Monday, October 03, 2005
Swtiching and Borrowing in Ghanaian English
From a back issue of English Today:
Grammatical adaptation appears to be less
normative. My data contains adequate evidence
to show that the noun, for instance,
maintains its original plural markers in most
cases: singular nana, togbe, odikro, plural
nananom, togbuiwo, adikro – no English forms
*nanas or *togbes but there are the double-plurals
adikros (attested in the sentence “Kuntunkununkun
elevated a number of ‘adikros’ to
chief status with palanquins”, Chronicle
19–21:3:99) and akyames (Akan: ‘linguists’)
(as in “I didn’t know there were female
akyames in Ghana”, as said by an Akan University
professor, 18 Aug 2000, where the doubleplural
markers are Twi a- and English -s). ...
[Sidebar:]When writers in Ghana use a word that they recognize
as non-Standard English, the item is commonly
isolated on the page by means of such devices
as an initial capital or italics, regardless of its frequency
of occurrence. Some examples from the
adowa This item shows either full integration or
is isolated by means of an initial capital.
1 (Akan: ‘Akan dance’) ‘Tetteh demonstrates
running steps of adowa’ (Caption, Mirror 25 Feb
89); ‘...with a slight reduction in stiffness to do a
wild Adowa’ (Kojo Laing, Woman of the Aeroplanes:
2 (‘small antelope’) ‘...covered with the skin of
the adowa, the smallest brown antelope,...’ (R. E.
Obeng, Eighteenpence: 52)
3 (Akan: ‘an Akan drum’) ‘When the
drums,....Odensew and Adowa’ (Asare Konadu, A
Woman in her Prime: 47).
adinkra (Akan: ‘Akan symbols’, ‘cloth with such
symbols stamped on it’) ‘...almost creating new
adinkra designs’ (Kojo Laing, Search Sweet Country:
27); ‘...is exhibiting baskets from Bolga, Adinkra
from Ntoso…’ (Mirror, 22 March 97).
adinkra cloth (‘cloth decorated with adinkra symbols’) ‘...they attended funerals because they
had a new adinkra cloth’ (Asare Konadu, Ordained
by the Miracle: 80); ‘straightening the same Adinkra
cloth that he always wore’ (Kojo Laing, Woman of
the Aeroplanes: 89).
adinkra fufuo cloth (white cloth, as above)
‘He is dressed in an Adinkra fufuo cloth (a stamped
cloth with a white background)’ (A. A. Y. Kyerematen,
Kingship and Ceremony in Ashanti: 61).
adinkra symbols (as above) ‘To think that the
famous Adinkra symbols of Akan royals would be
associated with T-shirts’ (Chronicle 11, 14 Aug 94).
[Comment ‘Adinkra’ and its compounds vacillate
between full integration, capitalisation and italics.]
feeli feeli/fiili fiili/filli filli (Hausa: ‘openly,
truly’) ‘I saw it “feeli feeli”’ (Chronicle, 1–3 Aug 94);
‘I saw an angel “fiili fiili” in my dream’ (Letter,
Chronicle, 16–17 Jul 94); ‘I myself saw the violence
filli-filli….’ (Independent, 23–29 Oct 96).
[Comment As the varied spelling suggests, writers
appear to be uncertain and uneasy about this item.
It is iterative and has the appearance of slang, and
is commonly put in inverted commas. Note the
range and styles of spelling.]
Code-switching and lexical borrowing: Which is what in Ghanaian English?
English Today, Volume 18, Issue 03, July 2002, pp 48-54