I’ll admit. Whenever a foreigner spews a few words of Yòrubá to me, regardless of delivery quality, I instantly warm up, throwing them a cheesy grin of approval. This gesture shows they’ve made an effort to learn my tribal tongue, one of over 500 Nigerian languages they could have chosen from.
If they open up with Pidgin English instead, I instantly perk up. Speaking Nigerian Pidgin transforms them from visiting foreigner into one of the hundreds of well-integrated expatriates in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. There’s a certain intimacy that this form of broken English emits; a down-to-earth, survivalist approach to everyday living and hustling in Africa’s most populous nation.