Thursday, July 13, 2017

Similarities & Differences Between The Yoruba Word "Aiye" ("Aye") And The American Word "Ayee"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides definitions of the traditional Yoruba word "Aiye".

This post also showcases the official video of Nigerian Afrobeat singer Davido's 2014 record entitled "Aye" which is an adapted form of the traditional Yoruba word "Aiye".

The chorus of that song which includes the word "Aye" is given in this post along with selected comments from that video's discussion thread.

Click for a 2014 pancocojams post on Davido's song Aye that includes this same video, the complete lyrics for that song, explanations of some of Nigerian pidgin English or Yoruba words and phrases that are found in that song, and other comments from this video's discussion thread.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, folkloric, linguistics, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

I'm particularly interested in documenting the similarities and differences between that word and the contemporary American originated English word "ayee" (also spelled "ayy" and other similar spellings.)

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Davido for his musical legacy. Thanks also to al those associated with this featured video and all those who are quoted in this post. In addition, thanks to the YouTube publisher of this video.
The YouTube discussion thread of Davido's video "Aye" is rich in information and interesting comments. I plan to publish additional posts on comments from that discussion threads. These posts can be found by clicking the Davido Aye video tag that is found below.

Click for the pancocojams post entitled "Information About Brazil's Axé Music & Three Videos Of Brazil's Ilê Aiyê Band".

"David Adedeji Adeleke (born November 21, 1992),[1][2] better known by his stage name Davido, is an American-born Nigerian recording artist, performer and record producer...

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Davido relocated to Lagos at a young age. His debut album Omo Baba Olowo, released in 2012....

On February 2, 2014, Davido released "Aye" as the fourth single from the upcoming album. The song was produced by T Spice.[46] The music video for "Aye" was released on February 7, 2014, and was directed by Clarence Peters. According to the music video's synopsis, "Davido plays a poor farmer who falls in love with the prince’s love interest.”...

Given my theory* that the American originated word "ayee" ("ayy") that is currently relatively widely used on social media may have its source in an adapted form of the nickname "A" for Atlanta, Georgia, it's remarkable that Nigerian Afrobeat star Davido who had a hit song entitled "Aye" was born in Atlanta and lived there for a short time. However, I think that is a coincidence.

Both the American English term "ayee" and the word "ayy" in "ayy lmao" (an extension of the social media use of "ayee") have different meanings than the Yoruba word "Aiye" (also given as "Aye"). Furthermore, both of those American originated words are pronounced differently than the traditional Yoruba word "Aiye" and its contemporary adaptation "Aye". (Read below.)

That said, I wonder if any of the comments which included the word "Aye" in the discussion thread for Davido's song "Aye" were influenced by the way that the American English word "Aye" is used in online social media and elsewhere.
For example, both of those words are often elongated (for instance "Ayeeeee!"), but, unlike American discussion centered threads, that word is sometimes found at the end of sentences in Davido's video's discussion thread.

*Click for a pancocojams post about the English words "Ayee" ("Ayy" and similarly spelled words).

The Yoruba word "Aiye" and its contemporary form "Aye" appear to be pronounced ah-yeh (with the "yeh" pronounced like the English word "yeah".

In contrast, the contemporary American English originated word "ayye" (also given as "ayy", "aaaaa", and other similarly spelled words) is pronounced like an elongated English letter "a". But the word "ayy" in the contemporary phrase/meme "ayy lmao" appears to usually be pronounced like the English letter "i" (and the English word "eye") and the letters for the internet acronym "lmao" ("laughing my ass off") may be pronounced separately or "lmao" may be pronounced like the Portuguese word that translates to the word "lemon" in English.

The Yoruba word "Aiye" (and its contemporary form "Aye") and the American English words "ayee" ("ayy" and similar spellings) demonstrates the fact that words from different languages that are spelled the same or similarly may have completely different pronunciations and completely different meanings. That said, there's no way to know how each commenter in online discussion threads actually pronounced these words. For that reason, people familiar with the American English originated word "ayee" might pronounce the Yoruba word "Aye" the same way that they pronounce the American English word "ayee".

