The Blog to Expand Your Knowledge of Africa


West African Pidgin is Thriving


According to the BBC, who launched a radio service of English-based pidgin for West and Central Africa, a year ago – the language is “thriving”.

“News Pidgin” now reaches a weekly audience of 7.5 million people in Nigeria and around the world on radio, online, Facebook and Instagram.

Even though pidgin is not an official language or even recognised by some as a proper language, , it’s widely spoken across West Africa.

Between three and five million Nigerians use it as their first language, while a further 75 million have it as their second language.

However, as we can also testify to through our translation services, variations of pidgin are now being used in lots of ways such as political campaigns, television and radio broadcast. They are also taught in some tertiary institutions, used in music and other works of art and even speeches by public officials.

“Pidgin” refers to what’s known as a ‘trade language’. It emerged in West Africa to support commerce across tribes who did not share a common tongue.

It is as a mixture of languages. In West Africa these mixes include English and French, on the one hand, and local African languages on the other.

Pidgin is used differently in different countries. For example, the version spoken in Nigeria is different from the version spoken in Senegal. This is because in one version English is the dominant European language, while in the other French is dominant.

If you need help with translation into or out of West African pidgin, please contact us!

Back to Blog