A Foreigner's Guide to Common Nigerian Phrases.... (Lagos)
Just for laughs: A Foreigner's Guide to Common Nigerian Phrases and Expressions
‘I want your honest opinion’= Keep your unflattering opinions to yourself. Shower me with praise and adulation. Preferably something I can quote.
‘I am coming’ (except when said during intercourse)= I am leaving. Goodbye.
‘I am almost there’= When I finish heating the water to take my bath I will run just one small errand and then head to where you are.
‘With all due respect’= I am about to go to great lengths to undermine, insult and disrespect you. Please don’t act like a child and take it personal.
‘I will not take much of your time’= Forgive me and my insensitivity. Brace yourself for a long and rambling speech.
‘I will be brief’= You are about to regret letting me speak. This will last a long time.
‘I don’t want to repeat what has just been said’= I am about to repeat what has just been said.
‘God-willing/ By the grace of God/Insha Allah’= (These expressions have no known meaning. It is safe to disregard.)
‘I concur’= I pretend to agree. But it is important to allow me to use another set of words to say the same thing.
‘To God who made me/ I swear to God’= My only witness in this matter is busy in heaven. So I might as well lie to you.
‘Wetin you born?’= Tell me the gender of your child so that I can formulate an appropriate response. Eg ‘Eiya’, ‘Is that?’ or ‘Praise God’.
‘Who do you think you are’= Quickly establish if you are or know someone who can cause great suffering in my life. So I know whether to fight you or leave you in the hands of God.
‘Do you know who I am?’= ‘Do you realize that I could know or be someone in government who can cause great suffering in your life?
‘Why you dey do like woman?’= This is inappropriate for a male human. (More recently= dude, you are gay).
‘Dress’= Move over/ Make space for me.
‘Where are you from/What tribe are you?’= There is no time to waste. I need to know quickly if I should trust or hate you.
‘Severally (as in, I called you severally)’= Several times.
‘I am a detribalized Nigerian’= I do not peddle my hatred for other tribes in public.
‘Tea’= This includes most instant beverages that are drunk in the morning, eg Bournvita, Milo, Coffee
‘Omo’= Powder Detergent. There are different types of omo eg. Ariel, So Klin, Omo.
‘Maggi’= Seasoning cubes. There are different types of maggi eg. Knorr, Royco, Maggi
By Elnathan John