Hailing from the streets of Nigeria, "to chop" - meaning to
illicitly make money, and "rub minds" - a synonym for "confer",
are among 29 distinctive aspects of Nigerian English to obtain
pride of place in the august dictionary.
"By taking ownership of English and using it as their own medium
of expression, Nigerians have made, and are continuing to make,
a unique and distinctive contribution to English as a global
language," the dictionary said in notes accompanying its latest
update this month.
One of the major drivers of Nigerian cultural influence abroad
has been its Afropop music which now dominates swathes of home
continent Africa and influenced the work of overseas artists as
big as Drake.
Getting Nigerian English recognized for inclusion has not been
easy, however, according to Nigerian author TJ Benson, who said
his favorite of the new Nigerian terms making it into the
dictionary was "severally", meaning "repeatedly".
"When it (Nigerian English) is being suppressed or we are being
told that there is a better way (of saying something), or this
is what is correct and then this is what is not correct, I think
it affects us and it also demeans us," he told Reuters.
"I think this (recognition) is empowering for lots of us writers
and for everyday people, because at the end of the day it ties
back to identity and how we perceive ourselves and how we
[to top of second column]
Another of the unique Nigerian references now in the dictionary is "okada",
which stems from the massive traffic jams for which megacity Lagos
is internationally notorious.
Okada are motorcycle taxis that weave through motionless cars and
are named after the defunct Okada Air airline because they are often
the only way to "fly" through the city.
But okada are the bane of daily commuters such as baker Dambo
Godfrey. "There is no day I go out that I don't see okada in my
path," said Godfrey. "It should not be very difficult (now) for me
to explain to a white man when he is asking what is an okada - I
will say: 'Go and check your English dictionary'."
Godfrey added that the Oxford English Dictionary's embrace of words
from Nigeria, with the world's largest black population in one
country - was only right. "If over 190 million people are saying one
thing, it is something that should be popular."
To check Nigerian entries in the dictionary, click on https://public.oed.com/blog/nigerian-english-release-notes
(Reporting by Angela Ukomadu in Lagos and Paul Carsten in Abuja;
Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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