Pidgin English has been the main means of communication for the educated and uneducated in Nigeria and other West African countries for decades. What many do not know, however, is that pidgin didn’t originate from Nigeria like many have been made to believe.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary definition, Pidgin is a language “containing lexical and other features from two or more languages, characteristically with simplified grammar and a smaller vocabulary than the languages from which it is derived, used for communication between people not having a common language; a lingua franca.”
Basically Pidgin English or broken English as it is popularly called now is the combination of English and local languages that makes it easy for people who do not share a common language to communicate.
Previously called West African Pidgin English or Guinea Coast Creole English, it originated in the 17th and 18th century with Europeans started to expand their colonies on the continent.
Due to the language barrier that caused ineffective ways of communicating, locals began combining English vocabulary and the different languages spoken by the ethnic groups the British were engaged with at the time.
This made it easy for the merchants to conduct business on the West African coast.
Several years down the line, Pidgin has become adaptable.
According to BBC, Pidgin English is estimated to be spoken by three to five million Nigerians as a primary means of day-to-day interaction. But it is said to be a second language to a much higher number of up to 75 million people in Nigeria alone – about half the population.
Which other African countries speak pidgin?
– Equatorial Guinea
– Sierra Leone
Here are a few Pidgin words or phrases:
– How Bodi? / How You Dey? – How are you doing today?
– I dey fine – I’m fine. I’m doing well.
– Wetin dey happen? – What’s going on? What’s happening?
– Wahala – Problem/Trouble. Example – Why you dey give me wahala? Which means why are you giving me so many problems?
– Wetin? – What?
– I no sabi – I don’t understand
– Comot! – Get out of here!
– How Far? – Hey, Hi
– Comot for road – Make way
– Dem send you? – Have you been sent to torment me?
– I no no – I don’t know
– Vex – Upset. Example – Make you no vex me! ; Which means “Don’t upset me!”
-Gi mi – Give it to me.
– I Wan Chop – I want to eat
– Abeg – Please, but usually not a repentant plea. Example – Abeg! No waste my time!; Which means Please! Don’t waste my time!
– I no gree – I don’t agree, I disagree
– Abi? – Isn’t it?
– Wayo – Trickery. Example – That man be wayo; which means “that man is a fraud!”
– Na so? – Is that so?
– Area boys –Street-smart young men that loiter around neighborhoods.
– Go slow – Traffic jam
– Listen well well – Pay attention