West-indies

West Indian Terms of Igbo origin

Some common words still used in Caribbean English[es] that come directly from the Igbo language or are influenced by it.

Unu/Wunna

‘You [plural]’, the same in Igbo, únù, wunna may be used, in Nigerian pidgin English una is used.

Soso

‘Only’, ‘single’, in Igbo orthography it’s sọsọ [saw-saw] meaning the same. [Not to be confused with English so-so, meaning average or mediocre]

De

‘Is’, ‘presently’ / ‘positioned in’, in Igbo orthography dị [dih], also in Nigerian pidgin as de.

Se

‘say’, ‘said’, also from English, Igbo sị.

Atoo

‘chewing stick’, Igbo atụ [atuh]

Béké

‘White person’, in Igbo orthography bèké, meaning white person but also generally western or European, used in the French Antilles including Dominica [Roseau]. 

Big Eye

‘greedy’, ‘envious’, a calque of Igbo ányá úkwú [lit. ‘eye big’] meaning the same.

Poto poto

‘mud’, ‘muddy’, Igbo mkpọtọ mkpọtọ, meaning the same.

Okro

Igbo ọkrọ [aw-kraw] or ọkwụru, plant known to some as ‘lady fingers’.

Obeah

‘shamanism’, ‘witchcraft’, in Igbo orthography ọbia [aw-bia] meaning ‘oracle’ or ‘doctoring’, practitioners in Igbo are known as dibia [di ọbia].


Possibilities:

Awoh

An exclamation, in Igbo it’s ewo and usually used in the same context. Ex: Ihe ị dere ebe a hikwara nne, ewo! [This list is quite long, ewo!]

Ah

[particle] ‘is’, ‘will’, in Igbo orthography á [alternating tone], gá in Igbo is ‘go’ in the example: ‘to go’, CE: ah go; Igbo: a ga. / ‘is he going?’, Caribbean English (CE): him ah go? Igbo: ọ na à ga?.

Nah

‘will not’, in Igbo nà is ‘is’, à at the end makes it negative, together it’s na with a long ‘a’, same meaning. Example: ‘I’m not going’ CE: Me nah go; Igbo: A na’m a ga.

Go

‘going to’, ‘will’, Igbo ‘ga’, Example: ‘he will come’ CE: him ah go come; Igbo: ọ ga a bia [which is word for word if you switch around the ‘ah’ and ‘go’].

Source: Holloway, Joseph E. (2005). Africanisms in American culture; Cassidy, Frederic Gomes; Page, Robert Brock Le (2002). A Dictionary of Jamaican English; McWhorter, John H. (2000). The Missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages; Menz, Jessica (2008). London Jamaican-Jamaican Creole in London.

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Chattabox™ Is a talk show with a Panel of 5 young women & 5 young men of West Indian / Caribbean Roots who discuss topics that men & women fail to see eye to eye on, a lighthearted comedic show that sometimes tackles heavy topics, we intend to bring authentic caribbean culture to the mainstream while giving unique opinions along the way.