Oxford English Dictionary Adds 29 'Nigerian English' Words, Sparks Debate

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Oxford English dictionary in its January 2020 update added 29 words of Nigerian origin to acknowledge the unique ways in which they use English

Written By Vishal Tiwari | Mumbai | Updated On:
Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English dictionary in its January 2020 update and added 29 words of Nigerian origin to acknowledge the unique ways in which they use English and their contribution to the language as a global medium of communication. While many Nigerians expressed a great sense of pride, some are debating about what constitutes proper English. The words taken into the oxford English dictionary is from Pidgin, a mix of local languages and English, which many fundamentalists in the country consider 'street words'.

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29 Nigerian words in OED

According to reports, Nigeria has the largest population in the African continent with over 250 million people residing in the country. There are about 250 different languages spoken in Nigeria with English as their official state language and is also used in schools. However, over the century, the former British colony has developed its own form of English, which is known as Nigerian English. As per reports, many authors in the country have raised objection to the adding of Pidgin words in the Oxford English dictionary as they believe it is tampering with the colonial language. 

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One such word added in the Oxford English dictionary is Sef, which according to a release by the OED, is an adverb borrowed from Pidgin, which itself could have been an adverbial use of either the English adjective safe or the pronoun self. The word was first used by Nigerian author Ben Okri’s novel Flowers and Shadows, published in 1980. According to the Oxford English dictionary, "By taking ownership of English and using it as their own medium of expression, Nigerians have made, and are continuing to make, a unique and distinctive contribution to English as a global language."

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Another addition of Nigerian English word to the OED is Kannywood, which is the youngest of the words in the recent batch. Kannywood was first used in 2002, which is the name for the Hausa-language film industry based in the city of Kano. It is a play on Hollywood, following the model of Nollywood, the more general term for the Nigerian film industry that was added to the OED in 2018. Other Nigerian English words that were added recently are agric, barbing, buka, bukateria, chop, chop-chop, danfo, to eat money, in eat, ember months, flag-off, to flag off in flag, gist, guber, K-leg, mama put, next tomorrow, non-indigene, okada, to put to bed, in put, qualitative, to rub minds (together) in rub, sef, send-forth, severally, tokunbo, zoning.

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Lead Image Credit: AP

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