lierdumoa: EDIT 13.02.21: I’ve made several corrections to this…


EDIT 13.02.21: I’ve made several corrections to this post thanks to info from @magi-rocks

This is from the movie Space Sweepers (2021) on netflix. It’s a Korean film that features a very multicultural cast who speak several different languages.

I thought this scene was super interesting. The man is speaking Nigerian Pidgin. The subtitles have translated his dialogue into Standard American English (SAE).

My parents speak Trinidadian English. West Indian Pidgin dialects share a lot of commonalities with Nigerian Pidgin. I’ve attempted to break down some of the grammar. Let me draw your attention to the line at 0:14:

SAE subtitles: “A sickness that ravaged her nerves.”

Real Dialogue Transliteration (courtesy of @magi-rocks): “Da sickness, dey waka fo’ ha’ nerves.”

  • da – the
  • dey – from SAE ‘they’; pronoun refers back to ‘sickness’ in this context 
  • waka – might be from Swahili ‘waka’ (to be consumed by fire) or from SAE ‘walk off’ or a combination; meaning: versatile – can mean (as a command) leave, get out, fuck off, move /or/ to fuck up, mess up, destroy
  • fo’ – from SAE ‘for’
  • ha’ – from SAE ‘her’

This is how you might convey the same thought in Trinidadian English:

“Dat sickness, fi don fokup she nerves” 

Note: Some of my spelling choices here reflect pronunciation differences while others (com instead of come) indicate that, even though it sounds like the SAE word it derives from, it is a different word with different usage/meaning.

  • dat – from SAE that,
  • fi – used in a lot of pidgin dialects, including Nigerian; meaning: all-purpose preposition or pronoun
  • she – means both she and her in Trinidadian English
  • don – from SAE ‘done’ but with different, more adverbial function; meaning: “to have finished” 
  • fokup – fuck up

On a side note, I’m learning Mandarin Chinese right now, and in Mandarin, the verb “到” dào – to arrive, is frequently paired with other verbs for a similar purpose, to convey that the action in the paired verb has completed/come to a result. Example: “找” zhǎo – to search; “找到” zhǎodào – to have found

I’ve been noticing that a lot of quirks of Mandarin Chinese grammar seem to follow similar logic to AAVE (African American Vernacular English) grammar or Caribbean English grammar, to the point that it’s sometimes easier for me to interpret sentences in AAVE first, before figuring out how to say them in SAE.


I tried to break down one other line, from 0:04:

SAE subtitles: “Why not Earth?”

As for the real dialogue transliteration,

I thought I heard:  “Wey tin fi sta f’us.”

  • wey tin – from SAE ‘why didn’t’
  • fi – all purpose preposition or pronoun
  • sta – from SAE ‘start’
  • f’us – contraction of ‘fi us’; meaning: for/with/about/etc. us

So I thought the line might be “Why didn’t (they) start with us.” 


@magi-rocks (who speaks Nigerian Pidgin fluently) tells me this line should be transliterated as: “Wetin fi stop us”

  • wetin – from SAE ‘what thing’; meaning: what
  • fi – all purpose preposition or pronoun
    • wetin fi – why (?)

@magi-rocks told me the line meant “What’s stopping us (from making Earth green again)” – I thought that translation made no sense, because it’s “them” (the bad guys), not “us” (him and his people) who have the capability to make Earth green again. 

Might need another native speaker to take a look and explain it in a way I can understand.

Reposted from

Tags: thanks, aha!, I was wondering what he was speaking.

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