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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Honey! That Foreign Accent Sounds Home Grown



oH nO!In Nigeria, the end of the year is usually marked with a change in the weather (albeit slightly), the exchange of gifts/hampers and a lot of parties. With the season also comes an influx of foreign accents; the American, the British, the Canadian, the Australian, the Polish… yes! We hear all sorts of accents in December. You don’t believe me? The next time you go for a party or an event in Nigeria, look out for the diverse accents.

Anyway, my cousin and I went to The Palms Shopping Mall on Saturday and we ran into one babe who lives down the road from us. Being the courteous babe that Tosin is, she went to say hello to the girl. How was she? Where has she been? We haven’t been seeing her around… You know, that sort of thing. Then this girl started: I know she was replying, but I really couldn’t make out the words between the long drawn out consonants and the stress every time she said a word that had the letter “R” in it. I stood there with a smile on my face, nodding stupidly and praying that Tosin, at least understood what the girl was saying. The girl clearly liked the sound of what was coming out of her mouth; looking like she wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, I told them I wanted to buy solution for my contact lenses in MedPlus. You see, I’m not usually perplexed, but that girl’s matter left me wondering. This girl went to Command Children School; from there, she went to Command Secondary School, Bode-Igbo, Ibadan. I know she was in Unilag too. So, where did she acquire this foreign accent? :O I mean, I get that a lot of people have foreign accents in Nigeria. In fact, if I need to hear a foreign accent, I know what radio station to tune to, they’re all over the airwaves. You can imagine my shock when my cousin met up with me and said the girl had been talking to her about how she had been away in Manchester for her Masters’ degree. Masters? She acquired that accent in one year? Odinma!

As usual, I tabled the matter before some of my friends. “What is this new trend of people speaking foneh* all over the place?” Tayo said “It’s December. The ‘returnees’ will disseminate a little in the air and some Unilag students will inhale it” Folarin said he had absolutely no problem with foneh as long as the grammar and syntax is correct. “I have no problem with foneh, it’s even sweet sef! The only problem is when the speaker is just gbagauning in every sentence”

I understand that some people have actually lived abroad for quite a bit and it appears that’s how they speak “normally” but I believe that communication is key. I mean, what’s the point of my having to say “Pardon?” to every thing you’re saying? Wouldn’t it be easier for us to just communicate in Yoruba? It will save both of us having to pop Tylenol, in my opinion!

What do you guys think? What’s the socially accepted time frame for someone who has lived abroad to have acquired a foreign accent? What’s the socially accepted time frame for someone who has lived abroad, and emigrated to Nigeria to have lost their foreign accent? (One headboy in my secondary school, his parents went on Sabatical in America when they were kids, 7 years after they were back this boy was still speaking foneh for us in Ilorin oh!) Are people who complain about foreign accents just “haters”? and finally, is there a booth at MMIA where this foreign accent transaction takes place? I might like to help myself to one! 😀

Anyway, I’ll leave you guys with this: stay safe, be happy and love like there’s no tomorrow!

Love, peace and cupcakes!

*foneh is coined from phonetics which is an informal way of referring to a foreign accent
Photo credit:

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Biso

    December 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Well i have lived in the uk since i was 9 n am now 25 so i guess that qualify me to have the london accent since i grew up in london but tbh i prefer to speak in a af accent most times cuz i feel more comfortable, london accent is boring to me. But i can switch from af accent to yoruba then to my london accent in a blink of an eye no big deal. All these pple forming speaking london n american accent get a grip and just be urself. I cant stand forming *long hiss* if i speak yoruba for you, you will tink say am from village lol

    • maya

      December 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      same ere! i can switch my accent easily especially if i notice dt the perosn cant understand me properly. its ridiculous d way ppl fake accents! theres a girl in my church dt fakes i dnt speak yoruba bt she says “shursh and shicken”! who r u foolin love? i do actually like d nigerian accent and it irritates me wen i meet someone dt jst arrived from nigeria and d person has d worst combination of dt thick igbo or yoruba accent mixed wit some phony ass so called british accent. jst makes d person come across as being fake to me. couldnt speak yoruba wen i was in nigeria bt wen i moved to england, i learnt it quick! cme in very handy for gossips! lool

    • Tiki

      December 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Sweetie, you don’t need to speak yoruba for me to ‘tink dat you from village’. Your English accomplishes that to a tee!

