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Isio Knows Better: Loki

Isio De-laVega

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I sincerely lay no claims to being more knowledgeable than anyone, but I do confess that I know better than I did yesterday, last year and a decade ago.

Isio Knows Better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. The conversations between my mind (the sharp witty one), my soul (the lover and the spiritual one) and my body (the playful one concerned with the more mundane things of life). She is the eternal referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul. This is Isio. So, here’s to making private conversations public.

****

During the times that I was studying in Europe, there was once a day in class that our insegnate told us an idea for a “cool field trip”. The idea went such: we were supposed to travel to the summery fields of Bologna and pluck tomatoes.

The Europeans, the Americans and indeed the Arabs all squealed in delight! Waowwww! Such a nice, nice adventure! They giggled and whispered amongst themselves.

Two of the other Nigerians in my class were debating this idea. One thought it was ridiculous. They asked me, “Why, Isio… don’t you want to go pluck tomatoes in Bologna?”

The scowl on my face could have cracked ice block. “Tufiakwa! Abeg I no dey for any kind suffer-head tomato plucking moves o”. I grumbled under my breath.

The other Nigerians bursted out laughing, which made the Europeans, the Americans and the Arabs curious.

“Eh, eh? Isio say what you said again…” One of the two Nigerians prodded again.

I was happy to oblige. This time I spat it out in rapid Yoruba. Adding for good measure that I did not cross the seas and deserts to go plucking tomatoes in Italy. And that if anyone made the mistake of adding my name to any suffer-head list… There would be war in the land.

“Oh my! What language was that?” An European asked wide-eyed.

“Oh, It was one of our native dialects. It is called Yoruba. The one she spoke earlier was a kind of indigenous English. We call it “pidgin English”. But Isio’s own is a bit different. She speaks the “Waffi” kind of pidgin English.” A Nigerian answered happily.

And so we spent what turned out to be a memorable afternoon with the others, sharing stories about our languages and cultural diversity. They were enchanted. And many thought it was “totally cool.”

Yeah, I thought so too. Totally cool.

Until I got to my dearly beloved Lagos.

All of a sudden it is considered “Loki behavior” to speak any indigenous language or (God forbid) pidgin English in public. Apparently, classy people don’t go about spitting any of that in public. Classy people speak English (preferably with an accent). It doesn’t matter which one or from whence it came. Just speak with any of the preferred accents and you are good to go.

Perhaps this is not a Nigerian/ black people thing, but a human being thing – the fascination with another who speaks with any accent other than any of those peculiar to their nationality.

Okay, quick experiment… don’t lie o!

If you meet the guy of your dreams in a cafe, and your body is torori-ing you jigbi-jigbi and they somehow make eye contact with you and walk up to you. Imagine they look deep into your eyes and introduce themselves to you thus, “Ciao. ‘Scusa mi. My Inglese iz not so gud, but’ ah juz’ wan to say- you have zhe most beautiful chocolat skin I ever zee in any perrrrrrrrrson. It eez truly magnifico. My name is Giovanni Scantollini.”

This is the part where he slowly raises your hand to his soft lips and kisses it…

(*seriously side-eyeing you* but wait o, I haven’t finished…)

OR imagine meeting your dream guy and your body is torori-ing and jigbi-jigbi-ing you all at once, and they walk up to you and introduce themselves to you thus,

“Heyzzzz! Fine geh! Wo, Engi-lishi mi ko fi beh da gannnn, but ehhhn, I wanto teh yuu dat diz your body eez dan gaaaan ní- like shoko-late! Ahan! Shining like a buriful som-u-tin. O wa magnificent gan. Baje baje. My name is Obatalanla Gorisoke.”

Ahan. Speak the truth and let the devil be ashamed. Please tell us who you would rather or if you wouldn’t judge the latter a Loki. Perhaps many of us are more guilty than we thought.

Okay, back to the matter. Some believe that our local dialects/pidgin English should be reserved for communicating with illiterate family members, villagers and your plumbers, mechanics, vulcanizers, security guards and domestic helps.

Also that you should speak these in private. If you have to rant at your mechanic via the phone in a public and “posh” place amongst other civilized people (like yourself), please rant in proper English. When you get to your mechanic’s dusty shop- you are free to rant and rage in thick broken English. That’s quite alright. After all, you wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a Loki.

I don’t understand.
Why?
Why are we so ashamed of how we sound?
Can someone please justify this to me objectively? Because I just don’t get it walahi.

I find it fascinating to watch others’ reactions to whatever language I choose to speak in, especially in Nigeria. And quite frankly use this to judge their character and the core substance of their being. (*chuckles again).

