Edited by Azizi Powell
This is Part I in a two part post that documents the use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) originated words and phrases by African commenters and others in the YouTube discussion thread for Nigerian singer Skales' "Shake Body" official video.
Pancocojams' linguistics posts document and consider the ways that African American Vernacular English, Caribbean Patois, African Pidgin English, and other Pidgin languages have been used and are now being used. As is the case with some other pancocojams linguistic posts, the post in this series document how Africans and others are combining slang (vernacular words & phrases) from African traditional languages, African Pidgin English languages, African American Vernacular English, British slang, Arabic adapted French slang and probably other language sources.
This particular two part series raises questions about possible changes and innovations in the use of African American Vernacular English by Africans, specifically in regards to the use of qualifiers for adjectives such as "cool", and "dope".
Part I provides comments from that discussion thread that include African American Vernacular English words/phrases beginning with the letter A - K.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/03/africans-use-of-african-american_23.html for Part II of this series. Part II provides comments from that discussion thread that include African American Vernacular English words/phrases beginning with the letter L - Z.
The content of this post is presented for linguistic, cultural, and folkloric purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to Skales for his music and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
SHOWCASE VIDEO: SKALES - SHAKE BODY (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Skales Published on Jul 22, 2014
Official music video to the worldwide certified hit, 'Shake Body' by SKALES.
This video is embedded for referencing purposes only.
A considerable number of commenters on this video's discussion thread vehemently praised this song while negatively critiquing its video.
AFRICAN AMERICAN VERNACULAR ENGLISH IN THE DISCUSSION THREAD FOR SKALES'S SHAKE BODY (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Revised with more comments- March 22, 2017
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
These African American Vernacular English word/phrase entries are given in bold font and in capitol letters followed by a brief definition. To highlight the fact that many of these slang definitions mean the same thing, I've used basically the same definition for those particular entries.
A number of vernacular terms have more than one colloquial meaning. This compilation only gives the meaning that I think is intended by the commenters.
The selected comments are from this 2014 Nigerian/Ivory Coast Afrobeat video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qoUU4onORY Skales- "Body Shake". This video's discussion thread was selected for this post instead of another one only because that was the discussion thread that I was reading when the idea occurred to me for this post. However, the wide use of African American Vernacular English terms/phrases also occurs in other Afrobeat and other contemporary African music YouTube discussion threads that I have read since at least 2014.
The comments from this discussion thread are given under those entries in chronological order by year, with the oldest dated selected comment presented first.
The featured slang words/phrases are written in italics when they are part of a long comment. Additions and corrections for these definitions are very welcome.
Each comment is given only once in this compilation although certain comments include more than one AAVE word/phrases. In those cases, I've referred readers back to the entry for the first vernacular word that is used in that comment.
There were a total number of 1,514 comments as of the date and time of this publication*. This compilation showcases selected examples of comments that include African American Vernacular English [AAVE} terms and phrases. I didn't puropsely include comments that may include examples of certain forms of 19th century and contemporary AAVE spelling such as "dis" because that spelling is also found in contemporary Nigerian Pidgin English and Jamaican Patois etc.
Although I read the entire discussion thread, I might have missed some examples. While these comments are described as being "selected", I've included a large number of the comments from that Skales' "Shake Body" discussion thread that include African American Vernacular English terms/phrases. I purposely excluded certain omments that had a lot of profanity or used what I call the "n word". I also usually purposely excluded one word comments such as "cool" or "dope" except for one example of each of those types of comments.
*I'm not sure how often YouTube updates their statistics, but as of March 23, 2017 at 7:25 AM when I began to work on Part II for this series, the same number of comments (1, 514) was given for this video and the total viewer count was 12,547,332. I believe that was the same number that was given when I published this post on March 22, 2017.
adjective; very good, great, awesome
Rocky Quel, 2017
"DAH CHUNE YAH BAD"
In standard English this sentence would read "That tune is very good .
:Chune" is most often used by people from the Caribbean, although I've found that spelling for the word "tune" in some early 20th century writing by African Americans (such as in Thomas W. Talley's 1922 book Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise & Unwise.