    • shells

      February 5, 2013 at 12:30 am


  2. Glam

    December 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Sometimes it seems speaking foneh kind of makes one sophisticated but improving your diction is a better idea. I met up with a friend who just returned after 3 months of vacationing in London&chic was juggling jamaican+british+yankee accent with a ‘hun’ factor&when I asked how come the new accent she said, ‘when in London, do as the Londoners’. Originality is the greatest sophistication ever! Lovely article.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      December 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Finally I can comment. Yay. I agree with Glam, some people think they have to, actually some people JUST FORCE THEMSELVES to think they have to.

      Re:Accent, not everyone eludes self confidence to naturally speak in their mothers tongue when they are abroad. In fact some people feel the need to fit in and here by fake or put on an accent that will enable them to blend in and be accepted. Well what they haven’t considered is, sometimes the accent sounds wrong to the listener/fake. Besides, it is sometimes OK not to blend in, its OK to be yourself and have a different accent and its OK for people to either take the mick out of your accent (cos they are ignorant or fascinated) and its OK for them to find you WEIRD. Most importantly, it OK to speak really good ENGLISH with CLEAR GRAMMAR, no errors and be confident in your manner, no matter what your accent is.

      PEOPLE NEED SELF BELIEF AND CONFIDENCE..Seriously u go away for few months and start speaking the most ludicrous idiotic accent that not only sounds disgusting to the listener, but makes the individual look stupid/fake with no unique identity or a lost one. I cant stand fakeness maybe a little alteration to make yourself come across well spoken and understandable and to make the individual feel better is permitted.

  3. ruth

    December 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    lol.its funny hw ppl(mostly gals) force d accent ting.dey go 4 msc 4 a yr in uk buh cm bck wit an american accent.infact theirs is beta sm hv jst entered a plane 2 lag&bck den dr accent changes.i was in d hague 4 a while&ol dey speak is dutch,even wen dey knw u dnt understnd,i got frustrated i strted replying in hausa too&we always ended up nt communicating.dey r proud of who dey r.may God help us 2 accept who we r too&b proud of our origin anytym+our accents.

  4. Berry Choco-Latte

    December 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    If you pick up an accent as a child, it’s usually harder to lose it. And if his family’s speaking the same way at home, then that’s how he’s used to speaking – no fault there.

    Now I don’t understand the people who live outside for less than 2 years and all of a sudden adopt accents. Reminds me of my cousin who after growing up in Enugu, moved to the States, and 6 months later said she couldn’t speak straight Igbo anymore *still laughing about it 15 years later – and her Igbo came back when she realized nobody cared*

    Even after 14 years in the States, I have a decidedly mixed American-Nigerian accent, but you’d never catch me trying to pretend I don’t have a Nigerian accent. Pidgin is a whole other matter – could never speak it, won’t even try 🙂

    • Yinkus Pinkus

      December 20, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      LOOOOOL!!!! @ your cousin!

  5. joy

    December 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    locally acquired foreign accents LAFA hahah naija people come back from ghana and dubai with such accents

  6. giggy

    December 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Atoke ooo!!!!! lol @ ruth(mostly gals)?

  7. tbn

    December 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Hahahaha! very true oh. I went to the saloon to do my nails over the weekend and so many girls were speaking foneh, I had to ask myself what was up and if it was a different saloon from the one I had been going to, until i reminded myself that this was end of the year and supposed returnees were in naija for the holidays. Common! I have a masters degree from the US and after spending one year there, my accent has not changed. Although while there I had to speak like them to be understood but since I got back to naija I’ve reverted more to my naija way of speaking, who am i kidding? mchew… I actually find it irritating that some folks who have only been away for a few weeks start speaking foneh when they come back into the country. naija for show!

  8. Benson

    December 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Yeah, what i think is that if you happen to leave abroad for quite some time may be 5 years or more there is every tendency your accent changing.Check out our footballers you will agree with me that environment plays a dominant role in ones personality.Taye Taiwo left Lobi stars to sign for Marseille in 2005 after the youth championship in the Netherlands.Now when the guy speaks one hardly hears him clearly same with Mikel obi.

  9. Kitty

    December 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Lols! Very funny write up. Was just having this discussion yesterday with my friend. Xmas is here n the phonetics are out in full force. Me thinks dat when faced wit a foneh/phony person just launch into pidgin!