One gets you the “distasteful” who-is-this-one-please-goan-pound-ewedu-soup-with-that-shaka-shaka-broom-jo! And the other gets you the oh-my-God-what-language-was-that-I-just-wanna-lick-you-like-ice-cream!

Hahahaaaaa! I love it!

I have met a few guys who tell me that they hate hearing a girl speak pidgin- but would tell me time and time again to tell them something sexy in Italian. (Well done. Even though na him blow the pidgin pass when out with his guys).

Another told me that if he didn’t know I had had a “western education” and that I had attended a “proper finishing school” he would have had a problem with me speaking any local dialect near him. There was no excuse to speak with anything but my “TV Voice”. Not even shall I get a pass if I were gisting sweet gist with my mother in pidgin. (Shuo, make una see me see trouble o). To each their own sha.

That being said, I have met other guys who are indifferent to my unpredictable language-switch or find it amusing. Often-times, together we may decide to switch from English to Yoruba, never mind the fact that I am not even Yoruba. And then when I am with my Delta people, for sure we don dey blow Waffi dey go.

Personally, I believe you should speak whatever language makes you happy as long as you speak it properly. I strongly believe that our local dialects are beautiful and if you are lucky enough to be able to speak even one of them, please don’t be ashamed to speak it publicly. And if you can, teach your kids. It is believed that in a few years, many of our local dialects would have ceased to exist.

So, what do you think? Does speaking a native dialect in public make one a Loki? Should it be reserved for speaking with domestic helps and so on?
If yes, please tell us what is wrong with the way we sound.

xx.

Isio De-laVega Wanogho is a Nigerian supermodel, a multi-award winning media personality and an interior architect who is a creative-expressionist at her core. She uses words, wit and her paintings to tell stories that entertain, yet convey a deeper meaning. Follow her on Instagram @isiodelavega and visit her website: http://www.idds.pro to see her professional body of work.

66 Comments

  1. UberChick

    November 11, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Nice, funny topic but I beg, please stop with this introduction “sincerely lay no claims to being more knowledgeable than anyone, but I do confess that I know better than I did yesterday, last year and a decade ago”.

    • Onye

      November 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      I absolutely love pidgin. Granted I grew up in the UK and so I have an english accent. But, I always try to speak pidgin when I can. In the UK, my former nigerian friends who just came from Nigeria less than 2 years ago, hate speaking it. That is why they are former.

      Also Isio, what is wrong with picking tomatoes? That’s another cultural difference. People from Naija think such things are beneath them but in the western world, it is not like that at all.

    • omotee

      November 12, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      How is this now giving you headache biko? sun soun jor

  2. bumble bee

    November 11, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Isio thank you for this… I swear it’s Disgusting the no of ladies that Has suddenly developed an accent, just moved to lagos and decided to hangout wit friends, now these are girls dt I grew up knowing, we all schooled here in naija and Just one of us went to the UK for masters and spent just 2 Years.. we all see and me Being me was like hey ladies, Wats up, longest time!! U can imagine my shock wen dey all with accents were like ohhh hello (side kiss) rily? WTF!!! And through out our discussions I noticed their accent Kept changing!! At the end I left there disgusted..to me it felt fake!!! Den fast forward months later met one of dem in ph and she was back to her normal voice.. even speaking pidgin and I was like ahah no be u dey give me accent for lag and in her own words “my sister everybody for lag get accent oo, if you don’t you are considered local or bush” I was like really?!!! Yea i’ve Been in lag for a few months now, yes I speak proper English without an accent when i’m out with pple, pidgin in d comfort of my home, now if u see me speaking pidgin and think that’s classless, I must say it tell more of the kind of person and mentality you have than me and trust me i’ll rather be labeled classless than fake and trying to be what i’m not.

  3. G

    November 11, 2014 at 9:33 am

    My take is that no matter the language you speak. If you let that define you that’s when it’s going to be a problem to you and not your audience.
    English is my first language. I had to learn pidgin English by fire by force. At home we don’t communicate in pidgin English.. It’s not even accepted to speak to anyone even the domestic staff or mechanic. So mostly I use to do it because I noticed it was a means of communicating and peer pressure.
    I don’t equally like speaking in Pidgin English bc it has tendency of influencing my English. Besides speaking in pidgin some still criticize. Ah there’s no peace in communicating?
    I find that people are not open minded and being stereotypical, and think that you are a snub or think the dialect/pidgin is beneath you. When you choose to communicate in English.
    I know a driver who speaks good English, he is so eloquent like Olu Jacobs, Richard D,
    Apart in corporate setting, I switch to either English or Pidgin English when I please.

