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The Story Behind Nigerian Pidgin Language and Its Origin

Nigerian Pidgin, also known as “Naija Pidgin,” is a widely spoken Creole language in Nigeria. It has a fascinating history, rooted in the complex social and historical context of the country. Let’s explore the story behind Nigerian Pidgin Language:


The Origin of Nigerian Pidgin Language

Nigerian Pidgin has its roots in the contact between European traders and missionaries and the indigenous people of what is now Nigeria during the era of the transatlantic slave trade. The language emerged as a means of communication between different ethnic groups, as well as between the locals and the European colonizers.

READ MORE: What Was Africa Called Before ‘Africa’?

Linguistic Influences

The early forms of Nigerian Pidgin were influenced by various African languages, including Efik, Ibibio, Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa, as well as Portuguese, English, and other European languages. The West African creole English spoken by the slaves in the British and Portuguese colonies significantly shaped the development of Nigerian Pidgin.

Trade and Colonial Era

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Nigeria was a major hub for European trade and colonization. The diversity of languages and cultures in the region contributed to the further development and enrichment of Nigerian Pidgin as a lingua franca among different ethnic groups and European traders.

READ ALSO: List of Colonized Countries In the World

Role in Post-Colonial Nigeria

After gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1960, Nigeria became a multi-ethnic and multilingual nation. Nigerian Pidgin played a crucial role in bridging the communication gap among its diverse population. It served as a language of unity and solidarity, breaking down linguistic barriers and fostering a sense of national identity.

Cultural and Artistic Expression

Nigerian Pidgin has transcended its utilitarian role and found its way into literature, music, and popular culture. Many Nigerian musicians, writers, and comedians use Pidgin in their works, contributing to its widespread acceptance and recognition as a unique and vibrant language.

Nigerian Pidgin Language Today

Today, Nigerian Pidgin has evolved into a dynamic and expressive language, with its own grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. It is spoken and understood by millions of Nigerians across various regions and socio-economic backgrounds. It continues to serve as a symbol of unity and cultural heritage in a country with over 500 distinct languages.

Here are some common Nigerian Pidgin language examples:

  1. Greetings:
  • How you dey? (How are you?)
  • I dey fine (I am fine)
  • Wetin dey happen? (What’s happening?)
  • How your side? (How are things with you?)
  1. Expressing Surprise:
  • See gobe! (Wow, this is a big problem!)
  • E be like film (It seems like a movie; unbelievable)
  • Kai! (Oh my!)
  1. Expressing Agreement:
  • I sabi (I understand/agree)
  • Na true talk (That’s the truth)
  • You get mouth (You’re right)
  1. Food and Drinks:
  • Chop (Food)
  • I wan chop (I want to eat)
  • Suya (Spiced grilled meat)
  • Oya bring one bottle (Bring a bottle of drink)
  1. Transportation:
  • Danfo (Commercial minibus)
  • Okada (Motorcycle taxi)
  • I no get change (I don’t have change)
  1. Praise and Compliments:
  • You too much (You’re excellent)
  • You fine well-well (You’re very attractive)
  • You try (You did well)
  1. Time Expressions:
  • Sote (Until, e.g., I go wait sote you come – I’ll wait until you come)
  • I don dey come (I am on my way)
  • For night (In the evening)
  1. Family and Relationships:
  • Papa (Father)
  • Mama (Mother)
  • Bros (Brother)
  • Sis (Sister)
  1. Expressing Frustration:
  • Abegi (Please, stop it)
  • Na wa for you (I can’t believe what you’re doing)
  1. Appreciation:
  • Thank you well-well (Thank you very much)
  • God go bless you (God will bless you)
  1. Farewell:
  • I go see you (I will see you later)
  • Take care (Take care of yourself)
  • Goodbye (Goodbye)

These examples are just a glimpse of the rich and diverse vocabulary of Nigerian Pidgin. The language continues to evolve and adapt, reflecting the vibrant culture and spirit of the Nigerian people.


The story of Nigerian Pidgin is a testament to the resilience of language and its ability to adapt, evolve, and thrive in complex historical and social contexts. From its humble beginnings as a means of communication between traders and colonizers to its role as a national lingua franca and cultural expression, Nigerian Pidgin stands as a powerful symbol of Nigeria’s rich linguistic and cultural diversity.

As the language continues to evolve, it remains a dynamic and essential part of Nigeria’s national identity and heritage.

Today, Nigerian pidgin language has continued to make communication easier irrespective of your age or culture. It will always bring us together.

The language has also find it way out of the Nigerian border. It has spread to other countries like Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, etcand it is widely spoken in all diaspora.

Chika Aliede

I am a content writer that specializes on health, lifestyle and travel. I bring intuition and knowledge in the area of health, lifestyle and travel.

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