Friday, July 13, 2012

Nouchi, The Notorious Ivorian Slang!

C’est cómo? Ya fohi, on est avec Jah (Dja).

Rough translation: What’s new (quoi de neuf)? By the grace of God, nothing new, everything is good. (Par la grâce de Dieu, il n’y a rien.)

Welcome to the world of Nouchi! “Nou” means nose in Dioula, while “chi” means hair and together you get “nose hair/moustache.” According to “sources,” Nouchi represents power, someone everyone is afraid of, yet he fears nothing…it's both an adjective and a noun. 

It’s the Ivorian equivalent of pidgin English or creole French. The language was developed and predominately spoken by uneducated urban youths in Abidjan, they created this eclectic language by combining numerous other languages – French, Dioula, Baoulé, Bété, Spanish, English, etc. Now, the language is widely spoken all over la Côte d’Ivoire and not regulated to a section of the population.

A few transatlantic and national references in Nouchi:
- To enjoy in English = (s’) enjailler - can also mean "to be in love with" 
-Cómo the Spanish word for how is used instead of its French equivalent, comment
-Gbayer (Bété) = to sing, to talk or to give a speech
-Blè blè (Baoulé) = to sit, to calm down
-Gnangami (Dioula) = to jumble, to screw up

I am far from an expert in Nouchi, it intrigues me, but I find it very confusing.  When I watch Ivorian movies or hear people talking full-blown Nouchi, it’s all Greek to me…but I guess that’s what I get for being a binguiste.

I’m not completely deaf to it, after all, I managed to compose a sentence, albeit with the help of Google. Anyone who’s familiar with Nouchi will tell you that a key to understanding the language is context, having a basic understanding of an Ivorian language and a good ear. It’s a brisk language, not just at the pace it’s spoken, but also at the rate words are added to its lexicon.

French has l’Académie Française and to a certain degree English has the Oxford dictionary to regulate it and officiate the meaning of words, when it comes to Nouchi, it's governed by the streets.

There’s no official website, certain words can have numerous spellings, and it’s constantly evolving. It’s a spontaneous language and despite the disjointed appearance, it actually employs a syntax based on the French system. 

Some Ivorians are currently campaigning to have it introduced into academia. I strongly believe in preserving Nouchi, but the thought of having it dissected in classrooms…it’s bound to lose some its charm.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me! In the meantime please enjoy the following links!

Here are a couple of websites to learn more about nouchi:

A clip explaining Nouchi

Nouchi even made an appearance on the RTI (Radio Télévision Ivoirienne), I can't stop laughing when I watch this's a serious topic, but the addition of Nouchi just takes it to another extreme 

You can forward this video to 2:04 that's when the comedian starts his lesson on Nouchi grammar 

Magic system - Premier Gaou (idiot)...they use Nouchi throughout this song. I don't know an Ivorian that's not familiar with this song

DJ Arafat - Kpangor. This artist loves Nouchi to another degree and I truly doubt anyone really understands him or it could just be me 


Ahoua Koné on FB: Ahoua Koné

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