  4. Hey

    November 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I agree with you Isio, I am not a proper pidgin English speaker it’s not something I grew up with. The only thing I might say in pidgin is abeg and then the Nigerian Pidgin songs. I have never felt one day that I had to change my Nigerian accent for anyone I live in America I have friends who feel ashamed of their accent and I’m just like why?! The so called Americans too have accents, southern is different from how they speak in New York. Anytime I have to speak in class I will be the first to stand up because they sound alike and I sound different. They even try to speak like me. Yet again everyone is different.

  5. derhmy

    November 11, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Isio i tottally loved this….am so happy i read your article this morning…i speak french and german, i also speak yoruba and hausa. i find it so funny watching peoples facial expressions when i pick my calls and switch from one lingo to another…e.g am at the salon and my boss calls and im speaking to him in german, some ladies suddenly become friendly and nice and start talking to me with one kind phonetical english accent in a weird high pitched kind of voice tone that they did not have 10 mins ago telling me about their experiences when they visted germany, at this point i make sure i reply using my normal voice AND my normal nigerian accent speaking good english that i learnt from brighter grammar! I also make sure i speak to the hairdresser in yoruba or suddenly remember to call my mum or sister and speak with my correct osogbo accent! i find it so annoying that nigerians especially try to force themselves to imbibe some foreign accents..i dont see any french person ditching their french accent to talk like a calabar person!( i love the way calabar people talk by the way…my big bro is married to a beautiful calabar lady)….infact ehn some people will be using fake british accent and still mixing up their tenses and prepositions! As in serious gbagaun tinz o! Abeg… i cant talk too much, gat to go back to work!

  6. TANTRA

    November 11, 2014 at 9:42 am

    This is why I like Chimamanda Adichie. She includes Igbo sayings in her books without bothering to interpret all. Why? She wants you to make conscious efforts to learn the language. I speak my local dialect in private and in public. I will speak it to you as long as you can understand it. In those days, it was fun using your dialect to share secrets or dish out instructions/corrections in public. I even have more respect to people who live abroad who come home and still speak their dialects. One of my company’s lawyers went to the US and came back after 4years with an accent thicker than original Americans. He was rapping away one day to my boss and my boss told him, ” you are embarrassing me with this your accent”. Few weeks after, no be person tell am to revert to his original accent.

  7. Anonymous

    November 11, 2014 at 9:46 am

    I personally have no problems speaking my language (Yoruba). I’m in the UK at the moment and I speak Yoruba a lot, especially in public. Because I can make fun of people and no one knows what I’m talking about (it’s a lot of fun), and have confidential conversations without anyone eavesdropping. When I speak Yoruba around my Nigerian friends it’s a problem. Someone once called me razz. I don’t get it honestly. I love my language. I can speak it pretty well, read very well, and even write properly (tone marks and all). And I am very proud of it. I don’t see why speaking your language is considered razz. I will definitely teach my kids how to speak Yoruba, no matter what part of the world we are 🙂

    • Hafsat King

      November 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Until the wrong person hears you… naughty you sha oooo

    • MC

      November 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Ahhhhh you’re one of those people that think they can tell whether another person understands yoruba or not.
      This can go soooooo wrong!

    • MC

      November 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Oh and also, sometimes your conversations aren’t as confidential as you think.

  8. Ebere E

    November 11, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Nothing pains me more than to listen to someone speaking with five different accents( non of them placeable) in five minutes of conversation. its just hard to listen to or even concentrate on whatever the person the saying. In my work place, we are predominantly Igbos and we all communicate fluently in Igbo, then comes this guy ( Igbo too), whenever any one speaks igbo around him he calls the person local, but really he was just mad because he couldn’t speak any local language and always feels left out in d gist.. I speak to my boss in Igbo sef ( sometimes) and he speaks Igbo back to me, and mind u he is a highly placed former Minister( before you go and think he is a motor spare part dealer) and our office is in Abuja. I speak Igbo, English and Pidgin fluently and I use them as I please cos at the end of d day, beta gist nor dey sweet for proper English but when am in d right crowd I speak my proper English

  9. Oma Oma

    November 11, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Isio!!! I love you so much!! Please tell them oooo,I don’t just get it with some naija babes and guys like I’m going to respect you more cuz you have an accent?????? *Tsk*

  10. www.veeciousnotes.blogspot.com

    November 11, 2014 at 10:31 am

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way we sound, but there’s a lot wrong with the way we think. Our languages are beautiful, and we find that they do some studies on them abroad but instead we are ashamed to be identified with it here at home. I think it’s just funny. Maybe it’s a we we tin, cos I’m so sure that if a guy approaches me in Obatalanla Gorisoke. style, OYO is his case lol. I’m so igbo, and my pidgin flows like sapele water. call me razz if you like. But when there’s need to, i speak my oyibo and even add french join sef.

