15 Nonexistent Words and Phrases Commonly Used by Nigerians

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New English, Modern English, International English, South African English, Australian English, Indian English are some of the designations used to describe the new varieties of English burgeoning all over the world.

These new “Englishes” are the result of the global spread of English that began with British colonialism during the nineteenth century.

However, two kinds of English language are recognized in the world today – The British English and the American English. Nigeria, being colonized by Britain is supposed to speak the British English by default. But today we have found ‘our own way’ of communicating among ourselves with almost total disregard for the rules of the language.

Some even boast about it, calling it the “Nigerian English.”  Below is a list of some words/phrases we imported into the English language that are not (and will never be) recognized internationally. This distinction is important for mutual intelligibility in international communication in English.

1. Complimentary Card: This is what we call a “business card.” This phrase is very senseless because the word “complimentary” simply means “free,” (example: “the artiste gave me a complimentary copy of his new CD”). So a “complimentary card” will simply mean a “free card” and therefore has nothing that denotes business or work.

2. Upliftment: This is a word so common among the Nigerian populace.  We use it to mean “improvement.” We invented it as a forward-formation from “uplift.” But in Standard English, “uplift” is both a verb and a noun. For instance, we say, “my foundation will ensure the moral upliftment of the society,” but it should actually be, “my foundation will ensure the moral uplift of the society.”



3. Working Experience (as used in CVs): This is another phrase which I don’t know where it was imported from. So many Nigerian graduates prepare their CVs with the phrase “Working experience” when it should actually read, “Work experience.” May be ‘the experience’ in question is actually a human that is working, pooh!

4. Disvirgin: This word is used on a daily basis across all sector of the Nigerian society, when they intend to say that a woman has lost her virginity or that they are using something for the first time. The correct word to use, however, is deflower, because “disvirgin” is not even a word.

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5. Cross-carpeting: Ask a Nigerian politician or political analyst about a politician who have dumped his political party for another party, usually a rival party and the first word you are surely going to hear from his mouth is “cross-carpeting”. The right words to use when describing this scenario are “crossing the floor,” “party switching,” and “defection” and not “cross-carpeting.”

see more non-existent words Nigerians have invented on the next page