Nigerian Pidgin: Wikis


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Nigerian Pidgin
Spoken in Nigeria
Total speakers
Language family Creole language
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 none
ISO 639-3 pcm

Nigerian Pidgin is an English-based pidgin or creole language spoken as a kind of lingua franca across Nigeria that is referred to simply as "Pidgin", "Broken English" or "Brokan". Nigerian Pidgin English was greatly influenced by the Saro or Krios who infused words like "na" into Nigerian Pidgin. It is often not considered a creole language since most speakers are not native speakers, although many children do learn it early. Nonetheless it can be spoken as a pidgin, a creole, or a decreolised acrolect by different speakers, who may switch between these forms depending on the social setting.[1] Its superstrate is English with Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo as the main substrate languages. Ihemere (2006) reports that Nigerian Pidgin is the native language of approximately 3 to 5 million people and is a second language for at least another 75 million. Variations of Pidgin are also spoken across West Africa, in countries such as Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.



Each of the 250 or more ethnic groups in Nigeria can converse in this language, though they usually have their own additional words. For example, the Yorùbás use the words Şe and Abi when speaking Pidgin. These are often used at the start or end of an intonated sentence or question. For example, "You are coming, right?" becomes Şe you dey come? or You dey come abi? Another example, the Igbos added the word, Nna also used at the beginning of some sentences to add effect. For example, that test was hard becomes Nna men, dat test hard no be small.

Nigerian Pidgin also varies from place to place. Dialects of Nigerian Pidgin may include the Lagos, Onitsha, Benin City, and Ibadan dialects. There is also the Warri dialect which includes a lot of words that are constantly being added and replaced. Sometimes the language may vary even in different parts of the same city.

Pidgin English is most widely spoken in the oil rich Niger-Delta.[2]

Similarity to Caribbean dialects

Nigerian Pidgin, along with the various pidgin and creole languages of West Africa, displays a remarkable similarity to the various dialects of English found in the Caribbean. Linguists hypothesize that this stems from the fact that the majority of slaves taken to the New World were of West African origin, and many words and phrases in Nigerian Pidgin can be found in Jamaican Creole (also known as Jamaican Patois or simply Patois) and the other creole languages of the West Indies. The pronunciation and accents often differ a great deal, mainly due to the extremely heterogeneous mix of African languages present in the West Indies, but if written on paper or spoken slowly, the creole languages of West Africa are for the most part mutually intelligible with the creole languages of the Caribbean. The presence of repetitious phrases in Jamaican Creole such as "su-su" (gossip) and "pyaa-pyaa" (sickly) mirror the presence of such phrases in West African languages such as "bam-bam", which means "complete" in the Yoruba language. Repetitious phrases are also present in Nigerian Pidgin, such as, "koro-koro", meaning "clear vision", "yama-yama", meaning "disgusting", and "dorti-dorti", meaning "garbage". Furthermore, the use of the words of West African origin in Jamaican Patois, such as "boasie" (meaning proud, a word that comes from the Yoruba word "bosi" also meaning "proud") and "Unu" - Jamaican Patois or "Una" - West African Pidgin (meaning "you people", a word that comes from the Igbo word "unu" also meaning "you people") display some of the interesting similarities between the English pidgins and creoles of West Africa and the English pidgins and creoles of the West Indies, as does the presence of words and phrases that are identical in the languages on both sides of the Atlantic, such as "Me a go tell dem" (I'm going to tell them) and "make we" (let us). Use of the word "deh" or "dey" is found in both Jamaican Patois and Nigerian Pidgin English, and is used in place of the English word "is" or "are". The phrase "We dey foh London" would be understood by both a speaker of Patois and a speaker of Nigerian Pidgin to mean "We are in London". Other similarities, such as "pikin" (Nigerian Pidgin for "child") and "pikney" (or "pikiny"--Jamaican Patois for "child") and "chook" (Nigerian Pidgin for "poke" or "stab") which corresponds with the Jamaican Patois word "jook" further demonstrate the linguistic relationship.

Connection to Portuguese Language

Being derived partly from the present day Edo/Delta area of Nigeria, there are still some leftover words from the Portuguese language in pidgin English (Portuguese trade ships traded slaves from the Bight of Benin). For example, "you sabi do am?" means "do you know how to do it?" "Sabi" means "to know" or "to know how to" just as "to know" is "saber" in Portuguese.


The most important differences to other types of English is that there are only some consonants, vowels (6) and diphthongs (3) used. This produces a lot of homophones (words sound the same with different meanings), like thin, thing and tin which are all three pronounced like /tin/. This circumstance gives a high importance to the context, the tone, the body language and any other ways of communication for the distinction of the homophones.


  • Wetin dey happen - What is happening?
  • I no no, I no know, Me no no or Me no know - I don't know
  • Come chop - Come & eat
  • How Far? - whats up? or hi
  • babe - beautiful girl
  • show - meet up with me
  • Yarn or Yarning - to talk
  • No dey yarn okpas for hia - stop talking trash or nonsense in here
  • I don pay you - I have paid you
  • No Wahala - No Problem
  • this your stori get K-leg - your story is suspicious
  • You no sabi wetin you dey yarn - you don't know what you are talking about
  • Abeg make una check dis one out - please come check this out
  • Hia - here
  • you no sabi di tin wey we dey tok - you cannot understand what we are talking about
  • The tin you just yarn don vex me finish - what you just said has pissed me off
  • Man dey go sleep - I am leaving or going to sleep
  • The babe dey do nyanga - the girl is playing hard to get
  • Make we gist - lets talk or gossip
  • Make i gist you wetin happen - let me tell you what happened
  • That kain maths e get as e be - that kind of math is hard to understand or explain
  • I go woze you finish - , "I will slap you silly", or "I will hurt you"
  • I dey cut - am going out
  • make una come - you all should come
  • make una leave me - you all should leave me alone
  • we dey hia - we are here
  • Na nothing - it's nothing
  • Na wetin ? - What is it?
  • Wetin dey do you sef - what's wrong with you
  • No gree me knak you - Don't let me punch you
  • Uno sabi am - You don't know it, You don't understand it/this
  • Make we de go abeg - Let us get going please

See also


  1. ^ Faraclas, Nicholas C., Nigerian Pidgin, Descriptive Grammar, 1996, Introduction.
  2. ^ Herbert Igboanusi: Empowering Nigerian Pidgin: a challenge for status planning?. World Englishes, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 68–82, 2008.


External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Nigerian Pidgin


Nigerian Pidgin

  1. An English-based Creole language of Nigeria, combining vocabulary and grammar from the English language as well as various indigenous Nigerian languages


  • Nigerian Pidgin English


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