Pidgin English Language. Recognition for the beautiful West and Central African Language. BBC Pidgin lunched

Pidgin English or language

Pidgin Language is an English-based pidgin and creole language spoken as a lingua franca across West and Central Africa.


The language is commonly referred to as “Pidgin” or Broken(pronounced “Brokin”) mostly spoken and very popular in Nigeria. It is distinguished from other creole languages since most speakers are not true native speakers although many children learn it at an early age.

It can be spoken as a pidgin, a creole, or a decreolised acrolect by different speakers, who may switch between these forms depending on the social setting.

Variations of Pidgin are also spoken across West and Central Africa, in countries such as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and Cameroon. Pidgin English, despite its common use throughout the countries, has no official status yet.


The British and the BBC finally recognised African Pidgin English in 2017 after it has first been recognised by A British slave trader in Sierra Leone, named John Matthews around the 16th century.

Pidgin English speaking Africans will now have a dedicated BBC channel which is fantastic for the West African nations and Jamaicans due to there similarities.

One can not help but wonders why it took Britain and BBC all this years to recognise this beautiful language spoken by a very large area of Africa.

The Caribbean or Jamaican counterpart was well recognised and accepted but not the African one.

Now we can enjoy BBC Pidgin, as Pidgin, which ever way they look at it is part of West and Central African Cultural heritage.


There are many Variations of the Language in West and Central African Nations.


Note the following examples:

  • Sierra Leone Krio:

Dem dey go for go it res — They are going there to eat rice

  • Ghanaian/Nigerian Pidgin English:

Dem dey go chop rais — They are going there to eat rice

  • Cameroonian Pidgin English:

Dey di go for go chop rice — They are going there to eat rice

  • Gullah:

Dem duh gwine fuh eat rice — They are going there to eat rice

The Nigeria 250 or more different ethnic groups mostly converse with one another in Pidgin language, though they usually have their own additional words.

For example, the Yorùbás use the words Ṣe and Abi when speaking Pidgin. They are often used at the start or end of an intonated sentence or question: “You are coming, right?” becomes Ṣe you dey come? or You dey come abi?


Another example is the Igbos adding the word Nna, also used at the beginning of some sentences to show camaraderie: Man, that test was very hard becomes Nna, that test hard no be small.

Nigerian Pidgin also varies from place to place.

Dialects of Nigerian Pidgin may include the Warri; Sapele; Benin; Port Harcourt; Lagos, especially in Ajegunle; and Onitsha varieties.

Nigerian Pidgin is most widely spoken in the oil rich Niger Delta where most of its population speak it as their first language.

 However, other people speak pidgin in their own ways all over Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and Cameroon.


Similarity to Caribbean Creoles or Patois

Pidgin and creole languages of West Africa share similarities to the various English-based Creoles found in the Caribbean. It is especially obvious in Jamaican Creole (also known as Jamaican Patois or simply Patois) and the other creole languages of the West Indies.

Linguists posit that this is because most slaves taken to the New World were of West African descent. The pronunciation and accents often differ a great deal, mainly due to the extremely heterogeneous mix of African languages present in the West Indies, but if written on paper or spoken slowly, the creole languages of Caribbean are for the most part mutually intelligible with the creole languages of West Africa.

The presence of repetitious phrases in Caribbean Creole such as “su-su” (gossip) and “pyaa-pyaa” (sickly) mirror the presence of such phrases in West African languages such as “bam-bam”, which means “complete” in the Yoruba language.

Repetitious phrases are also present in Nigerian Pidgin, such as, “koro-koro”, meaning “clear vision”, “yama-yama”, meaning “disgusting”, and “doti-doti”, meaning “garbage”.

Furthermore, the use of the words of West African origin in Jamaican Patois “Unu” and Bajan dialect “wunna” or “una” – West African Pidgin (meaning “you people”, a word that comes from the Igbo word “unu” or “wunna” also meaning “you people”) display some of the interesting similarities between the English pidgins and creoles of West Africa and the English pidgins and creoles of the West Indies, as does the presence of words and phrases that are identical in the languages on both sides of the Atlantic, such as “Me a go tell dem” (I’m going to tell them) and “make we” (let us).

Use of the word “deh” or “dey” is found in both Caribbean Creole and African Pidgin English, and is used in place of the English word “is” or “are”.

The phrase “We dey foh London” would be understood by both a speaker of Creole and a speaker of African Pidgin to mean “We are in London” (although the Jamaican is more likely to say “Wi de a London”).

Other similarities, such as “pikin” (African Pidgin for “child”) and “pikney” (used in islands like St.Vincent, Antigua and St. Kitts, akin to the standard-English

The similarities among the many English-based pidgin and creole languages spoken today on both sides of the Atlantic are due, at least in part, to their common derivation from the early West African Pidgin English.

What is Jamaican Patois


Jamaican Patois, known locally as Patois (Patwa or Patwah) and called Jamaican Creole by linguists, is an English-based creole language with West African influences (a majority of loan words of Akan origin) spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora. The language developed in the 17th century, when slaves from West and Central Africa were exposed to, learned and nativise the vernacular and dialectal forms of English spoken by the slaveholders: British English, Scots and Hiberno-English.

Jamaican pronunciation and vocabulary are significantly different from English, despite heavy use of English words or derivatives.

Origin Of Pidgin English

West African Pidgin English, also called Guinea Coast Creole English, was the lingua franca, or language of commerce, spoken along the West African coast during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. British slave merchants and local African traders developed this language in the coastal areas in order to facilitate their commercial exchanges, but it quickly spread up the river systems into the West African interior because of its value as a trade language among Africans of different tribes. Later in its history, this useful trading language was adopted as a native language by new communities of Africans and mixed-race people living in coastal slave trading bases such as James Island, Bunce Island, Elmina Castle, Cape Coast Castle and Anomabu. At that point, it became a creole language.



Some scholars call this language “West African Pidgin English” to emphasize its role as a lingua franca pidgin used for trading. Others call it “Guinea Coast Creole English” to emphasize its role as a creole native language spoken in and around the coastal slave castles and slave trading centers by people permanently based there.

First Recognition

A British slave trader in Sierra Leone, named John Matthews, mentioned pidgin English in a letter he later published in a book titled A Voyage to the River Sierra-Leone on the Coast of Africa. Matthews refers to West African Pidgin English as a “jargon”, and he warns Europeans coming to Africa that they will fail to understand the Africans unless they recognise that there are significant differences between English and the coastal pidgin:


Its clear here that Patois, the Jamaican Creole language originated from West African Pidgin Language by the slaves who escaped from slave masters and settle in the Island of Jamaica.

The Beautiful and distinctive language should have been recognised worldwide.

The first and only Language between the Africans and the slave masters and it happens to be the first international language before colonisation.



Pidgin English

African Language

African English

Slave Language

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.