Tricky Yoruba names abroad

I’ve talked about Yoruba names that make it hard to live abroad before but it’s been almost four years and there are more names to add to the list. From my earlier list, Bimbo is definitely the most challenging name because of the negative meaning behind the word bimbo , at least in North America, but I’d love to hear how the Bimbos in the house handle this. I know one who goes by his full name (Abimbola); maybe some shorten it to Bim?

More Yoruba names that cause confusion or mispronunciation outside of Nigeria.

This is misprounced as funky or funk (silent e). I guess it’s not a bad thing for someone to think you’re funky, but if they think you’re in a funk, that’s not so cool.

This is the name of one of my favourite cousins but obviously North Americans reading it will think it’s a joke that the person’s name is actually Joke…until you tell them it’s two syllables, Jo•ke, to rhyme with Pocket (well, if you make the ‘t’ silent!).

Only one non-African person has pronounced my name correctly without first hearing it and this happened just two weeks ago. I was shocked and told him he was the first to say it correctly and he was surprised by that. Most people pronounce it to rhyme with yummy or gummy.

It’s easy to know why this one gets mispronounced! From what I know the Nike brand has a pretty positive reputation and I imagine most would think it’s a cool name (even though they’re mispronouncing it!). Nike (the company) got its name from the mythological Greek goddess of the same name who was the goddess of victory—another good association with the name!

This always gets pronounced as Wally by non-Nigerians. At least both are male names in their respective cultures!

Names with gb or p
Finally, any name with a gb or p in it is pretty much guaranteed to be a tongue-twister. This isn’t the fault of the non-Nigerians though, since gb isn’t in the English alphabet and the letter p isn’t pronounced the same way in the English and Yoruba alphabets. All the Dapos, Gbemisokes, Gbengas, Gbolahans, and Pejus living abroad already know this though!

Does your name get completely mispronounced by non-Nigerians? What’s the funniest or oddest mispronunciation of a Nigerian name that you’ve heard?

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