Nigerian English Quiz Answers

We’re back with the answers from last week’s quiz.   Some of you sound like you’re ready to move to Nigeria – “well done!”  😉  Thanks to those of you who participated in the quiz.

1.  Flash (Example: “She flashed me.”)

    Meaning:  To call and hang up quickly so the person you’re calling will call you back on his or her dime instead of your own  (How’s that for a succinct definition?)

 *I did forget the U.S. definition of the word, by the way, until I started seeing everyone’s comments about it.  Kind of funny that when I hear the word “flash” I think of the Nigerian definition instead of the one I grew up with and we’ve only been here 3 years!  Sorry for those of you who are now stuck with the image of a trench coat-laden man in your head now!  😉

“Flashing” is quite a common practice since phone calls cost a lot here.  Most everyone has a cell phone, but the cell phones don’t operate like the ones in the States; you don’t get a plan then get billed at the end of the month.   You buy scratch off phone cards, then enter the pin number to get credit on your phone.  Text messages are the most common form of communication because they don’t cost as much as calling.  Sometimes, though, if someone wants to talk to you but they don’t have enough credit or money to pay for it (or they think you have more than they do!), they will call and then hang up – or flash you – a signal for you to call them back, as you are not charged for calls if no one picks up.

2.  Dash  (Example: “She dashed me a carrot.”)

Meaning:  To give for free.  (This one was a bonus because we’ve talked about it on the blog before.  😉  )  It can also be used as a noun.

This word is actually one that has made it into our regular vocabulary, even when we’re in the States.  Chris’s parents have even picked it up as well!  We use it often when we’re playing a card game in which cards can be given away – only now we say, “You can dash me the card if you want.”

Often in the market, if you buy vegetables, the women selling will “dash you” an extra carrot or pepper or a handful of green beans or something (and they usually really want you to see that they have dashed you something and will sometimes hold the dash outside the bag, waiting to put it in, until you notice what they’re doing).  Many people actually expect a dash when they buy, and if they don’t get one, will ask, “Where’s my dash?!”   I haven’t really gotten up the nerve to do that yet.  (I know – chicken.)

3.  Follow (Example: “Can I follow you to the office?”)

Meaning:  To go with

This is another one that has tricked me on more than one occasion when someone has asked if they could follow me somewhere, and I find myself startled when the person is suddenly opening my car door to ride with me.  Oh right – you want to ride WITH me!  The funniest (or most awkward) was probably when I had a back seat full of people, car seats and babies in said car seats and a trunk (uh, boot) full of stuff, plus another person, when a couple friends said, “We’ll just follow you to the restaurant if that’s okay.”  “Yeah, no problem.”

I couldn’t figure out why on earth they were trailing so close to me as I walked to the car, didn’t understand what they were doing.  Honestly, I didn’t need an escort to my car, so what were they doing?

As they started to reach for the handle but stopped short when they saw the packed car – packed even by Nigerian standards – that’s when I knew.  I had just told them they could ride in the car with me, NOT follow BEHIND me in another car, but there was virtually no room for them to even squeeze in.  (The funny things is that when they asked if they could follow me, I knew they didn’t have a car, but I thought, “Nigerians are resourceful.  They’ll probably get a taxi and have the taxi trail me.”)  I was so embarrassed and tried back peddling, but it was too late.  I don’t even remember what we ended up doing; I just remember thinking, “I am so embarrassed.  I will never forget what ‘follow’ means here now.”

Until the next time someone asked me if they could follow me.  Because of course I forgot again.

Interestingly, just this week a Nigerian friend of ours was over for dinner, and we started talking about Nigerian English.  This was one of the words we started talking about it.  Our friend is a pastor, and thus began a conversation about Jesus’ invitation for His disciples to follow Him.  I had never thought of the differences in the meaning of the word and what it could mean for Nigerian Christians versus American Christians.  Our friend told us that he had always read the passage as Jesus saying, “Come with me,” whereas I always pictured the disciples literally following behind Jesus, with Jesus being their leader.  In any case, the heart of the matter doesn’t change – whether you walk with Jesus or walk behind Him, He doesn’t want us to walk this journey without Him!

4.  Snap (Example: “Can I snap your baby?”)

Meaning: Take a picture of

Most of you got this one.  A bit of contradictory trivia related to this word, though, is that often people in the market will “snap” a picture of Judah and Jovelle on their phones without asking me, yet we’ve been cautioned by other missinaries not to take pictures in the market.  A bit oxymoronic, really, but I still haven’t gotten up the nerve to start snapping pictures in the market, though I would love to capture the bright colors.  One of these days…..

5.  Put to bed (Example: “Sarah’s friend put to bed yesterday.”)

Meaning: Had a baby.

This is probably my favorite one, but mostly because I almost ALWAYS mess it up, and the confusion in the conversation and in my head just cracks me up every time I think about it afterwards (not to mention the relief that said person hasn’t died!).

I really, really have to remind myself that this does not mean that someone died.  Sarah’s stepdaughter somewhat recently had a baby, and when Sarah told me about it, she said, “You remember my daughter who married?  She put to bed yesterday.”  I gasped, thinking she had died, “Oh my goodness, are you serious?  I can’t believe it!  She was so young!”  Sarah, thinking I knew what “put to bed” meant, replied, “I know.  She had a baby boy.”  Me, now thinking that she had died during childbirth and left a sweet baby boy, said, “Oh, Sarah!” and was about to say, “I’m so sorry” and ask why on earth she came to work and please, go home!

This comedy of errors went on for several minutes until Sarah finally said something that made me suddenly realize/ remember what “put to bed” meant, so I quickly shifted into congratulatory mode, and no one was any the wiser.  Well, except for me, who now remembers what “put to bed” means.  Usually.

So there it is!  We have some more up our sleeve, so maybe we’ll do a part two one of these days!


5 thoughts on “Nigerian English Quiz Answers

  1. That is hilarious!!! 🙂 I will never forget my “cookie” faus pas in Hungary. I told a group of children they were having cookies and juice for snack. A ton of giggles followed. Apparently, only little boys have cookies! I should have said buiscuits! Lol!

  2. My goodness has it really been three years!? Quiz was a lot of fun and we get a peek at your life across the pond. Which pond is it again? 😉

  3. Pingback: Foodie Friday-ish: Shopping at the Market | Those Winklers

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