TOP 20 MOST IRRITATING GHANAIAN ENGLISH PHRASES OF ALL TIME


If you are a Ghanaian, you should be very familiar with these very everyday phrases you hear on the tro-tro, in the market, on the streets and frighteningly from some classrooms too. Eissshh! In Ghana, we love to say what we say and we say it with such panache as if it’s all correct and proper! Like with a pinch of salt. Our billboards and posters carry the worst of expressions but we love ourselves. Please endure this…

 

Only In Ghana, the things we endure
Only In Ghana, the things we endure

I went snooping around with pen and paper after my last blog (I promised there’ll be something on Ghanaian English, yeah?), and caught all shapes and sizes of people giving the Queen’s language a good beating … I decided I will only concentrate on what we have taken now as acceptable. Here go 20 of Ghana’s most irritating English phrases….those that we have heard saaã, and are tired of….(ei…have u heard that now, a small-sized Club beer is called an Akuffo, as short as you know who?)

1. Dash me some….

Ghanaians have this instinct for thinking that every seller is doing them in. So even if it’s pure water, they wish they can tip the scales in their favour and get more than they are paying for. The market people too are getting smart. They serve you less and then they ‘dash’ you the rest of what you deserve! Period! Everybody is happy.

2. Home use….

The better thing to say is ‘second—rate’. In Ghana, we so home use everything: home use cars, home use clothing, home use toothbrushes koraa mpo, there is not much GES can do about this phrase.

3. I’m going to barber my hair…..

Arrrggghhhh!!! And when you finish, seamstress your dress as well!

4. Can you borrow me (some money)?

My primary school teacher said that people who say this were born before the education ministry was set up so we may just have to be patient until they all have lost their teeth with age and can then honestly shut up!

5. I will climb this car…

Aw, aw, aw! Maybe, that’s why you have been standing at the station for so long! Looking for a car to climb! Which driver will permit you?

6. One mother, one father….

Honestly, can anybody be born from one mother, two fathers? Come to think of it, this phrase exists because in Ghana, everybody is everybody’s abusua. ‘Kufuor koraa yɛ me wɔfa’. Those kinds of things….so you must really be conversant with your parents if you don’t want to lose them to some bloke.

7. Petrol shell…
This is what we call an innocent filling station. Petrol shell! I can’t even help it. Petrol. Shell. Aaaaba!

8. I am going to branch at this house…

Take a bend. If you finish branching, just be sure to grow leaves on it as well. The weather is unpredictable nowadays.

9. It will short….

That is to say that it will reduce till it’s not enough anymore. Greedily stingy people overdramatize the five wise virgins when you ask them for anything. Their answer? You guessed right. It will short!

10. From today onward going…

Ehhhn! Keep your thoughts to yourself. Where are you today onward going from today onward to?!!

11. Excuse me to say…

When we want to insult you courteously, this is what we hide behind. I wish it were an Akuapem phrase. That will make it so natural. Excuse me to say, sɛbe sɛbe tafrakyɛ.

12. I for one, I think….

We for two, we also think you should shut up and gowayyou!!! A mess of spoken language!!

13. At the end of the day….

Which day is it that has still never come for Ghanaians? I think this is genuinely one of the most scrubbed phrases in the world, thanks to us. Such a lame excuse for not getting things done on time! It even ends our prayers… “at the end of the day, we will give glory to your name”. Somebody tell me; which day are we talking about?

14. Only your….

This is one of my favourites. I loved being told “Only your shoe!” whenever I wore new sneakers in my kindergarten days. And I still hear it for a lot of things: “only your dress!” “only your car!”….”Only Your English!!!!”

15. On the light…

This is “on” being used as a verb, if you get what I mean. /On/ the light, means “turn on the lights,” only that, “turn” is too long and unpronounceably burdensome for us. We love the command it gives us to say it this way: “On the light!” What a waste!

16. Last…

And we have developed this beautiful use of the word ‘last’ that spins my head any day. For example: “What is your last price?” “The price is fifty thousand cedis, last!” So what is first?

