bai Edwin Eriata Oribhabor

Words in Naija like shuo and kuma have been in popular usage for a long time in Nigeria. They are part of the numerous traditional or indigenous words that are uniquely repositioning Naija as both awa Langwej and awa identity. In comparison with words that have transformed from the English Language into Naija, they are undoubtedly giving Naija a peculiar flavour that appeals to all that come in contact with it. Apart from meeting the basic requirement of effective communication, Naija readily provides genuine conviviality for its speakers. It elicits palpable warmth that compels foreigners to always appreciate the lively disposition that has remained a selling point for Nigerians. On the contrary, if you have had the opportunity of watching our own Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon (Alias Igodomigodo) speak in the hallowed chambers of the House of Representatives (fo telivishon), you will appreciate the “strain” he undergoes in his self-imposed task of jamin grama wit grama. As a trademark of his, whenever he stands up to speak, people always look forward to high falutin words from his vast repertoire of grammatology. However, in reality, onli im no wetin im de go tru bikos grama no bi awa langwej.

In Naija Langwej, there’s this psychological feeling of belongingness which confidently drives one to want to repeatedly say Na mai langwej bi dis; na mai identiti. A no go tek am ple futbol. A good example of such words is shuo. As we get acquainted with the meaning(s) and origin of some of the traditional words that are now spoken as Naija, our interest for the language is fired up.

Shuo could be an expression of a pleasant surprise over a positive development or otherwise. For example, when the result of one of the matches played and lost by the Super Eagles at the early stages of the 2010 football World cup competition was relayed to a friend, he reacted in the following: Shuo! Na so wi go tek komot! (“What! Are we crashing out so fast from the competition?”). On the pleasant side, one could express one’s happiness over a welcome development this way: “Shuo! Yu no nou se beta don land? (“Whao! You seem not to know that there’s good news”). On the other hand, shuo could be used in either starting or concluding a sentence e.g. Shuo! So yu no nou se a don bai moto? (“You mean you are not aware that I have bought a car?”) or A don bai moto na. Shuo! (“You should have known that I have bought a car.”). With the captivating pronunciations of Naija words and parables that are drawn from our multifarious traditional backgrounds, the true Naija flavour comes out beautifully. Thus, the ability to speak and subsequently write Naija like any other language should be a thing of pride to Nigerians because na awa oun. Like the saying goes, Fo Naija, no mago mago. Shuo!

Like shuo, ho is an expression of surprise while abi is simply a question; is that? Furthermore, it could be used in soliciting another’s affirmation to a point raised or better still draw the attention of someone during a discussion e.g. yu grab? (Do you understand?). Shuo! Abi? (A surprise and a call for confirmation) Shikena!

Edwin Eriata Oribhabor

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(received 10/11/2010 — Published 11/11/2010)

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