Nigerian English – learning about the accent

about the Nigerian accent of English with Nigerian national flags in the background
.

Hi, I’m Susan Rex from Nigeria and always being a Nigerian (Smiling). I’m thankful to Trystn Waller for giving me this alternative to a guest post about my country Nigeria and its accent (just in brief). I’m a Relationship Coach, helping to build healthy relationships. I hope you like this post and also share your thoughts with me as well.

Contact: (relationtipps@gmail.com)

My website: Link

Main Article


Nigerian spoken English is an amalgamation of British English and American English. The outcome is an imaginative clash of broken English and words that have cheerfully grown eternally distant from their original definitions.

Path to Getting the Nigerian Accent

Cutting out inner syllables

  • Medicine pronounces as “med-sin
  • Happy Birthday pronounces as “api betday
  • Concern pronounces as “consign
  • Get out as “gerrat
  • Start as “stat
  • With as “wit
  • Bathroom as “baffroom” etc.

Swap your “er” for “a”

  • Paper pronounces as “pay-pah
  • Father pronounces as “fathah
  • Mother as “mothah
  • Helicopter as “elucuptah” etc.


Nigerians also pronounce each of these groups of words in the same manner.


  • Work and walk (pronounced as same)
  • Bus and boss (pronounce as same)
  • Saint and sent (pronounce the same)
  • Curb and cub 
  • Hair and air
  • Ear, hear, and here (pronounce the same way).


Having the basic conversation

  🇬🇧 (Standard)

Hi

How are you?

No problem.

I’m walking please.

Please, where is the bathroom?

I don’t know.

I don’t understand.

 🇳🇬 (Non-Standard)

How far.

How you dey?

No wahala.

I dey waka abeg.

Abeg where the baffroom dey?

I no no.

I no sabi.


(Add “No” if you need to say that you don’t understand something or don’t have something. Also, Nigerians refer to older people as Auntie or Uncle, pronounced as “hanty or “uncul”, to show manners and respect.)


Let me remind you that if you are not a Nigerian, it will be hard to blend in with the accent. That’s one of the unique things about being a Nigerian; no one can take that away from us, not even those that colonized us. 

image written Nigeria and a map of Nigeria in the back, landscape of a city in Nigeria in the background
.

**I hope you enjoyed this article from Susan Rex and got some better insight into the unique accent of Nigeria! Please feel free to contact her with more questions, and read her website to get advice about healthy relationships. I appreciate you doing this guest post for us, Susan, and I look forward to seeing what others have to add about the Nigerian accent. Stay safe out there, people! Peace.

Read more: the Blog

Listen & Read: a Nigerian song in Lyrics “Explained”

“Ojuelegba (Remix)” by Wizkid feat. Drake, Skepta – lyrics for English students

Flag of Nigeria
.
A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
.
A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
.
Flag of England
.
.

In this post, we will look at song lyrics from Nigerian artist Wizkid, along with rappers Drake and Skepta. The song is the remix of the original “Ojuelegba” from Wizkid’s Ayo album, which you can listen to here. This post is also a continuation of the series where we analyze English-language song lyrics for learners, called Lyrics “Explained”. I’ve mostly been covering songs from the U.S., Canada, or Britain, so this is a nice change-up (at least for one of the singers). It’s a good reminder that English is spoken throughout the world, and places like Nigeria make up an important side of English-language culture too. If you want to read “Ojuelegba (Remix)” lyrics without my explanations, you can find them here. I also got some help with translations since part of the song is in the Yoruba language. You can read more on Kilonso. Okay, here we go.

Image of a busy street in Ojuelegba suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, namesake and subject of the song Ojuelegba by Wizkid
Ojuelegba, Nigeria – By Omoeko Media

Song Lyrics (Wizkid, Drake, Skepta)

Ni Ojuelegba o, my people dey there

  • Other language: In the Yoruba language, “In Ojuelegba.” Ojuelegba is a busy suburb of Lagos, by the way.
  • Regional accent: Then in regional English dialect: “My people are there.”

My people suffer, dem dey pray for blessing eh

  • Regional speech: *”They all pray for blessings.”

Ni ojuelegba o, my people dey there

Dem dey pray for blessing, for better living eh eh

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain, yeah

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I just can’t explain

I can’t explain, no, no, yeah

Look, it’s gon’ be a long long time ‘fore we stop

  • Informal speech: *It’s going to be a long, long time before…

Boy better know, they better know who make the scene pop

  • Grammar: *Who makes the scene…
  • Slang: “Pop” here has the meaning of making something more lively, more exciting, like a party. “That place was popping!”

