Posted by keayo on Mar 16, 2010 in Naija
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Nigerian people love to naija-fy the English language – if a naija speaker does not use a “dey”, a native-tongue word, or does not speak certain words with a Naija accent then he dey Entah-A TRUH-bol [trouble].   Now to the non-Naija listener, these substitutions, extra words, and interesting pronunciation choices may seem like a completely unnecessary misuse/abuse of the English language.  But, eef you do not unda-stand owa talk, SHARRAP that yuah mout and listen well well . . . . ee-djut..

Sillpass - Slippers

Naija people will double up words in certain phrases to lend emphasis.  For example, to describe a good looking girl, a Naija will describe her as “fine fine”, a little child as “small small”, or a person who is easily led as “follow follow”.   Bicoz why? Naija people also love to hear themselves talk, and saying something twice allows the speaker more words “for come-out mout.”  Na waa ooo…

Naija people have pretty much created a separate language especially for their children.   Common phrases like “Cry….TRUH-bol dey call you”, “make am do kwik [quick]”, or “[*hiss/suck teeth*] no dey take….put eye see [*hiss/suck teeth*]” would probably have Noah Webster turning in his grave.   Because of this, American-born Nigerian children are forced to re-learn simple English words in school.  In fact, most Naija people  can think back to their younger days and remember the following exchange:

Baff - to bathe

Bāf - to bathe

Parent: “My fren, go and BAFF [Bathe]!”
Child: “But I don’t wanna BAFF!”
Parent: “Mm-Wa, BEFORE I COUNT TREE…..WAN!!!! TWO!!!! TWO AND HAFF !!!!! TWO AND WAN QWATA!!!” (Oh yea, did I mention, we also have to re-learn the order of our fractions.)

Special emphasis can be added to any statement by beginning the sentence with “Sef [Self]” or “In fact”. Like in this scenario:

Parent: “In Fact, Don’t Em-BA-RASS Me, in this place”
Child (mutters under breath): “You’re embarrassing yourself….”
Parent (top of lungs): “Hai!, you dey craze?! You haff mout to talk, Ee-DJUT[idiot]; STUPID CHILD OF GOD!”

(Now a conversation like this usually ends up in what Oigbo people may call “Child Abuse” but what we in the Naija community simply call “DETTY SLAPS” [Dirty Slaps].)

Another characteristic found in owa version of English is using one word to cover a variety of similar things. For example, let’s say your moda prepared a delicious meal using nothing but hot payppa [pepper] and salt. You may hear the following exchange at the dinner table:

Dad: “The chicken dey SWEET, sef.”
Child: “How is this sweet?!?!”
Dad: “WAT [What] A [Are] You TALKIN?!?! Na SWEET chicken!”


Dis'thin - That Thing

Some of you Nigerians reading this still don’t see what’s wrong with that statement, but I am not here to judge you.  You are probably the same ones who have interchangeably used the Naija-English “am” to mean his, it, him, her, she, you and whatever else you fancy.  You’ve also probably used ‘for’ in interesting and different ways.  If you have ever uttered “Come-out for road, useless man!”; “he dey carry am for head”; and “weak for bodi”, please note that ‘for’ is not meant to be used interchangeably with “of, in, on, with, etc.”  (Chei! Make I see why oigbo no unda-stan)

My papa and mama done use my head oh, I done pass 20 and remain small make I clock 30. Till today I no know if na stuck, stalk, or stock fish.

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