17. I quite remember….

We never fully remember anything in Ghana. We only quite! Poor tribute to such a sensuous word as ‘quite’. When we start hearing people ‘quite forgetting’, that will be the day!!

18. Will not reach…

As in, “The money will not reach.” Where at all is the money going? Eeenh! This English too will not reach.

19. I’m going to come…

Can you believe that a song by Buk Bak which had this line tune-variedly repeated as a chorus (singing): “I’m going to come, I‘m going to come, I’m going to come…12X doo daa daa” actually stayed in the top of our charts? We dey craze for this phrase waa!!! And we mean to say “I’ll be back!” This one paa deɛɛ (singing) GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND GHANA…doo daa daa…It’s only better than calling those fish you get along the Volta “Keta school boys”. School boys paa?

20. Flash me…

We only mean that you should leave a missed call on our phone as a prompt. God be praised that it is not “Flush me.”

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124 thoughts on “TOP 20 MOST IRRITATING GHANAIAN ENGLISH PHRASES OF ALL TIME

  1. i love this dela! you’ve captured the idiosyncrasies of the average Ghanaian with the written word so humourously! love it, love it!

  2. 21.from henceforth- henceforth
    22.new wili-new release
    23.he said that eeeh
    24.when i saw him norr
    25.i’ll drop here- i’ll alight here
    26.like that you are
    27.your head is hard-who has a head as soft as cotton? u r mean is better
    28.the rain is falling-who pushed it?
    29.crob my hair-the word’s crop(short haircut)
    30.repeat again-repeat!

  3. I love this, Dela. Yeah, and these phrases are said with such panache, sometimes even with an affected foreign accent, it’s just too irritating.

    I guess another one which has been said so often that it doesn’t sound awkward anymore is: “I had no other choice THAN to…” instead of “I had no other choice BUT to…” You even hear it on t.v. sometimes during the news hour.

    Man, this is Ghana for you.

  4. loool!!!!
    i actually say some of these phrases just so they can understand me. hahaha
    hope it doesnt rub off on me.
    looking forward to ur next blog.
    i go see you moro for next, hehe (hope i used that right)

  5. A great piece Dela.Ghanaians are really eccentric…u did it with aplomb!You are a genius…am blessed to have known you!

  6. Where I grew up, the only people who flashed were old men in parks wearing raincoats and very little else… I still cringe when people say they will flash me.

  7. hello I was fortunate to search your Topics in digg
    your subject is exceptional
    I obtain a lot in your website really thanks very much
    btw the theme of you site is really admirable
    where can find it

    1. Thanks for the compliments. This theme is “Monolab” and it’s free to use on wordpress. I’ve got a couple of people asking where I got it. Just google “wordpress themes” and it’ll come up. Keep reading and do enjoy.

  8. This is great satire you’ve got together here, Dela.

    There’s this other “classic”- “give me my balance” for “give me my change.” Only in Ghana!

  9. Hi,
    I like this write up. It’s so timely and on point. I couldn’t laughing and even in some instances, I realised I was ‘guilty’ of using these ‘correct’ phrases.

    That said, I wish you’d added to each wrong phrase, the correct one(s)- I feel the education would be complete for us the readers.

    I look forward to your next post.

    1. Great of you to stop by, Kinna. Mighty impressed by the work you are doing for African literature on your blog, and it’s inspiring to know that you are doing it from inside the motherland too(another reason to love Ghana more). I’ve got you bookmarked. Oh! and for your 4-year-old, don’t you worry. They always learn after a few corrections:-)

  10. masa, u cant just highlight mistakes without giving us the appropriate thing to say.your analysis lack value, revise it again

    1. Oh Daniel, this is not an English grammar script! It is a fun blog. And some of the phrases aren’t necessarily wrong, just a bit overused, agree?

    1. Ok, ok..let’s not take this all serious. I want the mystique to remain. We don’t want to have a lecture here, or? If you want any particular one, let me know and I’ll tell. Joke’s on me…lol

  11. The mistakes have been made not because our people are stupid, just remember it is someone elses language; how many English people have tried to speak a Ghanaian language let alone write sentences. Being able to write Engish words and sentences correctly is no measure of one’s abilities or capabilities. If pay attention to some British or American born citizen they mix tenses and speak very bad English- if I may say so.

  12. For those who want Dela to provide the “correct” way to put these statements……I think you’ve missed the point of his post!!! This is the GHANAIAN way i.e. there is no other way to capture the “Ghananization” of the English language.

    31. Pepsodent ( toothpaste)

  13. This is jokes!! I had a Ghanaian boyfriend who used to say
    I quite remember
    I always wondered what the heck he was on about

  14. Recently moved to Accra, and heard a few of these phrases…I find myself saying pardon me frequently. Good to know that I am not going nutts!
    I have heard some of these in some W.African countries. I wonder if this is due to folks not reading anymore!

  15. Dela,
    What’s GES? Is that Ghana Education System?

    You had me chuckling on this post! I’m glad I read it so when I go to GH and someone says “I’m going to come” I won’t be standing there looking crazy confused! “On the light”? Hilarity!

    The first time I heard “flash” was last year. Some people from GH kept calling and hanging up before I could pick up! Over here, if you keep doing that, it’s perceived as a prank call and people get pissed. Then someone else informed me that this was a “flash” and people do that so you can call them. For real tho? Naw, naw man :^) If I wanted to call, I would have called. I told them, don’t flash me; call when you have enough credits to actually speak to me! :^D

  16. in my opinion, we call sachet H2O pure H2O. if dey r all pure, den should I put gutter H2O in a sachet it’s also pure H2O. check d no. one (1), of d irritating Gh English U wrote.

  17. hi, i just found out about you today and and i am impressed. Another ghanaian expression that i hear is “sorry for the left” instead of “sorry for using my left hand”. i go red with rage everytime i hear my sisters use it. it’s funny that some people are aware that the expressions are sometimes wrong but they use them anyway. That’s one of the things i love about Ghana: as far as people understand you, who cares if you butcher the language?

  18. Very humorous piece! But maybe next time, you will be doing us a big service by letting us know what the correct phrases should be.

  19. This made me laugh so much however you will be surprised to know that at my work place in UK I find my British colleagues saying: ‘you’ll learn me how to use the computer,won’t you?’ instead of ‘ teach’ ‘borrow me your pen’ instead of ‘lend’ ‘ and I says’ instead of ‘I said.’ Some of their pronunciations/ regional accents are unbelievably awful. ‘me sen’ for ‘myself,’ ‘borket’ for bucket, ‘bos’ for ‘bus’ etc . This is not to excuse the ordinary Ghanaian using the wrong phrase, but to draw our attention to what happens elsewhere as well.

  20. U SHD’VE GIVEN US THE CORRECT PHRASES AFTER WARD. THATS WHAT WE CALL A REVOLUTION, ADVOCACY OR BETTER STILL EDUCATION. U’VE NOT DONE DONE JUSTICE TO UR RESEARCH.

  21. Good job!

    You captured it all very well!

    May favorites: “One mother, one father”….”I for one, I think….We for two, we also think you should shut up and gowayyou!!…”Only your English!!”

    Hahahahahahaha…..

  22. Ol boy, na the on the light you see? What about offing it? Or who turned the water, turn it to where or in which direction, you may want to ask. Abeg! Come to 9ja, you go hear the smell. Make oyinbo people go siddon joo. Queen’s English wetin, for where?

  23. Hi.i don’t think this is a very good piece.In my opinion, the next time you try to create an awareness on the general mistakes most Ghanaians make especially in spoken English, you should affix the more appropriate phrases-thank you.

  24. So whatsup, e good saf sey we for dey rattle bl3 sef? Abi we ge wanna own language why we no go dey be proud of am then rattle dat one. Sontimes the bl3 saf be too hard no make man fe dey communicate well.

