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10 Phrases In Nigerian Pidgin You Need To Know While Traveling in Nigeria

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The use of Pidgin English all over Nigeria is one thing that might catch you off guard if you are a visitor to this country. You must have heard phrases like, “How far?”, “No wahala”, “Sharp sharp”, “I dey” and so on and you might have wondered what these meant. These are phrases in Pidgin English used in everyday informal communication in Nigeria. Although Pijin English is spoken in other countries in Africa, the type spoken in Nigeria is slightly different which is why it is known as Nigerian Pijin.

Nigerian Pidgin English is a mix of English and Nigerian languages and it’s widely used in Nigeria, especially in informal situations. Pidgin English is the most widely spoken lingua franca in Nigeria. So, don’t be afraid to try out the commonly used Pidgin English phrases that you’ll come across in the country. Nigerians use them regularly and appreciate it when you can communicate with them in the language. It shows that you understand and respect the culture, people, and language of Nigeria.

In this article, we will go through some of the most popular phrases in Pidgin English you need to know while traveling in Nigeria. So be sure to memorize as many as you can as they will come in handy during your exploration of the country.

Origin and Evolution of Pidgin English in Nigeria

It’s fascinating to know how language adapts and changes over time, and one can’t be fascinated enough to know how Pidgin English came to be. Anyway, it all started back in the 17th century when Portuguese merchants/missionaries and the people in the area now known as Nigeria needed a common language to help them communicate with each other. This language barrier was soon solved by the mixture of the languages of the Portuguese merchants/traders with a bunch of local African languages and Pidgin English was born in the process. Over the years, Pidgin English continued to evolve and expand, and eventually became a unique language.

Pidgin English is now widely used in Nigeria and many countries in Africa, especially among the younger generation, and it has since become a cultural staple-language of the country. It’s used in formal settings like movies, music, and TV shows as well as in informal settings like outdoor events and conversations. There is no way you can be in Nigeria without hearing Pidgin English – from the airports to the person selling you snacks on the street. It is even difficult to order for some of the most delicious dishes in Nigeria without the language.

Why You Should Learn and Use Pidgin English in Nigeria as A Traveller

Traveling to Nigeria can be a thrilling adventure, but communication can sometimes be a challenge. This is where speaking Pidgin comes in handy! Pidgin is a lingua franca in Nigeria and is widely spoken across the country. Here’s why it’s a great idea to learn and use some Pidgin English while traveling in Nigeria:

  1. Break The Language Barrier: By speaking Pidgin, you’ll be able to communicate with natives and people in all parts of Nigeria more effectively and this leads to a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience for you.
  1. Build Rapport Quickly: Pidgin has a friendly and informal tone. So, speaking can help you connect with people quickly and create a positive impression of you in the minds of people.
  1. Uncover Hidden Gems: Pidgin can open up doors to experiences and places that may not be accessible to you if you choose to only communicate in English and other foreign languages while traveling in Nigeria.
  1. Add To Your Adventure: Learning and speaking a new language is always a fun activity and a rewarding challenge; Pidgin English is no exception.

So, don’t be shy – give Pidgin a go! You never know what adventures it might lead you on.

10 Phrases in Pidgin English You Need To Know While Traveling in Nigeria

Nigeria is a country with diverse cultures, languages, and rich history. As a tourist, it’s always a good idea to know a few local phrases to help you blend in and make your travels more enjoyable.

Here are 10 Pidgin English phrases that you should know while traveling in Nigeria.

1. “How far?”

This is the equivalent of asking “How are you?” in Standard English. It’s a friendly greeting that you’ll hear often, and it’s always good to respond with “I dey” (I’m fine)

2. “Wetin dey sup?”

This phrase means “What’s up?” or “What’s going on?” It’s a casual way to start a conversation with someone new.

3. “No wahala”

This phrase is commonly used to mean “no problem.” You’ll hear it a lot when you’re trying to get something done in Nigeria, and it’s a great way to show that you’re relaxed and easygoing.

4. “E dey your hand” 

This is a way of saying “It’s up to you.” If you’ve advised or introduced someone to something that you feel is or could be beneficial to the person and the person is reluctant to take action, you can use this phrase to let the person know that the decision is in his/her hands.

5. “E go better”

This is a popular phrase that means “It will get better.” It’s a phrase in Pidgin English used to show optimism and encouragement, especially in difficult situations.

6. “Chop life” 

This is a Pidgin English way of saying “enjoy life.” In Nigeria, people are known for their love of good food and good times. So, “chop life” is a phrase that you’ll hear often depicting one enjoying or being admonished to enjoy.

7. “Sharp sharp”

This phrase means “quickly.” If you’re in a rush or need to get somewhere fast, you can use this phrase to let someone know that you’re in a hurry.

8. “No vex” 

This is a way of saying “don’t worry” or “don’t be upset.” It’s a good phrase to use when you want to calm someone down or diffuse a tense situation.

9. “I dey come”

This phrase means “I’m coming.” It’s a great way to let someone know that you’re on your way, or that you’ll be there soon.

10. “Make we dey go”

This is a way of saying “Let’s go.” If you’re ready to leave and want to suggest that it’s time to go, this phrase is a great way to do it. 

One last thing!

Now, some people look down on Pidgin English and call it “broken” English. Well, that’s not the case. Rather, Pidgin English is a rich and complex language that’s worth learning and appreciating. It’s all about communicating; so far as the person you’re talking to understands and appreciates what you’re saying there’s nothing wrong with it. Hence, there’s nothing “broken” about Pidgin English. I think you should try some Pidgin English phrases soon if you’re yet to do so. You’ll surely love it.

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