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Ghanaian Pidgin English : in search of diachronic, synchronic, and sociolinguistic evidence

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Ghanaian Pidgin English : in search of diachronic, synchronic, and sociolinguistic evidence
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Amoako, Joe K. Y. B
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English
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ix, 205 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.

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Subjects / Keywords:
Creoles ( jstor )
Language ( jstor )
Linguistics ( jstor )
Pidgins ( jstor )
Questionnaires ( jstor )
Slavery ( jstor )
Standard languages ( jstor )
Vocabulary ( jstor )
Vowels ( jstor )
Words ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Linguistics -- UF
Languages -- Ghana ( lcsh )
Linguistics thesis Ph. D
Pidgin English -- Ghana ( lcsh )
Popular culture -- Ghana ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1992.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 199-203).
Additional Physical Form:
Also available online.
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Joe K.Y.B. Amoako.

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University of Florida
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Full Text


AZ L IEZGHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF
DIACHRONIC, SYNCHRONIC, AND SOCIOLINGUISTIC EVIDENCE




















By

JOE K. Y. B. AMOAKO



















A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1992








Copyright 1992

by

Joe K. Y. B. Amoako








ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to

Professor John Lipski, the cochair for this dissertation, who spent a lot of his time in helping me with his very good suggestions especially on the theoretical aspects. Professor Allan Burns, the chair for this dissertation, gave me a lot of encouragement as well as guidance, especially on the socioliguistics part of this work and he deserves my gratefulness. Special thanks go to the other members of the dissertation committee, Professors Chauncey Chu, Norman Markel, and Goran Hyden, for suggestions that have brought about the completion of this work. I owe thanks to Professor Florence Dolphyne of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Ghana, who brought my attention to the fact that no formal studies had been done on the pidgin English situation in Ghana. It was through Professor Kofi Anyidoho of the University of Ghana, who was also one of my informants, that I corresponded with Professor Ian Hancook of the University of Texas who directed me on how to do the research on the pidgin English in Ghana. I am indebted to both of them for their assistance. I must express my thanks to Joyce Adjorlolo and Amoako-Atta for their asssistance in the distribution and collection of the questionnaire. I thank the following informants for their time and information: Mr. Akweyena and George Danyare of Institute of Adult Education; Dan Amakye-Dede, leader of Apollo High King


iii








Band of Ghana; Georgina Amankwah and Anthony Pegah of Kumasi Polytechnic; Asiedu-Yirenkyi, first P.N.D.C. secretary for Culture and Tourism and a lecturer at the University of Ghana; Mr. Ayeh, managing director of CEREDEC; Nana-Benyin and Ernest Sarfo-Baidoo of Third Eye Band; Kofi Sammy of Okukuseku International Band; Gustav Baidoo and Agnes Ewusiamah of Achimota Primary School; Mr. Torkonoo of the "Ghanaian Times"; Job Enning of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission Primary School; Ms. Salamatu; Ms. Serwah-Awuku; Monica Addo and Rebecca Djadu; Kofi Ntiamoah of Homotta comics; H.T.K. Bobobee; Alhassan of Commonwealth Hall at Legon; and the other numerous informants without whose help this work would not be successful. Special thanks should go to Ms. Hellen Odamtten, a former worker of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and a senior research fellow at the University of Ghana for contributing to the history and syntax parts of this work. I wish to express my thanks to Mr. Simbo Odunaiya for his computer guidance that enabled me make the beautiful graphics in this work. Finally, I thank my wife, Doris Boateng, for her patience and encouragement. Needless to say, I am solely responsible for any errors or imperfections in this work. All I can say is "Na God go tank de pipul wey dem help mi. Wey de monin k=k de krow mek yu sabi sey i bi Joe de tank yu =." ("It is God who will thank the people who helped me. When the morning rooster crows, you should know that it is Joe thanking you all.").


iv















TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................... iii

ABSTRACT.................................................. v

CHAPTERS

1 DEFINITION OF PIDGIN .................... 1

Introduction..... ..................-o...... 1
Social and Structural Criteria.. ............1
Nonnative SpeakerCriterio............ ...o- 3
Definition of Creole.,.....o..........oo..... ..4
Etymology of "Pidgin"........o...... ....-...5
Etymology of Creole....................... ....6
Summary.....................................o. 7

2 HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN WEST
AFRICA AND ITS CURRENT STATUS... .... ....o.. 9

Introduction... ........o...... ............. ...9
A Step-by-Step History of Pidgin English in
West Africa... o............. -........ ... 9
The Portuguese... ......................10
The Dutch............. ................... 13
The British..... ....o....... ..........o.... o. 15
Principal Pidgin English Varieties in West
Africa. ..................o.....o..... ........18
Nigeria.... ....... .......... o............21
Sierra Leone ....o.........o...... ....o......oo....23
Liberia ........... ....... -o............28
Cameroon............oo.... ................... 31
Summary...... o............................... 33

3 GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF CURRENT
AND HISTORICAL EVIDENCE ........................ 35

Research Background................ ...... .... 35
Methiodologyr..... ....... .......-...........36
History of Ghanaian Pidgin English... ..........39
Colonial Settlement .................... 39
Second World War...................-o.......43

V









News Media .................44
Current Emergence of Ghanaian Pidgin English. 46
Contact with other West African States .......48 The NigerianlInfluence....................... 48
Other Factors................................ 51
Summ ry ... .... ... ... ... .... ... ... ... 52

4 A PHONOLOGICAL, MORPHOLOGICAL, SYNTACTIC, AND
SEMANTIC SURVEY OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH ... 54

Introduction.............................. .. 54
Phonology ..................................... 57
Vowels of GPE.............................. 57
Consonants of GPE............................ 58
Syllable Structure of GPE.................... 59
Tone. .. .............................. 60
Vowel Harmony ............................. 61
Morphology..................................... 64
Reduplication ....................... ...... 64
Word Compounding in GPE ................... 70
Synrtax......................................... 71
The Basic Sentence Structure .............. 71
Tense-Modal-Aspect ........................ 71
Negation..................................... 76
Imperative................................... 78
Interrogative........................... 78
Exclamations and Emphasis.................... 80
Personal Pronouns ............................81
Possessives.................................. 81
The Articles................................. 82
Prepositions and Postpositions ...............83
Complementizer "sey"...................... ....... 84
Comparative / Superlative Expression.... .....84
Semantics of Some G.P.E. Words,... ........ 86
Words from other Languages..... ...............96
Orthography.......................... ..... 96
Sumamary.... -........... ... .. ... ... .97

5 SOCIOLINGUISTICS OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH.. 99

Introduction .................. ... .......o... ...99
Speakers and Places of GPE. ....o...............10
Age Groups......o.............. ...... ......106
Male and Female Speakers.,.......o.........106
Teachers........... ......... ...... ..... ... 108
Family Members and Friends... ...............109
Traders and Farmers .....o.......o... ........109
Ordinary Workers .................. .......o.....110
Government Officials ......o o..... o.......110
Drivers ................ .................... 111
Priests ....... ....... ................11
Students ................. .................112

vi









Others.... . . .. . . .. . . 113

Uses of Ghanaian Pidgin English................ 114
Written Usage................................. 114
Literature.................................. 115
Entertainment............................ 118
Newspapers.................................. 119
Spoken Usage.................................. 121
Communication............................... 122
Simplicity of GPE.......................... 123
Socialization and Fun...................... 124
Politics.................................... 125
Entertainment............................... 126
People's Attitudes Toward GPE.................. 129
Summary'........................................ 142

6 CONCLUSIONS............................. 147

APPENDICES

A RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE......................... 151

B LANGUAGE MAP OF GHANA.......................... 155

C SOME GPE COMMON CONSTRUCTIONS/EXPRESSIONS .... 156

D SOME GPE CONVERSATIONS AND SONGS............... 158
A Conversation Between Two Students About a
Future Date..................................... 158
A Song by Okukuseku International Band ....... 160 Interview with Kofi Sammy...................... 161
A Song by Apollo King International Band .......162

E GHANAIAN COMICS IN PIDGIN ENGLISH.............. 164
Gyato Magani.................................... 164
Baba Dogo....................................... 176
Super Mugu Yaro................................. 186

REFER~EN'CES................................................. 199

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH....................................... 204













vii









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF
DIACHRONIC, SYNCHRONIC, AND SOCIOLINGUISTIC EVIDENCE

By

Joe K. Y. B. Amoako

December 1992


Chairperson: Allan Burns
Major Department: Linguistics

Considerable misinformation has been circulated about

Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE). Some Ghanaians attribute the worsening of standard English to the emergence of GPE. But GPE is serving a very important purpose which many critics overlook. It serves as an important medium of communication. It is used on a wide scale at many places, in popular songs, on political platforms, and on many occasions. It is used by both literate and illiterate people. Most importantly, pidgin English is becoming the lingua franca in English speaking West Africa countries.

