Sabi: The Pidgin English word, meanings and origin

Pidgin English is wildly spoken in West Africa. The language began to be spoken along the West African coasts during the trans Atlantic slave trade The Europeans sought for a means to communicate with local slave merchants thereby necessitating the birth of pidgin English. 

Origin of Pidgin English 

The Pidgin English evolved as a blend of local West African languages and the English language. It was spoken primarily on the coast among slave merchants and European traders but these merchants took the language into the hinterland causing it to become wildly used among people who didn’t have direct contact with the European slave traders. 

Let us examine the Pidgin English  word “sabi.” 

Sabi: (to know) 

It means to have knowledge or information about something are someone. 

Origin: “Sabi” originated from the Portuguese word “saber” which means to know. The Portuguese were the first to have contacted with the West Africans during the Trans Atlantic slave trade. This was  around the 1500s. Since the Portuguese introduced the word to west africans, Sabi has evolved into the modern West African pidgin English spoken in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Equatorial Guinea.


  • You sabi where papa dey? Meaning: Do you know where father is?  
  • I no sabi. Meaning: I do not know
  • E don sabi where we dey go? Meaning: Has he/she known where we are going? 


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