mardi 1 janvier 2008

Why Why Why Please!!

The official langugae of Ghana is English . . . supposedly. Indeed, you can get by in Ghana with English but most Ghanaians can't really converse in English - no talking about religion, postulating about philosophy, or indicating where the bathroom is. Actually, I understand about as much Burkina French as Ghanaian English. It was like another language sometimes. The phrases that they use were so funny to me as a native English-speaker. You can throw the word "please" in any sentence you want. For example:
"Do you have any bread?"
"No please"
"Wait . . . does that mean yes or no?"
"No please"
" . . . ok . . ."
When a taxi sped dangerously through the beach village a concerned villager shouted, "Why! Why! Why! Please!!" at the driver. You can't say they're not polite.

Also, one does not "eat" in Ghana, one "chops." I don't know where it comes from . . . maybe chomp? Who knows. But yes, you "chop" bananas. When you are hungry, you want to "chop" chicken. There was even an official sign that said it was illegal to "chop" turtles.

The speech and grammatical patterns of Ghanaian English are also a source of amusement for the native speaker. Very often a sentence would be worded in a way that only Yoda could have understood. Here are some examples:
"Coming I am please!"
"Chop rice you want to."
"Good price I give you please!"
I had no idea Yoda was from Ghana. By the end of the trip my fellow travelers and I started talking like Yoda and interjecting please in every sentence. It was really nice however to travel and use English. There were some Ghanaians with pretty good English, but for the most part reversed the sentences were please.

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