  11. your favorite civil servant

    November 11, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Lmao I officially love this babe. That’s how I called an ex-school mate some days back, oh boy her accent no be here oo. I thought she was joking at first but she kept on saying ‘but this is how Iv always sounded now'(in that Lagos-American-E! TV accent) in my mind I was like ‘I no blame you, na me carry my mouth ask for your number, come carry my hand dial am come call you’.
    I personally can’t deal with fake-accent speaking people because I switch from English to pidgin to yoruba and igbo slangs add some itsekiri to spice the gist wella, I can’t have someone with raised eyebrows hovering and gossiping to his/herself while I be myself biko. I free style everywhere, except in my boss’s office of course

  12. Ebere E

    November 11, 2014 at 10:33 am

    I have also observed that most of the on- air- personalities we hear on the radio all speak in accents that do not remotely sound Nigerian, it seems that all it takes to be on the radio is any accent that is not Nigerian.
    How about the people that change accents depending on whom they are speaking with? if he is talking to an English man he imitates British accent, if na American, American accent here we come, if na Indian, he adopts an Indian accent..
    In my submission people should be proud of their languages and accents but learn to pronounce their words properly so that they can be understood.

    • pretty

      November 11, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Na cool FM cause am

    • Liz

      November 13, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      I see nothing wrong in changing accent depending on one’s listeners. Some Westerners I know do it. A Frenchman’s accent on the phone speaking to his sister is a bit different from that used speaking to his colleagues. It’s all part of communication skills.
      What I find unacceptable is persisting in using your unnatural, thick, difficult-to-grasp accent with people around you who you would strain their ears to understand you, especially when ladden with bad grammar. SMH

  13. [email protected]

    November 11, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Isio Isio…love how you write. It doesn’t matter what language you speak as long as you speak clearly, maintain a rhythm , people understand you and you are comfortable, by all means speak………weda na pidgin English, or its Bini language or French.

  14. Simsi

    November 11, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I don’t see anything wrong with speaking your language. I just think it depends on who you’re communicating with. Personally, I do not speak pidgin english. My dad didn’t allow it in our house. But I speak yoruba well. And I can speak my yoruba anywhere. In short I prefer insulting people in yoruba sef because its sweeter. I just think there’s a time and place for everything. Everyone should just be themselves jare

  15. nammy

    November 11, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Isio, to answer your question, il choose the guy with d Italian accent over the guy with the yoruba accent mainly because Italian accent is sweeter nd sexier
    On a serious note, the Italian guy can’t speak English not because he is not schooled but because English is not his lingua franca. The man with the yoruba accent on the other hand clearly stated that he can’t speak English, not as if he can speak English oh, but with an accent. So its d loki that comes from not being schooled and not necessarily the accent that turns me off.
    That being said, I love local dialects and proudly speak it at any time, sadly I can’t speak my language-tarok but I can speak a little of my mum’s language-yoruba and I speak Hausa cos I grew up in the North, I speak pidgin cos well, who doesn’t speak pidgin? Some things just can’t be said in English or r not sweet when said in English-e.g “hunger dey mama me”.

    • Blessmyheart

      November 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      I agree with. English is our lingua franca so anyone who can’t speak good English probably isn’t well educated. I really don’t care about accents, just be able to make grammatically correct sentences. My view is because English is our lingua franca, there are certain places where it may be inappropriate to speak your local dialect, it does not necessarily mean you’re not proud of your native language. I don’t expect you to speak pidgin or your local dialect in a formal setting or when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

  16. Personal Assistant

    November 11, 2014 at 10:47 am

    People went to primary and secondary school to learn simple English. I went there to learn pidgin English. I speak the pidgin anytime e enter mouth. I don’t care. I remember when I was house hunting in a nice area in Lagos, a friend of mine who was with me said “babe u gats change accent for this location oh. E clear say neighbors dey speak so so English for here”. I told her, no worry I go blend them and all their shidren. Anything you like speak whether real accent, acquired accent, inhaled accent, na ur cup of tea. Just make sure you are able to communicate clearly with the other person. Don’t call brand new car “brown new car” and don’t put “TH” where it’s just a T, And don’t put R where there’s no R. And make sure say anything you dey speak u go fit spell am and write am well.

  17. ajag

    November 11, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I love this piece. I personally believe that as long as making the switch to good English (when it is appropriate (at work, a public presentation etc) is smooth; then there really is no problem speaking pidgin/yoruba or any other native language especially among-st friends and when we are relaxed. Having said that, i am of the opinion that until you get close to or understand some people, you may need to be on your “A game” in spoken English (no mouth twisting or fake accents o)…………lest you be labelled. Personally I love Isio”s opening paragraph always o………………………( I sincerely lay no claims to being more knowledgeable than anyone, but I do confess that I know better than I did yesterday, last year and a decade ago) Uberchick, no offence o but you know our naija people nah, once they don’t agree with your views,; they say you have made yourself an authority in that area………………….