All I ever needed was a chance to get the team hot

  • Slang: “Hot” here can mean successful, famous, or anything similar to that. He refers to his group of friends and people working with him as his team.

Only thing I fear is a headshot or a screenshot

  • Grammar: *The only thing I fear…
  • Other vocabulary: A “headshot” is a gunshot to the head. A “screenshot” is a picture you take of your own phone’s screen. Basically, he fears either getting killed or someone finding out what’s on his phone. Haha.

Pree me, dem a pree me

  • Regional speech: “Pree” I think comes from Jamaica. It means to pay close attention to something. With a Jamaican patois accent, he’s saying that people are paying close attention to him, like the paparazzi or his fans.
  • Double meanings: It also sounds like “premie/premy,” an informal way to refer to people that were born prematurely. I don’t know if that was intended, but it could be an interesting way for him to compare these people to babies.

You know they only call me when they need me

I never go anywhere, they never see me

I’m the type to take it easy, take it easy

  • Idioms: “Take it easy” means to do things slowly and calmly, in a relaxed manner. “-How have you been? -Oh, I’ve been taking it easy.”

I took girls in the very first text I sent

I don’t beg no lovers, I don’t beg no friends

  • Grammar: Double negatives! *I don’t beg any…

If you wanna link, we can link right now

  • Slang: To “link” or “link up” is to get together with someone or to meet someone so you can spend time with them.

Skeppy, Wiz and Drake, it’s a ting right now

  • Names: Those are the names of the artists participating in this song.
  • Slang/Regional speech: Again with a Caribbean/African accent, Drake says “it’s a thing.” This means that they made something happen together, they accomplished something. “Thing” can have lots of weird underlying meanings depending on the situation and the speaker.

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain eh yeah

When I was in school, being African was a diss

  • Slang: A “diss” or “dis” is something used to tease or make someone feel bad. It comes from the word “disrespect,” but has to do more with teasing or saying disrespectful things toward another.

Sounds like you need help saying my surname, Miss

  • Society: Having a foreign last name, Skepta’s teachers had a hard time pronouncing it when he was in school. This is a common occurrence for people who have foreign surnames.

Tried to communicate

But every day is like another episode of Everybody Hates Chris

  • Society/Culture: From Chris Rock’s TV show. Throughout the show, Chris suffers from racism for being the only black kid at his school.
Photo of boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., expressing from Ojuelegba Remix lyrics by Wizkid, Drake & Skepta
Floyd Mayweather getting ready to fight – By rcelis

Ever since mum said, “Son you are a king

  • Culture/Society: This reminds me of “The Lion King” where young Simba is told that one day he will be king. I guess the idea is ever since he was a boy, a little kid.

I feel like Floyd when I’m stepping into the ring

  • Culture: Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a famous boxer.

Just spoke to the boy, said he’s flying in with a ting

  • Grammar: *I just spoke…
  • Slang/Informal speech: By “the boy,” he probably is talking about Drake. Saying the “ting” again, it could mean any kind of cool thing that he’s bringing. It’s something important.

We’re touching the road to celebrate another win, we’re going in

  • Idiom/Figurative speech: “Touching the road” means to go on a trip. It could be literally on the road, like in a car/bus. It could also be just going on any trip. To “go in” can mean a lot of things. Here it means to really enjoy something, put in your biggest effort, to do something very well.

Why am I repping these ends? Man I don’t know

  • Slang: To “rep” is to represent something, usually a neighborhood or place of origin. “Ends” I believe is London slang meaning neighborhood.

The government played roulette with my postcode

  • Figurative speech: “Playing roulette” here gives the idea of the government randomly choosing where he and his family will live. It appears that in London’s project housing system, that has been a pretty common practice. Also, Skepta is from Tottenham, a rough neighborhood in London.

All I know is it’s where my people dem are suffering

  • Regional speech: “Dem” here doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase. It means “they” or “them.” It’s sort of a Caribbean/African style of talking.

I seen it before, narrate the story as it unfolds

  • Grammar: *I’ve seen it before…

Dad certified the settings and my mum knows

My mind full of more bullets than your gun holds

  • Figurative speech: He’s seen or heard lots of violence, gun shots.

Now I got the peng tings in the front row

  • Slang: “Peng” is British slang for beautiful, attractive, or appealing. “Tings” here probably refers to women, so he has pretty women at his shows.

Saying, “Skeppy come home, baby come home!”

  • Other info: “Come home” might be telling Skepta he’s welcome to come back to his ancestral homeland, Africa.

Yeah, I love the sun but I respect the rain

  • Figurative speech/Double meaning: The sun usually is a reference for good days, while the rain symbolizes hard times. This is especially common in music or literature. It also could be a reference to religion. He can love the Son (Jesus Christ) but respects his Reign (His power and authority). I don’t know if Skepta is religious or Christian, but it could be a double meaning either way.