There has not been much formal attempt to study the

pidgin English situation in Ghana, and because of this, some linguists do not believe that there is a pidgin in the country. In a personal letter to me, Professor Ian Hancock, a creolist at the University of Texas, expressed the need for a research on Ghanaian Pidgin English: "It is heartening to learn that serious scholarly attention is


viii








being given to Pidgin in Ghana, the one West African nation for which least information is available on the local pidgin English." The above observations, among other things, prompted me to do a research on the language so that it will open the way for other linguists to know that there is a pidgin in Ghana.

The study consists of six chapters which deal with the definitions and etymologies of pidgin and creole, the history of West African Pidgin English, the methodology of the research, history of GPE, a detailed linguistic analysis of GPE, the sociolinguistics of GPE, as well as conclusions on the survey.

Data were collected on GPE over a period of nine

months. Out of the 400 copies of questionnaire distributed, 304 were retrieved. This period was also used in taperecording interviews, conversations, and songs, as well as collecting magazines and newspapers. The informants who consisted of both sexes ranged from school children to a secretary of state.

The survey shows that there is a pidgin English in Ghana, and that it has been influenced by the substrate languages. It is spreading fast, especially among the youths because it is being used not only as a means of communication but also as a means of solidarity.






ix














CHAPTER 1
DEFINITION OF PIDGIN



Introduction

This chapter is devoted to a literature review on the definition and etymology of pidgin and creole. I will cite some of these definitions to acquaint ourselves with these two concepts are. This will help decide whether what is being discussed in this work is a pidgin or creole, or it is none of them.

Social and Structural criteria

"Pidgin" has been defined with different criteria by various authors. Two of these are social and structural. The social criterion states the need for a language as a means of communication when people who do not have a common language come together; and the structural criterion is the reduced structure of such a language that would evolve to serve as a means of communication.

John Lyons defines pidgin languages as:

Specialized languages used for trade or similar
purposes by those who have no other common language.
It is characteristic of pidgin that they have a
simplified grammar and a highly restricted vocabulary in comparison to the language or languages, upon which
they are based. (Lyons 1981:30-31)




1








2

For Holm, "a pidgin is a reduced language that results from extended contact between groups of people with no language in common; it evolves when they need some means of verbal communication, perhaps for trade" (Holm 1988:4). Todd has the following to say about the definition of pidgin.

A pidgin is a marginal language which arises to fulfil
certain communication needs among people who have no
common language. In the initial stages of contact the communication is often limited to transactions where a detailed exchange of ideas is not required and where a
small vocabulary, drawn almost exclusively from one
language, suffices. The syntactic structure of pidgin is less complex and less flexible than the structure of
languages which were in contact. (Todd 1974:1-2) Hall claims that a new pidgin is likely to arise

whenever a guide meets a tourist, or a shopkeeper meets a customer, and the two do not share a common language. He further states that a pidgin will draw its minimal vocabulary from both languages. He again states that the phonology and syntax will be reduced and the pidgin is suitable only for minimal and specialized communication (Hall 1954).

Apart from the communicative approach, Wardhaugh has

added function to his definition of pidgin. He writes that 11pidginization generally involves the simplification of a language, e.g., reduction in morphology (word structure) and syntax (grammatical structure), tolerance of considerable phonological variation (pronunciation), reduction in the number of functions for which the pidgin is used, and extensive borrowing of words from local mother-tongues"








3

(Wardhaugh 1990:59). He argues that one usually does not attempt to write novels in a pidgin.

NonNative Speaker Criterion

Another criterion which has been used to define pidgin in addition to the social and structural criteria is that pidgin does not have native speakers. Hall writes that "by definition, a pidgin language is one with two special charateristics: (1) it is native to none, or virtually none, of those who speak it; (2) it is sharply reduced in structure and vocabulary, as contrasted with the language from which it is derived" (Hall 1954:20). He uses Pidgin English as an example of his definition for pidgin. "Pidgin English is any one of several kinds of reduced language, based on but differing from English, used by various parts of the world as a lingrua franca among speakers of different languages but native to none of them" (ibid 23).

Wardhaugh, in using the nonnative speaker criterion,

defines pidgin as "a language with no native speakers: it is no one's first language but is a contact language" (Wardhaugh 1990:57).

Fasold has combined all the three criteria, social, structural, and nonnative speaker, to define pidgin.

Roughly, a pidgin language is generally understood to
be a "simplified" language with a vocabulary that comes
mostly from another language, but whose grammar is
different. Pidgins, in the stereotypical case, are
formed when speakers of one language engage in trade
with speakers of another, or work on plantations
managed by speakers of another, and neither knows the








4

other's language. Pidgins are no one's mother tongue.
(Fasold 1990:180)
David De camp is another writer who has used the three

criteria to define pidgin. He also states that it is a

vernacular.

A pidgin is a contact vernacular, normally not the
native language of any speakers. It is used in trading
or in any situation requiring communication between
persons who do not speak each other's native language.
It is characterized by a limited vocabulary, an
elimination of many grammatical devices such as number
and gender, and a drastic reduction of redundant
features. (De Camp 1971)

Definition of Creole

The most general popular account states that creoles

arise when a pidgin becomes the native language of a new

generation of children. In other words, pidgin becomes a

creole when it acquires native speakers (Fasold 1990:83;

Hall 1954:21; Todd 1974:3; Hymes 1971:3; DeCamp 1971:15;

Wardhaugh 1990:58; Muhlhausler 1986:7; Holm 1988:6).

This occurs, for instance, when parents from different linguistic backgrounds communicate among themselves and
with their offspring in a makeshift pidgin, which is
elaborated and adopted as a means of intercommunication
by the next generation. Thus the children in this
situation: are exposed to imperfect, reduced language
input; elaborate this input using new grammatical
devices gleaned from internal resources, that is, by
appealing to their innate linguistic knowledge; and
eventually speak a language that is both quantitatively
and qualitatively different from that spoken by their parents and, in many cases, not intelligible to them.
(Muhlhausler 1986:7)

The appeal of children to the innate linguistic

knowledge in the acquisition of creole suggested by

Muhlhausler is related to Bickerton's definition of creole:








5

"creoles are reflections of a natural bioprogram for human language which is activated in cases of imperfect language transmission" (Bickerton 1981).

Bickerton suggests that "the essential difference

between pidginization and creolization is that pidginization is second-language learning with restricted input and creolization is first-language learning, also with restricted input" (Bickerton 1981).

Etymology of "Pidgin"
There have been many proposals as to the etymology of the term "pidgin". The more widespread of these proposals include the following taken from Mhlhausler (1986:1):

PROPOSALS TO THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE TERM "PIDGIN"

1. the definition given by the Oxford English Dictionary
(OED) of a "Chinese corruption of English "business"; 2. a Chinese corruption of the Portuguese word ocupaco:
"business";

3. Hebrew Didiom: "exchange, trade, redemption";

4. Yago (a South American Indian language spoken in an area
colonized by Britain) pidian: "people";

5. South Seas pronunciation of English "beach" (beachee)
from the location where the language was typically used
(Muhlhausler 1986);
6. derived from pequeno portugu~s, roughly "little
Portuguese";

7. derived from Baixo portugues "low Portuguese" (Holm 1988)

Of all the above proposals, the OED theory enjoys the most popular support. In a paper presented at the 1990









6

Linguistic Society of America (LSA) conference, Dingxu Shi used phonological evidence to support the OED theory.

