Sunday, March 5, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: “Naming Ceremony, ” “Turbaning,” “Disvirgin”: Q and A on Nigerian English Usage Inbox x

I don’t know how many people on this list are amazed at cornelius’s incredibly encyclopediac knowledge of literature. Who wouldda thunk that Gregory corso and Andrew marwell would make their appearances here, especially on the topic of “deflowering”!!

Such a quaint notion, to boot



Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824



From: usaafricadialogue <> on behalf of Cornelius Hamelberg <>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <>
Date: Sunday 5 March 2017 at 16:51
To: usaafricadialogue <>
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: “Naming Ceremony,” “Turbaning,” “Disvirgin”: Q and A on Nigerian English Usage Inbox x


Prof Kperogi,

Mighty Congratulations to you and your Better Half and the rest of the family on the safe arrival of your beloved daughter Ramat Orelia Kperogi on 25th of February this year. Masha Allah! A special congratulations to her, e-specially.

Re " What I have learned, though, after writing the article you referred to, is that Orthodox Jews also call the christening of their children a “naming ceremony”—like we do in (Muslim) Nigeria"

Do Orthodox Jews christen their children? I shall ask Rabbi Tovia Singer

I don't know, but I suppose that those who call themselves Orthodox or unorthodox Jews and those who say, " we are Muslims " and the Hindus, Buddhists etc. would normally take offence at being asked about the "christening" of their children or being asked what is their Christian name. Not to cause offence I think that the proper enquiry for the latter ought to be " What is your first name?" since Jews and Muslims,Hindus, and Buddhists etc. are not Christian/s and even if a great many Jews could have what sounds like Christian names such as "Paul", "John" "James" even "Cornelius"...

Should I get married? Should I be Good? 
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustaus hood? 
Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries ...." ( Gregory Corso: Marriage

The cemetery should be a good place for the bad line to propose these perfect lines written in Her Majesty's English:

"Thy beauty shall no more be found;

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long-preserved virginity,

And your quaint honour turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust;

The grave’s a fine and private place,

But none, I think, do there embrace. .." ( Andrew Marvell : To His Coy Mistress

With regard to the second enquiry about "Disvirgin"(which should normally take place after the vows of holy matrimony) here's a list of synonyms for deflower in the sensitive subject of who was the first man to land on the moon..

There is of course some overlap between the much older Saro English/ Broken / Patois( Creole/ Krio which shares many points of contact with the recent Naija English which is much closer in to Her Majesty's English Language in terms of grammatical structure, pronunciation etc. In the Creole/ Krio of my contemporaries you would have some guy beating his chest and boasting, "Nah mi devirginate am !"

N.B. Girls have to be protected from bad guys...

I guess that all by itself, " Do you mind?" in a certain tone of voice could mean  irritation? Indignation ? Like " I beg your pardon?"

On Sunday, 5 March 2017 11:51:19 UTC+1, Farooq A. Kperogi wrote:

My "Politics of Grammar" column in today's Daily Trust on Sunday:


By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.



I want to say a BIG THANK YOU for your essays. I personally have gained a lot from them. I have a question for you. In one of your essays, you wrote that there is no such thing as naming ceremony in both American and British English. I googled "naming ceremony" and found that there is naming ceremony even in Wikipedia and BBC. There is an English course book (advanced) called Innovations by Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley, and I found in one of the units the term “naming ceremony.” Could you help on this as I am a bit confused?




You are right that there is such a thing as “naming ceremony.” However, the expression has no currency in contemporary American English and means a slightly different thing in British English. Note that Americans and Britons don’t celebrate the christening (that’s the more usual word for “naming” in American and British English) of their children as elaborately as we do in Nigeria.


The fact that a word or an expression can be found on a website or in a book does not in and of itself provide evidence that its usage is universal. I have been living in America for quite some time now, but have never heard any native-born American refer to the christening of their children as a “naming ceremony.” My British friends also tell me they don’t use that expression now. They probably did in the dim past.


What I have learned, though, after writing the article you referred to, is that Orthodox Jews also call the christening of their children a “naming ceremony”—like we do in (Muslim) Nigeria. So, clearly, the expression is not uniquely Nigerian. It probably survived in Nigerian English from old-fashioned British English.


Interestingly, in recent time, British secular humanists have embraced and popularized what they call “naming ceremony.” It is a non-religious alternative to Christian “christening” or “baptism.” In fact, the Macmillan Dictionary now defines “naming ceremony” as “a non-religious ceremony for naming a child,” and adds that, “A religious ceremony for naming a child is a baptism or christening.” This is certainly not the case in Nigeria. In Nigeria, especially in Muslim Nigeria, naming ceremonies are decidedly religious, and are celebrated on the 7th day of a child’s birth.