  10. nene

    December 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    atoke has spoken ibo bu force. ODINMA! foreign accents ehn i feel like slapping people when they do it. to my friends, i just tell them that if they speak nonsense to me, i will disgrace them because we all left Nigeria at the same age and we all went abroad at the same time. people who frge accents are a no go for me, you feel like you’re special or better cuz of an accent. only Nigerians oh. a spanish person will live in England betweent he ages of 8 and 25, and still ahve a spanish accent, but a Nigerian does masters degree for 1 year and develops a british, or american accent. Odiegwu!LOL!

    • nene

      December 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      as far as i’m concerned. if you lived in Nigeria till the age of 12, and you forge foneh to me, the accent is fake. those are your formative years, like from nursery school to the first few years of secondary school. anybody who leaves nigeria to go abroad at 12 (not to talk of 18 or 21) and comes back with foneh is just fakin it. i

    • Joan

      December 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      I do agree that after 12, it’s kinda hard to completely lose the Nigerian accent. But saying that anyone after that age who comes back with an accent is faking it, that one I don’t agree. I live in the US and have been here for just five years. I still have my naija accent, but there are times when I speak and people say I’ve lost the naija accent (but I try to convince myself otherwise lol). If you go to school here for at least 2 years, there’s no way you won’t pick up the accent. It doesn’t mean that your konk naija accent goes away, it just means that both accents start to mix.
      The thing with picking up these accents is that if your diction is poor, no amount of Yankee or Jand travels will help, period! Diction and accent are two different things; if the diction is right FIRST (and that is established in the formative years), the accent NATURALLY follows. 🙂

    • Mrs Ada

      December 18, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Lets see, I left Lagos at 12 ( a few days after my bday), and its over 20 years and counting. Truth be told, I do not have a Nigerian accent, though I can force it when need be, when I am around Nigerians, plus pidgin is horrible with a non naija accent. Though I realize a lot of my words, phrases, even grammar is all Yankee based, not by choice, just what I know.
      I wouldnt even say its based on how long you have lived away. A 5 year old child that stays 10 years is different from a 40 year old who stays 10 years. The latter has spent so much of their formative years in Nigeria, and thus language is pretty much fully developed.

      I watch Nollywood movies, went to loads of Naija events in my 20s and all, but sometimes insides, I can see when I have to try to force Naija words. I still try though, but even among my naija people, its so hard for me to stay that way. It is funny though when one goes to naija and it just seems like folks who never crossed the border, are always “forming”, and trying to engage in forced foneh convo with me.

      I’m sure if I now move back to Naija say 15-20 yrs from now, when I am 45-50 and after spending almost 40+ yrs away from Naija, folks will laugh at me enough, but at that age, it’ll prob be soooo hard for me, no matter how much I try to be compared to someone of my age, who never ever left.

  11. Brandigest

    December 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    This is a classic instance of people who travel to Norway and come back with british accent or a chic seeing his brother off at the airport, returning with queens English…. My cousin just returned from SA after 2yrs, and the whole family and neighboorhood can’t understand his lyrics.. Ehe!!! All these chics in Cool Fm, rhythm, etc are they all foreigners? Their fonah too much.

  12. Adenike

    December 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I can’t speak foneh even if I wanted to. Always thought its cos am not ‘ajebo”. Lol. Its nice to know am not the only one who thinks its not so fashion

  13. temisy

    December 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    My Aunt lived in the UK for over 30yrs, married to brit and her heavy Itsekiri/yoruba accent is still pretty much in tact. My elder bro has been studying the UK for about 3yrs now and he speaks the same way he did before he left. So all these moron feigning accents that even they themselves cannot decipher after 3 days in timbuktu is just pathetic.. Naija pips make una change biko!

  14. tomeloma

    December 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Don’t believe in the acquiring accent after doing master’s abroad…rubbish. Granted I slur my words at work so this oyinbo people can understand me better but when I’m with my people (church or with my naija friends) I speak properly o…if you’ve spent most of your formative years in Naija the accent don’t come that easy except you’re faking it.

  15. Alima

    December 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Dont get me started on the famous radio presenters in Nigeria especially on the beat. I love Gbemi for being herself. If only Nigeria can understand that that is how our radio presenters should sound. They will rather ship people with the TOOLZ accent

  16. Phantom

    December 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Atoke, naughty girl, you! this write up had me in stitches. I’ll admit i’m guilty of the offence but unlike most pple, i only adopt my LAFA with service providers- in my experience, it aids swift service provision.