The word for "business" is found in a Chinese Pidgin
English phrase book that was popular around Canton in
the early 19th century. It is represented by two Chinese characters pronounced as (pitsin] with an unaspirated voiceless stop [p) and an unaspirated
affricate [ts). The two consonants are the closest a
Cantonese speaker can get for [b] and [z). The English
speakers in turn would pronounce the two Cantonese
sounds as [ph] and [dz]. The insertion of vowel after a syllable-final consonant is common in Chinese Pidgin
English. (Shi 1990)

Etymologyv of Creole

The term "creole" originated in one of Portugal's

colonies in the sixteenth century. Both form and meaning suggest an etymology criar "to nurse, breed, nourish" (Valkhoff 1966:34). According to Muhlhausler, "originally the meaning of criolho was 'slave in European employment, particularly around the house, white man or woman originating from the colonies"' (Muhlhausler 1986:6).

The word "creole" has adopted a number of meanings. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary gives the following meanings to it.

1. white person born in the colonies

2. a person of European descent born especially in the
West Indies or Spanish America

3. a white person descended from early French or
Spanish settlers of the U.S. Gulf states and preserving
their speech and culture

4. a person of mixed French or Spanish and Negro
descent speaking a dialect of French or Spanish








7

5. a language based on two or more languages that
serves as the native language of its speakers
(Merriam-Webster 1984:305-6)

According to Holm, Crioulo, which is a Portuguese word "with a diminutive suffix, came to mean an African slave born in the New World in Brazilian usage. Its meaning was then extended to include Europeans born in the New World. The word finally came to refer to the customs and speech of Africans and Europeans born in the New World. It was later borrowed as Spanish criollo, French.cr-Leole, Dutch creol, and English creole" (Holm 1988:9).

Summary

In this chapter, we have attempted to deal with the

definitions of pidgin and creole languages. Pidgin evolves when people who do not understand each other's language meet and they want to communicate verbally. This is the social definition of pidgin. The structural definition states that pidgin has a reduced language structure which means that its phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics are simpler than those of the language or languages that it may evolve from. By definition pidgin does not have native speakers. Pidgin becomes creole when it acquires a native speaker. The linguistic structure of a creole is more complex than that of pidgin. Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) which is the topic of this work has no opportunity of being creolized in the near future, because the Ghanaian children have access to one or more of the 45 Ghanaian local languages.








8

moreover GPE is not a popular language in the homes of its speakers. This means GPE will remain a pidgin for a long time to come.














CHAPTER 2
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN WEST AFRICA AND ITS CURRENT STATUS


Introduction

This chapter contains two subsections. The first section deals with the step-by-step history of pidgin English in West Africa; we will discuss how Portuguese, Dutch, and British have contributed toward pidgin English in West Africa. The second section deals with an enumeration of the principal pidgin English varieties in West Africa, which are Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cameroon.

A Step-by-Step History of Pidgin English in West Africa

The exact date of the development of an English-based pidgin in West Africa cannot be determined. It probably began with the first contacts with the British in the sixteenth century (Mafeni 1971:97; Spencer 1971:8). Before the British built their first English fort at Cormantine on the Gold Coast in 1631, the Portuguese, who were followed by the Dutch, had traded with the people of West Africa and had made some impact on the linguistics of this area. In this section, I will discuss, chronologically, how these three European nations contributed toward the evolution of pidgin English in West Africa.



9








10

The Portuguese

There was a pidgin Portuguese which was used in parts of Africa throughout the 16th and 17th centuries (Naro 1978:334). Naro states that the history of pidgin Portuguese is divided into two temporally and geographically distinct phases. The first phase is the period of formation in Europe, beginning around the 1440Os, and the second phase is the period of transfer and establishment in West Africa of the resultant "acquired code," beginning around 1500.

The captains of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal reached Cape Verde in 1444, Sierra Leone in 1460 and the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1471 (Spencer 1971:7). They colonized the Cape Verde Islands and used them as a base for settlements south along the coast. They built the fort of

Sao Jorge de Mina' in the Gold Coast. They set up a station at Gwato, the port of Benin, and colonized the island of Sao Thome as a center for their Niger-Cameroons trade. They established settlements, forts and trading stations down the western and up the eastern sub-equatorial coasts of Africa, and they reached Goa and Calicut and the Malabar coast of India, as well as Malacca on the Malayan peninsular (ibid.8).

Native speakers of West African languages were captured and taken to Portugal, where, at the orders of Prince Henry the Navigator, they were taught Portuguese so that they could be used as translators on future voyages (Naro








11

1978:314). A pidgin Portuguese which Naro calls "reconnaisance language" evolved in Europe, first between those Africans who were sent there and the Portuguese, and then later on among the Portuguese and other nationalities who were in Portugal. "The purpose of the reconnaissance language, from the Portuguese point of view, was to facilitate linguistic comprehension when necessary; it could be used in speaking to persons of any social standing and of any nationality, under appropriate circumstances (ibid:326).



The Portuguese settlers and traders who set up

permanent households, usually with African women, in West Africa might have been the means of transfer of the reconnaissance language from Europe to Africa. These setllers had direct linguistic contact with the Africans in their daily life.

The major linguistic significance of the Portuguese voyages and trade is the traces of Portuguese vocabulary that are found in some African languages and especially in pidgin and creole languages. In the Akan language of Ghana, some Portuguese words, which have been phonologically assimilated into the Akan language, are still in use. Portuguese carta ("letter") has become Akan krataa ("a letter or paper"). Porco ("pig") has become prako with the same meaning. Portuguese camisa ("shirt") has become Akan kamisa ("a woman's one-piece undergarment"); conta








12
("accounting, reckoning") is konta in Akan with the same meaning; Portuguese coco ("coconut") is kube2 in Akan; and Portuguese sapato ("shoe") has become the Akan word sepatere with the same meaning (Amoako 1988:4).

Many linguists have discussed the Portuguese vocabulary items in pidgin English. We will provide the discussions by Schneider and Spencer because they deal specifically with West African Pidgin English.

A few high frequency vocabulary items are a legacy from
Portuguese Pidgin which held on into the 17th century
and constitutes a vocabulary substratum in West African
Pidgin English. Examples: P-E /pikin/ from
[pequenino] PORT. 'child / little one'. P-E /dsh/
from [dache] PORT. 'gift' or 'tribute' and extended to
cover a broad semantic field of meaning. P-E /gabi/
from [saber] PORT. 'know'. P-E /Dalaba, from [palavra]
PORT. 'conference', 'discussion' and in Portuguese 'word', The forms--dash, Dikin, palaver and savvy-appear in many historical sources and 'dialect'
conversations of 19-20th century writers. (Schneider
1967:6)



The Portuguese exploration has bequeathed to the world as well as to West African Pidgin English many of the prominent place-names which lie recorded in the portulans of the 15-16th century sources. Examples of these place-names are Guinea, Elmina, Lagos, Cape Verde, Cape Palmas, Porto Novo, Sierra Leone, Luanda, Cross River, Fernando Po, and Cameroons (ibid.7).

Writing about the early voyages and trade of the

Portuguese, Spencer also writes on the Portuguese influence on Pidgin vocabulary:









13

From these early centuries date some of the most
characteristic Pidgin words, known and used by almost
everyone, English or African, who has lived in the coastal areas of West Africa: dash, n and v, '(to
give) a gift, bribe, tip or commission'; Pickin, n, 'a
young child'; palaver, n, 'talk, argument, trouble', and compounds such as mammy-palaver, 'woman (or wife)
trouble', belly-palaver, 'stomach trouble'; choR n and
v, 'food' and 'eat', and its recent extensions in
phrases such as 'small chop, 'cocktail eats', chop box,
'food box for use on trek, originally for head
loading', etc. (Spencer 1971:11) The Dutch

In 1581 the northern Dutch provinces declared their

independence from Spain and successfully defended it. The Dutch, from that time, embarked on a worldwide commercial enterprise. By the middle of the seventeenth century they had built a vast Dutch empire which circled the planet with outposts from what is today New York to the Caribbean, Brazil, Africa, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Japan (Holm 1989:322). They took over all of Portugal's possessions in West Africa by 1642. They made some few settlements on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and traded with its people between 1595 and 1869 (Ward 1948). They captured the Elmina castle on the Gold Coast in 1637.

