Nigerian Language and Slang; Getting around Town

Nigerian Language and Slang

The official language in Nigeria is English. Nigeria is blessed with a diverse community of ethnic groups that each have their own dialects, however, the major local languages in Nigeria are Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, all spoken in given parts of the country.

History

Yoruba is spoken in South Western Nigeria, by a collection of people who are united in a common belief that the spiritual city of Ile-ife is their place of origin and that the Alaafin of Oyo is their spiritual leader. You will hear a lot of Igbo in the South Eastern part of the country, a region they call home.

Hausa too is majorly spoken in the north (North East, North Central and North West), which has been the case since the time of Lord Lugard.

In far South Nigeria, you will hear a bit of Igbo but 99% of the languages spoken are minorities like Efik, Edo, Esan, Ibibio, Ukwuani, Itsekiri,  Ijaw, Urhobo, Isoko, Kalabari… the list is endless.

Basic Greetings

English|Yoruba

Good morning|Ekuojumo

Goodnight|Odaaro

How are you?|Se daadaa ni?

Thank you|Ese/Ose

Getting around town

English|Yoruba

I need a cab|Mo fe taxi

Call me a cab|Pe taxi fun mi

Is it far?|Se o jinna ni?

Driver, you’re going too fast|Driver, ere yin ti poju gan

Shopping

English|Yoruba

How is the market?|Bawo loja

What are you selling?|Ki le n ta

How much is it?|Elo ni?

What is your final price?|Elo ni jale?

I want to buy rice|Mo fe ra iresi

Numbers

|Yoruba

1|Okan

2|Meji

3|Meta

4|Merin

5|Marun

6|Mefa

7|Meje

8|Mejo

9|Mesan

10|Mewa

Days of The Week

English|Yoruba

Monday|Ojo aje

Tuesday|Ojo isegun

Wednesday|Ojo ru

Thursday|Ojo bo

Friday|Ojo eti

Saturday|Ojo abameta

Sunday|Ojo aiku

Useful words

English|Yoruba

What’s your name/My name is|Kini oruko re?/ Oruko mi ni(your name)

I do not understand|Ko ye mi

I want to see a doctor|Mo fe ri dokita

Where can I get food?|Nibo ni mo le ra ounje?

Where can I change money?|Nibo mo le ti se owo

Help me|Ran mi lowo

Stop|Ma shebe

yoruba

English| Igbo

Good morning|Igbolachi

Goodnight|Kachifo

How are you?|kedu ka idi?

Thank you|Dalu

Getting around town

English|Igbo

I need a cab|Achorom ugbo ala

Call me a cab|Kporom ugbo ala

Is it far?|O tere anya?

Driver, you’re going too fast|Driver, e na gba oke oso

Shopping

English|Igbo

How is the market?|Kedu maka ahai?

What are you selling?|Gini ka i n’ere

How much is it?|Ego ole ka obu?

What is your final price?|Gini bu ezigbo onu ya?

I want to buy rice|Achomi gote osikapa

Numbers

|Igbo

1|Otu

2|Abou

3|Ato

4|Ano

5|Ise

6|Isii

7|Asaa

8|Asato

9|Iteghete/itolu

10|Iri

Days of The Week

English|Igbo

Monday|Monde

Tuesday|Tuzde

Wednesday|Wenesday

Thursday|Tosde

Friday|Fraide

Saturday|Satude

Sunday|Uka

Useful words

Igo

English|Hausa

Good morning|Ina kwana

Goodnight|Said a safe

How are you?|Kana Lafiya?

Thank you|Nagode

Getting around town

English|Hausa

I need a cab|Ina son motar haya

Call me a cab|Kira mun motar haya

Is it far?|Yana da nisa?

Driver, you’re going too fast|Dreba, kana gudu sosai

Shopping

English|Hausa

How is the market?|Ya ya kasua

What are you selling?|Me ka ke sayarwa?

How much is it?|Nawa ne?

What is your final price?|Nawa ne gaskiya?

I want to buy rice|Zan sayi rice

Numbers

|Hausa

1|Daya

2|Biyu

3|Uku

4|Hudu

5|Biyar

6|Shida

7|Bakwai

8|Takwas

9|Tara

10|Goma

Days of The Week

English|Hausa

Monday|Luttinin

Tuesday|Talata

Wednesday|Laraba

Thursday|Alhamis

Friday|Jummaa

Saturday|Asabar

Sunday|Lahadi

Useful words

English|Igbo

What’s your name/My name is|kedu afa gi?/Aham bu(your name)

I do not understand|A ghota ghim

I want to see a doctor|achoro m ihu Dokinta

Where can I get food?|Ole ebem ga enweta nri?

Where can I change money?|Kedu ebem ga agbanwe ego?

Help me|Nyelu mu aka

Stop|Kwusi

English|Hausa

What’s your name/My name is|Yaya sunanka?/ Suna sa(your name)

I do not understand|Ban fahimta ba

I want to see a doctor|Ina son ganin likita

Where can I get food?|A ina zan samu abinci

Where can I change money?|A ina zan iya chanza kudi

Help me|Ka taimake ni

Stop|Ka tsaya

Slang

Pidgin or broken English is a mixture of English and Nigerian words used casually in conversations. Some English words here lose their original meanings so there can be confusion. Pidgin is one way to feel a sense of belonging with the locals.  It can also get you a good discount while shopping at a market simply because you talk like one of us.

Here’s a few to get you started in grasping local slang to ease your communication.

Abi? – frequently used slang, meaning ‘isn’t it?’

Wahala – trouble; ‘no wahala’ means no trouble or no worries

How Now? – a common greeting meaning ‘How are things?’

How Body? – means ‘How are you?’

Wetin: – means ‘what’. As in: ‘Wetin you dey talk?’ = ‘What did you say?’

Oga –  this means a big man or boss

Okada – a motorbike commonly used as a taxi

Oyinbo  – ‘white person’: you will hear this everywhere. This originally meant ‘white man’ or ‘white woman’, but has slipped into Pidgin to mean something along the lines of ‘foreigner’. There is no insult intended in its usage as it is just a common way of referring to foreigners.

Pikin – a small child

Yansh – your backside, your butt, your derriere

Dash –  commonly used to mean a bribe but can also be used to describe a tip or a gift.

Drop – means to get off a bus or taxi, but if you want a taxi to yourself (with no other passengers) you want a drop taxi.

Go-slow – traffic jam

Moto – any kind of vehicle, but usually used to refer to a car or taxi

Pure water – half-litre plastic bags of (not always good) drinking water sold everywhere

Small chops – snack

Sorry-o –  expression of sympathy

Suya – barbecued meat, often served on sticks

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