    @Brandigest_ you forgot to mention Beat FM! It seems having an accent- whether locally acquired or otherwise – is a requirement for working on the radio. Anytime i need to relieve stress, i tune in to Beat FM’s morning show and have a good laugh!! #iwontnamenames#

  17. Dziree

    December 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Atoke o!!!! u r a G! this your write up got me cracking up like crazy. So everyone here is denying forming fhone? Odiegwu…. Akuko! I’ve lived in the UK for over 15yrs, has my accent changed? I wouldn’t say it has, and i can flip between my naija accent and the british one when i want to. The only time you hear me really sounding proper bree’ish is when i’m at work cos the way i see it, i’m getting paid to sound that way 🙂
    Naija people can have inferiority complex sha, u tune into a radio station and everyone is blowing “spree spree”. Even the ones that haven’t seen Lome border will be forming foneh (i give up). My policy is… if it aint flowing, dont force it. U sound a lot better speaking clear and concise english #simples

  18. Nkechi

    December 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Well if you live abroad you sort of find yourself adopting the accent because of your environment and also to be understood by the locals. My naija raised pal who lives in Germany speaks english with a heavy german accent due to the environment he lives in and the english speaking germans he interacts with. I have no problem with people speaking “foneh” what I have a problem with is people I grew up with insisting on speaking in foreign accents with me that is just unnaceptable I too can switch accents easily but when I am with my people especially those I grew up with then it is my african accent all the way! You don’t even realise when you pick up the accent it just comes

    • Purpleicious Babe

      December 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      lool.sorry but of all accents to copy GERMAN… i assume he didnt mean to.

      But there are some accents that one shouldn’t copy/English ooo, lol.. SOUTH EAST LONDON is a blunder in my book esp the ones that include jamo slangs where one jumbles sentences in past, present and past participle .. the grammar is just messed up let alone the accent. Having said that, some people do sound great with it. lol.

      It funny how some people accents yet the simple stuff like “R” and the word 3 is still O Ghanaian just love pronouncing “7”, 17, 18, etc in a very interesting tone no matter how long some of them have been here, that tongue is just too strong.. bless.

      Anyway you should listen to my chinese teacher accent.. bless she is soo funny, her pronunciation of certain words makes me laugh. E.g. individually, she stresses the the beginning so much lol… I love accents, I think its dynamic and makes us who we are and it part of our identity. I just appreciate people that are more eloquent with it and try to pronounce the words well and speak good grammar.
      We should have Nigerian school of ACCENTS..LOL.

      I do agree that to a degree people do switch to adapt to their environment.

  19. Buki

    December 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I love love love this article, especially the title! Your articles are always on point Atoke, keep it up! As for all accent peddlers, especially on air personalities, returnees and the never-been-on-a-plane acts, take a chill pill! There’s nothing wrong with your Nigerian accent, embrace it!

  20. chi chi

    December 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    pls pls pls, as long as the person’s grammar and diction is correct, i have no problem with foneh, especially if it’s well spoken. Some ppl live in a place for 3 months and learn the language and accent of that place easily, while some others will be in that same place for 3years and not have a hang of the language/accent. So the argument of one not being able to have an accent after living abroad for some years is not really valid. it is possible. Besides, our society, especially the media/communications industry, is such that praises and values such things, so i don’t really blame folks who go as far as faking it. Me, i loooooove hearing the British accent o, if i ever live in the UK for even a year, me i go learn the foneh by force by fire!.

    Pls visit and follow-

  21. Neo

    December 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Still cant get over the returnees speaking foneh and unilag babes inhaling it! like really!!!

    For some reason i am yet to comprehend, i speak in a british accent when im drunk. Maybe i have an east londoner persona.

