by Hassan Abdulbaqi


Often, a language user may be at crossroads when they want to represent what they know of proverbs and idioms from one language to another. This may cause them to merely translate the meanings of these proverbs and lose many of the meanings and messages they intend to pass.

This is why I made a list of some idiomatic expressions which shall be published in a serial form on this website in the bid to help speakers surmount this problem and surely help candidates who shall be sitting their Yoruba examinations for translation (aáyan ògbufọ̀) is one of the aspects they shall be asked to answer in their examinations.

One of the amazing benefits of translation is that it boosts the language user’s knowledge of all the languages he or she can speak, especially the source language (he is translating from) and the receptor language (he is translating to). While I was conducting research for my undergraduate project work which was based on translating terms used in fashion designing from English to Yoruba, I learnt a lot about English Language than the Yoruba I was translating to. For example, I noted there is a clear difference between ‘tailor’ and ‘fashion designer’, that ‘catwalk’ does not mean ‘to walk stylishly’ because it is not a verb but noun.( Read SO THAT YOU DON’T BECOME LIKE ME ) This is the popular usage among Nigerian speakers, elites and entertainers included for this error is also vivid in Yoruba home videos.

These series, for example, shall boost the knowledge of both Yoruba speakers and non-speakers for most people don’t know about these proverbs prior not to talk of representing them in another language.

In this maiden episode, we shall discuss the idiom, ‘ó tó gẹ́ẹ́’


  1. Yorùbá: Ó tó gẹ́ẹ́

English: Enough is enough

When you feel you cannot go on with a particular situation or difficulty, “ó tó gẹ́ẹ́” is what the Yorubas say. A speaker may be tempted to say, “it has reached” which is grammatically incorrect for ‘reach’ as used in that statement requires an object for it is a transitive verb, a verb which requires an object. The listener or reader may even get the wrong message because this may also be mistook for the translation of “ó tó” (it is enough). And the language user will also be called to account for “gẹ́ẹ́” in the sentence for only ‘ó tó’ has been represented which makes the translation incomplete. That is, ungrammaticality and ambiguity are the costs the language user is expected to pay. ‘Enough is enough’ comes as a fitting translation because the same idiom is used for this exact purpose in English: to say or write that a situation should stop, that you cannot hold on any longer.

Enough, for example, cannot be enough here, because this will continue, inshaa Allah (Arabic for ‘if God wills’ and means “may God make it so.”). Yeah, more still on the way! Stay tuned!