One remarkable thing about the Dutch is that there are very few linguistic remnants of the vast empire that they built. Negerhollands (D 'Negro Dutch) is a creole once widely spoken in what became the United States Virgin Islands; it is extinct today (Holm 1989:325). Berbice Creole Dutch is one of the two nearly extinct Dutch-based creoles spoken in Guyana (ibid.329). Skepi is also a Dutch-








14

based creole which was once widely spoken along Guyana's Essequibo river (ibid.333). Afrikaans, which is spoken in the Republic of South Africa, is a standardized language that descended from seventeenth-century dialects of Dutch.

Dutch was never a su~erstrate nor a susrt to any

language in West Africa. "This seems unusual for the Dutch were trading in West Coast waters for over two centuries and practically monopolized the trade for 60 years" (Schneider 1967 :8). Only some few Dutch words which have been phonologically assimilated are found in the Akan language of Ghana. Dutch klaar ("ready to do something") is the Akan word krado with the same meaning. Dutch doek ("piece of cloth") is the Akan word duk meaning "headscarf" or "handkerchief." Some Akans pronounce the Dutch word kalkoen ("turkey") as krakuun while others pronounce it kurokurokoko, because of some semantic extension that has been associated with the noise made by the turkey (Amoako, 1988:6). It is no wonder that these Dutch words are still used in the Akan language for the Dutch traded with the Akans for a long time especially during the slave trade. It is also because of this long contact between the Dutch and the Akans that the Negerhollands has a predominantly Twi substrate (Holm 1989:325). Twi is a dialect of Akan.

Some of the reasons that have been attributed to the lesser impact of the Dutch in linguistic terms are that








15

"they were usually neither the first nor the only Europeans to arrive in the areas they colonized, and in most cases they did not remain as long as the British and the French" (ibid. 322). Their own attitudes may have undermined the spread of their language. It is claimed that "till the middle of the nineteenth century the Hollanders regarded their language as a sort of caste-language and heard unwillingly its employment by their inferiors" (quoted by Reinecke 1937:443). Another probable contributing factor is the traditional proficiency of the Dutch in more widely spoken languages; "the Dutch seem linguistically to have been the most accommmodating traders . they, in contrast to the British and French, must have made full use of the Portuguese Pidgin or Creole" (Le Page & Tabouret-Keller 1985:29). In fact, the Dutch tended to be polyglots. It has also been observed that "the emphasis was on the commercial. No settlement, no assimilation (inter-marriage, miscegnation, fraternization), no religous fervor or attempt to Christianization, no culture contact. The Dutch confined themselves to their ships and establishments" (Schneider 1967:9).

The British

The following account of the contribution made by the British toward West African Pidgin English is the one given by Schneider (1967). His account is a summary of other accounts given by various writers (Holm 1989, Spencer 1971.)








16

British privateers or "fortune seekers" engaged in

smuggling, "high-jacking" and irregular slaving were working the Atlantic ever since the sixteenth century. The great colonial powers were engaged in a highly competitive Atlantic trade, the business of buying slaves on the African West coast. The struggle was long and England and France remained after the Dutch were forced to give up their empire and concentrate efforts at strategic places. The treaty of Utrecht in 1713 between England and France divided the West African Coast. "By 1713 the French had replaced the Dutch as the strongest European power on the shores of Upper Guinea, and the English were strongly established in competition with the Dutch on the Gold Coast" (Fage 1961:67).

The British receive credit for carrying the bulk of

African products and slaves during the eighteenth century. This very fact demanded closer contact of cultures, developing of new methods, and exchange of opinions and ideas, and much closer association. The very foundations were being laid for the development of West African Pidgin English. All along the African West Coast the local indigenous authorities made agreements with individual and independent traders. During the eighteenth century this pattern was drastically revised by the companies in what is known as the "factory system". The "factory" was in reality a trading post where "factors" lived and conducted the








17

details of large companies. The "factor" himself usually

had a fairly free hand to buy and sell in his own name. He

received a commission for his efforts and was entrusted with

the goods of the company. The larger stores and shops in

Cameroon are still referred to as faktri.

West African Pidgin English became firmly established

through the entire coastal area and there is some evidence

that the slaves of the early nineteenth century, recaptured

and off-loaded at Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Fernando Po

were communicating in pidgin English.

Schneider gives the following as the major reasons why

pidgin English emerged and survived in West Africa.

Firstly: Pidgin-English began to develop during the 17th century. These developments are documented by
Dutch sources of the West Coast. Pidgin-English
competed with Pidgin-Portuguese and perhaps a
smattering of Dutch but by the 18th century had gained
the greater part of the West Coast as its arena of
communication.

Secondly: The ascendancy of Britain as the chief
carrier of slaves and later as the organizer of West
Coast trade set the pattern for the spread and
development of Pidgin-English. This was greatly facilitated by the "factory" and the attempts to
monopolize the trade through such procedures as the
"trust", creation of a hierarchy of middlemen, the
employment of Africans as factors, the incentives of
gifts, security and bonuses for effort.

Thirdly: The English traders, artisans and sailors
were ordinary men. Many had little formal education.
They had no fixed opinions about language, no visceral reactions when their dialect was "pounded and battered.

This type of contact situation was excellent soil in
which the seeds of Pidgin-English could thrive.
(Schneider 1969:14-15)








18

We conclude this section by recognizing that history

has influenced the evolution of pigins in West Africa,

especially pidgin English. Pidginization of European

languages in West Africa began with Portuguese and now

pidgin English is spoken in many West Africa countries.

Principal Pidgin English Varieties in West Africa

English-based pidgins and creoles are spoken in West

Africa from the Gambia to the Cameroon. They are spoken in

countries where English is an official language. These

countries are Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria,

and Cameroon. Spencer has the following to say about the

role of the English language in West Africa.

In West Africa English exists alongside a multitude of other languages which constitute the mother tongues of
practically all the peoples of those states which
retain English as an important auxiliary, or sometimes
as an explicitly national, language. As these
societies develop, as their populations become socially
and geographically more mobile, as institutions and
organizations spread and multiply, and as group
interacts with group in the process of modernization, so the place of English gets more interwoven with the lives of more and more people. It is normally through
English that an individual breaks the bonds of West
African traditional life and enters into some kind of
relationship with the westernized sectors of the
society. Through English he obtains the education
which is the road to the kind of success which awaits him beyond the village or the tribe. Through English
of one kind or another he communicates with fellow
citizens from language groups other than his own, or
with foreigners. English is the language of
institutions implanted by colonialism: the law, largescale business, formal education beyond the first two
or three years of primary school, science and
technology, central administration and politics.
(Spencer 1971:3)








19

Standard English is the type of English that Spencer is talking about in the above quotation. on the other hand, if one listened to children in the playground, or to students on educational campuses, one might hear another language, closely related in some ways to English, but certainly unintelligible to native English speakers from outside West Africa: Pidgin English (ibid.5). The social stigma that people associate with pidgins, and for that matter pidgin English, is discussed by Spencer:

Where it existed as a lingua franca in local community
life it was forbidden in classroom and hopefully, in
playground and dormitory too. It was frowned upon by the schoolmaster and swept under the carpet by almost
all colonial educationists. Many Africans who made use of it were also made ashamed of it. From the point of
view of formal education Pidgin, as well as Krio, the
creole language of Freetown, lived an "underground"
existence. (ibid.5)

For the sake of simplicity, Holm divides the Englishbased pidgin and creole in West Africa into three major groups: Krio, including nonnative and emigrant varieties, in Sierra Leone; Liberian, with similar divisions; and West African Pidgin English, as spoken in Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. "Because of their interconnected histories, Krio and Pidgin share a number of features and there is considerable mutual intelligibility between their speakers, although neither group can understand much Liberian" (Holm 1989:409).

