Thursday, August 28, 2008

I love me some Pidgin

I have noticed lately that whenever i write on this blog, 1/4 of it is in pidgin english. First of all, that's due to me assuming 95% of my readers are nigerians who understand pidgin english, secondly it really depends on my mood. On my previous 3 deleted blogs (RIP), i hardly ever wrote in pidgin. I'm not sure what happened, but i guess i no longer have to deal with being depressed and i'm a much happier and light hearted person. I doubt anyone who used to read my other blogs would believe it was the same person.

So i was chatting with my first "love" (ewwww... i can't believe i wrote that. I think i threw up a lttle in my mouth) today. We started dating when i was 15 and the relationship lasted for a little more than 2 yrs. That's my longest relationship to date. Anyway, we were chatting and he said something like he no longer speaks pidgin english (he never used to speak it back then anyway, so i don't know what he was yapping about). I asked him what was wrong with speaking Pidgin English, and he was like u know, after u speak it for a while, it starts affecting ur English. WHAT?!!!! Now i see y my friends thot he was a pretentious bastard.

Well, given the fact that i can't speak any other nigerian language fluently ( all) thanks to my darling, wonderful parents, especially my mother who can speak 7 languages fluently...... i have fully embraced pidgin english as my own. I don't care that it is not recognized by most nigerians as an official language. Tell that to my left toe. If it wasn't a language, how come non-nigerians can't understand nigerian pidgin english (yes, i know other african countries have their own pidgin). I have been speaking pidgin English since i could talk. I think i learned pidgin b4 i even learned how to speak english cos that's what we speak with my mom. My dad hates that, but he doesn't count in this issue cos he was never around while we were growing up. I don't think it has affected my English at all. I happened to attend two snotty secondary schools and it was razz to speak pidgin. I mean, people didn't even attempt to speak it, so it wasn't an issue. I remember in SS3 when i said something to my friends in pidgin english in school, a lot of them were shocked that i could speak pidgin. That's the first time someone said to me "you don't look like someone who can speak pidgin". B4 then i didn't know that people who could speak pidgin had a certain look. I have heard that statement many more times since then but i have since stopped wondering how people who speak pidgin english look.

I had friends who as at SS3 (12th grade to u americanas) did not even understand pidgin English, talk less of speak it. One of the things i love about the nigerian university system/culture is that it is cool to speak pidgin. I don't care how boti (ajebutter, aso, assorted) u r, by the time u graduate from uni. u will not only understand pidgin, u will also speak it. I'm still shocked whenever i call one of my bestie's from sec sch and she speaks pidgin. This is someone that could not speak it at all when i left naija. I used to beg her to stop whenever she would attempt cos she sounded so bad. Now she's a fluent speaker of pidgin thanks to uni. I'm so proud of her. Another of my fellow jambite, you would never hear this dude utter a word in pidgin when we first got into school. By the time he was in final year, whenever i would call it would be hard for me to believe this was the same person. The dude was rapping pidgin.

I think the stigma people used to have (or still have) with pidgin is that it was a language for the illiterate or uneducated pple. You all know how hard we try to be westernized/american/janded back home. I remember back then when one of my classmates called my house and heard my mom speaking pidgin in the background, she asked me if that was the maid, as she could not imagine it being anyone else. Of course, i asked her if she was crazy..... i no dey play like that. Na my mama she dey call house help?! I think back then i was the only one of my friends whose family spoke pidgin. I was cool then, i'm still cool now. Thank u very much! Na them sabi. My brother's friends used to tease him about it, and it got to a point where the dude refused to speak pidgin anymore. Ok, no problem.... speak english, we do dey answer u for pidgin. OMG, i'm laughing so hard remembering this cos, something happened that made him give up that nonsense. So the dude had an appendectomy. After he was wheeled out of surgery, they wheeled him down the corridor past where i was, so i followed behind. All the while, my brother is moaning and groaning about the pain. He's not fully awake at this point oh, and to this day he cannot recall. Guess which language he was doing the moaning and groaning in? You guessed right..... PIDGIN. I want to die from laughing right now. I'm definitely going to remind him when he gets home tonight.

