HERE ARE SOME NIGERIAN WORDS WE BET YOU THOUGHT WERE REGULAR OR CAN BE FOUND IN THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY.
Nigerians say go-slow (traffic jam), trafficate (putting on your indicator light ahead to show the direction of the vehicle), dress (adjust to make space for some other person on a seat or generally place that allows for sitting) and many more self-formed words a little too much we think they are in the dictionary or are at least correct. I assure you that you cannot use any of these words beyond the Nigerian borders and not get stared at for all the wrong reasons.
A close related form of these languages are popularly termed "pidgin English (creole)"- Pidgin is an English-based creole language and Nigeria's real lingua franca. It is a means devised to avoid alienation and miscommunication due to the over 250 indigenous languages in Nigeria. While I still don't understand why pidgin feels like a more complicated excerpt from the English language, Nigerians would have it no other way.
We have curated a brief pidgin English dictionary, should this be your first time in Lagos or you want to be streetwise; also feel free to comment any one you know we missed out on.
How far na?
This slang means ‘How is everything? Nigerians are often in a hurry so you do not actually want to go on and on about what has been happening in your life. So, the immediate reply is ' i dey (oh)' and both parties move swiftly on.
‘What’s up/What’s going on?’ If you ever want to blend in with road side market sellers or bus drivers and conductors, this is something you want to hold on and drop at every chance you get.
Wétin be dis?
This simply means ‘What is this?’. It is used when you sight something unfamiliar.
You no dey hear word abi?
This is for that annoying friend that always seems to take light all of your discussions or advice; like "you can't listen and do what you are told, yes?"
A corruption of the Portuguese verb saber. Sabi means "to know' or "to understand" For example "You sabi lagos?", would translate to mean, do you know Lagos properly.
This means "you" or "your". For example, Una dey go school?, means ‘Are you going to school?’ or even "why haven't you gone to school yet" It can also mean ‘Do you go to school?’ and can be used to address two or more people.
If we could classify this into parts of speech it will be a verb; it can mean ‘come on’ or ‘hurry up’. Then depending on tone and pronunciation, It can also be used to cajole; "oya na" can mean something along the lines of ‘please reconsider’.
This one means ‘please’ and is sometimes used with na as in "abeg na". Abeg, can also be used to express incredulity. For instance if you were engaged in a good old haggling session and the trader gives you a ridiculous price, you can let them know how ridiculous you find the price by exclaiming, "ah beg o!"
This one simply means trouble or stress.
You dey craze?
Aggressive form of asking "are you mad?", used when someone does something totally out of line and or order. Can also be used to call them back to their senses.
Commot is coined from come and out, and is a commanding word that means "leave" or "get lost/out", again depending on context. Vamoose which is the least used is Portuguese.
This one means a lot of things, but often used as the introductory word to explain a situation for example, "asin he just came in and didn't even greet us"; as a way of agreeing with someone's thoughts. Another example- "I just want to go home and sleep" to which the listener replies in agreement, "asin ehn, me too".
It is often just for extra effect but can also mean in other cases "pardon or come again" for when you do not hear someone clearly the first time.
If right now a quick survey was to be conducted, there will be a large number of citizens attesting to the advantages that comes with fluency in pidgin English? What do we hope you learn from this? The importance of learning languages, indigenous and foreign, even if you do not think it concerns you now, no knowledge is wasted, and in the future you just might need it for that dream job or that business development opportunity, so sign up for free language courses and get learning today!