  22. Lola

    December 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    The funniest ones are those who go to London for 6 weeks and come back with an American accent. I’m like ah ah, at least get the geography right, abi. How entering a plane suddenly confers an accent on you, I dont know. I think it just has to do with inferiority complex. These people have alway envied those who travel a lot, or friends who have lived abroad. By associating with such people, it makes them think less of themselves, and they’ve always wanted to feel among, and feel posh. As if having an accent makes you feel posh. So the minute the opportunity arises and they travel, they want everyone to know they are no longer that local girl or guy. What these idiots don’t realise is, accents have levels. The London accent they all emulate for example is a gutter trash accent. I’m sorry. In the really posh and sophisticated circles, you don’t hear “buh”, “init”, the sudden disappearance of the letter “t” which is so common in the London low class accent. At least with the 9ja accent, your diction and pronunciation is good and makes you sound educated. If you want to fake an accent, at least learn the posh English public school accent, not gutter or white trash speak. Mschew. You find people who went to school in Scotland, York, Lancaster, Manchester coming back with London accents. Odikwa why. Or you schooled in the South in America and you come home speaking like a New Yorker. You just know the ara- oko’s, feel amongers the minute they open their mouth. They’ll even have the nerve to tell you they studied at the University of Aberdeen, while sounding like a Londoner. Seriously, that makes you come across as stupid.

    • Seun

      December 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      Even the American accent they emulate is the ghetto, gang banger neighbourhood accent. The way a lot of Black Americans sound, sorry to say. Which is why Michelle Obama has been slagged off by the black community. They say she speaks like a white woman. Excuse me, she’s well educated, Harvard trained, should she be talking like someone from The Bronx? Its hilarious, when you hear Nigerians faking such accents. You are better off sounding like Nigerian, than a ghetto American. That’s how you know the lokidos. Lol. They hear their cousins or friends who come home on holidays who sometimes (scrath that, most times) don’t have the posh American or British accent, due to the communities they live in/schools they attend, and sharply they too take off from where those ones left off. LMAO. Some of them even go to really decent, highly ranked schools, and when they return, they do themselves the disservice (just to feel superior or important) by faking the wrong side of the tracks accent, to the people in 9ja, who can’t tell the difference. Some of us can, my dears. LMAO

  23. X factor

    December 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Atoke ooooo…you can so find trouble……..

  24. Free Spirit

    December 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Who is anyone to judge fake or proper foneh speakers? We live in a Global world that is increasingly getting smaller and more and more cities around the world are becoming cosmopolitan . Most kids watch dstv more than they watch NTA or Funmi Iyanda. Their role models are Beyonce, Obama, Tine Tempah e.t.c. They would rather speak like beyonce than their “Agric Teacher” who drops verbal hiroshima’s on daily basis (I can’t blame those kids as role models in naija are few and far between). Also, lets stop villifying people who have made the conscious effort to speak a lanaguage in a certain accent (whats wrong with admiring a british accent and wanting to speak that way). For example, I know a lot of lagosians (yoruba,hausa, igbo) who speak delta pidgin rather than speaking pidgin with their own indigenous accents (maybe because of the popular belief that pidgin orginated in warri or maybe because they admire the many warri comedians who have contributed to making pidgin even more cool). My point is Do not be surprised even if your bus conductor is speaking foneh because we are all striving to make ourselves better.

    • laide

      December 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Thank you oo…I dont know why it is now a sin to admire another accent and want it. I live in the uk, although i dont have the british accent , i totally love it and would like to speak like that someday.

  25. Seun

    December 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Wiz kid has an accent now, Tonto Dikeh, with her gbagauning and becurze also has an accent. Toke has an accent. I can go on and on. Money miss road people. Your generations have never smelled near money before. Nouveau riche. You just know the razzite lokido’s as soon as they earn small dough or become famous. Did anyone listen to Mrs Alakija’s interview. I mean, that is the richest woman in Africa, well traveled, well educated, lived and schooled in England, has more money than some of these Nigerian celebs will see in a milion lifetimes and SHE SOUNDS LIKE A NIGERIAN. Has anyone heard Chinua Achebe speak, Kofi Annan, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ban ki Moon, even Genevieve Nnaji. I mean kilode, these are high achievers, at the top of their game, and there accent still echoes their background. What have these fake people done with their lives that is higher than those names, and they suddenly think to sound Nigerian is not good enough. Come on, who are you deceiving, does it make you any more respected? Those that respect you or in awe of you because of your accent are the razzite lokido’s themselves aspiring to be you, because the truly enlightened and tusch, know when you are faking it, or when you are trying to feel important, and they are not one bit impressed. So keep being the local champion, to your razz followers, because that’s where you will stay. The really refined people with class and serious money, dont need to fake it, to be respected. That should tell you something. Empty barrels make the most noise.

