“How was your night?” An Innocent Wrong Question

Do you know that asking a person “How was your night?” is wrong? Well, I didn’t know it until today, and I got to know with the help of a friend, Edward E Onoriode who shared the update on his Facebook wall. I felt it very necessary to spread the word and help you, my readers know about it too.

Here is it, as posted by Edward E Onoriode.

I attended a IED (Improvise Explosive Device) fusion cell meeting with some US and British EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) experts yesterday to discuss all the IED incidences that had happened within the week across Somalia.

At the meeting hall, I saluted one of the British officers ‘Good morning sir’ and he responded back ‘good morning to you too’

My oversabi did not allow me to keep quiet so I went further with the Nigeria popular phrase ‘how was your night sir?’

Dude was shock. He looked at me in a weird way as if I’d said something out of the ordinary. Something that’s sacrilegious which is an abomination to his ears. After some sec, he said ‘how my night went is non of your business’

I was awed in shock. Normally, I was expecting a simple ‘fine’ ‘Good’ ‘Splendid’ ‘ My night was great’ etc. But he didn’t say any of these but he told me ‘how my night went is non of your business’ I felt embarrassed.

For minutes, I couldn’t mutter a word back to him. I just buried my head in shame.

All through the meeting, I was lost in thought and I couldn’t concentrate with the meeting minutes. I kept asking myself within, ‘was my question wrong?’ ‘have I said something that offended this man?’ ‘could it be that he had a bad night rest and he decided to transfer the aggression at me?’

After the meeting, I did a little Google search and I couldn’t believe the answers I got.

Ladies and gentlemen, did you know the phrase “How was your night ” In English Language means “How was last nights sex?” “how was your night shift duty?” “how is your health during the night hours?”
Whenever you ask this question in the morning to healthy people who are not in sick bed, you’re invariably inquiring about their sexual comfort/activities during the night or how their night shift went and it’s rude to ask such mostly if you’re not closely related to the person. No wonder the British officer find my question condescending because he felt I was intruding in his private business since I’m not too familiar with him. But I asked that question with a sincere and innocent mind without any harm. Basically, how was your night is normally asked to people who are receiving treatments in the hospital or people who are on night shift.

Nigeria has really messed me up. Now, I’d be more careful whenever I want to speak with these white folks because I never can tell when I’d say something that’s offensive and evasive again. By the way, I need to un-learn so many English I’ve been proudly speaking, they’re wrong.
My happiness is that I know the appropriate question whenever I want to enquire how a person’s night went now and it should be; “Did you have a good night sleep?” or “Did you sleep well?”

Meanwhile, good morning friends, how was your night?

The answer to ‘ How was your night?’ Is actually ‘none of your business!’

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I have checked our local languages. Even as transliteration, no Nigerian language asks ‘How was your night?’ I am checking because of this phrase, for those who know, was not in use in Nigeria as recent as 7years ago.
I suspect, some ‘oversabi wannabe’ heard it on a music video somewhere and wanted to form posh or as my Doctor friend said to me, it may have come from hospitals. It’s common knowledge according to the doctor that sick people often have rough nights and most deaths to May occur at night. So a doctor’s question to the patient during morning ward rounds is usually ‘How was your night?’ If we exported hospital vocabulary to the streets, are we now to assume, we are all at death’s door?

The proper address for mornings is simply ‘good morning’ and if you want to spice it up by being overly friendly, you may add ‘hope you slept well?’ A person’s night. Is not our business.

If we are Igbo it’s either, ibolachi– have you woken up. Ututuoma- good morning.

If Yoruba, ekaro– good morning. You can go further as Yorubas are won’t do by adding “se daada Leji’ – hope you woke up well?

None of these our local greetings intrusively asks ‘How was your night?’ So, No! It is not African either.
Let us be well aware when we leave our lanes to go measuring that of others.

Credits: Edward E Onoriode and Glowvile

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Adebisi Chinweze
Adebisi Chinweze

Even the Ututuoma is a direct translation of ‘good morning’ to Igbo language and not how the original speakers greet in the mornings.