This is how Schneider has defined Pidgin English as it is related to West Africa:








20

Pidgin-English is the most common name given to a
lingua franca spoken throughout West Africa from Sierra
Leone to the Gabon. It is a meduim of communication
for African peoples who have no first language in
common, for white men of various ethnic backgrounds and for the West African working man, trader and transient
peoples. Pidgin-English is not a mere simplification
of English, but a separate and describable language.
Its vocabulary is predominantly English-based, but the
lexical forms have changed their meaning to fit into
the value system and world view of the African
people. (Schneider 1966:2)

According to Barbag-Stoll, the term West African Pidgrin English (WAPE) is a linguist's invention which covers different, often mutually unintelligible varieties spoken on the West African Coast (Barbag-Stoll 1983:37). Barbag-Stoll has listed a number of names that are used in referring to WAPE:

It is often referred to as Bastard English, Broken
English, Funny English, Vulgar English (value judgement
labels), Kitchen English, Factory English, Market
English, Trade English (institution labels), Coast
English, West African Negro English, Liberian English,
Sierra Leone English (dialect labels), etc. (ibid.37) The above value judgement and institution labels have come about because of the assumed relationship between WAPE and standard English. This has happened because of the language contact between Europe and West Africa which began,as already stated above, with the arrival of the Portuguese on the West African coast in the fifteenth century (Schneider 1967:4; Spencer 1971:7; Holm 1989:268). The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch who in turn were followed by the English. They all contributed to carve the








21

pidgin English in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon, and Ghana.

Nicferi

The area that is now coastal Nigeria never had forts built by the Europeans for the slave trade. Although the Portuguese began the traffic in slaves in this area early on, much of the coast from Nigeria to Cameroon was relatively ignored by the Europeans, partly because of its difficult conditions (Tonkin 1971:143). However, the growing demand for slaves in the eighteenth century drove slavers further eastward to the lagoons of what is today Lagos and the creeks of the "Rivers" at the mouth of the Niger. Here the Europeans could anchor their vessels for the brief period needed to load the slaves that the African traders kept ready for them (Osae et al. 1973:180). By the end of the eighteenth century Bonny and Calabar on the Bight of Biafra had become two of the most important trading ports.

The British made the slave trade illegal in 1807, and their navy patrolled this area to enforce the new law; however, trade in palm oil and other goods remained important. Protestant missionaries from England and Sierra Leone began coming to this area in the 1840s and were welcomed as teachers of arithmetic and English (Tonkin 1971:144). Britain annexed Lagos in 1861, the Rivers in 1885, and then all of Nigeria in 1900. Although Nigeria








22

retained English as its official language after independence

in 1960 and a knowledge of the standard variety is essential

for higher education and socioeconomic advancement, Pidgin

still plays a major role in interethnic communication in

linguistically heterogeneous urban centers, particularly in

the south (Mafeni 1971:99).

Nigerian Pidgin English is a lingua franca for many,

and thus a true pidgin in Hall's sense; it is also a mother

tongue for a number of families in certain areas and

communities, and as such might in these cases be defined as

a creole language (ibid.95). Mafeni describes how the

creole English has emerged in Nigeria like this:

Inter-tribal and international marriages have become
increasingly common in urban society. In many such
cases husband and wife may not share a common
indigenous language, and as a result will often use
Pidgin as their chief medium of communication in the
home; or, of course, Pidgin alongside standard English.
Children brought up in such homes naturally speak
Pidgin, sometimes alongside standard English, as their
first language, although they may also speak the native
language(s) of either or both parents. The children
therefore learn to operate several linguistic systems,
of which Pidgin is one of them; and in many cases it may be the primary and predominant system. However,
even where both parents speak the same native language,
many urban and partially detribalized children learn Pidgin very early although it is not the language of
the home. Often several families live in the same
compound, and if they differ in linguistic background
Pidgin serves as a convenient lingua franca. The children in such compounds and neighborhoods find
Pidgin an efficient means of communication among
themselves, and may also use it at home even though
their parents may not approve. (ibid.98)

According to Mafeni, some Nigerians have two types of

pidgin. The majority of servants employed by European








23

families use two quite different varieties of pidgin; one, a minimal variety, which they use to their employers--and which is the only kind of pidgin which most Europeans come across--and a fuller variety, pidgin proper, which they use elsewhere. Many Nigerians, although use pidgin as a register in certain, especially familiar, contexts, are nevertheless ashamed to be associated with the language in public. This is probably a result of the influence of parents and school authorities, who have often discouraged its use because they consider it a debased form of English and not a language in its own right (ibid.99).

Nigerians use their pidgin in variety of ways, in spite of the traditional attitudes of disapproval towards the language. Many Nigerian novelists, playwrights, advertising agents, trade unionists and even politicians have realized and are exploiting the great potentialities of the language as a medium of mass communication. The various broadcasting corporations in Nigeria have done much to popularize pidgin by allowing its use in advertisement; the NBC radioserial "Save Journey" has been running with great success for a number of years; Achebe and other writers have used pidgin in their novels and poems (ibid.100). Sierra Leone

Holm (1989:413) states that it seems both pidgin and creole English were spoken in the area around Freetown before it was settled from Britain and the New World in the








24

late eighteenth century. The English might have been influenced by the Portuguese that was spoken by the traders and their Afro-European descendants in this area. The Portuguese reached the peninsula on which Freetown now stands around 1460 and named the area Serra Lyoa or "Lion Mountain" (ibid.413). From the late fifteenth century onward European ships stopped regularly in this area to trade manufactured goods for slaves and ivory. The English established a fort on an island near the Sierra Leone peninsula in 1663; a number of English privateers settled on the offshore islands from this period onwards and they and their Afro-European descendants helped establish various forms of restructured English there. "These mulattoes merged with the Afro-Portuguese to form a group of about 12,000 by the end of the eighteenth century . [that] may have formed the 'indigenous' nucleus of the Creole-type society that was to emerge in the nineteenth century" (Jones 1983:16).

Slavery was abolished in Britain in 1772, and the

American revolution began in 1776. At this time the British offered freedom to any American-owned slave who would escape to fight for the crown, and thousands of slaves did this (Hancock 1971a:12). Some of these soldiers ended up in England where they and others called the Black Poor were felt to be a social problem. Some of these were settled in Africa. In 1787 some four hundred persons (330 blacks and








25

70 white prostitutes) arrived in Sierra Leone and founded what was to become Freetown. However, many died of disease and in 1790 the Temne destroyed most of what remained of the colony. The settlement was revived the following year by the Sierra Leone Company, which was sponsored by British opponents of the slave trade. In 1792 some 1,100 former American slaves who had won their freedom by fighting for the British were brought from Nova Scotia, where they had been temporarily resettled after the British lost their more southerly American colonies in 1783. In 1800 these "Settlers" were joined by some 550 Jamaican Maroons. Because of a disturbance in 1796 the British government had the entire population of a settlement deported from Jamaica to Nova Scotia; however, so many died from the cold that the survivors were resettled in Sierra Leone (Le Page and DeCamp 1960:100).

In 1807 Britain outlawed the slave trade and in 1808

took over Freetown from the financially troubled company to use it as a naval base for anti-slavery patrols to intercept non-British slave ships. Between 1808 and 1864 tens of thousands of captives on intercepted slave ships were settled at Freetown, bringing a great many languages with them from all over West Africa and the Congo-Angola area (Koelle 1854). Krio became the lingua franca among these recaptives and the first language of their descendants, who joined those of the Settlers and Maroons as members of the








26

Creole society. Singler suggests that "tthe most important phase of the development of Krio was the creolization (or re-creolization) that occurred with the wave upon wave of Liberated Africans who washed ashore in Freetown (Singler 1984:35). In summary "the Sierra Leone settlement consisted of the following groups of people: The Black Poor, the Maroons and Nova Scotians, and the West African recaptives. The last were by far the most numerous, their arrival being spread over a number of years" (Jones 1971:67). Jones describes the language Krio as:

Krio is an English-based lingua franca used throughout
Sierra Leone as an inter-tribal language of trade and social communication. It is the mother tongue of the
descendants of freed men who settled in the Sierra
Leone peninsula between 1787 and the early years of the nineteenth century. It is a second language for other residents in this same area whose mother tongue is one
of the Sierra Leone languages. It has also spread
throughout the country principally in the more urban
areas as an additional language. (ibid. 66)

In describing the usage of Krio in Sierra Leone today, Jones says it is recognized as a useful language of intertribal communication and as such a medium of news dissemination. He says the official news bulletin put out daily over the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service by the Ministry of Information, as well as other important government statements, are broadcast in Krio as well as English, Mende and Temne. (The other languages of the country usually have weekly broadcast in them.) Krio is also used widely in public speeches all over the country as well as at inter-tribal religious services. In talking








27

about the negative response that the usage of Krio receives Jones has this to say:

It is not however encouraged in the schools because of
its supposedly harmful effects on the learning of
English, the language of education, and is not widely
used in its written form, although there have been
sporadic bursts of good writing in it. Its register
Krio remains largely intimate and oral. It is used as
the normal means of communication in Creole homes but
even among educated Creoles outside their homes it
tends to be used only as means of intimate
conversation. Educated Creoles on first meeting other
educated Creoles tend to use English, this being
thought the more polite language. Coversation mellows
into Krio as acquaintanceship grows, although it is apt
to fade into English as topics veer into the more
technical fields. The appropriate occasions for Krio
in Sierra Leone society can involve delicate nuances of
etiquette. (ibid.68)

Some varieties of Krio are spoken in some parts of West Africa. Gambian Krio (locally called Aku or Patois) is spoken as a home language by some 3,500 Creoles in Banjul and by others as a second language (Hancock 1969a:8). A more conservative form of Krio is preserved in several small enclaves in French-speaking Guinea and Senegal, where Sierra Leone traders formed their own Krio-speaking communities (ibid. 9). The same thing happened in such English-speaking countries as Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon (Reinecke et al. 1975:365). A form of Krio called Fernandino or Porto3 (Lipski 1992:1) is spoken on Bioko (formerly called Fernando Po). This island, which lies just off the coast of Cameroon in the Gulf of Guinea, forms part of Equitoral Guinea (Holm 1989:418).








28

Liberia

Holm (1989:421-426) writes about the Liberian

Creole/Pidgin English in terms of how the speakers of the language came in contact with English speakers. The Portuguese reached what is now Liberia in 1416; because of the trade in pepper that developed in this area, it came to be known as the Grain Coast. As the British took over more of the slave trade in the eighteenth century, their ships began stopping along the Grain Coast to take on crews to man their ships and act as middlemen with other Africans as they proceeded down the coast to trade for slaves. Their ships would stop again on their return journey to drop of f the sailors (Singler 1981:4). These were called Krumen (earlier Krooboys) from the ethnic name of Kru (Klao). They enjoyed a favored position with the white traders and were largely excempt from slave raiding (Reinecke 1937:617). Holm in quoting Reinecke suggests that it seems likely that the Krumen had been using pidgin English for at least a century when an observer noted in 1856 that "Three-fourths of the male population of the Kru country speak imperfect, but intelligible English" (ibid.618).

Holm quotes Tonkin, Jones, and Reinecke to describe how the Krumen have contributed towards the spread of Pidgin English in West Africa. The Krumen "must have been important diffusers and standardizers of Pidgin English, for their employers included slavers, traders, explorers, and








29

English Navy ... African pidgin speakers such as these became the main agents of language transmission" (Tonkin 1971:143). Jones suggests that the Kru probably helped spread Krio features in West African Pidgin English since they were present in Freetown by the 1790s and by 1820 their numbers there matched those of the settlers and maroons (Jones 1971:67). By the end of the nineteenth century the Krumen had brought a knowledge of Pidgin English as far south as the Congo River (Reinecke 1937:619). At this time the largest group of Krumen worked in Nigeria, but by the end of the First World War the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) had become their primary venue (Holm 1989:422).

It could be seen from the above paragraphs that Pidgin English was spoken along the Liberian coast before the arrival of the Afro-American settlers. One of the officials of these settlers noted in the 1820s that "every head man around us, and hundreds of their people speak, and can be made to understand our language without an interpreter" (quoted by Singler 1984:39).

The Americans wanted to "get rid of the masses of

blacks that loitered about the city streets, making them unsafe, but there was also the humane wish to give them a homeland of their own" (quoted by Holm 1989:423). This was after the slave trade. In 1821 the American Colonization Society bought land at the present site of Monrovia and in 1822 the first group of freed American slaves arrived.








30

During the first 25 years of immigration, 70% of the American blacks came from Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Later immigrants came more often from Georgia and South Carolina, the origin of over 60% of those arriving immediately after the American Civil War (Singler 1989). These "Settlers" were joined by liberated Africans, delivered by United States Navy. Over the period of twenty years some 5780 liberated Africans were settled in Liberia (ibid.). Some 15,000 American freedmen eventually immigrated Liberia, as well as some 350 settlers from Barbados, who arrived in 1865 (Singler 1981:6). These settlers were outnumbered by the indigenous Africans.

There happens to be some kind of classifications in the language spoken by the Liberians because of the different groups of people who inhabit the area. The speech that the Settlers brought from America was the creolized ancestor of modern Black English vernacular (Holm 1989:424). For broadcasting and other official purposes there exists a standard variety of Liberian English which differs little from standard English elsewhere in West Africa except in its phonology, which is more American than British (Hancock 1970). Singer (1984:69-71) postulates three distinct basilects. The first is that of Settler English (called Merico by Hancock). This has features that are largely confined to American Black English and the North American varieties.








31

The second language varieties of Liberian English have two different basilects (both quite distinct from the Settler basilect) that have separate historical origins: (1) the variety that developed from Kru Pidgin, spoken along the coast; and (2) the variety that developed from a Mandeinfluenced pidgin, spoken in the interior. Interior Pidgin developed among the military and on plantations, where the Mande dominated. Both Interior and Coastal Pidgin reflect the phonology of the speaker's first language. Both of them are typical of speakers with little or no Western schooling. The following paragraph from Holm summarizes the varieties of English in Liberia.

Liberian English encompasses several restructured
varieties. There is a creole spoken as a home language
by the descendants of settlers from the United States (3% of the total population of 2,180,000 in 1984) who
live largely in and around the capital, Monrovia
(306,000 inhabitants). There are also second-language
varieties of this speech used as a lingua franca
throughout the rest of the country. One of these, Kru
Pidgin English, is more similar than the other
varieties to West African English because of its
distinct historical origins. All of the varieties in
Liberia have influenced one another and appear to form
a continuum rather than discrete entities. (Holm
1989:421)

Cameroon

Cameroonian Pidgin English grew out of the eighteenthcentury Pidgin English used around Calabar on the Bight of Biafra (Hancock 1969a:17). After the British occupied Fernando Po in 1827 to stop the trading of slaves in this area, merchants and missionaries from Britain and Sierra Leone began coming to what is now coastal Cameroon (Holm








32

1989:430). Between 1845 and 1887, 36% of these missionaries were creole speakers: 22 spoke Krio (18 from Sierra Leone and four from Fernando Po) and six spoke Jamaican English (Todd 1984:94). In 1858 the largely Krio-speaking Baptist mission on Fernando Po was expelled by the Spanish and reestablished at what is now Limbe on the Cameroonian coast. The Pidgin spoken in this area today is more similar to Krio than are other Cameroonian varieties (ibid.97). The British set up trading posts near the coastal town of Douala. When German firms joined the British in the 1860s and in 1884 Cameroon was officially annexed by Germany as a colony, restructured English was already so well established that the Germans had to use that instead of their own language in dealing with the local people.

The German colonization of Cameroon led to the spread

of the Pidgin English into the interior, because the Germans set up plantations that drew laborers from the interior grasslands. They returned to their villages with their knowledge of Pidgin. Other laborers were also brought from Liberia, Togo, Dahomey (modern Benin), and Nigeria. Pidgin English was the lingua franca on the plantations as well as in the colonial German army (ibid.94).

The Germans were driven out of Cameroon by the Allies in 1916, and in 1919 the country was divided into mandates under the British (west part near Nigeria) and the French (east part). English (West) and French (East) became the








33

official languages of Cameroon. This led to an increasing influence of English--and Nigerian Pidgin--in the west, and the further isolation of the English-based Pidgin in the east, where it began to draw on French when further lexicon was needed (Holm 1989:431). The eastern regions maintain more Krio features while the western regions are closer to Nigerian Pidgin.