  18. Timmy tim

    November 11, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Its all inferiority complex in my own way. I have never heard Jamaicans dis their language they luv their patois and I love my Pidgin and yoruba. am bad at the former though but i speak it to people am comfortable with..

  19. Changing Faces

    November 11, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I love to speak igbo and love it when I hear people speak their language. However I think it’s rude to speak in your language in a room full of people (friends) where some don’t understand the language. Some do it to code their gist but it makes others uncomfortable, and feel left out.

  20. Latifa

    November 11, 2014 at 11:24 am

    When i talked about the fake accent thingy before, someone said I should go and adopt one. I went for a buffday dinner and the lady beside me who was totally friendly was talking to me, I noticed she had an accent until she told me she was born and brought up in the US. No body said hi to her when she walked in oh….na only me wey dey gist with am. Someone was asked to say the opening prayer and she volunteered since everybody was reluctant to. Obviously for someone who has an accent, she said her prayer with her American accent and all of a sudden, people who didn’t send her initially became close to her and most of them even switched to the American accent coz of her, which is what I still don’t get. Are we suppose to treat people differently coz they have a foreign accent? I just taya sha

  21. Daizzy

    November 11, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I had a guy tell me the reason he liked me was because I didn’t have a thick Nigerian accent, lets just say it didn’t progress past a first date. I rarely speak pidgin because I didn’t grow up speaking it and when I do people can easily tell and they say I sound funny speaking it.

    But I believe I speak like an educated Nigerian and funny thing is a lot of my European friends love my Nigerian accent.

  22. MDee

    November 11, 2014 at 11:32 am

    In answer to your question none. I can’t be with someone I can’t communicate with in the languages I speak. Anyway, I speak with a British accent that I have no idea where I got it from. However, most of the time I hate it cause I feel there must be something wrong with me to have the accent of a country i never enter. That been written, I speak my language Yoruba with a fluency that makes old market women salute even in the office.

    • MC

      November 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Chances are, you probably don’t have a British accent.

  23. titi

    November 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Isio delaVega!!!I luv dis article!!! I sincerely dnt undastand why pple fake dier accent…abeg,what’s wrng in speaking pidgin english?…anyhw sha,dat 1 no concern me,any part of d world I find myself in,I’ll definitely speak my pidgin,no time for serenre!!!

  24. Mz Socially Awkward...

    November 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I think there are two issues being grouped into the one in this comment section – speaking in native dialects (which Isio asked about) and speaking with certain acquired accents.

    My personal opinion is that speaking in native dialects is acceptable when everyone in your immediate surrounding understands the language. However, if you’re in a social setting which clearly includes people who don’t speak your language and you still choose to ignore that fact in order to communicate exclusively with a handful of people, then you’re being unbelievably rude.

    With regard to people who change their accents to suit, I don’t know whether I would tag that as a uniquely Naija trait as you’ll find the same attitude with people from the deep South in the States, for instance, who often have to adjust their “local” accent so that it’s more universally understood when they have to work in certain roles within the same country. Or even using these Scots right here as another example, if you’ve ever heard a proper Scotsman from the highlands speaking Doric, you won’t believe you’re listening to someone speaking anything close to English. Doric is probably their own version of broken english and here at work, I’ve noticed that the Scots will often lapse into using Doric turns of phrase when they’re speaking among themselves but when a Briton (or the Nigerian that I am) is in the room, they automatically revert to “English”. If that makes sense.

    It’s just human nature to sometimes fall into speech patters that help you communicate best with your given audience but even while saying that, I certainly can’t endorse using a locally acquired foreign accent as the best medium for passing your message across (especially when you haven’t even mastered the English itself properly…)

    • Blackbeauty

      November 11, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      I apologise in advance but I think the second paragraph of your comment should be addressed to my Yoruba brothers and sisters. When in the company of non- Yoruba speaking individuals, It’s unbelievable how they go on and on with absolutely no regard for said persons. Nothing personal, it’s just terribly rude.

    • jinkelele

      November 16, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      I disagree…pray tell How is it rude? They are having a conversation between themselves and not you.
      And how are they to tell unless its written on your forehead that you don’t understand what they are saying.

      For pete’s sake, I’m yet to find any European who would stop speaking in his language simply because you may or may not understand it when he/she is not talking to you.

  25. Flourish

    November 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Isio, you are just a darling. I look forward to your piece every Tuesday. Please keep it up. Ur write ups are not just funny but educative too. Thank God for your talent.

