Monday, June 1, 2009

What's in a Name?

When speaking with Nigerians I sometimes find myself thinking, we speak the same language but we don't really speak the same language. Here is a list of Nigerian words and phrases and their meanings:

Abi? - Pidgin for "isn't it?" or "right?"
Boot - The trunk of a car
Catarrh- The common cold or flu
Chop - Food
Cleaner - A pencil eraser or a chalkboard eraser
Damott - Term used in the army barracks for house
Ease myself - To pee
Find my trouble - To be annoying or get on my nerves
Hawker - People selling things often from trays carried on their heads
Jagbajantis - Pidgin for nonsense
Knickers or Trousers - Pants. Meanwhile, to the Nigerians the term 'pant' refers to underwear.
Light - Means electricity, such as the all too common phrase "There is no light."
Lorry - Truck
Mach - To step on, when sitting on the floor we tell students to put their hands on their laps so they don't get their fingers mached
Mineral - Soda
Naija - Slang for Nigeria, sometimes written 9ja
Okada or Machine - Motorcycle
Onye Ogi - Igbo for a black person
Onye Oicha or Oyibo - Igbo for a white person
Oya - Let's go or hurry
Petrol - Gasoline
Shakara - Showing off, strutting
Slippers - Flip flops
Spraying - During a dance or performance, it is customary to throw money at performers.
Swallow - Food (often made from wheat, corn, or cassava) that is rolled into a ball, dipped in soup, and swallowed whole
Trek - Means to walk
Wahala or Palava - Pidgin for trouble
Yellow Fever - The traffic cops that are found at major intersection instead of stop lights

1 comment:

  1. *laughs* some of those are British words. I always find it funny when Americans don't know them. I tend to forget that most didn't have the privilege of attending a British school as a child. My dad was in the army, and we were in Germany for a few years, and the only english speaking school in the area was British. So, needless to say, 40 years later, my english is still sprinkled with little Britishisms that make people scratch their head and look at me funny.