The ABCs of Nigerian Language: A Beginner’s Guide

Learning Nigerian Language: A Must-Have Skill in Today’s Global Society

Have you ever wanted to learn a new language but felt daunted by the task? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many of us feel that way. But what if I told you there’s a language out there that’s quite easy to pick up, with a fun alphabet and pronunciation system, not to mention colorful phrases and idioms? Enter Nigerian Pidgin English, a creole language spoken by over 75 million people in Nigeria and beyond.

In this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn the basics of this language in a fun, conversational way. We’ll start with the alphabet, which only has 22 letters and a simple pronunciation guide to get you speaking right away. You’ll pick up essential greetings, questions, and phrases to start a conversation. And you’ll get an introduction to Nigerian culture through proverbs, slang, and expressions. By the end, you’ll be well on your way to speaking like a true Nigerian!

This language may be unfamiliar, but its warmth, expressiveness, and playfulness will win you. So, what are you waiting for? Turn the page and let your journey into Nigerian Pidgin English begin!

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An Overview of the Major Nigerian Languages

Major Nigerian languages

Nigeria has over 500 languages, but the major ones are Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. Nearly 200 million people combined spoke these!

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Hausa is the most widely spoken, with over 50 million native speakers. It originated in northern Nigeria and is written in a modified Latin alphabet. Igbo, also known as Ibo, is spoken by 18 million people in southeastern Nigeria. It has a tonal alphabet and rich oral literature.

Yoruba, with over 40 million speakers, is a language of western Nigeria with a long literary tradition. It has an alphabet derived from the Latin script and includes three tones that change the meaning of words.

Other notable languages include Fulani, Ibibio, Efik, and Tiv, each with several million speakers. Most Nigerians are multilingual, speaking their native ethnic language along with English, Nigeria’s official language used in education, government, and business.

With over 500 tongues, Nigeria’s diverse linguistic landscape reflects its rich mix of ethnic groups. The major languages especially serve as cultural anchors, connecting people to their history, values, and identities. Learning a few basic greetings in these major languages is a great way for visitors to show respect and connect with the locals. Overall, Nigeria’s multitude of languages is a source of pride for its people and a testament to the country’s cultural wealth.

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Common Greetings and Phrases in Nigerian Languages

Learning some basic greetings and phrases is a great way to start connecting with Nigerian culture. Here are some of the most common ones to know:

Basic Greetings

  • Hello: “Sanu” (Hausa), “Ekaaro” (Yoruba), “Imela” (Igbo).
  • Good morning, “Sanu da safe” (Hausa), “Ekaaro” (Yoruba), and “Nno” (Igbo)
  • Good afternoon: “Sanu da zuwa” (Hausa), “Ekaale” (Yoruba), “Nno” (Igbo).
  • Good evening: “Sanu da dare” (Hausa), “Ekaasan” (Yoruba), “Nno” (Igbo).
  • Goodnight: “Sanu da rana” (Hausa), “O daaro” (Yoruba), “Nno” (Igbo).
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Common Phrases

  • How are you? “Yaya aiki?” (Hausa), “Bawo ni?” (Yoruba), “Kedu ka i mere?” (Igbo)
  • Thank you: “Na gode” (Hausa), “O se” (Yoruba), “Daalu” (Igbo).
  • Please: “Don Allah” (Hausa), “E se” (Yoruba), “Biko” (Igbo).
  • Excuse me: “Sannu mai kyau” (Hausa), “E se” (Yoruba), “Biko, nne” (Igbo).
  • Do you speak English? “Kina fahimci turanci?” (Hausa), “O le so Angili?” (Yoruba), “I na asu Igbo?” (Igbo)

Learning these greetings and phrases is a great start. Keep practicing and listening to these words when engaging with Nigerians. Showing an interest in their language and culture will open you up to rich new relationships and understanding.

Resources for Learning Basic Nigerian Languages

To get started learning basic Nigerian languages, here are some helpful resources:

Online Courses and Mobile Apps

Several free or low-cost resources are available online to help you learn greetings, common phrases, and basic vocabulary in languages like Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba. Apps like Duolingo, Memrise, and Drops offer short, engaging lessons to help you learn on the go.

Online Dictionaries and Translation Tools

Use sites like,, or to look up words and phrases. They provide translations, audio pronunciations, and examples of usage. Google Translate also supports several major Nigerian languages. While not always perfectly accurate, they can help you learn basic greetings, questions, and key terms.

Language Exchange via Video Chat

Websites like Conversation Exchange, Speak, and Hello Talk allow you to find native Nigerian speakers for a language exchange via video chat. Speaking with others is one of the best ways to learn. Ask them questions about vocabulary, pronunciation, slang, and culture. Some may even become friends!

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Listen to radio, music, and podcasts.

Immerse yourself in the language by listening to radio stations, music, and podcasts. Many Nigerian stations stream live online, and some offer rebroadcasts of popular shows. Listening, even passively, helps train your ear to recognize the language and exposes you to common phrases, slang, and accents.

Travel to Nigeria

Nothing is more valuable than immersing yourself in the culture and interacting with native speakers face-to-face. Travel to Nigeria, if you’re able, and visit major cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, where you can engage with locals, learn common greetings, and get a feel for the rhythm and sounds of their speech. Your language skills and cultural appreciation will blossom!

With an array of resources now available online and the possibility of travel, learning the basics of the major Nigerian languages like Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa is within your reach. Take advantage of these tools and immerse yourself as much as possible. Native speakers will greatly appreciate your efforts. Learn, explore, and enjoy connecting with this rich culture.

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This is a brief primer on greetings and phrases in Nigerian languages, such as Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa. Learning these languages can show respect for Nigeria’s diverse cultures and help connect with new friends or colleagues. Languages open up new ways of understanding the world, and starting with a few words can lead to discovering new ways of understanding the world. Nigeria’s languages represent a vibrant, complex history, so dive in and discover something new. Remember to say “jowo” (please), “ka ọ́ bámi” (help me), and “ka Chukwu gozie gi” (God bless you) for the adventure ahead.

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