The main language of communication is English, which is widely spoken throughout the city. However, south western Nigeria was traditionally inhabited mostly by the Yoruba’s one of the larger Nigerian tribes, and as expected, you will hear Yoruba in most social interactions in Lagos. As the city today is regarded as the economics capital of the country, you will find people from virtually every Nigerian tribe living and working in Lagos, and therefore, you may hear other languages such as Awori, Egun, Ijebu, Hausa, or Igbo, at some point in your travels, and certainly Pidgin English which is very common and cuts across all tribes.
Communicating in Pidgin English…….
Pidgin English is one of the world’s fastest languages. A quaint, almost melodious language that bridges the communication gap between the many Nigerians tribes, it is probably the second most widely spoken language in Lagos and indeed the country. No longer the languages of the uneducated, “Broken English”, as it is sometimes called, is spoken by about 60 million people across the number of West African countries. Be prepared to here a smattering of Pidgin English in your interactions with Lagosians and if you want to improve your vocabulary, then tune in to either of the two radio stations in Lagos (Wazobia 95.1fm + Naija 102 fm), which broadcast exclusively in Pidgin English. Below are a few of the more common words which you may encounter and their meetings, most of which is courtesy of the Zazugist Pidgin Dictionary.
A comprehensive list is posted on their website. (www.zazugist.com)
Abi?: Isn’t that right?
Awoof: Freebie. Without charge
Bele full: Satiated
Come chop: Come and eat
Comot: Get away from there
Coolu temper: 1. Control your temper! 2. Title of song by Nigerian saxophonist Lagbaja.
Dabaru: Spoil or scatter.
Dash: To give a tip or gift
Don’t Dull: 1. Don’t lag behind 2. Don’t miss an opportunity
Don’t fall my hand: Don’t let me down
Do quick: Hurry up
E dey hard: it is difficult, or it is a rarity
E don do: it is enough
Go come: See you when you get back
Go-slow: Traffic jam
How you dey?: How are you?
How far?: Hi
How now?: How are you?
How manage?: How did it happen?
ITK: IToo Know: One who thinks they know everything
Iyama!: 1. That’s gross 2. Filthy! 3. Yuck!
Jara: Extra helping
Kabu Kabu: Unregistered taxi-cab. Not painted in official taxi colours
Lai lai: Not in a million years. Also Lai lai to lai lai
Make I hear word: Be quiet
Na so: That is true
Na so?: Is that true?
Na wa also Na wah: It is wonderful!
Oga: The boss
Olapa: Police Officer
Oyinbo: 1. White person 2. Stranger 3.English language 4.Extensive English vocabulary
Pata pata: Completely
Pikin: A small child
Shakara: 1. Showing off 2. Boasting about the often impossible
Small-small: (Also Sofrisofri): 1. Gently 2. Little by little
Suya: Barbecued Beef or chicken served with special Nigeria spices
Waka about: One who always on the move
Wa-zo-bia: 1. Contraction of the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo (Major tribes in Nigeria) word for ‘come here’. 2. Used for anything pertaining to every tribe in Nigeria. 3. Unity and Federal character. 4. Things pertaining to Nigeria.
Wuru-wuru: Underhand methods
Wetin dey happen?: What’s happening?
Yanga: Pride. 2. Flamboyance