04 October 08 You say tomato……

Ghanaians and Americans are separated by a common language.

The African languages pronounce every letter of a word. This makes total sense to me why is the letter there if you don’t pronounce it? Just to mess up those of us who think spelling should be logical! And although I sometimes understand the word used I don’t at first get the meaning becuase like any dialect of a language the words take on their own meanings or they will use a word I know in a way  I would not normally use it. So sometimes even when I am speaking English with my Ghanaian neighbors and friends we don’t understand each other.

I want to state clearly that I am not making fun but documenting differences between our two languages. I don’t think language can be right or wrong. Language is used to communicate and is created by the people using it.  So what if we in America have turned many nouns into verbs i,e, friending. If we all understand that’s what matters. So writing this is also helping me to understand my new dialect of english better as well.

In Ghanaian English

Prouncing every letter

Film is fil emm
Peace Corps is not Peace Core but Peace CorPs
Salmon is not samon but saLmon
Debt is not det but deB T

Words with slightly different meanings or used in an unfamiliar way.

I am not going to class but I am “for: class
“I coming” is said as you are walking away from someone intending to return.
I don’t have a lot of candy I have “plenty toffee”.
Simona will often “take the lead” on market day. She will go to town before me since I have classes then we will meet up somewhere in town.
I “follow” the bus to town I don’t take it but I am still riding the bus to town.
I say “thingy” they say “dis ting”
I say ‘whatchamacallit” they say “dis ting”
I say “you know the” they say “the dis ting”
dis ting is another wonderfully versatile phrase. My Peace Corps Polo shirt says “Doing Dis Ting in Ghana since 1961”

Dizzy does not tell me to “take” the flower but to “collect’ the flower,

:eh heenhh: is my favorite conversational interjection. It is said in a variety of tones and with a variety of accents. It can mean “see” or “it is like that” or “yes’ or express doubt or surprise or anger. I cannot say it anyway near correctly but I still try because it is so fun to use.

“A taawlllllllll “instead of at all is also another favorite of mine but I don’t use it cause I really can’t say it right. But I love to hear it. It’s not good a tolllll. Someone will say.

-vc

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1 Comment

  1. Kat said,

    November 9, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    My all time favorite phrase in Ghanaian English was when a student had come to my house, but I wasn’t home. She told me she had met my absence.

    My students started everyday saying, “This thorny thistle lies on my thick thumb.”
    It took a while to teach my students how to make that TH sound as it was in none of their languages, but they all still said dis ting.


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