Some of the commenters on that YouTube discussion thread for Skales "Shake Body" official video identified themselves as being from the Caribbean. Furthermore, certain Caribbean (perhaps mostly Jamaican) terms and phrases such as "Big up!", "Much love", and "Much respect" were found in that discussion threads and appear to be commonly found in other Afrobeat discussion threads as well as some other contemporary African music and dance YouTube discussion threads .
noun* used to refer to something that (or someone who) is great, wonderful, awesome; (This word is part of the African American Vernacular English "fire"/"hot" noun/verb/exclamation vernacular family).
*[When this post was first published, I incorrectly wrote that in its vernacular use "the bomb" was an adjective.]
Amel Derdega, 2014
"Franchement bonne zik rien a dire je kiff 💝 jaaadooooooooor de la bombe trooooop fort ce mec continu comme sa un pure kiff"
Here's the Google Translate translation for that comment from French to English
"Frankly good zik nothing to say I kiff 💝 jaaadooooooooor the trooooop bomb strong this guy continues as his a pure kiff"
Here's my attempt at giving that comment in standard English:
Frankly, [it's] good zik [?]. I've nothing more to say. I love [this song]. I really adore it. It's really the bomb [great]. I hope that this guy continues [making music like this.] [His music is] pure enjoyment.
Here's information about the French slang word "kiffe" (also written as "kiff") from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=kiffe
"kiffe" is used in French as a verb (kiffer, in english to kiffe), as an adjective (kiffant, in english kiffable) and as a noun (kiffe, a kiffe)... or just use it how you want to!
Kiffe comes from an arab word (kef) which means to like, to enjoy, a pleasure... which has been "imported" into France by North African people... and became "kiffe".
It simply means "to really enjoy someone or something!"
e.g: I kiffed that trip!
I would kiffe to meet her;
She really is kiffable
What a kiffe to drive that car!
Because it comes from some sort of French suburb slang (langage des cités), but is now used by everyone (though it is still 'slangish'), you can use it how you want to!
If anyone was wondering how to pronounce it, it sounds the same in english say "keef", like a reef but with a "k" instead!
-by KSC-ONE April 02, 2009"
"Never get bored of this song! It's the bomb..."
"This music is the bomb my goodness. .cameroonians ar strongly behind u haters get lost bcs yr opinion don't really count here instead they make u popular and motivated. .OYA I Don already d shake the body sef"
This comment serves as one example of the lack of interest that YouTube commenters (and many other internet bloggers) have in punctuation, capitalization, and standard spelling rules. Here's how I think that comment would be written using those standard English language practices:
"This music is the bomb. My goodness, Cameroonians are strongly behind you. Haters get lost because your opinion doesn't really count here. Instead, they [the haters?] make you popular and motivated."...
"Oya I Don already d shake the body sef" is Nigerian Pidgin. Skales' Afrobeat song "Shake Body" repeats the word "Oya shake body". Here's information about the word "oya" from http://buzznigeria.com/common-nigerian-words-used-in-place-of-some-english-equivalents/# Common Nigerian Words Used In Place Of English Equivalents:
"Ngwa" is the Igbo version of the Yoruba word "Oya". They are both used to hasten someone. Ngwa make we de go". Oya na let's go.
-end of quote-
Given that information, the lyrics "Oya shake body" may mean something like "Come on. Hurry up and shake your body".
temi adekola, 2017
nigerinas are the best"
I think that African American would say and write "This song is the bomb" and not [This is a] bomb song.
"nigerinas" is a misspelling of "Nigerians".
The term "bombed" has an entirely different meaning. "This song bombed" means that it was a big failure.
BOSS [definition "a"]
[in the context of this discussion thread], an adjective that is used to describe something that is the best in its category
PE Cornal, 2015
You're music is boss , Your dancing slays life, And you have very beautiful people.
The phrase "slays life" here probably has the same meaning as the word "killin'"given below and "murdered" given in Part II of this series.
Scorpion Cool, 2017
"the music is very boss."
In this comment, "boss" has the same adjectival meaning as "the bomb" and "dope". I don't think that this is the way African Americans use the vernacular term "boss".
BOSS [definition "b"]
noun, a person who is the "head man (or woman] in charge", a person who rules others in his or her field (career, performance art)
D BS, 2016
"Skales, Tha Boss."
