Ghanaian Pidgin: what is it?

Ghanaian Pidgin English is a variety of pidgin English spoken in Ghana. Considered a dialect of West African Pidgin English, Ghanaian Pidgin English is descended from a trade language developed by West African merchants in the 17th and 18th centuries to communicate with each other and with English slave, ivory, and gold traders.

Nowadays, educated, English-speaking Ghanaians frown upon Pidgin, believing it to be an "inferior" form of "true" or "educated" English. Children are often forbidden to speak Pidgin, and teachers usually try to root it out of their students. Nevertheless, Pidgin survives in mixed-tribe schools and among lower-class people with less access to formal English training, because Ghana is home to several different tribes with mutually uninteligible languages and many times Pidgin is the only way to communicate with someone.

So, you want to learn some basic Ghanaian Pidgin?

Well, you came to the right node!

First, let's learn some grammar. Here are some common aspect markers:

  • de = (progressive)
  • finish = (completative)
  • den = (imperfect)
  • go = (future)
  • make = (imperative)

Now let's learn some verbs:

  • go = "go"
  • caam = "come"
  • be = "is"
  • chop = "eat"
  • suck = "drink"
  • lash = "beat up"
  • bell = "call" (on the phone)
  • sabi = "know"

And a few pronouns...

  • I = "I"
  • we = "we"
  • you = "you"
  • ee = "it, he, she"
  • de = "they"
  • aam = "him, them, it" (object)
  • yo = "your"

Now let's make some sentences! Try these out on your tongue...

I de go. = "I am going."

Make we chop. = "Let's eat."

I suck finish. = "I drank (it)."

Den I de caam. = "I came" or "I used to come."

I go bell you. = "I will call you."

Ee no be yo fault. = "It's not your fault."

I de lash you! = "I'm going to beat you up!"

We de sabi buk. = "We are literate."

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