The exchange pupils and headteachers of the University Basic Schools with the Central Regional Minister, Mr. Kwamina Duncan

There’s More Meaning to “Ghanaian English” Prof. Owusu –Ansah

A Professor of English at the Department of English, University of Cape Coast, Lawrence Kodwo Owusu-Ansah has stated that “Ghanaian English means more than just the English spoken by Ghanaians.”

The statement was made at an inaugural lecture held at the university on the topic “Does Ghanaian English Mean More than Just the English Ghanaians speak or not? Sic Et Non”.

The lecture provided a background to the origin of the question in the title and interpreted the question within the context of negative attitude to non-native varieties of English such as Ghanaian English.

Prof. Owusu-Ansah examined the argument that if the English spoken and written by Ghanaians was not different from other varieties of English, notably British English and other native varieties of English, then there was no need to recognise it as a distinct variety.

The Lecture also discussed the various linguistic features that cut across a number of varieties of English and the several unique ways in which Ghanaians use the English language indicating, “There are differences in Ghanaian English and native English”.

Prof. Owusu-Ansah cited some examples of the use  of words such as ‘impartation” to mean spiritual healing in the Ghanaian context, “private” to mean a toilet facility, “shine” to mean bright, “queen mother” to mean a queen among others. “You will agree with me that these are unknown to the native English”, he stated.

He mentioned for example the term “title” in the country’s political field “honorable” as a sign of respect for people in political office adding that “Now even the wives of people in political office are referred to as honourable, but it is only used during parliamentary sittings by the native speakers”.“If the Ghanaian wants to say some one should not be taken seriously, he says do not mind him ‘he is doing concert’ but to the original speakers it is a musical performance”.

Another notable example of Ghanaian English is the reference to any beverage be it chocolate, oval tine, milo or coffee as “tea”. “Any breakfast including coffee is described as “tea” in Ghanaian English”, he declared.According to the eminent scholar, the Ghanaians always come out with new norms everyday, and even use more verbs plus ‘ings’,  concluding  that “The Ghanaian English is much more than the English spoken by Ghanaians”.