2 weeks ago we started our Hausa course. Hausa is one of the major languages in Nigeria (out of 520) and it is the one spoken in the north where we are. I am not a big fan of language learning but I am getting on with it okay for now. There are 5 of us in the class, none of whom are linguists, none of whom are thriving in the environment, but we are doing it to honour our Nigerian hosts and enable us to greet properly – it is very important here.
The first thing we learnt is about greetings. There is none of this hi bye business, but there is a long series of greetings. The bold is a loose translation, don’t over analyse it – it doesn’t work believe me!
T: sannu. hi
A: yauwa sannu. hi to you too!
T: yaya gida. how is your household
A: lafia. fine
T: yaya maigida how is your husband
A: lafia lau. very fine
T: yaya aiki. how is your work
A: mun gode Allah. we thank God
T: yaya giyada. how is your tiredness
A: ba giyada. there is no tiredness
Etc etc. and so it goes on
T: Sai an jima. see you tomorrow
A: to yauwa sai an jima. yup see ya
It doesn’t matter how anybody is or if you are tired or if work is bad, you always answer in the positive. It occurred to me that we Brits often do the same thing.
T:Hi! How are you
A: Fine thanks and you?
A: Great cya.
Sometimes I get sick of the falseness.
Sometimes I’m glad to hide behind it.
Maybe we aren’t so different from the Nigerians.