31 May 2012

Chin-Chin, Puff-Puff, Kuli-Kuli and Double-Double – The Mystery of Repetition

An English friend asked me in summer 2010, why do Nigerians say things twice? She proceeded to give the following examples: do-do, chin-chin, puff-puff. Her husband who was listening joined in and mentioned moin-moin. This got me thinking and I decided to do a research into this phenomenon.  Here are my findings:

Do-do – fried plantain
Chin-chin – fried dough chips
Puff-puff – round fried dough
Kuli-kuli – fried peanut ball
Dun-dun – fried yam chips
Wole-wole – sanitary inspectors
Paja-paja – pins and needles
Maja-maja – highway traffic inspectors
Die-die – little by little
Pata-pata – completely
Laba-laba – butterfly
Pari-pari – the end
Seke-seke - chains
Lopo-lopo – very much
Nla-nla – massive
Kia-kia – quickly
Jedi-jedi – pile
Dogba-dogba – equally
Lai-lai – never
Mago-mago - deception
Gbonmo-gbonmo – kidnappers
Tun-tun – new
Tu-tu – cold
Te-te  - quick
Ke-ke – bicycle
Re-re – good

Some are English words which we have domesticated and which may have slightly different meanings such as:

Chop-chop - food or eating
Suffer-suffer - sufferhead
Quick-quick - quickly
Fast-fast - quickly
Now-now – hurry up
Begi-begi - scrounger
Cry-cry – cry baby
Yahoo-yahoo - fraudster
Hurry-hurry - quickly
Holy-holy – self righteous
Sharp-sharp – smart alec
Follow-follow – indecisive

Why we repeat words is beyond me. Has this got to do with our fast pace approach to life? Is it to buttress what we say? Is it to exert fear? Or is it just a Yoruba thing?

Now to my English friend, Helen who brought this to my attention in the first place, English people do have theirs too. What about Pa-pa and Paw-paw.

Finally, one of the most popular songs in Nigeria has the following lyrics:

Eh eh eh, eh, my God is good o
My God is good o, my God is good o
Everything na double, double
Na double, double

Whilst I do not want to visit the meaning and depth of the song for now, I cannot but notice an extra  double in the chorus. Double explains itself, there isn't  a need to say double-double. However, this is Nigeria, double has to be repeated. PostcardfromLagos

Photo from Avartsy Cooking


Tara said...

Thanks for another good post. I look forward to your emails! :)

Anonymous said...

Nice mail. Put a smile on my face. Some things we never really think about. GeorgeToyin