"Skales [is] the boss.
noun; a referent for the part of the body that African Americans also refer to as "butt", "behind" and "ass".
Claire Dreher, 2015
"shakes our bodies, and bootys, in Paris, France
Mehdi Tabit. 2015
"Nigerian Music is so dope ;) This song makes me wanna shake my booty :D"
My sense is that African Americans "booty" seldom use the word "booty" anymore. We seem to prefer the vernacular terms "butt:, "behind", and "ass" and not the word "bum" which has the same meaning. In my experience, the word "bum" (as in the sentence "Sit on your bum") is used much more by White Americans than by Black Americans.
noun; clip of the word "brother"; noun; a referent for a person's male sibling, and a referent used by females or males for males who share certain experiences (such as being from the same nation, community, neighborhood, race, ethnic group and/or who are part of the same social scene, or promote the same cause/s); calling a male "bro" [or "bruh" or other similar spellings] means that you are acknowledging your kinship with him; "Brotherman" was a 1960s form of "bro".
bankole gome, 2014
"Nice song,no doubt about it but not too good dance choreography and visuals. I reckon that the short video of timaya' dance actually matches the song. Thumbs up bro for the sounds!
Hadish Mengisteab, 2016
"Shake body love this music very much keep going bro from Eritrea 🇪🇷
peter Laqua, 2016
verb; playing [a record]; Here's a definition of bumpin that was submitted to urban dictionary:
"blaring music and getting down to it. Jaming. Rocking out. Grooving to the music. Often used in reference to people driving down the road in their cars listening to some recording artists that they really like."
by runandwin June 27, 2005 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bumping
Erik Forman, 2015
"First heard this track at my daughters dance performance. I've been bumping this all day and passing it along. Skales...you are getting some love and support over here in NYC!!!"
"Track" here means "record".
"NYC" means "New York City".
Read my comments about "nice" ("nyc") in Part II of this series.
george blake, 2015
its in new york now so its a wrap, bumpin this tonight.
In the context of this comment, "It’s a wrap" means that nothing more needs to be said or done (from a producer's words to actors when a scene is performed and filmed well). My sense is that the commenter meant that if Skales song has even reached New York City, it means that it has “made it” [to the big time].
"still bumping this!!!"
[in the context of this discussion thread]
adjective; something or someone who is "hip", up to date with the latest "in" urban youth/young adult cultures; a term used to describe something that is [or someone who is] great, wonderful, awesome.
adam binta, 2014
crooks d. jango, 2014
"Cool video (but not great though), he could have out some "coupé-décalé" dansers in it, i believe it would made ot more interrestiong."
Here's information about "Coupe-decale" from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coup%C3%A9-D%C3%A9cal%C3%A9
"Coupé-Décalé is a type of popular dance music originating from Côte d'Ivoire and the Ivorian diaspora in Paris, France"...
This commenter (and many others in that YouTube discussion thread) wasn't pleased with the dancing that was done in the official video for Skales' "Shake Body" song.
Eniola ade, 2014
"This video is disappointing, I was expecting more than this, but ish cool..."
"ish" is a socially correct way of writing and saying the word "sh&t" (which is only partly spelled on this blog.)
Examples from this discussion thread of comments using a vernacular meaning of the word "sh&t" are included in Part II of this pancocojams series.
Benson Owusuansah, 2015
"hey guys this song b cull"
I think that "b cull" probably means "be cool" [i.e. "is cool"].
Kodjo [an email address], 2015
"cool yo he killed it man"
"Cool" here may have the meaning that is given above or may mean something like "Yeah" or Hey". The word "yo" in sentence means something like "Hey" if it has any meaning at all beyond its "hip" African American connotation.
Read the entries for "killin'" below.
Relson relson, 2016
"i love it it so cool just feel like dancing"
Update: March 25, 2017
In my initial publication of this post, I wondered whether it was "authentically African American" to use adverbs such as "so", "too", and "real" as qualifiers/descriptors of vernacular adjectives such as "cool" and "hot". After doing some online research, I found some historical examples of such terms in the United States among African American and among non-African Americans. However, it may be "cool" [hip/acceptable] to use certain adverbs and not others with vernacular words such as "cool" and "hot". And, it seems to me that it's more appropriate [according to African American culture- in the past and in the present] to use the word "cool" without any qualifiers.
