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Oxford English Dictionary Admits 29 Nigerian Words

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has admitted 29 Nigerian words and expressions in their January 2020 update. This announcement was made public on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, in the dictionary’s website. The British dictionary acknowledged Nigeria’s ownership and distinctiveness in the use of the English language. This is the first time Nigerian words or coinages will be making it into the dictionary’s update. In its statement, OED noted that “Nigerians have made, and are continuing to make, a unique and distinctive contribution to English as a global language,” major reason as much as 29 words from the West African nation made it into the update.

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The distinctive nature of Nigerian English made the headlines after Genevieve Nnaji’s Nollywood hit movie, Lion Heart, was disqualified from the foreign feature category in the Oscars owing to the use of English language more than African dialect (Igbo language in the case of Lion Heart). Folks on Twitter and other social media handles debated on the extent to which Nigerian English differed from British and American English.

The majority of these new additions are either borrowings from Nigerian languages, or unique Nigerian coinages that have only begun to be used in English in the second half of the twentieth century, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s

Danica Salazar, (World English Editor for Oxford English Dictionary)

Some interesting words added to the dictionary include ‘Next tomorrow,’ which is one of the oldest words among the over 25 unique Nigerian coinages that made the entries. Danica Salazar noted that ‘next tomorrow was first used in Written English as a noun in 1953, and later as an adverb in 1964. From the Nigerian pidgin context is the verb ‘chop,’ a common colloquial word in Ghana and Nigerian which simply means ‘to eat.’ The word ‘chop’ will go further to be given a different definition in the beginning of the 1970s, as a dishonest means of acquiring monetary wealth quickly.

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Without a doubt, Nigerians like late Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and a host of others have hit remarkable heights in the literary world as Nigerian writers with the use of English language. It is hardly surprising that Nigerians have mastered the use of English as it is the lingua franca in the country owing to colonial impacts. With Nigerian words now admitted into the OED, the use of the language introduced to inhabitants of the country in the late nineteenth and early 20th century  have been made easier in official and non-official settings.

Full list of Added Words

  • agric
  • barbing salon
  • buka
  • bukateria
  • chop
  • chop-chop
  • danfo
  • to eat money
  • ember months
  • flag-off
  • to flag off
  • gist (noun)
  • gist (verb)
  • guber
  • Kannywood
  • K-leg
  • mama put
  • next tomorrow
  • non-indigene
  • okada
  • to put to bed
  • qualitative
  • to rub minds
  • sef
  • send-forth
  • severally
  • tokunbo
  • zone (verb)


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Ugo Chinedu

I am a Lion, I love to hit heights that seem impossible so I can motivate others and prove doubters wrong. For me, impossible is nothing. I'm open to learning and I love to read, travel and meet new faces.

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