Look forward to good times, can’t forget the pain

  • Idiom/Phrasal verb: To “look forward to” something is to be excited for it to happen. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!”

I was the kid in school with the ten-pound shoes

Black pepper grains, representing the line about pepper grains relating to hair in the lyrics of Ojuelegba Remix by Wizkid
Grains of black pepper for comparison – by Anas Alhajj
  • Society: “Pounds” referring to British currency. These are cheap shoes, probably in bad quality.

White socks, jack-ups and the pepper grains

  • Slang: “Jack-ups” refers to pants that are too small/short. “Pepper grains” refers to nappy hair or hair that is curly and kinky. It isn’t combed or brushed and has knots in it, so it looks like grains of black pepper.

Said they’re gonna respect me for my ambition

  • Grammar: *I said they’re going to …

Rest in peace my n***** that are missing

  • Informal/Figurative speech: “Missing” in this case really means dead.

I had to tell my story cuz they’d rather show you

Black kids with flies on their faces on the television

  • Society: Referring to the sad way Africans or black people are often portrayed on TV.

Eh e kira fun mummy mi o

  • Other language: More Yoruba; “Thanks for my mom”

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

  • “She prays every day”

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

  • “I’m enjoying my life, they are complaining”

Ojojumo owo n wole wa

  • “Every day, money is coming in”

E kira fun mummy mi o

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

Won ni won ni won soro ju

.

And the lyrics repeat.

Last Thoughts on Ojuelegba

Alright, we’ve got Nigeria on the list! This song has an amazing rhythm and is such a relaxing yet upbeat song at the same time. I recommend you listen to it if you haven’t yet. Throughout the lyrics, we join the struggles of growing up in the ghetto or in rough neighborhoods. There is some reflection of hard times, but also a celebration for how much better things are now. These difficulties have made these singers who they are today, and they’re proud of it. Nigeria does have a lot of English speakers, but the country is multi-ethnic and -linguistic. It’s great that we get to see some Yoruba and be more multicultural. In fact, that’s one of the best parts of English-speaking countries, anyway!

What do you think? Did you like this song? Can you relate to its message? And what about you who are from Nigeria or have visited Lagos. What can you tell us about it? Leave a comment below to share. Otherwise take care, everyone!

society + Coming to America [1988] – What’s it say about us?

.

Popcorn anyone? Candies? We are back at The Movies! This time we are going to look at a classic, “an oldie but a goodie” you might say. Where else can you find African warriors, an obvious McDonald’s ripoff and Arsenio Hall in a wig? That’s right, we’ll look at one of the funniest movies of all time and see what it has to say about our good and friendly Americans. Ready to read?

*There may be spoilers here if you haven’t watched the movie yet, but, I mean, 1988.

Zamunda on the map, from Jungle Maps

Now, I know this movie’s a little old. For those who don’t know, the sequel finally came out this year (2021), cleverly named Coming 2 America, and has many of the same cast members as the original. That title alone tells you how much we love puns and double meanings in the U.S., particularly when it comes to naming stuff. The movie is worth a look on Amazon Prime, but I’ll leave a link to the trailer here in case you don’t pay for that service … yet. The first movie has countless jokes that plenty of people reference to this day. It wasn’t just an American success either since this movie and its crazy scenes have fans from all over the world. Despite the fact that the story follows a young African prince — of Zamunda to be exact, please check your nearest map — and his royal assistant who basically tour New York in order to find a princess, the movie itself has a lot to say about our U.S. of A. And what better way to do this than to start with Africa?

The nation of Zamunda is like one of those ongoing jokes about Americans not knowing geography. Now, it is pretty common for filmmakers to come up with a fake name for countries in their movies, but Zamunda sounds like one of the answers you’d get from a classmate after a teacher asks them, “Name a country in Africa.” I know, Zamunda! It just sounds African, even if it isn’t real, and that’s why it sheds some light on American culture. Many people (around the world, but especially in America) don’t know much about Africa at all. You might be surprised just how little many African Americans know about Africa. Zamunda was meant to be fictitious, but I bet you there were many people that thought it was real, and as a matter of fact, probably still think so.