    • Funke

      December 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      Seun, you haff vex well well o. Keep Calm and Chop Banana. Pele.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      December 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Great analysis o jare…

    • liily

      December 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      omg…seun you are the best!!! I came to the states when i was 17 and six years later i still have my Nigerian accent. I HATE that foneh people do especially those that barely came to the states and all of a sudden they are fonehing like seriously??? Whenever I speak, my white/black friends admire my accent and say “oh Linda you have an amazing accent”! I don’t try to fake accent whatsoever and trust me it is too much work when you are faking it. I wish Nigerians will stop with these crazy foneh and just be themselves.

  26. just saying

    December 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve lived in the U.S since I was 8. For the most part I have an Amerlcan accent but can switch it up. I personally CRINGE when I hear someone trying to force it. It’s embarassing. It really is and it may also mean you have some form of low self esteem. Ugh.


    December 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I have been in the U.S for a decade but I still have the accent and dialect of a naija local champion. Everyone ( yeah Americans included ) understands me. I talk to over 100 people per day ( at work ).

  28. Joan

    December 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    You can ALWAYS tell a fake accent when you hear one…always! That been stated, I have lived in the US for a few years and I love that I can switch between deep Anambra Igbo, Pidgin, clear naija English, and my acquired (Glory to God!!!) foneh anytime anyday; It’s a matter of knowing when and where to use what. For example, I won’t go to see my people in Aba and be blowing foneh, they’ll just finish me haha. #ThatIsAll

  29. Ajoke

    December 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t really know if there are any “rules” per se when it comes to acquiring accents but I think sometimes when you are around people with a certain accent you find yours morphing to mimic theirs, it’s not always on purpose. Like certain American accents I find to be very “dominating” if that makes any sense, some british accents as well. Then, when it comes to Nigeria, there are certain places where you absolutely cannot be doing foreign accent even if that is your natural accent, you just have to try and forge the African!

    But, for people who just form the accent to try and be cool or whatever, good luck with that lol.

    • Iretidayo

      April 9, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Thank you,I was just about to type the same thing until I read you comment.It is different for everyone and also on the kind of people you interact with.When I was 13 years old,it took me 2 months pere to acquire the American accent and I didn’t even know it was there.I was so embarassed when I was told that I was speaking like an American,not because it was a bad thing but because when I listen to myself talk,I hear my normal everyday accent that I used before I left Naija. Now at almost 30 years of age,I have been outside the country for almost 5 years and my Nigerian way of talking is still intact

  30. gooby

    December 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Yea Ajoke, places like yaba market.. they will sooo exploit ur ‘phoneyed’ ass! Lol!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Wow

    December 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Lol funny article. I’ve lived in the US for almost 16 years. While I can speak in an Ameriscan accent while talking to my American friends, I can also switch it back to my Naija accent. Truth be told, even when most Naijas (who live in Yankee) speak American, their ‘naija’ accent is still there. So I can completely understand the frustration with people trying to ‘form’ accents in Naija when you know it’s clearly unnecessary. And you even speak with confidence when you speak naturally instead of trying to ‘form’.

  32. Jess

    December 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    You don’t know about the accent booth at MMIA? Get you a piece girl! British, American, Scottish, Canadian. Assorted sef, that’s probably why that girl’s accent was confusing you, you know? It’s not too expensive either. You’re welcome.

  33. Princess

    December 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Please there is a huge difference between right pronunciation of words and having an accent

    • nene

      December 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      true talk!

  34. cathy

    December 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    if you are faking it, then do it right. nothing wrong with using foreign accent once in a while

  35. Ray

    December 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Frankly, I think Nigerians are overly sensitive about this issue, I’m a nigerian who lived in the US FROM AGE 16-25, acquired the accent real quick probably because I had to interact with peers and I’ll say I didn’t have what is called a ‘strong naija accent’ to begin with. i was there for 3 months and peeps were saying ‘oh ur nigerian!!!???? but u don’t have an accent!!!” and i swear i wasn’t forming, i guess i just spoke really clearly….anyways fast forward to present day, I’ve recently moved back to ng and have a hint of an am. accent though i can speak pidgin and are wat u’ll call a posh razz babe (takes a proud bow) lol because of this i speak pidgin and am generally razz in front of friends…in d middle of one sweet gist, i may get carried away and sum foneh will slip, people that don’t know me or are just meeting me for the first time will now say ‘see as dis babe day switch is it by force?’ lol but dats life, people will judge even the innocent.

