So! Many of you know that I study in Bowen University Teaching Hospital, which is in Ogbomosho, Oyo state Nigeria – however, unless you’ve met me in person, or I’ve mentioned it to you before – you probably don’t know that I didn’t grow up here in Nigeria, and that’s something that has taken a lot of practice to achieve.
Here’s the backstory: I was born and raised in London, U.K. – however I had a few interjections of life in Nigeria along the way like 3 years of secondary school in Christ the Redeemer’s College and 1 month of A-levels at Lifeforte International High School before I finally came back to study medicine & surgery. So based on the fact that I’ve lived the majority of my life in the U.K., I have a British accent, as is expected. Coming to Nigeria for medical school however, means the accent isn’t always a plus, unlike what you see on T.V. Having a foreign accent in Nigeria is like placing tax on every item you try to buy as soon as you arrive at the store. You lose all rights to bargaining because your accent is foreign therefore you get the “foreign price”. It didn’t take me long before I decided to start learning to change my tongue.
How did I do it? Lots of imitation of course but I can give you a few quick tips that could go a long way before you can perfect the accent:
1. Swap your “er” for “a”.
Where you would have pronounced paper as “pay-per” with your British accent, pronounce it as “pay-pah” and you’ll blend in smoothly.
2. In fact, just Remove your “Rs”
One of the key things in the British enunciation is the way we say “R”. For example the word “start” is simply pronounced as “stat” in the Nigerian accent. Less is more.
3. Cut out inner word vowels.
This one got me a lot when I first came to Nigeria. Brits love to pronounce every syllable in a word, whereas Nigerians prefer the quickest way to pass the message, such as shortening words by their vowels. So instead of pronouncing medicine as “med-ih-sin”, Nigerians simply say “med-sin”.
Alright so those are your first three steps! If you have any other suggestions to successfully putting on a Nigerian accent – please share in the comments below!
Lots of love,