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I've been studying West African Pidgin some lately, and found this interesting blog post about the word "oyinbo" (essentialy Yoruba for 'foreigner') and its use in Nigeria. I thought that any language geeks here (such as myself) might find it interesting.
Joined: 18 Apr 2004
Location: Hanging out at In-n-Out
Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:05 pm
Thanks for posting that. It's a fascinating discussion. (I am very much a language geek. )
I like to study Pidgin and use it a lot for my fake lad characters. But I've never had any context in which oyinbo has come up. The only time I've heard it is in the infamous song "I Go Chop Your Dolla" by Nkem Owoh, in which it clearly refers to white victims being targeted for 419 scams:
Oyinbo man I go chop your dollar,
I go take your money an disappear
419 is just a game, you are di loser I am di winner
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"HOW DOES IT SOUND TO YOU THAT ANOTHER PERSON IS DEALING WITH YOU AND ASK YOU TO CONTACT ANOTHER PERSON AND NOW YOU SAID THAT YOU WANT TO DEAL WITH THE OTHER PERSON WITHOUT THE KNOWING OF THE PERSON THAT ASK YOU TO CONTACT THE OTHER PERSON"
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Slightlyoutofit Baiting Guru
Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Location: Foraging for Nuts.
Fri Jul 08, 2011 7:14 pm
I found it interesting too, although I'd disagree with the writer of the article.
Certainly, when I've come across the word as being used by lads or in some of the Nigerian forums I frequent, it's definitely got derogatory connotations. I've never come across it in any instance where it could be construed as a fun or endearing word. For example, in many forum discussions regarding the oil rich Delta region, some Nigerians refer to the "oyinbo" in the same sentence where they accuse them of raping and pillaging the country's resources. It certainly can't be taken as a "friendly" word in that instance.
Lads themselves seem to use the word in the same breath as maga or mugu.
I've got to admit that, to a degree, it looks to me like the author has had a problem with the word and is therefore covering his back.
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Joined: 04 Mar 2011
Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:17 am
Agreed. The author, a Nigerian teaching Yoruba to Americans, likely has good reason to downplay the negative connotations associated with that word. I suspect that 'oyinbo' probably meant 'foreigner' originally, but began to take on a more derogatory connotation during and after the colonization of West Africa.
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