Monday, July 15, 2024

The Thing About Talking About Others in Your Local Dialect

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I used to be on a bus going to Yaba once we stopped at Ketu to select up round eight Hausa-speaking ladies in a bus that had area for less than 5 extra passengers. It was a wrestle, however belief Danfo drivers to discover a method to squeeze passengers in. This aged girl who was within the entrance row needed to make room so two individuals might squeeze right into a seat meant for one passenger, pending when different passengers would get down at Ojota.

Then got here the gists within the Hausa language, and it was cool. Stunning ladies chatting away fortunately of their native dialect in a metropolis like Lagos? Nothing might go unsuitable. Not till the aged girl mentioned, “Why are you insulting me?” *curse phrase* “I shifted for you and made myself uncomfortable so that you each can handle right here and also you’re insulting me. You assume I don’t perceive your language?” *Extra curse phrases*. What adopted was an embarrassing silence, then a flood of apologies.

I chuckled and thought, “I’ve been right here earlier than.”

I schooled in a predominantly Hausa-speaking state. And once you’re a stranger in a land whose native language you don’t perceive, you are likely to gravitate in direction of individuals such as you. So naturally, I had some Yoruba-speaking mates. Amongst them was this specific pal who beloved to speak about different individuals in her native dialect(s). She might communicate 3-4 native languages and when she met somebody who might communicate them additionally, there was a excessive likelihood she’d speak about others in that dialect. As an illustration, we may very well be strolling behind somebody and she or he’d say in Yoruba, “Have a look at this individual’s shoe, it appears like his face, hahahahaha.” Or a pupil who we used to name rainbow as a result of she beloved colors might stroll into the category and she or he’d say, in Yoruba “What kind of mixture is that this? Did she look within the mirror earlier than leaving residence? Hahaha.” Or we may very well be within the again seat of a bus and she or he’d faucet me and say, in Yoruba, “Oh, this individual has such an enormous head, haha.” My pal was not being a malicious individual and these little gossips had been, effectively… not dangerous? Whereas she discovered them humorous, they made me uncomfortable. I laughed the primary few instances, however I quickly realised we talked about individuals – she doing the speaking, me the laughing – too usually and it wasn’t okay. It was changing into a factor – making enjoyable of strangers we knew nothing about. Folks minding their companies, merely current. I assumed, certainly, we might do higher? So I steadily stopped laughing at these jokes.

Past the truth that these little pockets of gossip weren’t wholesome for both of us, one in all my fears was what occurred on the bus to Yaba: what if the individual/individuals you’re speaking about can perceive your dialect? What in the event that they allow you to speak for some time earlier than letting you realize they will hear you? As soon as, my pal gisted me about how she had made enjoyable of a person’s head and when she was about to get down from the bus, he turned to her to let her know he understood all alongside. One other time, she had insulted a driver she assumed was a Northerner due to change and it turned out he was a Yoruba man who grew up within the North. I keep in mind laughing and saying, “This may educate you to maintain your mouth shut.” It wasn’t all unhealthy although, one time, she and one other pal had been happening and on about how good-looking a man was in Esan language and he might hear all of it.

Random individuals understanding her jabs, insults or adulations – because the case could also be – didn’t educate my pal any lesson, till she resumed college after a semester break, her eyes twitching uncontrollably, her mouth tilted haphazardly almost touching her left ear, trying like she suffered a stroke on her face. It turned out that days earlier than we noticed her, my pal had insulted an aged girl.

They’d had a row available in the market place and she or he had washed her – in fact, within the Yoruba language. Though the lady didn’t perceive what she was saying, she felt the load of the insult and cursed her. My pal awakened the subsequent morning with one in all her eyes closing and her mouth reaching her ears.

It’s nearly a decade since we left college however every time we catch up, I remind her of that point we needed to nurse her face again to regular just because she couldn’t bridle her tongue and we chortle over it.

 

 

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Characteristic Picture by Ketut Subiyanto for Pexels

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