‘Your pidgin get K leg’

How authentic are you?

Most Nigerians are multi-lingual with swift ability to switch from native language to pidgin to English – effortlessly. But what happens when the authenticity of the languages you pride yourself in is questioned?

While some are respectfully impressed that I can “still” speak pidgin PLUS my native language, others can’t help but laugh a little about the non-Nigerian or pidgin-like accent that sneaks out when I speak either languages. A friend from my co-ed football (soccer) team once told me that my “pidgin get K leg”, with a satisfying laugh as if it was the funniest thing he ever said. I’ve also been told that I speak my native language with a ‘Western accent’ – whatever that means.

I’m not looking to impress anyone with however many languages I speak nor am I interested in getting their validation. I just find it insulting – though sometimes I can’t help but laugh as well – when I get comments like that from people.

I’ve come across Nigerians who are embarrassed they can no longer speak or aren’t fluent in their native language and/or pidgin because they moved from Nigerian when they were very young. I’ve also met Nigerians (and Africans in general) who don’t make much effort to speak, learn or re-learn their native language. Those are the people who would speak English to their mother, father, uncles and even grandparents. Does that mean those two groups of people are less authentic? Does it mean they are embarrassed because their ‘pidgin get K leg’? Are Nigerians abroad – especially those who’ve been abroad for quite some time – considered less Nigerian for having lived abroad for some time? Do you as a Nigerian abroad feel you are not as authentic as those living in Nigeria?

My accent might be a little confused when I throw some Italian with a hint of Spanish and Hangul (Korean) into the mix, my Nigerian languages are as authentic as I know – if you don’t think so, na you sabi.

…ranting done!

~ by omonaij on January 30, 2012.

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