Jewel Love, 2016
"What does Aye mean?"

Tayo Awoniyi, 2016
"It means Mother earth in Yoruba. Though he has misspelled it. It should be spelt Aiye."


Pancocojams Editor:
These comments are from a page for a 1996- 2015 Google group discussion on the meaning of "ile aye". I'm quoting in its entirety for folkloric purposes (except for some quotes of preceding comments and some commenters names that include email addresses).

I've numbered these comments for referencing purposes only.

1. tobod, 9/4/96
"The Yoruba invocation "ile aye" is often used in Brazilian songs I have heard. Can anyone out there offer me an insight on exactly what it means? Why is it so significant?"

2. Ayodele Ayetigbo , 9/5/96
"Ile Aye, by its Yoruba literary translation, means the house of the world. Yoruba people of Nigeria, Benin, Sierra-Leone and other countries along the coast of West Africa believe that Aye (world) is one kind of a giant market hall where each human visits to hawk or practise what he believes. At the end of this market activities, Yoruba religion says all humans then return to our original home - heaven (orun) to give account. It is thus said in Yoruba:"

Aye loja, orun ni'le

This means in English: The world is a market while heaven is home. We are all visitors to the world and must at the end return home.

Ile in Yoruba = house
Aye = the world

Ayetigbo - my last name, for a quintessence, means the world has heard. Yoruba believe there is literary and spiritual meanings to names and words. That Ayetigbo, as a character, practises a profession such as communication is therefore not surprising to a Yoruba scholar. The Yoruba carry no social security numbers or cards as practised here in the US. Your name tells all about you.

Ile Aye is significant to us cos that's the only playhouse we can grasp as living beings. The other world, that is, heaven - the real home - is way beyond our physical comprehension This can only be felt or imagined in dreams and other ritualistic engagements. The intrigues, lies, dysinformation, misinformation, thievery, slavery, racism, ethnocentrism and all other bad stuffs humans engage in while on earth, as in a market place, makes "Ile aye" all the more so significant to the followers of Yoruba religion. Yoruba as a religion is being practised in Brazil, Cuba, the US and other parts of the world where people trace their ancestry to the Yoruba of West Africa.
Enough and I hope I have been helpful."

3. Adey™ , 9/6/96
"Ile Aye" simply means--This World!!"

Peace bro,

4. Steve Enzer, 9/12/96
Ayodele Ayetigbo wrote:
"Ile Aye, by its Yoruba literary translation, means the house of the world. Yoruba people of Nigeria, Benin,
Sierra-Leone and other countries along the coast of West (lots of good info. deleted)

"Not to try to contradict someone who obviously has much more information on the topic than this gringo does, I would just pass on that I do have a CD with a Clara Nunes recording of a song called Ilu Aye, which may or
may not be the same Yoruba phrase, translated (as the title of the song) as "Terra da Vida" - or "Land of Life."

I don't know how that fits in with the rest of the discussion, but I wanted to pass it on.

The recording, by the way, is the MPB disk from the series "Brasil: A Century Of Song" on Blue Jackel (sic) records, which is a great compilation if you happen to see it around. Picked it up last night and I've already played it 3 times... que saudades do Brasil!!!

Steve Enzer

5. Akua Ofeibea Abotare

[regarding Steve Enzer's comment]

"makes perfect sense that the brazilian singer would use a phrase like "ile aye" in her record. Many of the captives brought here the African continent were Yoruba. (some say the Yorubas are the most represented African culture in the New World, and that most African descended peoples here in the West are of Yoruba origin or have Yoruba roots. I'm not an expert, I just pass it on). Mostly in Cuban, but there were some Yorubas in Brazil as well. Many of the African influenced religions of the "New world" are of Yoruba origin or have
very complimentary components to the Yoruba cosmogony. These included Santaria of Cuba, and Condomble of Brazil. Brazil seeoms [sic] to have a very large Congo population as well. hope it helps.