  26. Teris

    November 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    she changed her profile picture!! now if only

  27. blessed

    November 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    i am so glad to be able to speak the pidgin english( the waffi own for that matter). As much as i grew up in warri during my primary school days, it never really made an impact because it wasnt spoken in our house and we didnt have access to those speaking it except of course in school and that even was rare because of the penalities associated with it. After my secondary school in another part of Nigeria, i went home( warri), helped my mum at the family business and then, i got the drift. mehn, see pidgin dey swim for every every kurukuru. you cant be calling customer and then, you will be saying,” excuse me, what do you want to buy?” hehehhe, i soray for you, you no go sell shinshin. even my mama wen sabi better english to the core, drop the thing for ground. omo, as i see as the thing be and unto say the next neighbour was a confam warri boy con join the lady wen dey help us sell, i learn fast fast. abeg, oga wetin you wan buy?i get everything wen you fit need.. body just dey sweet me as i dey remember.

    anyways that is that. fast forward some 4years later, i returned to nigeria for my clinicals. i was asked to attend to some patients and then, i started with english, dey spray spray the thing. after i finished, i asked this elderly man if he understood and what he said melted my heart. he said, my pickin, i no understand plenty things. sharpaly, i change course. ehen, papa the thing wey i be dey talk be dis” i felt so satisfied that i could communicate with him. it made my job worthwhile, my patient is happy and i am too. From that day, it taught me the value of communication and understanding, i would wait for the patient to speak and then know how to communicate. i will soon be in nigeria finally to work and i cant wait to be of service..;)

    • Monisola

      November 11, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Relatable.
      Nothing a patient like than an health professional that can communicate with them in their local dialect, rather than using medical jargon.

    • blessed

      November 11, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      you are so right. thank you

  28. kuuks

    November 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    And I thought this was only happening in Ghana… We call it LAFA (locally acquired foreign accent) and its the new ish here. Every on air personality speaks with a LAFA. It seems without one you wont get the job..Unfortunately I can only speak two local languages and I will proudly speak it wherever I am.
    However, I love the naija pidgin..gosh I wish I could speak it. So frankly I don’t see why people should be shy to speak it. In fact I wish I had a nigerian friend to teach me. Ironically I had a Naija friend who also loves the ghanaian pidgin and wanted to learn too,
    In Accra, pidgin is mostly spoken amongst guys. You will hardly hear ladies gistisng in Pidgin. Pidgin is reserved for the tom boys but no girl would speak it in public unless she is interacting with a guy.. Only men do so.
    So here I am killing myself to learn the naija pidgin whilst some nigerians are feeling shy to speak. Haba don’t do this to me

  29. ayaabaa

    November 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Isio..Isio. Isio….. I love your topic, I really can’t understand our preoccupation with the accents. I have had to change channels when presenters are so busy concentrating on their accents suddenly they can’t pronounce local names properly I mean…. really? Is it necessary?
    I love my language and will speak it anywhere in fact I’m teaching my young sons to speak.
    You can call me Loki if you like….I don’t curr

  30. omotee

    November 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    One of the things that endears me to people is their ability to speak their own language as well or better than they speak English, I just love it. I speak Yoruba to my 2 year old son, i even speak his father’s dialect. My parents spoke Yoruba to us while growing up. Now get this: my father is a professor and my mum studied English and Linguistics. I have a friend who keeps saying dont be speaking Yoruba to him. Its always confusing. I grew up speaking Yoruba and I speak good English (even if I say so myself). But i digress.
    I see absolutely no reason why you shouldnt be able to speak your language wherever. Not one reason. As long as you dont jam somebody on the road and you start blowing your language, whether they understand or not. Today 3 people just faced me at Ifesinachi park in Abuja and started blowing Igbo. Hian. Biko, I am ofemanu o. I no hear you. I think thats rude. But am on the phone, anywhere, why cant i speak my language?!
    The pride with which i blow the Waffi wey i acquired during NYSC.

    the point of this epistle is that all that forming English is better than my language bull is just annoying.

    Meanwhile Isio my pasona pelzon, shop knuckle for this article.

    • Monisola

      November 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks.
      Pay no attention to those who think teaching your child Yoruba language will be confusing.
      I can’t wait to get my hands on some “Alawiye” yoruba text book, so to teach my child real yoruba. American English and other languages can be learn in school.

