A few days ago I was watching a TEDxEuston talk by Nigerian singer, actress and comedian, Chioma Omerua fondly known as Chigurl. It was a room filled with people from different races and places, and all through the 20 something minute-long clip, there was hardly a point when I noticed the audience weren’t absorbed in Chigurl’s multiple Nigerian personalities. I Couldn’t help but wonder how relatable our local lexicon has become to outsiders. You can attribute this to many things such as the booming number of Nigerians in the diaspora, which leads to a vast exchange of culture, music, food, books, languages, slangs and Nollywood’s increasing globalisation. Over the years, Nigerians have coined new words, phrases and meanings that have become widely adopted as part of the country’s local glossary. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Oxford dictionary announced that it will be adding 29 new words into the English lexicon.
This is coming a few months after Google launched its “Nigerian English” option on its Maps service, complete with a Nigerian voice and accent. According to Kola Tunbosun, a Nigerian linguist and cultural activist who is behind the Nigerian English voice/accent on Google platforms: “It’s a variant of English that has come to stay and is as valid as others. With updates happening quarterly, there’s a chance more Nigerian English words may yet be added to the dictionary as they gain more currency”.
Speaking to Quartz Africa, Tunbosun noted that despite growing international recognition, Nigerian English still faces some acceptance hurdles back home. He believes Nigerian tutors will likely frown at students incorporating Nigerian English phrases in examinations despite using those same words during teaching lessons.