Cameroon Pidgin English is presently widely used along the East Cameroon Coast, especially in the Douala area. Though it has little official recognition, it is still an important medium of communication for Cameroon's political, social, religious, and economic life (Barbag-Stoll 1983:38).

Summary

We have discussed how the Portuguese have influenced

the linguistics of West Africa, especially in pidgin. They traded with the people of the area, and through the orders of Prince Henry the Navigator some West Africans were taken to Portugal to learn Portuguese. This was the beginning of pidgin Portuguese which was called the reconnaissance language. These Africans were returned to West Africa to serve as interpreters for the Portuguese traders. The major transfer of the reconnaissance language to West Africa was done by the Portuguese traders and settlers who settled in the area among the Africans, especially the women.

The Dutch followed the Portuguese as the next European traders with the people of West Africa. They did not make








34

much impact on the linguistics of the area because they did

not sttle among the people they traded with. The British

who followed the Dutch had more impact on the linguistics of

West Africa because they were in closer contacts with the

people of this area than their two predecesors. They traded

with the people in products and slaves, settled among them,

and therefore had close contacts with their culture. The

major linguistic legacies of the British contact with West

Africa are standard English and pidgin English which is

spoken in the Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria,

and Cameroon.

Notes
1. The fort of Sao Jorge de Mina is now known as the Elmina Castle.
2. Semantic extension has contributed to the phonology of the Akan word kube which was derived from the Portuguese word "coco" which is pronounced /ko'ku/. In Akan, the root /be/ means "palm tree", and as the coconut tree looks like the palm tree, the derivation began with the addition of /be/ to the Portuguese /ko'ku/ to become /kokube/. The first syllable was deleted, hence /kube/. Akan vowel harmony system changed the final /e/ to /e/. The derivation would be the following:

/ko'ku/ Portuguese
kokube semantic extension
kube first syllable deletion
kube vowel harmony
[kube]
3. Through a personal communication, John Lipski who has done some studies on the pidgins on Fernando Po, told me that the pidgin English on the island is no longer known as Fernandino or Porto. The only current terms are Pichinglis or the shortened Pichi. The term Fernandino is applied to the descendents of the original Sierra Leoneans who settled there.














CHAPTER 3
GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF CURRENT AND HISTORICAL EVIDENCE

Research Background

Considerable misinformation has been circulated about Ghanaian Pidgin English. Some Ghanaians attribute the worsening of standard English to the emergence of pidgin English. An evidence of this can be read from Suzanne Romaine's 1988 publication.

As recently as 1986 the Times Higher Education SuRRlement (17 Jan. 1986) carried a report of a
newspaper in Ghana complaining about the use of Pidgin
English on Ghanaian campuses and recommending that
stern measures be taken against it. The report notes
that in no other case do the future leaders of the
country talk a 'mixture in which all the tenses are
thrown to the wind, and words are picked from far and
wide, making no sense to the listener.' (Romaine
1988:13)

But pidgin English is serving a very important purpose which many critics overlook. It serves as an important medium of communication. It is spoken on a wide scale in educational institutions, work places, airports, seaports, drinking places, markets, on the radio, in popular songs, on political platforms, and on many occasions. It is spoken by both literate and illiterate people. Most importantly, pidgin English is becoming the lingua franca in English speaking West Africa countries.



35








36

There has not been any formal attempt to study the

pidgin English situation in Ghana. Sey (1973:3) observed that the ideal conditions for a pidgin did not exist in Ghana in 1973, but in 1984 it was observed that pidgin English was, and continues, to be spoken in Ghana.

The above observations, among other things, prompted us to consider doing a research on Ghanaian Pidgin English in 1984.

Methodology

Research Period over a period of nine months, data were collected on Ghanaian Pidgin English (G.P.E.), from April, 1984 to January, 1985. This period was used in distributing and collecting questionnaires, tape-recording interviews, conversations, and songs in Ghanaian Pidgin English. The period was also used in collecting magazines and newspapers in which Ghanaian Pidgin English have been used. I was the major researcher during this period. Since I did not have any funding for the research, I could not afford a research assistant. I relied on the help of friends for both the recordings and the distribution as well as collection of the questionnaires.

Questionnaire. Four hundred questionnaires were

distributed in Accra in the Greater Accra Region, Aburi and Abetifi in the Eastern Region, Winneba in the Central Region, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, and Ho in the Volta Region. Even though all








37

the regions of Ghana were not surveyed the informants who were of different ages, sexes, educational backgrounds, occupational backgrounds, and social classes consist of people from all the regions of the country. Three hundred and four responses were received. Table 3.1 and 3.2 show the sex and age distributions respectively. Refer to Appendix A for a copy of the questionnaire. Figures 3.1 and

3.2 are further illustrations on the age and sex distribution of the population surveyed.

Table 3.1
Sex Distribution of Informants

Male Female No Response Total
163 137 4 304

53.6% 45.1% 1.3% 100%



Sex Distribution of Ifrat


MALE
13 FEMALEE
Ea NO RESPONSE
100


0 m.




RM3.1


Figure 3.1. Sex Distribution of Informants








38

Table 3.2
Age Distribution of Informants (Years)

15-25 26-30 31-40 41-50 50+ No Response Total

167 84 40 7 3 3 304

54.9% 27.6% 13.2% 2.3% 1.0% 1.0% 100%


The ages in table 3.2 begin at 15 because we decided

that informants below that age might not be properly able to complete the questionnaire. Many people over 40 did not return the questionnaires because they did not want to be associated with pidgin, thus pointing to the strong attitudes about pidgin in Ghana.


Age Distribution of Ifrat






100.


0 1.



I52 3.90 $140 4140 so. wO REP.
3.n A 0 E (YEA 8AX )


Figure 3.2. Age Distribution of Informants



Materials used. Tape recorders were used in interviews with informants who ranged from school children to a secretary of state. Some of the recording was done during








39

the 1984 New Year School which was held at the University of Ghana, Legon. This is a one-week school attended by people from all walks of life and from all parts of Ghana. It is held between Christmas and New Year's Day. The participants discuss national issues like Aging, Education, Culture, and The Environment. This was a good opportunity to gather views from people across the whole spectrum of life in Ghana.

Both spontaneous and organized recordings of pidgin

were made, including songs sung in pidgin. We interviewed some of the singers as well as writers of Ghanaian Pidgin English. Magazines and newspapers in which GPE has been featured, especially in the areas of comics and cartoons were also collected.

The data in this dissertation were obtained from the questionnaires and some responses from interviewees have also been included. The discussions on the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, the lexicon and the sociolinguistics of the language as well as the data in the appendices were taken from some of the organized and spontaneous conversations of the informants. Some were also taken from the magazines.

History of Ghanaian Pidgin English Colonial Settlement

The Portuguese explored the coast of West Africa around the middle of the fifteenth century, establishing outposts








40

in what are today Guinea-Bissau, Ghana and Nigeria before the end of the century. But their trade was taken over first by the Dutch and then the English (Holm 1989:410). The English took over part of the slave trade by establishing forts in West Africa. "The first was built in 1631 at Cormantine in what is today called Ghana" (Spencer 1971:8). In 1672 the British seized from the Dutch a number of forts for trading for slaves on the Gold Coast and Slave Coast--modern Ghana, Togo, and Benin (Fage et al. 1959 quoted by Holm 1989:426). Restructured English was brought to this area from the late eighteenth century onwards by Krumen and Sierra Leonean Krio speakers.

In 1821 the British forts on the Gold Coast were taken from the Africa Company and placed under the crown in the form of the Governor of Sierra Leone. After the British defeated the Ashanti in the Sagrenti War of 1874, the Gold Coast and Lagos became the Gold Coast Colony and were administratively separated from Sierra Leone. "By the end of the century new medicines made life in the tropics safer for Europeans, and British-born administrators, teachers, etc. began taking over the positions previously filled by Sierra Leoneans" (Trutenau 1975:21-23 quoted by Holm 1989:427). The low-level jobs were the only ones that were left for the Africans. The demand was largely for unskilled labor, which were first filled by Ghanaians and then by Krumen from Liberia.








