Namibia.