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Living with your partner’s irritating habits


Charles Ighele

Two of my wife’s siblings are very funny people. Each time they come to our home in Lagos, they thrill us with laughter. For the about eight days that one of them was with us this month, dinner time in my home was more exciting. As a policy and family culture, the entire household takes at least one meal together every day and that happens to be dinner most of the time. As we were about rounding off dinner one evening, one of them entertained us with a story. For those who may not know, when a typical Ijaw tongued man wants to pronounce the word “gentle,” he will say “zentle” and when a typical Akwa Ibom tongued person wants to pronounce “junction,” he will say “yonyon.” A typical Ijaw tongued man will pronounce “junction” as “zonson.” The visiting sibling then told us that one day an Akwa Ibom man asked a stranger (who happened to be an Ijaw man) to show him the way to a particular street. The Ijaw man then said, “as you get to that zonson, turn left, that is the street.” Instead of the Akwa Ibom man to simply say thank you and go his way, he replied, “na yonyon you dey call zonson?” we laughed and laughed until one of my daughters almost fell from her seat.

Now, supposing you are an Ijaw or non-Ijaw lady, who likes English words being properly pronounced and you are married to one of those our Ijaw brothers who pronounces “junction” “zonson” and who will introduce his brother in law in public with words such as “meet my brother-in-law. He is a complete “zentle” man.” Will you be able to get used to it? Or if you are a man who has ears for good pronunciation of English words and you have an Akwa Ibom wife who tells you “I saw Peter that your yentle friend at the yonyon on my way home,” will you be able to get used to it? You may say, I will teach her/him how to pronounce words. Good! But I have found out that not all people can be taught on how to pronounce words or change some of their irritating habits. Personally, it took me many years before I could pronounce the word “church” I used to say “shursh” and most of my school mates in Federal School of Arts and Science, Sokoto used to laugh at me. In judges 12, there was war between the people of Gilead and the people of Ephraim. Verses 5 and 6 say, that when the Gileadites would ask a suspect “are you an Ephraimite? If he said, no; then they said unto him, “pronounce shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and killed him…and forty two thousand of them were killed.” You can see that even at the risk of death, these forty-two thousand men could not force themselves to pronounce “Shibboleth.”


In every marriage, there are some mannerisms that can be changed and some that cannot be changed. Learn to live amusingly with those mannerisms that cannot be changed. Enjoy your marriage.
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In this article:
Charles Ighele
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