I'll publish a post on this topic ASAP and add its link here.
Relson relson, 2016
"i love it it so cool just feel like dancing"
boubacar mar gueye, 2016
"trop" = French meaning "very much"
Note that a commenter reply with what I believe is a criticism of the practice of mixing French with another language:
Shanna. Shannaa, 2016
"A oooô chui pas la seule française merciiiii mdr"
[Google translate: "A oooô chui not the only French merciiiii mdr"]
cool gamer, 2016
this is a cool song
That's rather cool.
I could have sworn I heard this song on eastenders..lol. Cool tune!
Nebyu Nebyu, 2017
"so cool music"
adjective; a term used to describe something that (or someone who) is great, wonderful, awesome
Savior Self, 2014
Elizabeth Asemah, 2014
"The introduction is too dope.
Andres Rodriguez, 2014
"very dope song"
oke eva, 2014
"what a sellout!! this dude was a dope rapper with fire now he sounds like every dick,jack tom and harry SHAME!"
For the folkloric record, here are two responses to this comment from that discussion thread. Note that two of those responses are given in Nigerian Pidgin English. I've included my relative interpretation in standard English for those comments using in part this online source: http://ngex.com/personalities/babawilly/dictionary/pidginn.htm Babawilly's Dictionary of Pidgin English Words and Phrases. Additions and corrections are welcome.
John Bosco, 2014
O boi as he was a dope rapper hunger no nearly kill am? if tom, dick and harry na the way to chop belle full abeg Skales, continue in that path, ask Inyanya and recently Praiz.
Here's my attempt to put this in standard English: "Oh boy, and if he were a very good rapper he wouldn't have to worry about being killed by hunger? As if being like every Tom, Dick, and Harry is the way to succeed [sarcastically written]. Please, Skales, continue do do what you are doing. Ask [two Nigerian successful recording artists] Inyanya and recently Praiz."
Note that "In June 2013, an upbeat dance song was released on YouTube by Minjin titled "Coupé-Décalé" It featured Iyanya, a Nigerian artist famous for his hit single "Kukere". [from Wikipedia's "coupe-decale" link given above]
louie dana, 2014
"Guy, nothing like dope rapper inside this matter o! Na until hungry dey follow am drag pillow for night ur body go calm down abi? Abeg free the guy JOR! LMAOOOOO
Here's my attempt to translate that comment into standard English "Man, being a dope [awesome] rapper has nothing to do with this. It's a matter of survival. Shouldn't you calm down. Please free this guy [who wrote that statement I'm responding to as he has spoken nonsense.]
Although it's off topic, here's some information about "I beg" from https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/beginners-guide-to-nigerian-pidgin-english/
Beginner’s guide to Nigerian pidgin English:
"I beg (abeg) is a Nigerian Pidgin English term that means "Please, but usually not a repentant plea. Example – Abeg! No waste my time!; Which means Please! Don’t waste my time!"
amour zongo, 2014
"Disons que sait cool le sound"
Here's Google translates translation of this comment from French to English:
Let's say that cool the sound
Here's my translation in standard English: "Let's say that the sound is [the song is] cool."
"This music is D.O.P.E
fasika bini, 2016
"it's dope :)"
Joshua Onyango, 2017
“Onyango” is a Kenyan [Luo] surname
Also, here's a comment from that discussion thread that includes the word "doper". (That word isn't used by African Americans)
Josi Jeo El, 2014
"This video cld have been doper dan dis, he really worked hard on it but picked an inexperienced director, too many scenes to fit into a 3mins video was just a problem typical mistakes from directors who are over zealous."
"This video cld have been doper dan dis" = "This video could have been better (more "hip") than this."
verbal phrase meaning to dance really well; to show off your best moves, similar to "to break it on down" ("Breakdown!)
