Do you guys know that insane confidence you have in yourself? Thinking you are awesome at something and reeling in those thoughts until someone put you where you belong? Yeah that was me.
I used to think I ‘know’ English. That my English was smooth until 300 level in uni. We were all gisting and stuff when someone brought up the H-factor issue. That was how they began and the argument was that all Yoruba people have H-factor problem. I confidently chimed in and said
‘Hai don’t ave H-factor sha’
I thought I was above any and every grammatical error in English until Fikayo, who was this unapologetically honest babe put me in my place immediately. She was like ‘you have H-factor o very strong one sef’
I said ‘No, hai don’t ave haich factor.’ She fired back and said ‘Yes you do!’
I was arguing with her when I didn’t even know what h factor was.
Then she was like pronounce eggs and I confidently said ‘hegz!’ She said that’s it you have h factor. I disagreed and still maintained the fact that ‘ hai dont ave haich factor ha!’
She then asked me to say empty. I said ‘hempty’ and she went ‘see! H factor again.’ I said no I don’t have it because I didn’t even know what it was. When I realised that she was serious I asked ‘hokay what is haich factor?’
That was how she explained. She told me how I have deleted the letter H where it should have been pronounced and how I pronounce it infront of vowels when it was absolutely unnecessary. Fam I was so embarrassed. I mean I was in my third year studying English and I was supposed to know all this. I mean I wasn’t supposed to be making any grammatical blunders. My mother tongue shouldn’t be interfering that way in my day to day speech. Guys I was ashamed of myself.
Imagine the places I have pronounced h before vowels in all it full glory. The places I have dropped h. The way I have argued in debates and discussions.
‘Hai refuse to haccept that! Ow can you say people who Heat eba with fork are posh? Hit His Han Hinsult to the Yoruba Culture Has Hey whole!’
H factor and the Yoruba people are like twins you can’t separate one from the other and it can be really embarrassing when it is more pronounced. It is like the LR problem of the Igbos, the PF problem of the Hausas. You know how people would cringe when someone says rolly instead of lorry? Imagine how your Yoruba self have laughed at them not knowing yours is also hanging behind your back?
Y’all don’t know the struggle I went through before I could suppress this H Factor demon. There are times I had to slow down when I am speaking and I am about to use strings of vowels, because the demon is always there waiting to unleash its Hassault Hin full force.
Or how I have had to pause and then repeat myself.
‘Mr Frank came ere hearlier….oh uhm… he came here earlier’
The number of times it slipped right through my mouth when I was cruising and speaking in English. Ha! Those awful moments when it’s time to speak a group of people and the words I am to speak have loads of H and start with vowels. The tension and extra care and attention I pay when it comes to this. The number of times I had to delete my podcast intros and takes because the H kept coming through. You people don’t understand how much I have suffered.
It still feels weird pronoucing vowel words without a glottal sound. Most of the times I just really want to put all the H on apple, aeroplane, office, eggs, oranges. Not putting it makes me feel like a part of me has been stripped off.
Most of the times I just wanna say please try Hand take note of the way you speak eyin omo iyami. May we not get Hembarrased in the presence of Hour Henemies. Haameeen!