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Published on November 20th, 2010 | by Ruby Skye

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What’s a Mugu?

Mugu is the word some scammers use to describe their victims.  It means fool or idiot.

Mugu is a word used in Nigerian Pidgin — a street language spoken in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, 521 different languages are spoken and English is the business language.  Pidgin is a way for speakers of different languages to talk to each other without knowing all the different languages.  It mixes up words and phrases from different languages with English in a simplified grammar.

Children in Nigeria learn pidgin when they are young, but no one really learns pidgin as their first language.

Nigerian pidgin sometimes sounds a lot like English but it is also full of words borrowed from other languages.

Here are a few pidgin phrases from A Beginner’s Guide to Nigerian Pidgin English:

I no no – I don’t know

I no sabi – I don’t understand

K-leg – Questionable.  Example – Your story get k-leg! Which means your story or gist sounds suspect or exaggerated.

Butta my breadAnswered prayers. Example – “God don butta my bread” which means God has answered my prayers

For more on Nigerian Pidgin, check out the Wikipedia entry on Nigerian Pidgin.

You should also take a look at two online dictionaries of Nigerian Pidgin words: BabaWilly’s Dictionary of Words and Phrases and Naija Lingo.  There are some fun words you might want to add to your vocabulary, like askology — a snappy answer to an irritating question and keep Lagos clean — the name for pants that drag on the ground.

Want to hear how pidgin sounds?  Watch this video:

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About the Author

Observant, curious, stubborn and in need of a good sidekick.



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