Peace Corps Ghana. Menji Agric Senior High. Chemistry. Friends. Cooking. Volleyball. Running. Animals.

27 February 2013

Ghanaian English

English is spoken by many, many people round the world.  As in like 375 million or something crazy..  However, the way in which it is spoken, varies dramatically from place to place.  Just as there is American English (i.e. gnarly, douchebag, spiffy, etc.), British English (i.e. knickers, bloody, a pint ), Australian English (i.e. fair dinkum, bogan, goon)... There is most certainly Ghanaian English.  And today I want to share some with you.

Ghanaian English                      American Equivalent
Polytin                                        Black plastic bag
Rubber                                        Small clear plastic bag
I'm coming                                 I'm walking away and may or may not return
It's coming                                 I still don't have the thing you requested 2 weeks ago
Plaster                                        Bandaid
Pawpaw                                      Papaya
He is not correct                       He's messed up in the head
Don't mind him                         He's an idiot
Make noise                                Be obnoxious
I am fine                                     I am terrible / great / sick / happy / miserable / ecstatic / dying / tired                          
                                                                   / busy / bored / angry / or any other state of being
Toffee                                         Candy
Chips                                          French fries, fried yam chunks, fried plantain slices
Taking tea                                  Eating breakfast
Wine                                           Any alcoholic beverage
I see it                                        I understand
You are invited                         You can eat some of this food if you want
Are you sure?                            You are totally wrong
AYE!                                             You f**king with me?
Snap me                                     Take a picture of me
Aaaay Charlie                           Sup
I will beat you                          Quit annoying me
Sweet                                          Very tasty and delicious, but not necessarily sugary
T-Roll                                          Toilet Paper
Pear                                            Avocado

In addition to the words and phrases, syntax also varies dramatically.  When teaching, if I construct a sentence in the American way that is natural to me, most of my students will not understand. Although 2 or 3 might, the other 30 definitely would not.   And it is not necessarily because the American English is complex.  In fact, that's not it at all.  

Now I'm really thinking about it, there are actually four main differences: 
(1) The rhythm of the speech
(2) The order of the words
(3) The variation and in the tone of one's voice
(4) Accent

The accent is a funny one... I have most of my students saying "wha-der" instead of "wha-tah."  They think it's funny to say water with an American accent.   

I think I am done writing for now.


1 comment: