Nigerian English is a very sweet language as it allows you freestyle. It is a combination of our native languages transliterated into ‘The Queen’s English,’ as my father would call it; some colonial British English, our native languages proper, and then some contemporary Americanisms.
We like it like that.
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Nigerians tend to speak in slang as it invokes some form of camaraderie between you and the person you are talking to – some form of ‘we-we,’ as we call it.
But then there are some slangs or clichés we use to death.
I mean, (in a faux American accent) wat da hell!
Like ‘O’; a simple word– rather, letter, with a simple sound. Its usage is so ubiquitous in the speech of an average Nigerian – especially those living in the city – that it is almost always the first thing most expatriates I have known learn when trying to take on the Nigerian swag.
When speaking with an average Nigerian, especially in Nigeria, if you don’t hear at least one ‘O’ in a conversation of five short sentences, then be sure you are not speaking to a Nigerian.
Take this conversation between two Nigerians for example:
“Yes o. Who is there o?”
“It is me o. Is your husband at home?”
“Haba! Where did he go now?” (Now is another overused word I may discuss someday.)
“I don’t know o. Since morning o.”
“Ha. That’s not good o. Sha, tell him when he comes back that I came o.”
“Ok o. I will o.”
“Oya now, bye-bye o.”
… Like I said, wat da hell!
If you paid attention, you’d notice that like most Nigerian exclamatory words, ‘O’ connotes more than one idea/reaction. It can be the answer to a call. It can be used in agreement. It can also be used to reiterate a point.
As for why Nigerians overuse it, to tell the truth, me, I don’t know o! All I know is that me sef, I use it a lot o and e tire me too o!