“The Same”?

Many Kenyans–I say this based on a sample size of three–use “the same” instead of the pronoun “it.”

As in, “John sent me a book, and I will put the same in the mail to you.”

Dear Kenyans, when did this become a convention?

11 thoughts on ““The Same”?

  1. It is simply so strange. Why not simply say “it”? Are Kenyans afraid of the word “it”?

    And how far will this usage extend? Instead of “it is raining,” will we now be required to say “the same is raining”?

  2. It’s the excitement of smart/ esoteric sounding English that attract Kenyans to sensation. one can attach it safely to the ‘we have arrived syndrome’ that so often plagues middle-class and middle-class-ish people in this country. if you watch Kenyan news as often as we do, this post would have been much longer

  3. as in and the same is true for Ugandans? the same, for a lack of words. perhaps. Or an elaborate feisty phrase to add ‘soup’

  4. Kenne, I’m totally fine with experiments in language as forms of class mobility and cross-class interaction. I ask not to chastise, but because I am fascinated.

    “May I borrow your pen? I will return the same to you in five minutes.”

    It is fascinating! I am waiting to see what poets will do with it.

    Amil, you will have to enlighten me on Ugandan (mis)usages. My sample size for Ugandans is drawn from the most eloquent poets and fiction and non-fiction writers I know, so I just think that Ugandans are smarter about usage.

    Plus, since I am Makerere-descended, I really do think of Uganda as a smarter country.

  5. Yes, perhaps that really is the question–about office conventions. “I just printed an article, and will hand the same to you in a second.”

    Office speech. Very funny thing.

  6. Great blog Keguro.

    “John sent me a book, and I will put the same in the mail to you.”

    Perhaps it works if the ‘I’ who ‘will put the same’ is also called ‘John’. Then ‘John’ will send ‘the same’ in the mail and strangely replicate the whole process. He will put ‘in the mail’ the ‘same’. When received, the recipient can say ‘John sent me a book’ – like ‘John’ before him.

    Am I confused?

  7. I had not thought of this possibility. It is ingeniously complex. What grabs me is how widespread it is–used in business and personal correspondence and, as I discovered, in newspaper articles.

    I wonder if more than the traffic between sender and recipient, the use of “the same” marks an anxiety about frauds and fakes, the strange Kenyan (and global) game of real and seemingly-real objects. “The same” would then mean “the real,” the “not fake,” the “not substituted.” So, I am not sending you a “similar” book but the “same” one.

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