As some of you know, I’m Nigerian (born to Nigerian parents) but have grown up mostly in North America. My parents spoke Yoruba to each other but not really to us children, although in the way that children are able to, I picked up a few words. Five years ago, I suddenly really wanted to improve my understanding of the language, and learn the basics too, like the alphabet and my numbers. I had heard the alphabet and the numbers before, of course, told to me in that sing-song way that we learn the alphabet, but I had never sat down and wrote out all the letters and made sure I learned them. I ended up doing that.
So, I can now speak Yoruba at a level that most people would understand what I’m saying if I talk to them, as long as we’re speaking generally, without too much slang or pidgin (although I’m learning!). When it comes to absorbing those things that were or are a part of every day life in Nigeria, I think my ability to get that side of things is pretty much impossible…unless there is a dictionary out there, a picture dictionary that can explain those things I keep coming across on blogs and forums, but have no idea what they are. I have a general idea, naturally, but don’t really know.
What am I talking about? I’m talking mostly about things that you’d find in Nigeria, material things, like Omo detergent, things that you wouldn’t have to explain to a fellow native. Here are a few that I’ve figured out in the last week.
Mills and Boon for one. That’s right, until two days ago all I knew is that it was the name of a book publisher, and I very cleverly (*ahem*) deduced that because the people discussing Mills and Boon would often use the words “read” and “books” (plural, so I knew it wasn’t just one book…really, I’m brilliant). I am in the midst of looking for a new design for this blog so I was checking out other blogs, and I came across the blog of a woman who writes novels and has written for Mills and Boon so I googled Mills and Boon finally and voila! It’s like Harlequin! And Mills and Boon was actually purchased by the Canada branch of Harlequin in 1971! (You didn’t know you came here for a history lesson abi?)
Another word or phrase I didn’t know the meaning of was JJC. I had deduced that it meant someone who’s a novice or an amateur, because in a lot of forums when you first join your “title” is JJC. But it wasn’t until I was reading Abbie’s blog that I saw that JJC stands for Johnny Just Come! I would never have guessed.
Other terminology that I faked complete knowledge of was indomie noodles. Again, I had figured they must be like Ramen noodles, but then I read someone’s blog entry and she was telling her boo that they were nothing like Ramen. Well google came to my rescue again and I have to say, they look just like Ramen. Oya someone explain the difference to me.
What other words or phrases might a non-Native Nigerian have trouble understanding?