  31. Sassy

    November 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I feel comfortable speaking pidgin as I grew up hearing it all around me because of the neighborhood we lived in. Most times, I can’t hold a straight gist without throwing in pidgin English…there are some explanations/messages that are better explained using pidgin. Sometimes I just get naughty too just to see the expression on people’s faces when I delve into Engli-efik (Am from Calabar). I fit die with laff……..A lot of people find it hard to tell where I come from when am speaking English like English…..I unda stand Ibo and speak too so confusion intensified most times. With the accent thing( that is for the real ones o) I think you start speaking the same like the people around you when you have been with them and interact for some time( its a sub conscious thing). So its natural to speak that way when you are around those people but when you come dey use am dey form…………eish, very very annoying. U just look at the forming person, just dey shake head like “why can’t some people just flow with being themselves? abeg… abeg… abegi.
    Me nor can fit form sha..I dey speak my normal English as me fit for my Oyinbo bosses and working partners…When I started working with them, the one I nor undastand I go tell them” Sir can u please speak slowly so I can understand what you are saying?” pardon ke? My colleagues for office go just dey hiss dey spit make I nor talk…na wa o…which one is dat again na….I go come dey fear oyinbo for my country again? One of the oyinbos had to call me one day and ask the meaning of ” abeg I dey go……I dey come”(I was always saying that) Boy! Did I have a field day getting them to speak pidgin…..I nor fit laff abeg. I love my language o jare.

    • Blessmyheart

      November 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Speaking of forming, have you heard people trying to form accented pidgin? Hian.

  32. Solape Olabintan

    November 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Please tell the on air personality people to be very much aware of their very fake accents, it is crazy and pisses me off when i hear such on radio and this all the radio save the yoruba ones of course.

  33. D

    November 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I am guilty of an acquired accent. When I speak to people that I am comfortable with I have what I consider my Nigerian accent but when I am in an official setting or just around people that I don’t have a close relationship with my acquired accent comes forth. It is not something I fake and I have even caught myself speaking in this accent while discussing about serious topics even with family members. It is also the same the other way around too, I have co-workers that I am friends with that I will even switch to pidgin while speaking to them and they will tell me that I need to “Waka come back” to their level. I have never been good at speaking either pidgin or my native language (yoruba) so first I find wafi (not sure of the spelling) very sexy. it is like Australian accent to my ears very lyrical. There is yoruba and then there is the accent, the way a lagosian will speak yoruba is not with the deep accent. Just like you have ibo and you have the accent. I don’t know if I am making sense.

    • Blessmyheart

      November 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Yep, I think it’s called presentation voice. I think I have something like that too, not sure I’d really classify it as an accent though

  34. o

    November 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Some kin just nor go sewed except say na for pidgin!! Just because of this article i”m going to start speaking pidgin in the so called ‘posh places”

  35. nuggie

    November 11, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Iso, nice write up, I think you have a skill in writing. Now to answer your question;
    “Does speaking a native dialect in public make one a Loki? Should it be reserved for speaking with domestic helps and so on?”
    No, speaking in yoruba, Ibo, hausa or whatever does not make one loki depending on the environment. If you are addressing a new client at work, yes it is. If he/she is a client you already know, it’s cool. Chocs bobos all speak in local dialect depending on the environment.
    it’s like eating with eba with your hands in a proper decent restaurant not white house in yaba oh, that to me is a lil unconventional. You can get someone irritated. so it all depends on the location, the individual being spoken to and what you are even sayin

  36. Person

    November 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    LOL. If speaking your local dialect makes you razz, I am the razzomola of them all! I speak a dialect of Yoruba with my family and everybody that I know understands it, I speak Yoruba, pidgin and Nigerian English with my Naija friends, and I speak an American accented English with my colleagues at work. And because I work in retail and frequently meet a lot of people from home, I can be found switching between those languages and accents at the drop of a hat. One of my American colleagues pointed out to me the other day that I frequently switch between my Nigerian and American accent when I am trying to decide the wisdom of buying something. I didn’t even know I did that.

    TLDR: Do whatever makes you happy. Mi o gbe se ran iya anybody 🙂

  37. adeola

    November 11, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Thats how a stood behind lady at a popular suya spot on Allen avenue, she was forming accent with one poor guy until she saw a friend who she apparently hadn’t seen in years , The accent disappeared with speed and i had to look at her well to be sure i wasn’t standing beside someone else , she began speaking Yoruba with all the tushness gone .

  38. NutriC

    November 11, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I enjoy speaking pidgin as a correct Edo girl. Recently i find speaking english a bit boring. Even at work i speak pidgin english when after i have spoken correct english and my colleagues still don’t get what i am saying lol. I am very “Loki” when i am around my Nigerian Friends. I once dated some twerp who thought “Pidgin English” was very Illiterates, but when it was time for us to speak ENGLISH na, his was upside down.

  39. babygiwa

    November 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Beautiful article. I speak my beautiful language when I’m out with friends and family members. I speak good English (no fake accents pls) and I don’t think that speaking your local language makes you a ‘loki’. Nah, it really does identify you as a culturally conscious person.