My wife had a baby on February 25 this year. None of my American friends asked about my daughter’s “naming ceremony” because it’s not part of their cultural reality. In fact, they wanted to know her name months before she was born, which kind of jarred me. My Muslim cultural upbringing has habituated me to expect to know—or be asked— a child’s name only after it has been publicly announced during the “naming ceremony.”


I announced my daughter’s name to my Facebook friends and followers on the day she was born it’s the norm in America, and there would be no “naming ceremony.” There are no rams to slaughter and no “Malams” to invite.



 Is the expression 'Congratulations on your turbaning ceremony' correct? I ask because I searched for the word 'turbaning' and couldn't find it in any dictionary.



All English dictionaries recognize “turban” as a noun that means “a long piece of cloth wrapped around the head, worn especially by Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim men.” But it’s only Nigerian English that uses “turban” as a verb.


But I won't discourage you from using the verb form of “turban” (such as “turbaned,”  “turbaning,” etc.) just because it is nonstandard or exclusively Nigerian. It is understood in Nigeria and expresses our unique socio-cultural reality, and that is what matters.


I’ve read people suggest that “coronation” is the proper English word for what we call “turbaning” in Nigerian English. That’s inaccurate. Coronation only applies when someone is made a monarch, that is, a sovereign or quasi-sovereign king or queen.  But “turbaning” encapsulates more than that; it can also mean the conferment of traditional titles on individuals who may not be from the royal family, which would be equivalent to “knighthood” in British English.


So an approximate British equivalent to Nigerian “turbaning” (if it means to confer a title on an illustrious individual) would be “knighting.” So where Nigerian English speakers would say, “He was turbaned as the Waziri of Gwandu,” a British English speaker might say, “He was knighted as the Waziri of Gwandu.” But where Nigerian English speakers would say, “I attended the turbaning ceremony of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano,” British English speakers would say, “I attended the coronation of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano.”



In one of your columns you pointed out that “disvirgin” is a uniquely Nigerian English coinage. You said “deflower” is the word that native English speakers use. But "deflower" is labelled “old-fashioned” in some dictionaries. What is the replacement? Or does that mean it can no longer serve any semantic purpose in native-speaker areas?



"Deflower" is old-fashioned because it is no longer culturally acceptable among native English speakers, at least in the mainstream, to gaze at women’s sexuality from such a supercilious patriarchal prism. By today's standards, it’s considered insufferably sexist to think of a woman as a flower whose verdancy is invariably vitiated by sex with a man, especially because a man’s own loss of sexual innocence isn’t even lexicalized.


If a woman is considered “deflowered” for having sex with a man for the first time, what can be said to have happened to a man who has sex with a woman for the first time? Uprooted? You get the point? So it isn't the word “deflowered” that is old-fashioned in and of itself; it is the meaning it expresses. I would guess that because patriarchal arrogance is still countenanced in the Nigerian society, the word still has some currency and semantic utility in our everyday usage. Language always reflects people’s extant material and cultural realities.


Another example is the word “bastard,” which is a culturally loaded insult in Anglophone Africa and elsewhere, but which is now old-fashioned in the West because there is no longer any stigma attached to being born outside wedlock. Bastard now simply means a stupid, annoying person. The notion of a “bastard” as an illegitimate child is now dated in the West.



What is the correct way to answer a question that begins with, “Do you mind”? For instance, how do I respond to a question that says, “Do you mind a cup of tea?”



Let me start by saying this question confounds even native English speakers. But it helps to know that “do you mind” is simply a polite way to say “do you have a problem with….” To apply it to your question, it means, "Would you have a problem if I give you a cup of tea?"


If you don’t have a problem with being given a cup of tea, then your answer should correctly be, "No, I don't. Thank you." That means you would like to have a cup of tea. Note, however, that the negativity that “no” conveys can jar some people. So, although it’s the grammatically correct way to answer the question (since you want to communicate the fact that you don’t have a problem with the polite request), some people prefer affirmative responses like, “Sure. Thank you,” or, better still, “I’d like a cup of tea. Thank you.” The latter avoids the question, but it also avoids confusion and adds a dash of courtesy to clarity.


If you don't like the cup of tea offered to you, then you might say, "Yes, I do." But that would be impolite, even confusing, and most native English speakers don't say that. They rather say things like, "Thanks, but I'm OK." Or "I’ve just had some tea. Thanks.”


Related Articles:

Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media

Social Science Building 

Room 5092 MD 2207

402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website:

Twitter: @farooqkperog

Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

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