Insulting words and phrases are some of the most popular introductions to languages. Ironic as it sounds, we’ve heard this echoed by many people. Across cities and towns, we hear insults exchanged among public commuters, drivers, neighbours and passengers using the dominant native languages spoken in such places. Those words end up sticking even for those unfamiliar with the languages.
When it comes to these insults, there’s an interesting analogy with Animals. For example, in #Igbo language, when someone calls another ‘ewu’, they are probably insulting you for being stubborn because goats are stubborn. In #Yoruba, someone may also call another ‘aja’ for shouting because dogs are known to bark . So, out of curiosity, we asked our audience on Instagram to tell us which Animals are mostly associated with insults in their native languages and why they are. The result isn’t much of a surprise but nevertheless interesting. See the summary below:
- Odwan means Sheep in Akan (Ghana). Usually used when one is in clueless state.
- Bunsuru, he-goat in Hausa (Nigeria) used for stubborn people.
- Ezi which means pig in Igbo (Nigeria) if a person is dirty.
- Nja meaning dog – Lozi (Zambia)
- Ewu – Goat in Igbo (Nigeria) for a stubborn person
- Mbuti- that’s a goat in XiTsonga (South Africa) or Mbyana for a dog
- Nyama which means animal in Lingala (Congo)
- Goat – aponkye in Twi (Ghana)
- Ntja , means dog in Sesotho (Lesothos). Used to mean that someone is greedy.
- Dzuloi kwakwɛ – thieving rat in Ga (Ghana)
- Ngwii in limbum (Cameroon), for dog… and the meaning is just as flexible as the context
- Ewúré for goat in Yoruba (Nigeria) when one has traits of disobedience. Hence, the saying,”má joyè ewúrẹ́ aláìgbọràn” which literally means, “Don’t be like the disobedient goat.”
- Xaj for dog in Wolof (Senegal). If you say to someone doomu xaj, it means son or daughter of dog and it’s the worst of insults.
Understandably, domestic animals – Dog and Goat – are the most popular when it comes to insults in most of these African Languages gathered from our engagement. It makes sense when you consider the popular traits associated with them universally. You can learn more from the post here.
Also, follow us on Instagram for more engaging content. Feel free to share the animals often associated with insults in your native language and the reason for the association.