To speak or not to speak Ghanaian Pidgin, a brief introduction

Ama Nunoo July 24, 2020
Photo: fairafric

Some educationists and parents attribute the deteriorating state of the standard of Ghanaian English to the frequent use of Pidgin English. There are still some homes in Ghana that forbid the use of Pidgin or Broken English.

However, Pidgin is more than a language spoken by a group of people. It is that lingua franca that transcends all backgrounds and unites the people under one umbrella.

Pidgin English is not only spoken in Ghana, but in Anglophone West and Central African countries. It first came about in the 17th and 18th centuries when the Europeans colonized Africa. It began as combination of English vocabulary and the different languages spoken by the ethnic groups the British traded with at the time.

Most things have side effects and the critics majorly focus on the negative aspects of speaking Pidgin. The positives, however, far outweigh the negatives as Ghanaians’ use of Pidgin English plays a vital role in all communication circles.

Standard English otherwise dominates in most formal settings, but the Ghanaian Pidgin English also known as Kru English or Kroo Brofo in Akan has two sub varieties.

Unlike Nigerian pidgin where one can rarely tell which speaker is educated or not, there is the non-institutionalized or uneducated pidgin usually spoken or associated with illiterates and the institutionalized or educated ones spoken in Senior high schools and Universities.

Also, women in Ghana rarely speak Pidgin and in conversations where there are both genders, those present resort to speaking Standard English. Nonetheless, anyone who speaks pidgin easily identifies with other speakers and it breaks down protocols.

It is an essential language for transacting businesses in the markets and it makes commuting around the country relatively easier as that is the language for bargaining in the markets and with drivers.

Ghanaian Pidgin is a mixture of English and the local dialects like Akan and Ga. Nigerians find it difficult sometimes comprehending Ghanaian Pidgin but there are similar words that cut across.

Also, some Ghanaians have watched enough Nollywood movies and the influx of Nigerian Afrobeat music also makes it easier for Ghanaians to understand Nigerian Pidgin. Likewise, Nigerians do same with Ghanaian music and movies.

Ghanaian Pidgin like other West African Pidgin is very adaptive. New words emerge and catch on rather quickly than the frequency of words added to the dictionary.

Here are some words and phrases to ease you into Ghanaian Pidgin.

A beg – I beg, Please

Azaa –Dubious

Chale – Friend

Chao – a lot, plenty

Hot – to be under pressure for example, ‘Chale I’m hot!’

Kubolor – Someone who enjoys wondering and ‘roaming’

Skin Pain – Jealousy

Trotro – Also known as trosky, a minibus used for public transportation

Boga – A Ghanaian living abroad or who has travelled abroad before

My mind dey for anything – I’m down for whatever

I go see you morrow – See you tomorrow

Talk them say I dey greet them – Extend my regards

Like joke like joke – Times flew by, I can’t believe it’s over

Wey tin man no see before – Whatever happens, happens

We go crosh – See you later/around

Safe – be safe

I de hung baad! – I’m so hungry

Chalé wasop?!- Hey, what’s good?

Ah dey oo! What be da action plus you? – I’m good, what’s going on with you

Chalé Make we go – Let’s go

Hope everything nice for your side = Hope all is well

I dey go come – I am going out, but I will be right back

I dey – I am here/ I am waiting /I am still here

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: July 24, 2020


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