He was like "e dey pain......" The nurse would ask him back "e dey pain?" It was so funny, cos prior to that my brother had completely boycotted pidgin english for months. You can bet ur life that i told my other siblings and he didn't hear the last of it for a long long time. After that incident, the boy said fuck it, and went back to his roots. Oh lord. I love my brother, he's quite a character. I love speaking my pidgin english jooh! Nothing do me. These days whenever i hang out with my friends that's what we speak. The conversation just seems to flow better and it doesn't hurt that we can talk about whatever without pple understanding us. Trust me that was never the case when we were younger, but for some reason now that we are older, we tend to speak pidgin more. It's funny how friends i had in naija that i never spoke a word of pidgin to, now when we talk all we speak is pidgin. I wonder what happened.

I don't think it has affected my English at all both written or spoken, although i will admit that there was one time when i was arguing with my jamo ex about something i said, and he said it wasn't correct. I insisted that it was, only for me to get home and realize i had said it the way i would say it if i was speaking pidgin. Oh well. But, i give myself kudos for being the best in my Eng 1101 and 1102 classes. I took those classes less than a year of me being here. So this is concrete evidence that there's hope for my pidgin english lovers out there. It doesn't affect ur english, unless u were bad in english to begin with. Then pls i beg u, find something else to blame.

By the way, in case u guys were wondering why my mother who can speak 7 languages refused to teach her kids even one, let me tell u. You know how they say when two elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers, that's what happened. So my parents are from 2 different tribes. My two older sisters who are a decade older than the rest of us grew up speaking igbo. They even went to primary school in onitsha where back then (i don't know about now) kids were taught in igbo. My dad was not around for most of these years. Years later he comes back to naija and decrees that there should be no more igbo speaking in the house and insisted that my mom should teach his language to the kids. My mom can speak his language very fluently cos she went to live with his mother who can't speak english after they got married. So she had to learn the language in order to communicate. She picks up languages so easily, i'm jealous. Anyway, my mom got mad and in order to get back at my father (bad decision if u ask me) she decided that she would not speak her igbo or his Edo to her kids. If my dad wanted us to speak his language then he would have to teach us. Well, he wasn't around to teach us. Me and my younger siblings weren't even born when this happened, but that's how we ended up a naija languageless household. My older sisters eventually forgot how to speak igbo and we all ended up rolling in pidgin. My mom regrets it now though, but it's too late. She tried teaching us my dad's language when we were still in primary school, but it never took. Although, now i can understand a little bit, but someone could probably sell me in that language while i'm standing right there and i wouldn't know. As thing with igbo, i can understand a little bit.

Did i just sit here and type a whole post on pidgin english? Who said i don't have issues. For all those who were wondering, i took ur advice and i have been MR. STINGLESS for 3 days now. I feel so much better. More of that later and my naija toasters in Nigeria. I don't believe those guys. I no know wetin dey see for my body. They haven't seen me in six year oh! Somebody help me understand.


  1. 1st!
    I think that's BS about it affecting your proper English. I think if you think your English is faulty, maybe you don't speak it well in the first place.

    I learnt pidgin from a Wafi (Warri) boy, so you can imagine what that sounds like... I'm prolly too razz for your snotty high school mates. lol.

  2. i dont know about pidgin affecting your english o!
    but i love to use pidgin to talk to my nigerian friends when non nigerians are around cos they wont feel as bad as if i just burst into full blown yoruba or ibo. They just think its english with an "accent" LOLLL!!!

  3. phuleeze! BS on pidgin affecting ur english, its like saying that spanish or sum oda language will affect ur english, which will only happen if english is not one's first language. i dnt speak it but i love to hear ppl speak it arnd me...and when i try i sound retarded!

    I do love my Yoruba too!

  4. Well I wish I was fluent in Pidgin. I look at it as the language (yes, even though it isn't a language per se) that unifies all of Nigeria, or could, anyway.

    That's pretty cool that your mom is multilingual. What are the other languages she speaks?

