Pidgin English is a simplified version of English that is spoken in many regions around the world. It has its roots in West African languages such as Yoruba, Igbo, and Twi, but it has been influenced by other languages too. Within this article, we will look at some common Pidgin phrases and their meanings so you can understand what people are saying when they speak to you with this type of language.
Examples of Pidgin English and their Meanings
✓ “No be so?”
The translation of this phrase is ‘that’s not true, right?’ or ‘no way!’. This type of language can also be used to say that something isn’t possible. For example: “a man walks into a bar and asks for three beers; the bartender says no be so?” In other words, he would like three drinks, but since it’s impossible (because there are only two hands), then you could reply with “no be so”.
✓ “Wetin happen for here?”
Wetin happen means ‘what’s going on?’ and for here means ‘here’. When people say wetin happen for here, they ask why is something happening or what has happened. For example: “wetin happen for here?” would be asked if a restaurant was closed, but there wasn’t any explanation for why it had been shut down.
✓ “No mind am!”
A common Pidgin English expression which means ‘forget about him/her’. People who speak in this way want someone to stop worrying about another individual, so they tell them not to worry anymore, no matter what. This type of language can also be used when you want someone to ignore whatever bad things have been said about you.
✓ “He/she said!”
This phrase is used to describe someone who knows many things and has excellent knowledge of the subject they are discussing. For example: “Michael Jackson knew how to dance – he sabi!” In this case, if Michael had passed away, then his fans would say ‘he sabi’. It’s because he understood what it meant to be a great dancer as well as an entertainer. This term can also be placed at the end of some sentences, such as “he no sabi” which means that person doesn’t know anything or understand something.
✓ “E no be so?”
This phrase is used to ask someone if what they have said or done makes sense. It’s a way of asking for confirmation on something, usually because the action being questioned might not make any sense at all, and you need clarification as quickly as possible. For example: if someone accused you of stealing their wallet and everyone was looking at you, you would ask, “e no be so” because the accusation doesn’t make sense.
✓ “I no sabi!”
When someone tells you that they “no sabi” something, it means they don’t know what’s going on or how to do something. You can also use this phrase when you want people to stop asking you questions because your knowledge is limited, and you might not be able to help them out in any way. For example: “I no sabi why my friend no like the color pink anymore.” In other words, she has changed her mind about a specific issue without explaining why such a decision was made; therefore, since there isn’t any information, her friend would say ‘I no sabi’.
✓ “Oya make we dey go!”
This phrase is used to get people moving and into action. It’s a way of saying that something has been completed or finished, so now it’s time for everyone to start doing something else. For example: “you can’t watch TV all day – come on, let’s go outside.” People who use this type of language want their companions to begin a journey with them because what they were previously doing isn’t entertaining anymore.
✓ “E dey hot!”
This phrase is used to describe the weather and tell someone that it’s hot outside. It can be said whenever you feel like something has reached a high temperature, such as when the thermostat in your house shows twenty degrees Celsius, but everyone says, “it’s sooo hot.” This type of language means there isn’t any breeze or wind, making people uncomfortable because they are constantly sweating from being too warm.
✓ “No worry!”
When somebody tells you ‘No worry!’ it means don’t get upset about whatever bad news was just shared with you. They’re telling you not to let what was just heard discourage or depress you in any way. This phrase can also mean that there is no need for concern because something terrible isn’t going to happen. For example: “I’m sorry I can’t go out with you tonight, but no worry- there’s always next weekend.” This term is used to relieve someone of any anxiety or stress about a particular situation.
✓ “E get mouth!”
This phrase is said when something has been done in an awe-inspiring way, and the person who did it looks attractive at the same time because their appearance matches how great they just performed. For example: “Did you see Karen dance last night? She was terrific – she got some nice moves, AND her outfit looked amazing! She get mouth!” In this case, Karen would have danced very well, so everyone else thought that not only did her performance deserves recognition, but also what she wore made up for the fact that she didn’t look beautiful before her dance.
✓ “You dey go?”
This phrase is used to ask someone if they are planning on going somewhere and doing something. It’s a way of inquiring about their plans because they want to know if you’re also participating in an event or activity. For example: “You dey go Joe’s house?” This person is asking another if they plan to go to Joe’s house because there will be a party that evening.
✓ “I dey hungry/ache!”
It is a phrase used to express extreme hunger and exhaustion, and displeasure about an unbearable appetite. It’s said when someone has not eaten anything substantial for more than twelve hours or longer, making them feel like they need something that will satisfy their craving. People who use this type of language want some nourishment immediately because they’re highly exhausted and famished from having nothing in their stomachs all day long.
✓ “E go better o!”
When somebody says ‘e go better o’, it means whatever situation you are currently experiencing isn’t going to get any worse at all, so there is no point worrying yourself sick over what might happen next! In other words, if the person using such language feels as though something isn’t going to turn out badly, they are telling you not to be so negative about it because it’s probably going to work itself out without any significant issues.
✓ “I dey smart o!”
When someone says ‘I dey smart o’, it means they have just come up with or thought of something that they think is clever. For example: “I just had the greatest idea- I dey smart o!” This term implies someone has come up with a great way to solve an issue, impress somebody else, or explain why certain things are occurring in their life at this time.
✓ “E no sweet?”
The translation of this phrase is ‘isn’t that right?’ or ‘don’t you think so?’ This language can also be used to show interest in a topic. For example: “so, I hear there’s going to be an election next month; e no sweet?” In other words, the person wants your opinion on if they should vote and would like for you to agree with them by saying something such as “yes it’s true”.
✓ “Wetin concern me?”
The translation of this phrase is ‘what do I have to do with it?’ or ‘why are you asking/talking about me?’. It’s also used if someone is angry at another person. For example: “You no like her; wetin concern me?” In other words, they are saying that the person should not be complaining to them and then would like for this person to stop talking.
✓ “I dey fine oh!”
The translation of this phrase is ‘I’m good/fine’ or ‘no problem’. It’s also used if someone wants to change the subject in a conversation. For example: “that girl just crashed into my car; I dey fine oh!” In other words, it’s an attempt at changing the topic so that no one else talks about what happened before, even though there was an accident with their car.
✓ “Wetin dey?”
The translation of this phrase is ‘what’s going on?’ or ‘why are you doing that?’. It’s also used to ask someone a question about an object, place, or event. For example: “so there’s supposed to be a movie showing tomorrow at six pm; wetin dey?” In other words, the speaker wants information on where something will take place, who will be involved, etc.”
✓ “E be like say.”
The translation of this phrase is ‘it’s as if. It expresses a strong feeling or opinion on something. For example: “E be like say she no like me!”. In other words, the speaker believes that someone does not like them and would like for their friend to agree with what they are saying by replying in agreement, such as “yes, it seems so!”
✓ “You dey buy?”
The translation of this phrase is ‘are you buying?’ or ‘do you want to buy?’. It’s also used if someone wants to know the price of something. For example: A: “I just saw a nice shirt in that store; how much does it cost?” B: “You dey buy?” In other words, the second speaker wants to know if the second speaker is buying the shirt.
The above examples are some of the most common phrases used amongst Pidgin English speakers in Nigeria. Although their meanings may not be entirely clear to everyone, it is still interesting to learn about what they could mean when someone says them!
It may take time getting used to these phrases, but you will catch yourself using some of them in your everyday conversation after a while! So why not give Pidgin English a try? You never know when these phrases might just come in handy during a meaningful conversation. Have fun learning about Pidgin English and its meanings!