    • Purpleicious Babe

      December 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      I think people can tell the innocents jor…(well, i think i I can), it like this..

      When you have a strong accent (whatever it was gotten from), it will always dominate. Now if the (strong accent) is watered down i.e. moved to a different country/city and influenced by various stuffs over a period of time and years, I do think the (strong accent) becomes an underlining tone. This means as you were speaking in your new acquired niaja accent or pidign English, the underlying tone can be sensed e.g. through pronunciation of certain words and description etc.

      Anyhoo, some people can EASILY SWITCH to any accent no marra what.. lol. As long as you know you. Besides, some people can easily PICK UP ACCENT. waraever… I just dont like FAKE cos it shows.

      See me (joblessness is a disease) I swear, talk about Accent
      Get back to work…

    • Julie

      December 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      Agreed! Nigerians are mostly VERY and I repeat VERY sensitive about this matter….don’t ask me why, I can’t help u boo….cough…..Well maybe they equate a foreign accent to success and you know most nigerians cant stand the other person being more successful.

      But catching an accent depends on the friends, company at work or school, that you keep while your abroad. I know Nigerians that are in Nigeria in London. Always and I mean ALWAYS surrounded by Nigerians. In that case you won’t expect your accent to change as there is no urgent need to speak clearer and thus “refine” your diction/accent.
      On the opposite end, if you are surrounded by other nationals, you are forced to speak clearly and get your diction polished… encounter……1st year med school abroad, a colleague and I talking about an anatomy test….I replied, “yes it’s very “HAD”, actually I meant “HARD.” My goodness that was some “hard” learning for me as the guy (cute by the way) stayed staring at me for what seemed like eternity, until he broke the silent with “what are you talking about?” I repeated myself again “HAD!!!” This time with vex…. Then here comes the worse few minutes of my life…..he burst into laughter and the rest of my class mates came close….and laughed at me….yeah I hated that moment but that was how I learnt how to use my “Rs.” If i had returned to Nigeria the next week i would have had a slight change in accent as i was determined to show my class that “i was joking when i said “had”…..” bs. This is how SLOWLY but SURELY your accent or diction gets redefined even without you knowing or wanting. You also communicate with other people and catch their intonation as well. my BF is white and now has a nigerian accent after 2 years of dating. he even speaks pidgin. my Canadian friend says “its paining me” when thats actually totally nigerian incorrect grammar, my Indians friends say “poshu” instead of “pursue” well I deny that they learnt that from me lol. So once again its not just Nigerians that catch the “phoney” bug. My BF just read this post and said “na wa oh!” Lol.

      Now you can’t ONCE again compare that to someone who is abroad and surrounded ONLY by Nigerians. Basically she’s still in Nigeria without the NEPA and bad roads….lol

  36. Eyak

    December 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I tire o! The foneh issue worry well well. The most irritating people being those who have never even crossed Naija into Togo and who suddenly assume a London or American accent. An old friend embarrassed me the other day when he started the foneh thing out of nowhere. Na wa for us o!

  37. feisty chic

    December 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    well me i am trying to form a Canadian accent by force cos i am tired of getting dumb stares and cocked heads when i speak to them but when it comes to Nigerian events or peeps i break into pidgin, igbo or just speak in my normal accent. I believe its a function of where you work or live. If you constantly have to force an accent for years(like in some customer service jobs), there will come a time when you wont be able to speak like you did before .

  38. adenike

    December 18, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Nice article and hilarious comments. I can see everyone is tired of the accents.

    I’m a radio broadcaster with a private radio station in one of the South West States in Nigeria. I personally don’t have much problem with the accents. To start with, those who know you’re fake,know you’re fake. An educated person can spot a fake and an original. Toolz speaks like an educated,posh lady who schooled in London.

    Radio stations in Nigeria (no,not only in Lagos) indirectly require accents now, the heavily accented gets the job nowadays (fake or not) and trust me,it puts a lot of pressure on everyone. Also, the listeners put a lot of pressure on radio stations. When was the last time you tuned to Raypower, StarFM etc? Listeners tune to stations with ‘foneh’ and good music but trust me, the stations I mentioned also play good music. Lol

    I have a problem when you speak in an accent and your diction/grammar is wrong. You can’t come with an accent and say ‘stuffs’ ‘cutleries’. You can’t come with an accent and say ‘Grand Prix’ the way it’s spelt. You just sold yourself out. Get your pronunciation right. How about those with H-factor? How about Tonto who said ‘debu-TING’ while talking to Toolz? My God! Basic words like ‘challenge, apologise,basic,representatives’ etc should be pronounced right otherwise, your educated listener will have a field day laughing at you.
    I’d rather speak good and correct English than come up with a corny accent.
    Sorry about my epistle.

