I have come across yet another of the internet’s little-known lexicographical resources, Babawilly’s Dictionary of Pidgin English Words and Phrases:
Pidgin English is spoken widely across Nigeria. It is a language made up of elements of the Queen’s English and the local dialects. With Nigeria having about 250 tribes in all, one finds a lot of variation in the type of Pidgin English spoken by the different ethnic groups. In this compilation I have limited myself to what I would call ‘Lagos Pidgin’ as this is what I am familiar with. The three major Nigerian languages namely Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa feature prominently in Pidgin English in general, however with Lagos being historically a Yoruba city ‘Lagos Pidgin’ consists of a disproportionately high number of Yoruba words.
A couple of entries will suggest the flavor:
Dey: 1. Is e.g. wetin dey happun 2. Location e.g. where you dey 3. Stance in the matter e.g. which one you dey sef. 4. In existence 5. Spectacular e.g. dat car dey well-well.
Dey laik Dele: (Dele is a Yoruba name) 1. I am barely surviving e.g Man juss Dey laik Dele. 2. Being idle e.g You juss dey there laik Dele . Also – Standing like Standard Bank, Looking like Lucozade and Dey like you no dey.
I was led to this site by investigating a Lagos term used in teju cole, a temporary blog reporting on a visit home by a Nigerian long resident in the U.S.; it’s full of beauty, sadness, and keen observations on life in Nigeria and in general, and I recommend it to your attention before it vanishes away at the end of the month.
Addendum (June 2008): Correspondent Adim alerts me to Naija Lingo, “a dictionary for people who want definitions to Nigerian words or slang, names and phrases and created by the people (you) who know them. Naija Lingo is an open dictionary where you the user are free to add and edit words as time changes, and as the meaning of words evolve and new words are formed.”