Cherise Yanick, 2014
"Love the song but damn it says ah yuh shake body and the were shaking slow shoulda turned it all the way up in this video uh oh!(in my haitian voice) lol I get down to this song
Lisa Avery, 2017
"I think it's interesting how even modern African music unites Nigerian parents and their children (especially if the kids are born outside of Nigeria). Like you see both adults and kids get down on the dancefloor when this song comes on during our functions.
noun; [in the context of the comment given below, "groove" means "a very good [music] record"
"If you no jam to this groove, ah, you need help lol"
A common practice in Nigeria is to end a sentence with the letter "o". http://ngex.com/personalities/babawilly/dictionary/pidgino.htm
"O!: Placed at the end of sentences for emphasis and effect E.g. I go broke bottle for yua head O!"
Notice that custom in the following two comments that were written in response to abrokenlife's comment:
Mbula Enobong, 2014
This is a good example of the combination of African American Vernacular English and Nigerian traditional language customs.
Shannen Tales, 2015
"Well Said o 😂😂😂😂"
Another commenter wrote this reply to abrokenlife's comment in Nigerian [?] Pidgin English:
Sharon Lawsom, 2014
"No be lie"
HATERS [HATING ON]
noun; people who criticize others [i.e. "hate on others"] for no real reason
"Make all of you haters go make you sing your own make we hear!!!!!!! I beg im loving this song
[This comment was written as part of a long sub-thread that was started by commenter PE Cornal. That comment is given under the entry in this post for the word "boss".
chris maloney, 2015
"+PE Cornal leave him alone just the usual losers ... Hating...
james frank, 2014
"why are people still hating on this much loved song, i have traveled to three country in Africa recently, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda and this song is hitting up in every club and the African people love the song. so please stop hating. Skales is a star and he can be better than wiz-kid and Michael Jackson if he wishes it all depends on him. #SHAKE BODY"
"Hitting up" as it is used in this comment may be the same as "heating up" (getting hot, becoming very popular). "To hit up" someone means something different in African American Vernacular English and to "hit on" someone also has completely different African American Vernacular English meanings.
adjective; very exciting, very stimulating; something that (or someone who) is great, wonderful, awesome, very popular (a hit)
Other African American Vernacular English words in the "hot"/fire" family (that have the same vernacular meaning) are "smokin", "the bomb", the now largely retired slang expression "Dynamite!", and the relatively recently coined vernacular meaning for the word "lit". Also, notice the flame pictorial icons that are found after a number of comments in this discussion thread. Those flame icons are signify that that beat is hot (The beat is on fire).
Gabriela Veizaga, 2014
"This song is HOT, I'm hispanic (From Bolivia) dance is a universal language
Mary Stephen, 2016
"THz beats is 2 hot and I cant sit still without dancing!"
The apparent popularity of the phrase "too hot" may be credited to Bruno Mars as that phrase is repeated in his popular 2014 Pop/Funk song "Uptown Funk". In that song, Bruno Mars is "braggin' on" himself. The adverb "too" in that lyrics means "very".
"Too hot" is a very strong compliment and not a complaint about the weather or otherwise.
Shella Stella Khalista, 2017
"Wow, the music is Hot. Love this from Atlanta Georgia!!!!!"
verbal phrase, "I agree with you" (I understand what you are feeling). "I hear you" is an earlier form of this saying.
Sati .A, 2015
"^_^ I feel ya bro"
FIRE [FIYAH] [definition "a"]
an exclamation indicating that something [or, less often someone] is "hot" [in the African American slang meaning of the word as given in the entry below], something (or someone) is very exciting, really stimulating
Ayodeji Marquis, 2014
This beat is "fire" !!!!
"toronto sending love sh&ts* fire"
*This word is fully spelled out in this comment. The word love probably marks the end of one sentence and "sh&ts" the beginning of the next sentence.
Additional comments from that Skales' "Shake Body" discussion thread that include the word "sh&t" are given in Part II of this pancocojams series.
DJ Trinivibes, 2015
"this tune is FIRE!!!! even would make the dead get up and DANCE. blessings from DJ TRINIVIBES"
This song is a straight shot of hot fire!
FIRE [FIYAH] [definition "b"]
noun; meaning energy, intensity, passion [in a pure, non-sexual sense]
Read the comment written by oke eva, 2014 in the entry for "dope" for an example of this usage.