  5. @GNG: My mom speaks igbo, kwale (delta ibo), hausa, bini, ishan, etsako, and of course pidgin english and english. As u can see, the only major language she can't speak is yoruba cos she never lived in a yoruba speaking state.

  6. @isha: Wafi pidgin english is the best abeg, then of course next is my edo pidgin english.

  7. Love pidgin too. I'm not the bomb @ speaking it, but I'm getting berra. In fact, for the longest time, I used 2 spell it as 'pigeon' lol. But I'll tell you wat.. I think a man who can speak pidgin is hella sexy.

  8. we have a saying, the friends you feel comfortable speaking pidgin with, shows how close you guys are. just like when u can fart in presence of ur boo, u guys are real close. I love my sweetheart, cos we can let pidgin rule us anytime.
    No forming for me o. na ajegunle dem born me, if i no sabi speak the thing, i dey craze be that. though, for pri school den, which was in Apapa, u dare not utter pidgin. then schooling took me to other states and other accents and translations of pidgin.

    but truthfully, it's bad to start a kid on pidgin. it can be embarrassing at times in public.

    as for that language thing, ur mum for continue with the igbo. one language is better than none.

  9. LMAO @Uzezi the thing flow well well for your mouth
    @Post well pidgin is good to listen to, but unfortunately i can speak it well, it doesnt just flow

  10. and dem no dey write am for person face say, dis na pidgin english cracker o! infact its the other way round. u see some people and swear say if dem open their mouth speak, everyone go take cover, and most of such speak beautiful english with perfect diction.

    i try do my comments for pidgin

  11. @ doll, come pay some cash, i go school you, not just any pidgin, but the waffy kind.

    when i schooled in cross river state, i always got lost in their pidgin. you hear someone say, i wan make kerosine for gallon, instead of i wan put kerosine for gallon.

    that's the only one i can remember now. i used to correct theirs with my pidgin, and them say na english i dey speak not pidgin

  12. yesssssso
    wetin una dey yarn sef??? say peegin dey do werrin??? say peegin dey cause werrin????
    rabbish!!! nothing beats peegin i tell u, go ask obj,shan george, tuface, dakore, alibaba, ramsy noah
    even Nas learnt (i dey kampe) wen he came to lag,
    it's razz (who isnt razz???)n its very good for bonding *wide grin*
    norrin do peegin jor'

  13. lol// pidigin english.. just like u people say i cant speak and i dont have the looks of one whoe speaks and it makes me wonder.. i have been speaking that ishh for close on 16 years now.. like u thats all we speak at home.. infact i chat on msn in pidgin with my bros and sisters and even on the fone.. no matter where i am.. even in the prescence of the queen i wud still speak pidgin english! lol

    i love that lang mehn... and i go still dey speak until d day wey i no fit talk again.. nothing do us!

  14. Tell you what, i spent part of my early childhood growing up in Benin and that was were I learnt pidgin mostly wafi. I could neither spk yoruba nor edo, just english and pidgin. To me it was normal until I went back to my yoruba home town and I was made to stop pidgin cos it supposedly would mess up my english. Well I stopped spking it and had to consciously learn to spk yoruba again. Later I picked it up again when I left home for uni and when I generally speak english people would tell me that I did not speak english like normal yoruba folks do. Thing is I realised later that pidgin actually helped my english cos some words that i didnt know in english were spoken in pidgin just with different intonations. If i had spent all my childhood just speaking yoruba and our normal street english I bet I wouldnt know some words.

  15. I love pidgin. Both spoken and written. When I was growing up, we were encouraged to avoid it cos it was seen as bad english spoken by illiterates.

    Uni changed all that for me cos I had lots of Edo, Ishan, Asaba and PHC friends. Pidgin was the craze. I don't I'm great at it but I get by. I can write it too;-)

    Pidgin is an ice breaker and it brings people together irrespective of which part of naija they come from. That's what I like about it. It's also great for story telling and humour. More of that in my next post.

    Yes, a man who speaks pidgin is very my crush. LOL!!!

  16. I feel you on the pretentious bastard joo... Who go talk say im no dey shyt? Pidgin no dey affect ya grammar. My english beta pass dose wen only sabi english so wetin consyn agbero wit ovaload?