  39. NNENNE

    December 21, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Funny article but I say, whatever tickles your fancy!

  40. spicy

    December 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I don’t understand why Naija ppl are so hung up on this issue, it annoys the hell out of me. I’ve lived in London for about 10 years and while in secondary sch/college/uni, i acquired the London accent small. This was not done intentionally but it just happened because i was always with british ppl so before i knew it, i was picking up intonations here and there. I agree with Julie above when she said she had to learn to pronounce certain words like Had and Hard. I remember in secondary school pronouncing certain words such as “embarassing” with my Naija accent and gettin teased by the other girls. For a 15 year old girl, it really was frustrating to keep getting laughed at so i had to listen well and switch it up a bit to fit in. Now if it’s a crime to want to adapt and be accepted, then arrest me.

    That being said, i do switch btw my Naija accent when i’m with my Naija ppl, but at work, my acquired london accent is out in full force. When i’m in Naija i do try hard to tone down the London accent a bit but it’s sometimes difficult to do so and i sometimes forget and revert back to my London accent. My friend who was born and raised in London would probably be told she’s faking her accent when she’s in Naija…i don tire ooo

    Anyways let’s just get over this accent, no accent issue and get on with our lives dammit!!

    Merry xmas all

  41. Chi

    December 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    This is such a funny write up cos I know exactly what ur talking about. You are absolutely right about using phonetics for ease of communication but when u get back to Nigeria, u should equally be able to switch back to your local accent. Using certain words like “trash” instead of “dustbin” or “trunk” instead of “booth” is understandable till u get used to the Nija way once again. But how will u know they went “abroad” if they don’t speak foneh??? Hahaha

  42. errrr

    December 24, 2012 at 4:57 am

    My office driver was always forming ‘accent’ mixing American with British because madam was oyibo (actually she was American) until I was insulting people who mixed up both accents and he was like ‘whats the difference?’ Mschewww, that typifies most Nigerians, they had no idea just be blabbing through their noses.

  43. igirl

    January 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    People do ”form” accents but it is essential to differentiate it from speaking good English. By that I mean good pronunciation of words as opposed to coating bad pronunciation and ‘tense-defiant constructions’ with interesting accents. Sometimes people are tagged as forming ‘foneh’ for speaking good English.

  44. Nshina

    March 16, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I agree with igirl. Forming foneh is faking an accent with bad grammer. But the truth is that many people just label one as forming foneh when all you’re doing is speaking good English.I should know,I’ve been teased for as long as I can remember about my accent.I didn’t grow up abroad of anything but speaking English properly was a must-do in my house.I remember being punished by my dad for making grammatical errors as a kid.Thank God for time sha cos after a while, people eventually realise that this is really how I talk… 😀

  45. Oyen'ke

    April 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Nice article, Atoke. Each man to his own ways… I have no problem whatsoever with people who speak ‘foneh’, it’ll just be a nice comedy for me. But if a close friend suddenly springs some ‘foneh’ on me, I’ll just as soon ask him to straight-way ‘drop it’…

  46. Oyin

    May 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    But really though, can’t Nigeria hire Nigerian broadcasters with original Naija accent? Diversity needs balance now… Fine, we live in a global world but we risk loosing our originality if we don’t find a way to balance it. One or two foneh speaking broadcasters out of 30 is good enough not 3 out of 4 abeg!

    I love hearing a well educated Nigerian speak mehn… I just melt! Unfortunately I have no incentive to listen to a naija station from the US.

    I picked up a southern accent (yuck!) because I felt I had to for the sake of my customer service job! I was tired of the blank stares and constant repetition. Now I kind of regret that I didn’t keep it original in the early years. I am tired of the street bum accent that doesnt even fit my personality.
    I wouldnt dare enter naija with this accent though.. for where? I don’t even speak it with my family in the US. Not even because of the fear of persecution but because I need to be free from the bondage of a foreign tongue lol

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