  25. Can I ask why you have taken a negative stance in this piece Dela? These phrases obviously express clear meaning from one person to another/others and thus fulfil sociocultural purposes as all other “legitimate/valid/official” languages do! (I think this is what xytnow said above, but I’m unfortunately monolingual and thus a bit in the dark!) Another article I just read – that quotes you Dela (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/10/ghana-calls-end-queens-english) – has received a multitude of negative comments about this language (is it known as Ghanaian pidgin?), mostly from ignorant and/or arrogant English speakers who seem to think that modern standard British English shouldn’t change and be used in the creation of new languages, despite having come from the same origins itself. It makes me sad that so many people are effectively blinded by viewing everything through a monolingual lens and that some people who speak newer contact languages adopt these deficit views too. I’d love to learn some more from you, but let’s have a piece or two that just celebrate the awesome linguistic creativity of young Ghanaians eh? :-)

    1. Thanks for your welcome critique. First off, I am a staunch believer in Ghanaian pidgin and this blog was written to celebrate our creativity as Ghanaians. If you didn’t get the downright humour in its tone, you probably read it on a serious note. And I’ll suggest that you read a couple more posts from the blog to really appreciate what this blog does. It’s for celebrating our craftiness with everyday behaviour, language being one of them. This is a satirical blog.

      1. bossman,i once again hate to disagree wid u again but i reckon u meant all u said in all seriousness…u made a funny point,we get it,lets laff it off and move on..admit it and entertain us…

  26. We say some of these things in the United States too, but nobody expects us to speak the “Queen’s English.” (Isn’t that why we got independence?) I suppose as English is most Americans’ mother tongue, we feel especially free to mangle it as we wish. “At the end of the day” you hear everywhere- from politicians, university professors and in lots of rhetoric. “I for one…I think” would also sound fine here. Thanks for writing this, I love learning variations on the English language, and I hope Ghanaians don’t start speaking “proper” English anytime soon. : )

  27. i love ur post but i hate to disagree wid u on number 20..FLASH ME is actually a correct term and has nuthn to do wid ghanaian slangs…

  28. I luv Ghana,this is a very interesting blog
    It is nice to learn about your culture,and the way
    You speak on a daily basics

  29. i love it cuz it is so true and only buttresses the fact that we Ghanaians are an interesting people as we love to express what we feel through words and dont care what the words actually mean. it is true paaaa

  30. I think u shud grow and bcom an english teacher,den u cn correct all these phrases n worry nt again..
    All d same,kudos to u’r research,I’ve learn some few lines.. Tanx.

  31. That made me laugh so much, my boyfriend is ghanian and many a time uses some of those phrases and am now learning to understand most of them. Always makes me laugh to hear him call everyone charley! Was actually trying to look for a ghana love poem written in English and ghanian so back to the task in hand!

  32. Loved this and made me laugh, am wid a Ghana man and have now heard most of these and understand quite a lot more, one the other day that made me laugh was “me now let you go charley” even though “charley” had rung him, seemed a very polite way of saying I’m hanging up! Was looking for a Ghana love poem that was written in both Ghanian and English so back to the task in hand.

  33. Made me laugh so much, my boyfriend is Ghanian and I love some of the phrases he comes out wid! This post is definately not about correct English but phrases people use, there are English phrases I use that don’t make sense to anyone outside of my county let alone country. Now back to the task of looking for a love poem written in both English and ghanian.

  34. Hi Dela, I really enjoyed your article and appreciate your ability to compile all these. In all I got 38 phrases of such…this includes all those in the comments. I actually was looking out for them to discuss on radio. Kudos.

  35. Am really happy that u brought something like this out does Ghanains that think they spiking the right English by using this words this a good place for them,so that they can no that they are not using the right words when they are spiking English. The big problem is that most people do not accept the fact that they are not spiking the right English they always think that they are right by use dose words.

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