    Okay make I lay d yarnziz down oh... Pidgin don turn to my 2nd language bicos say like una for una house, my pale and male no gree teash us dem parapo... Sotey pipo go dey laff us if we go village...E no consyn me sha...

    Another thing was in my "ajebo" primary and secondary schools, we were discouraged from speaking "vernacular", and some people were flogged when they spoke it. Rubbish and pretentiousness. Is English better than my language?

    One thing I've noticed though, is that many Yoruba people I know don't/didn't know pidgin english... I remember laffing at my bf in uni because he couldn't speak it. I tried to teach him and it didn't work cos he was almost always speaking Yoruba...

  17. pidgin affectn ur english, ehen ehen, will french affect my english too? i loovee pidgin nd i h8 it wen ppl r so stuck up they look down on pidgin. feel u gal, stick 2 it

  18. It's so true how uni in naija just makes u start yarning in pidjin anyhow.
    I for one went to uni in Edo state, with a whole bunch of PH ppl in d mix, u no wan hear where i dey speak pidjin o.
    And my own is funny cuz wen u meet me u think ahn ahn, see dis quiet snobbish aje, only for me to be breaking it down wen my peeps r ard.

    As in i have friends i can't even hold a conversation in english with, it naturally just swithches to pidjin, even on msgr.

  19. Pidgin should be considered our 4th official language. Think about it - it is colorful, uses terminology from many of Nigeria's languages (i.e. Shikena, haba, effizy, etc) and allows all Nigerians to communicate with each other regardless of their mother tongue. Have you ever been to a market? That is how people converse.

    I love me some pidgin abeg.The thing too sweet. You must have Waffy blow some serious bende pidgin! Na their own wey sweet pass!


  20. that was one long as pidgin-free post about pidgin!

  21. Well yarned...just like u I grew up in a mix household so I can't really speak either momsy or popsy's language, so pidgin is my adopted language, esp. cause im outside naija , so when I wanna code gist from oyinbos and non-naija peeps I hit the pidgin real

    ps: btw yankee babes dig it when boyz speak pidgin...I neva understood why, but it's all good...


  22. u yarn well jare1 your mama sabi speak 7 languages? na wa oh..why you come sleep?
    I no sabi pidgin like that but I dey try sha. At least I sabi Hausa.

  23. i like how u r stickin to ur roots jere! i only learned how to speak pidgin recently n funny enough, it was when i left naija not while i was there, thats the language of the naijas here..u need to go n read naijalines' latest post, u'll see how the story is so much sweeter in

  24. How did I miss this post???

    They didn't speak pidgin in my house...
    To this day i am shocked when I call home and my brothers are rapping pidgin...the cloosest we got to pidgin was my mum calling my friends and I sisi and telling us it was time to wake up and sweep the house oh..

    now my brothers rap pidgin..

    I lived in lagos and picked pidgin very fast, was sent to an exclusive school where only a handful of us could speak pidgin...

    funny enough the pidgin crew became the crew to be with...

  25. Till date I don't speak pidgin... When I was in JSS3, my father heard me speaking pidgin and the way he shouted on me eh... I was terrorized. Afterwards, whenever I tried to speak, I still hear his voice and I just correct myself...Uni didn't help matters.

    But to communicate in Naija, u need the pidgin...people in market will just cheat u if u don't know small pidgin...

  26. I am as Ibo as can be...minus the language o..mine no cook well well o..
    I went to Togo a few years ago and me and my girls were tired of everything we said being understood by our hosts..
    So we switched to PIDGIN...we are all from different tribes,so it was actually the only way we could converse.
    I am all for 9ja developing PIDGIN into a language like Sierra Leone's Creole and making it our Lingua Franca...

  27. dont mind that dude.....

    pidgin affects his english.....

    thats some crazy talk!!!!!!!

  28. Hi Sting.Read Ur article and I found it so interesting.I think u are an intelligent,realistic and down to earth person.I'll like 2 get in touch wiyh U.Via e-mail is Ok with me.I'm working on pidgin language.By the way I'm a Lady.


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