Stepping off the plane in Zamunda, Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

Not to speak poorly of my fellow citizens, to be fair, there are many who know a lot about geography. But, I’m going to go ahead and say that most of us don’t. Poor geography skills aside, the movie says some other things about our view of Africa. It was admirable that they chose to show African royalty as opposed to poverty, and the royal family is very wealthy in the movie. Coming to America stars pretty much all black people too which is appropriate for a movie about Africans, though this has not always been the case. The movie came out at a time when black people were really growing in their pride and interest in African heritage, and this trend has swept over black American culture ever since. In Zamunda we can still see lots of random animals you might find on a safari just running around the palace. This plays on the idea that many Americans have this view as if Africa is full of lions, elephants, giraffes, and whatnot. Many people think you can step off a plane and see a rhinoceros, for example. It goes the same for other countries, like some people believe Brazil is all Amazon or Australia is all kangaroos. Don’t blame the people, blame our T.V. … and Kangaroo Jack, of course.

Many people’s image of what Africa is like (sorry for the moon), Photo by Faris Munandar on Pexels.com

Americans perceive that it is hard for foreigners to speak and understand English the way it is used naturally. Even for Zamundans, a nation that speaks English, cultural differences create a big gap. We see several scenes where Akeem (that’s Eddie Murphy) has hilarious misunderstandings with people because of the way he talks. Often, foreigners learn English in formal schools and their speech sounds very proper to us here. This explains why they had Akeem embarrassing himself so much. He’s also a skilled warrior and fights with spears, which is a sort of stereotype about Africans being wild and hunting with old weapons. Some rural or hunter-gatherer communities do, but most Africans aren’t quite as skilled as Akeem is with the spear.

Soul Glo & the Jheri curl

Going back to ’80s trends, that Soul Glo hairspray stuff has some major moments in the movie. The Jheri curl is the hairstyle that this spray makes, and it was fairly popular, especially among black people in the late ’80s to early ’90s. You had some ladies in tight bikinis, which relates to a sort of sexual revolution that was going on at the time, starting in the ’60s and getting more and more, um, liberated, up until modern times. And talk about that crazy pastor and the “Sexual Chocolate” guy! Most pastors and reverends are decent people, but you do get some bad eggs every once in a while. That creepy one in the movie references these “bad” pastors who care too much about money, yelling loudly, and watching half-naked women. Despite that stuff, you do still see many pastors who speak in the same style that he does. “Yess-uh, I wanna thank yah Lawd, uh-yas Lawd!” I don’t know where this style came from, but it’s very common for pastors to talk like this, especially in black churches in the South or smaller cities.

You know it’s a barbershop when you see this, Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Another part of the movie I want to talk about is New York. They spend most of the movie in Queens, a borough of New York City. Queens during the ’80s and before was known for having lots of black people and being sort of a poor neighborhood. Queens still has some rough parts, I hear (I mean I am from Los Angeles…), but it also has lots of nice neighborhoods nowadays. In the movie you see people throwing trash out their windows, cursing at each other, and people robbing each other. New York is fairly safe now, but before the 9/11 attacks some parts of the city were a lot more dangerous. The barbershop scenes are very important since they are seen as key parts of black communities. All communities have barbershops, but in black communities they are places of communion where people go to hear local news, talk with friends, and tease each other. So it’s really a family atmosphere. Hair has always been really important for black people, and hair care is a big deal for us. Remember that when you visit, and please don’t touch anybody’s weave, wig, afro, braids, or Jheri curl. Well, you can cut off their Jheri curl, I approve.

In the last post on Doctor Sleep, we saw lots of big houses and how they represent the modern American home. However, in big cities and especially in lower-class areas, there are lots of apartments like the ones in the movie; small, dirty, ugly, with neighbors who are noisy or kind of grouchy. In big cities you can see more angry people who are in a rush too. I’ve heard from several foreign people who visited New York and thought Americans weren’t nice people. Remember that New York is just one place and it’s the biggest city, so you get lots of stressed people all having to live on a couple of congested islands. Still, mean and nice people can be found anywhere you go.

The most-played sport in America, Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Akeem watches basketball and tries to talk about American football, which are the two main sports in the U.S. He gets a little confused by the rules which is a normal thing. We also see Akeem and his friend, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), interact with several promiscuous women, including his future wife Lisa’s sister. This might relate to how American or Western women in general are seen as more sexually open than Eastern and African women. That’s why this was sort of a culture shock to the African prince, and it is actually a good point made by the movie. I can’t say too much else. McDowell’s is an obvious ripoff of McDonald’s, but many successful companies and products have come as a ripoff of another product. McDonald’s itself used the idea of two brothers in California to create a worldwide enterprise, and didn’t even change the name. Ah, the things you learn from Netflix.

That’s it people! Thanks for reading. If you want to practice your writing skills, you can answer these questions in the comments:

  1. Do you like the movie Coming to America? What about the sequel?
  2. Have you ever felt like Akeem when traveling to another country? Did you travel for love too?
  3. What is your favorite part of this movie?
  4. Would you rather live in Queens or Zamunda?