On sounding Yoruba or Nigerian


When you read someone’s blog, do you ever wonder what they sound like? I don’t usually, but if I ever talk to them in person, sometimes I find that I’m surprised by how they sound. I guess even though I wasn’t thinking about it, I had created a picture in my head of what someone who writes a certain way would sound like.

Well I guess I should let you know that I don’t sound Nigerian, or even African when I talk. Apparently when we moved to Canada from Nigeria after three years of living in Naija, I had a bit of an accent: I pronounced “chicken” shicken, I said saLAD instead of SAlad (ie I put the accent on the wrong part of the word). I can’t remember my other English mistakes but I know I had a number of them because I was put in English as a Second Language classes when we arrived here. I also used to say words like “boot” instead of trunk and parlor instead of “living room”. But over twenty years of living in North America has resulted in me sounding more North American than Nigerian.

So, are you curious to hear what I sound like? Good. If not, I’ll admit I recorded this 100% for my own amusement. What you will find at the link is me reading this entry up to this point.

The link

I’ve always liked my voice (even though I sound like I live to enunciate) but I wish I had a bit of a Naija accent. When I speak Yoruba I think I sound pretty authentic, but the laughs of those listening to me makes me think I have some work to do. Oh, and I don’t always get the intonation right, so instead of saying “egg” I say “teeth” or “you people” in Yoruba.

Anyways, when I joined a Nigerian forum and got to know some of the people there, we started having these phone conferences and it was during those conferences that I was introduced to some very hot (male) Yoruba accents and I have to tell you: the Nigerian accent can hold its own among the sexy accents in the world, but maybe this is because most Naija men I’ve talked to have nice deep voices and who doesn’t like a deep voice on a man? I’ve talked to Naija guys based in the UK and they generally have delicious accents, and it’s cool to hear the switch between sounding like the Queen one moment, then sounding very Nigerian the next (sadly things never progressed to TMIND status or beyond).

I sound totally oyinbo when I speak Yoruba, and I’m not brave enough to even try speaking Pidgin because I have zero exposure to it: my parents never spoke it at home. I can recognize some Pidgin if the speaker talks very slowly, but that’s about it. Can you see now why I need to marry a Naijaman? Once I move out I won’t have mummy and daddy to remind me what a correct Naija accent sounds like!

So, have you ever spoken with someone you became friends with online and been surprised by their accent? What are your feelings generally about the Nigerian accent?


13 Responses to “On sounding Yoruba or Nigerian”

  1. 1 nnenne

    Hahahah!! I wasn’t even born in Nigeria, but I have gotten comments saying that I have a slight accent, especially when I was younger. I too used to say boot, and parlor (but it was pronounced paller..haha). I still say those words. And we used to pronounce armpit, making it sound like ampeet. And I think you have a SAWEET voice.

  2. 2 Oya

    Haha. Yes, u do sound oyinbo. But wait until u marry a Naija man. I completely lost all my pidgin english too but having Naija friends helped. Also, I was dating this Naija man and he would get me so upset sometimes and my Naija accent will appear. You can only truly abuse somebody well well speaking pidgin. Its even better if u can throw in a few yoruba words. I’m still working on my yoruba :)

  3. 3 moi

    LOL, you sound so white!! NIce voice !

  4. 4 Queen

    even though i can speak igbo and broken ( a little) there’s no point in even trying to speak it in front of native speakers. It’s just a show for them. we too still say those words like Paalo (Parlor) and boot. and stuff.
    I like to say ‘come ut fo road!’ it’s fun

  5. Hello there… Yeah, your voice makes me want to be very proper…lol… it’s a good thing though. Been away from niaja a good while as well but i guess i’m really a product of my environment. I go to a full niaja church and there is constant speaking of yoruba around me so i’ve still got my yoruba intact.

    Even with the english, it’s funny because i speak depending on whom i’m with, me sef i’m beginning to think i have identity crisis…lol… i’ve got some ghetto friends and i can blend in, and then the proper ones or with some folks at work and i blend in just fine, atleast that’s what i think…recently at a meeting a said something about canoe and pronounced it more like keno and they were all wondering for a minute what i was saying…lol… anyway, there is nothing that trips me more than a guy that speaks correct english and still has his yoruba intact too with a blend of that english…lol… that’s something some of our nigerian brothers in the UK have…tata…

  6. so how long have you lived outside 9ja for!!!lol….me too na palor i dey say instead of living room but you learn fast o!!!boot!!!!!!!!lol………..me i am 9ja born and i sound 9ja to the core men!!i think!!!!i can speak with an accent when i have to speak outside…like work n all..but at home na 9ja english and pidgin!!!tho sometimes i get it all mixed up and speak with an american accent at home!!!it all depends..whichever one comes out!

  7. oh u lived in 9ja for only 3 years!ok!

  8. 8 Mr C

    I really don’t believe it was you that recorded that message. You sound totally different from the verbal image I had in my head (of how you would sound); lol,you pronounced “naija” like a white person trying to sound really African.

    Well I sound proper Naija (a few mannerisms and my conscious effort to make sure I pronounce every alphabet in a word may put that slight British tint to my accent).

  9. 9 stbloke

    u do sound like some1 living in North America. But I can still draw out d fact that u r not a native speaker. spend sometime talkin to naija folks it will give u a healthy balance. hey lovely voice, i am a lil’ jealous of ur enunciation. oyinbo!

  10. for my own amusement I clicked on your link and you sound EXACTLY how I pictured you’d sound. You remind me of my Nigeran Friend Mimi (short for Sunmi) and just like you, whenever she says “about” I hear the slight accent. She also has a slight accent when she says “anybody” “somebody” or any word with Body at the end.
    I might have to copy this post.

  11. arrrrrghhhh!! That once comment that said you sounded “white” just did me in…………WHITE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO CAN ARTICULATE WORDS PROPERLY!!!!!!!!! arrrrrrrghhhhh!!!!

  12. 12 oblaque

    you are obviously confused about the variants of english. Saying boot and parlour has nothing to do with nigerianism.,those words are simply used in british english. British colonised nigeria, so we emulate their english. Saying trunk and living room is american .

  13. 13 GoodNaijaGirl

    Thank you, oblaque. I think most understood that that is what I meant, but your point is definitely taken. I was more referring to sounding like a Nigerian raised in Nigeria versus a Nigerian born and/or raised in America.

    Feel free to join us at my new site, http://goodnaijagirl.com!

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