As you know I’m Nigerian by parentage: both my parents are Yoruba. I even lived in Nigeria for three years (between the ages of three and six), but I have lived in Canada for the past 24 years. And in these 24 years (a scary number that makes me feel quite old), I have visited Nigeria twice: the first time was seven years after moving to Canada and the second time was fifteen years later (last year). This last visit was the best, and I know my visits will only get better and hopefully not as much time will pass between them (by God’s grace).
Since the last visit, I’ve been corresponding with family members and friends by phone and email more regularly. And one thing I notice is that I communicate slightly differently with these friends and family members. It’s not deliberate, and I’m not talking about my accent or use of pidgin or Yoruba (with the exception of my maternal grandma, they usually tell me to just speak English, hmmph!).
So what I mean are things like the following:
- Instead of “What did you study (in school)?” I’ll say What did you read in school?
- I’ll refer to a cell phone as a “set” and a laptop to a “system”
- When the phone card I use to call Naija is about to run out (let me recommend this one, which gives you a minimum of 35 minutes for $2.50…tell me if you have a better one), I’ll say I don’t have any more credit.
- I’ll send my regards to the parents and siblings of the person I’m speaking to, something I don’t usually do when talking to other people. If I was talking to someone and wondered how their mom/brother/dog was, I’d ask about that person or animal specifically. Now everyone gets “my regards”.
- Mention of NEPA always comes up as does reference to the “network” being bad when the person I’m talking to online disappears.
- I’m not sure if it’s the topics that are discussed but the need to exclaim “Thank God!” in response to good things and recognize God’s faithfulness is very strong, as is the need to say “Amen” in response to any good wish that is uttered.
- I’ll sometimes type “takia” in closing an email or chat.
Nothing big, but those were my recent observations. What about you? Does talking to family or friends back home (or if you’re in Nigeria, does talking to family or friends abroad) cause you to communicate differently without doing so deliberately? If so, what are the differences you notice?
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