Yoruba and English, Yoruba and French

By | June 11, 2008

It is always interesting to speak Yoruba with Beninese Yoruba speakers. I – like most Nigerian Yoruba speakers – don’t speak Yoruba without code-mixing, and the other language in the mélange is almost always English. Therefore, when I am speaking with a Beninese Yoruba speaker, I am very careful not to add in English words. But since I cannot speak straight Yoruba without having to pause to think about how to express certain thoughts in Yoruba I find myself code-mixing with French. I end up adding words like eglise, ecole, l’argent, nettoyer etc. But then, the Beninese, knowing that I am a Nigerian, (even when they know that I understand French) add English words. The confusion is always interesting; while I say l’argent they say money, and while I say Lundi they say Monday.

Where did they pick up English words? For the traders, it is simply part of their trading strategies. Most Nigerian traders who come from Nigeria to shop in the market don’t speak any word of French so the Beninese Yorubas had to learn some English words for dealing with Nigerian traders. Other Beninese Yoruba speakers told me that they picked up English words from Nigerian Yoruba movies. More power to Nollywood, non?

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  • This Nollywood sef!

  • This Nollywood sef!

  • Hey thanks for this post – it’d be great to read more language related posts – I’d love to find out more the melange spoken in West Africa : )

  • Hey thanks for this post – it’d be great to read more language related posts – I’d love to find out more the melange spoken in West Africa : )

  • Fascinating observations, Loomnie. The way we deal with language is interesting. I had a dog in Tanzania that I called “Mbwa” (Swahili for dog). All the neighbour children called it “Puppy.” Why did they translate the name? I guess for the same reason the Beninese Yoruba mixed English with the Yoruba when speaking with you. Someone should research this phenomena.

  • Fascinating observations, Loomnie. The way we deal with language is interesting. I had a dog in Tanzania that I called “Mbwa” (Swahili for dog). All the neighbour children called it “Puppy.” Why did they translate the name? I guess for the same reason the Beninese Yoruba mixed English with the Yoruba when speaking with you. Someone should research this phenomena.

  • Fascinating observations, Loomnie. The way we deal with language is interesting. I had a dog in Tanzania that I called “Mbwa” (Swahili for dog). All the neighbour children called it “Puppy.” Why did they translate the name? I guess for the same reason the Beninese Yoruba mixed English with the Yoruba when speaking with you. Someone should research this phenomena.

  • toni

    someone said this to me. please translate

    E nle nibi oooo, ta lo wa nile?

  • toni

    someone said this to me. please translate

    E nle nibi oooo, ta lo wa nile?

  • Toni,

    That would be: Hello! Who is at home?

  • Toni,

    That would be: Hello! Who is at home?

  • yvette

    Please can you tell me what this means: Pally u dey mi ni

  • yvette

    Please can you tell me what this means: Pally u dey mi ni

  • yvette

    Please can you tell me what this means: Pally u dey mi ni

  • yvette

    Sorry I need the translation for Pally u dey vex me ni

  • yvette

    Sorry I need the translation for Pally u dey vex me ni

  • Paull

    Hello
    I know this topic was given up for a while but can anybody here help me into translating a part of one of asa’s song from yoruba to english ?
    I’ve been posting on forums and looking hours on the net but I did not found any concrete thing until now.
    thanks a lot
    bye
    Paull

  • Paull

    Hello
    I know this topic was given up for a while but can anybody here help me into translating a part of one of asa’s song from yoruba to english ?
    I’ve been posting on forums and looking hours on the net but I did not found any concrete thing until now.
    thanks a lot
    bye
    Paull

  • Hello Paull,

    I am sorry I just got to this. Could you just leave the part of the song you would like to have translated? I could help you to do the translation.

    Rgds,
    Loomnie

  • Hello Paull,

    I am sorry I just got to this. Could you just leave the part of the song you would like to have translated? I could help you to do the translation.

    Rgds,
    Loomnie

  • Paull

    Oh sure
    So great somebody answers ! 🙂
    ok so here’s the song’s chorus (Bibanke) :

    Bim ba n ke bo ban shun Fi mi si le Bim ba n ke bo jo ba n ro Fi mi si le.

    and btw, when I said “help”… in fact I have not any knowledge in yoruba
    But I’ll be interested in understanding that text in yoruba further than just the sense of that sentence.
    Thanks a lot

    Regards,
    Paull

  • Paull

    Oh sure
    So great somebody answers ! 🙂
    ok so here’s the song’s chorus (Bibanke) :

    Bim ba n ke bo ban shun Fi mi si le Bim ba n ke bo jo ba n ro Fi mi si le.

    and btw, when I said “help”… in fact I have not any knowledge in yoruba
    But I’ll be interested in understanding that text in yoruba further than just the sense of that sentence.
    Thanks a lot

    Regards,
    Paull

  • Paull

    up ??

  • Paull

    up ??