6. ruben.l...[email address deleted], 10/10/13
“I am of Spanish origin living in the US but have lived in Brazil for many years and attended carnivals in Rio, Salvador, Canoa Quebrada, Recife, Aracati, Paracuru, Fortaleza, etc... I am a big fan of Axe Bahia and understand perfectly your question.

All explanations here are correct, however they are too technical and don't answer your question: "why in music". Today in Brazilian pop culture "Ile Aye" means "big party (festa) where everyone (the world if you like) participates and everybody is welcome". Like a carnival of life.

So, when, for example, you hear "ile aye", "foi for amor ao ile" or "estava atras do ile" in songs from Daniela Mercury, the meaning is something like "big party", "it was becaused I loved to party" and "i was looking for a big party", in same sense as we use "fiesta" in Spanish or like a big "spring break party" in US culture.

Hope I answered your question."

7. thesmal...[email address deleted
"I am surprised to see that no one has mentioned that Ile Aiye is a samba afro/samba reggae group based out of Bahia. they go way back, and many if not most of their songs use the term in the lyrics. Check it;

8. ipenko...[email address deleted] 8/1/15
"Ile aye means; The World"

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Aye - Davido (Official Music Video)

DMW HQ, Published on Feb 7, 2014

Aa yeee
Aaa yeee
Cause you want my love o
Aa yee
(Oya shekele mama)
Aaa yee
Cause you want my love o
She no want designer
She no want Ferarri
She say na my love o
You belong to meee
And I belong to her o
You go killie somebody
They say love is blind
but I dey see am for your eyes o
Aa for your eyes o
They say love is blind
but I dey see am for your eyes o o o o
for your eyes o


[Revised July 14, 2017]

These comments are given in chronological order, with the exception of responses, with the oldest comments given first. I've assigned numbers for referencing purposes only.

These are all of the comments with the word "Aye" that I was able to read in that video's discussion thread*. Some of these comments clearly refer to the title of Davido's song. However, the meaning of the elongated form of the word "Aye" and especially those words that are followed by are exclamation points are less clear. Are those comments praising that song (or the earth orisa)?

*After multiple page uploads, my computer stopped loading comment pages. Consequently, I wasn't able to read all of the comments on this discussion thread.

The word "Aiye" wasn't included in any comment that I was able to read.

Michelle Tshimanga
"Oya shake up your assets! Make your man no go forget! Ehhhh AYYYEEE!"
"Shake your assets" [meaning "shake your butt"] is a line in this song.

2. Siham Somali
"nobody listens to this song like I do aye 😂👏"

3. Abel First-Quao
"'Nobody can love you, Lakadu!
Nobody can touch you, Lakadu!'

And so, Lakadu was forever alone. Aye!
This comment is part of a running (ongoing) joke that was first posted in 2015 and includes a number of commenters. The joke is that in the song Davido sings "No one can love you like I do". However, he speaks English with a very thick Yoruba accent, and English speakers might think that the words "like I do" were a (made up, non-existent) African name "Lakadu".

4. kstarBAM
"Dancing to this in my room alone in USA! It's spectacular! Ayyyyyyeeeeeee!!!"

5. Joy Osas
"wow still in love with this track aye eeeeee"

6. Christian Byiringiro
"good aye"

7. Adeiza Ozigi
"Aye!!! So African. So Nigerian! 2016!"

8. adozuka izzati
"aye miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii"

9. Belinda Antoine
"lovelygirl2u I am from Haiti too. I do love that song. there's something in it that makes me dance like crazy. ayeeeee ayeeeee"

10. Vincypearl
"Ayeeeeee, Ayeeeeee 💃"

"aiyeeee! 🌄"

12. Connie Tee
"haha thanks sweetheart... my boo dedicated this song to
me... love you ARNOLD... ayyyyyeeeeeee"

13. Tendai Murwisi
"There is no one life on earth that surpasses a pure African life.Proud to be black African.Aye"

14. kiara walker

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