  40. Somebody

    November 11, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    If I met a man, bred, born, and reared in an English speaking country, presumably educated in English, and still can’t speak English, yeah I would be confused too and more than a little put off…

    • Blessmyheart

      November 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Exactly

  41. Nne Somebody

    November 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Me, I don’t think speaking English badly has anything to do with speaking your local dialect well. In Nigeria, we are taught almost exclusively in the English Language, it’s the business language everywhere, so what excuse would tall, dark and handsome have for not being able to complete a few sentences in English. I did not say affect a mayfair+peckham+glasgow mix of accents o. But at the very least, don’t mix up your tenses. And when it comes to speaking our local languages, it shouldn’t be spoken with so much “phonerizing” that we can’t tell what you are speaking anymore. It makes people laugh when they ask me at interviews, if I speak other languages and I say Yoruba: expert, Igbo: fluent, Hausa: intermediate. They expect you to list foreign languages only.

  42. adebobo

    November 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Lovely article

  43. manb4real

    November 12, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I speak my dialect very well and speak it to my kids.Many pple are impressed when they hear me speak my dialect with my 4 year old baby. I recently met someone who started blowing legal terms to me when he learnt I was a lawyer,thinking he could impress me, called me two days ago to ask why I don’t even reply ordinary text message,again,he went on rampage with the legal jargons,I simply told him OK, noted. As in,its so annoying,just be urself abeg.

  44. Abigail

    November 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    really enjoyed this article.

    I must admit that I am in the habit of alternating accents depending on who I speak to. *Covers Face* I have only just realised. I was born in London and live here but my accent tends to alternate between R.P, cockney and a diluted Nigerian Accent (parent’s influence) when speaking with Nigerian and other African friends i.e “Abeg”, “Gerrout”, “As INNN??!!”. I don’t think it’s a case of being fake but it is what people call conditioning or adapting to your environment. It happens to many.

  45. TA

    November 14, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Am several days late to this party. *crying out loud,wailing actually* Lol.
    Isio de la correct chic, chop knuckle abeg. Your head is so there.
    As a Linguist, let me throw in some useful insights. First of all, no language is inferior or superior to another. Secondly, any human who uses verbal speech has an accent, MUST have an accent. Thirdly, children who are exposed to more than one language typically have higher IQs and perform better overall in intelligence tests. Fourthly, a lot of Nigerian languages spoken in the Niger-delta region or used by minority ethnic groups are already extinct and a whole lot more are endangered.
    So folks, speak that ‘local’ language. Ain’t no shame in it. 🙂

  46. M

    November 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Everyone cannot be in the same mould, and that includes the way we speak. Pigeon English and “Central” Igbo was taboo in my house. When my mum speaks to you in Ohafia Igbo, she expects an Ohafia Igbo reply. I couldn’t blame her, my father was bounced around a lot and she was afraid we would lose our culture and be stuck with “dilute” Igbo. English was our staple, and if it isn’t in the dictionary, it had no business coming out of your mouth. Her words.
    That being said, it’s understandable that my Central Igbo and pigeon English is horrible. HORRIBLE! My friends actually beg me to stop when I start in on pigeon. In contrast, I speak excellent Ohafia, and it creeps in even when I’m speaking conversational Igbo. The same goes with English, and I’ve been accused on numerous occasions of speaking “pretentious” English. The truth is, if I don’t talk the way I do, THAT would be pretending.
    My point is that you can’t put language in a mould. Just speak what comes naturally, and communicate appropriately according to your environment. It doesn’t make sense to just meet someone and start blowing Igbo just because you’re in the east.

  47. Frances Okoro

    December 4, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Me, I be ughelli girl and forget all the english, if I need to yarn in pidgin english, then I soooo will…

    imperfectlyperfectliv

  48. QBee

    December 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    I love you Isio my very first #womancrush……this piece made me defy my spectator status on BN. The thing taya person o! What’s with all the Western accent? Our radio and TV presenters are the worst culprits, I will not even begin to mention names. maka y? I see the raised eyebrows when I’m speaking to my mum in Oron in the office…..if nor be say den sabi say I sabi speak the English – Head of Communications, e no easy na, e for be serious relegation to ‘loki’ status o. Reminds me of another colleague who would speak in 3 different feigned accents in one breath. Na wa o……’posh or I die’. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with speaking our local dialect. I won’t agree for the Yoruba toaster in your example sha o……lol!

  49. sparkle

    December 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    hahaha… I find it very funny, these OAP’s, VJ’s and presenters are the biggest culprits, they just switch from British to American accents forgetting that these accents have different pronunciations for same words…I find it hilarious because it makes them look stupid and shows very low self esteem. I have no issues if you genuinely have an accent, but it will be nice if when you don’t have one, you just speak good English with your tenses in order. That’s how one presenter said “widow that is a woman” (widow na man before?!), imagine what too much forming can cause!!. When you try so hard to form something you are not, you end up making errors because you are very self concious.

    Nice one Isio!…there’s nothing as comfortable as being yourself.

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