Additional comments that include the word "fire" are given in comments that are featured in Part II of this pancocojams series.
adverb; an intensifier that is formed by clipping the phrase "a hell of a lot of"; used to mean "very"
Ghizlane Z, 2016
"lol the beat is so north African. I hear this beat at Moroccan weddings often, but this is more sped up and more autotune to it. STILL HELLA NICE THO
For the folkloric record, here's one reply to that comment:
"+Ghizlane ZThe instrument you are hearing is called the Goje and is only found in West Africa. The reason why you think its North African is because of the Tuareg tribe and Gnawa people who have transported traditional West African music to North Africa, particularly Morocco"
[in the context of this discussion thread] noun; song, [music] recording, music instrumental composition
Bryan i Braimah, 2014
This jam is a hit, We are jamming to it in San Francisco. Everyone loves it.
I think that the word "jamming" [which in the context of the above comment means enjoying music and/or dancing] is of Caribbean (probably Jamaican) origin.
African Barbie, 2015
"My workout jam I love it
Cece Christian, 2016
"my favorite zumba jam
mma mmarecon, 2016
The standard English word “lovely” isn't usually used with the vernacular English word "jam".
Victor Aganoke, 2016
If you no shake body to this jam, your spirit go help you shake the body.
Darlene X, 2016
this is the jam!!!!!! Love it
"This is my jam" means that this is your favorite song or one of your favorite songs.
I believe "jamming" is of Jamaican origin and not African American origin. As such, this compilation doesn't purposely include any examples of "jamming" from that discussion thread.
Emmanuella Niamke, 2017
"i beg that moment where you going to the bathroom and the dj decides to play this jam .i even forgot about bathroom #Nigerians you guys rock I love your music can't help but dance well done
"This is my jam" is another way of saying "This is my song. Here's that comment from that discussion thread for Skales' "Body Shake" official video:
"This is my song!!!!!! 🔥🔥🔥
Notice the flame icons that follow this comment. Those icons are the same as saying "This beat is on fire". Read the entries for "fire" that are given above.
noun; an unquestionable winner; something that kills (vanquishes) any other competition; Read the definition of "killin'" below.
Frank Lafavela, 2014
"''them wan hold me 4 randsom cuz im #young n im #rich and im #handsome'' #OYASHAKEBODY this beat is a killa
bigup 4rm Kamerun!
Them wan hold me for ransom cause I'm young, rich, and handsome" and "oya shake body" are the most quoted lyrics from Skales' "Shake Body" song.
"Big up" is a widely used Jamaican phrase on Afrobeat music video's discussion threads. It doesn't appear to be used that often by African Americans. Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-term-big-up-in-youtube-discussion.html for the pancocojams post "The Term "Big Up" In The YouTube Discussion Thread For The South African Music Video "Xigubu" by DJ Ganyani ft FB (Fiesta Black)."
"Kamerun" is a contemporary colloquial spelling for the nation of Cameroon, West Africa.
KILLIN' ["KILLING"]; [KILLED IT"]
verb; doing something very well; without question vanquishing any competitor; Other AAVE words with the same meaning are "murdered" and "slaughtered". Read those entries in Part II of this series.
Abraham Aklilu, 2016
NAIJA boys "killing" it!
"Naija" is a contemporary informal term for "Nigeria".
"Just was in Jamaica and they're killin this song! That's how I discovered it. Love it!!"
"Killin" here means that they are really loving this song [more than any other song.]
Yonis Ahmed, 2017
"lam a young a rich and awesome damn he killed l like that papa."
"Papa" here is a term of respect for another man.
In contrast, when a man calls another man "son", it might be an insult.
Dat Bih, 2017
"lmaooo chris brown was killing this song in ny"
Chris Brown is a contemporary Hip Hop star who is widely noted for his dancing skills.
Another commenter on that Skales "Shake Body" discussion thread wrote:
Oh My God!!! This song is a pain killer.
-end of quote-
This isn’t the original African American vernacular meaning of the word “killin' ["killing"]
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/06/what-killing-it-means-how-it-got-those.html "African American Vernacular English: What "Killing It" Means & How It Got Those Slang Meanings" for one of pancocojams' posts on the AAVE term "killin'.
This concludes Part I of this series.
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