41

English has been the official language of Ghana since Britain colonized the Gold Coast (now Ghana) by the bond of 1844. This was the bond which made the Gold Coast a British colony. English was imposed as the language of administration by the British; their immediate practical aim being to bring together the separate political units which they had won either by conquest or treaty (Boadi 1971:49). After Ghana had its independence from the British rule in 1957, English is still a cohesive force internally. The adoption of one of the 45 local languages as the lingua franca has not been easy and is not envisaged. This has made the English language the most obvious choice for both internal and external uses (ibid. 50). We may distinguish between educated and uneducated varieties of English in Ghana even though there is a graded continuum between them. The least educated one is the least internationally acceptable and the most educated one is the most widely understood in the English-speaking world (ibid. 51). Pidgin English is one of the varieties that is associated with the uneducated varieties of English in Ghana.

Ghanaian Pidgin English dates from the time the British set foot on the coast of the Gold Coast. It was limited to a relatively small and identifiable section of the population, mostly illiterate workers of various categories, almost exclusively from the northern sector of the colonial territory. These workers were mainly those who served in








42

various capacities directly under mostly English but also some Ghanaian and other African "masters" who needed some means of communication with them.

Pidgin gradually arose through simplifications of the structure of standard English and adaptation to native languages among these categories of workers. They tried to reproduce what they heard and retained of the fast speech of the English masters, or the Ghanaian and Asian masters.

The categories of people who learned this kind of simplified English were:

Police corporals. They were employed as guards at the courts, offices, parliament, "people's" houses, and other government places. "People" in this sense means the expatriates and high-ranking government officials who qualified to employ a guard.

Watchmen. These were employed in government departments and private houses. They were security officers who watched the houses and office buildings of the government as well as those of some private individuals.

Laborers. They were employed in government departments

-usually daily rated--like Public Works Department, Water Works, Electricity, and Housing.

Domestic staff. The domestic staff, who in those days were invariably male, were cooks, steward boys, and garden boys. They were usually called "small boys" by their employers. They in turn called their employers "masters",








43

hence the popular expression in Ghana: "Yes sa, masa.11 ("Yes sir, master.") It was usual for a visitor to ask: "Masa dey?" (Is your master present?), and the reply: "I dey" (He's present) or "I no dey.11 (He isn't present).

The reason for the employment of these categories of workers from the northern part of Ghana was to promote the undivided loyalties to their employer, since they did not have their families with them in the south; even in the north, they could be far away from their own villages.

In the northern part of Ghana, the people were late in receiving formal education. That is why the employees from the North were some of the first speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English.

Second World War

In our survey, sixteen informants, or 5% Of the

respondents, mentioned the second World War as one of the events that have contributed to the emergence of pidgin English in Ghana. This is especially true of the older respondents because of their association with the war.

Soldiers of the Gold Coast Regiment fought alongside their British counterparts during the Second World War (1939-1945). They served as porters for the British soldiers. These porters were illiterates,* hence in their efforts to communicate with their British counterparts Pidgin English evolved. These soldiers returned to Ghana with the Pidgin English. Some of them joined the Armed









44

Forces and others retired to live among the civilian population.

A retired soldier informed us that formerly every

soldier was made to learn pidgin English since it is the language used to drill soldiers on parade and training grounds. A police officer at a training depot also told us that police recruits are made to learn pidgin for the same reason. The trainers are illiterates and the English they know is the pidgin type. This training started with those who went to the Second World War.

There is a story in Ghana about a laborer who was

brought before the colonial courts in the early months of the Second World War on a charge of sedition. The charge was that he had said Hitler would win the war, impressed by the astounding blitz of the advancing German forces. In his defence he made the following statement in Pidgin English: "If I talk say Hitler go win the war, na my mouth be gun" (Eyi-Acquah 1985)? (tf a t~k sey Hitler go win de wD, na mfi m~f bi g~n?") ("If I say that Hitler will win the war, is my mouth a gun?")

News Media

Pidgin English has been used in the Ghanaian news media since the 1950s. There was a column in the "Evening News"an evening newspaper--which was strictly reserved for the use of pidgin English. It was used to present vernacular jokes.








45

There was a radio program done in pidgin English in the 1950s called "Isa Abongoll by the late Leo Riby-Williams. In the 1960s there was a television comedy series also done in pidgin English. These were comedy programs meant to entertain the rank and file mostly illiterate workers who would be expected to understand or speak pidgin English and so appreciate such programs in pidgin.

Contrary to the assumption that the majority of

illiterate workers from all over the country spoke and understood pidgin English and so would welcome such programs, it turned out that pidgin English was limited to only a small section of the population and that the rest would better enjoy programs in one of the local Ghanaian languages. The radio and television programs were therefore withdrawn after a short run; and eventually, through audience research survey, programs like Variety Show Case in Akan, Ga, Ewe, and other Ghanaian languages were substituted. These were and are much enjoyed by all sections of the population.

Sey (1973:3) says that with many educated people in the large towns it was not necessary for the illiterate people to deal directly with the English speakers for bilingual educated Ghanaians were always at hand to act as interpreters and "letter-writers" for the uneducated ones. This was one of the reasons why Ghanaian Pidgin English could not spread.








46

Current Emergence of Ghanaian Pidgin English: Factors

Within the past ten or twenty years, that is, from the early 1970s, it has been noticed by the informants in this survey that more Ghanaians are speaking pidgin English than in the 1950s and 1960s. This can be seen from table 3.3 and figure 3.3.

Table 3.3
Number of Years Speakers Have Spoken Ghanaian Pidgin English Years: 0 -1 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21+ No Res

Speakers: 44 23 90 70 22 8 0 47

:14.5 7.6 29.6 23.0 7.2 2.6 0.0 15.5



Year of Speaking G.P.E.














NUMBER O YIBAK9NR2


Figure 3.3. Years of Speaking G.P.E.



It should be noted that 23% of the speakers have spoken pidgin English for the past ten years, and that 29.6% have spoken it for the past five years. This shows an increase of








47

6.6%. Just 7.6% had spoken it for less than a year during the research period. These ratios are due to the current attitude of people toward the GPE.

Table 3.4 and figure 3.4 offer further statistical data and an illustration to show the consensus that Pidgin English is spreading fast in Ghana.

Table 3.4
Rate of The Spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English

Slowly Fast Dying Out Not Found Other No Response

21 258 6 0 1 18
6.9% 84.9% 2.0% 0.0% 0.3% 5.9%



Rate of the Spread of G.P.E.


FAST



I




j 0
0sL
RATE OF SPREAD


Figure 3.4. Rate of the Spread of G.P.E.



Whereas 84.9% of the respondents said that the Ghanaian Pidgin English is spreading fast, only 6.9% said that it is spreading slowly.








48

Contact with Other West African States

The main reason given for the fast spreading of the

Ghanaian Pidgin English within the past twenty years is the recent increase of contacts between Ghanaians and other West African states where pidgin English is spoken on a wider scale. These countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone, and especially Nigeria. This increase is evidenced by the responses of informants to the question: "Which events have contributed toward the introduction and spread of pidgin English?" Out of 304 questionnaires, 236 informants responded to that question, 77.6% of the total survey. out of the 236 respondents 127, that is, 53.8% mentioned immigration of Ghanaians to other West African countries. The Nigerian Influence

Of the 127 respondents who mentioned immigration as a factor to the current spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English, 105, that is 82.6%, said that Nigeria has been responsible. Pidgin English is spoken everywhere in Nigeria. The writer spent three months in Lagos in 1981, and found that Nigerians speak standard English only on rare occasions in private conversations. Otherwise, they speak either one of the Nigerian languages or pidgin English.

The oil boom brought economic improvement to Nigeria in the early 1970s, and people from many countries, including Ghana, immigrated there. Both skilled and unskilled Ghanaian workers went to Nigeria to look for green pastures.








49

They spent their holidays in Ghana, and often took whatever they acquired to Ghana. One important thing they brought back to Ghana was pidgin English.

In the early 1980s, many Ghanaians and other foreign nationals were expelled from Nigeria. These returnees raised the use of pidgin English in Ghana to its ascendancy. The writer taught a boy in elementary school, middle form four, in 1972. The boy spoke no pidgin English at that time. After sojourning in Nigeria, he formed a guitar band, and in 1981 sang his first song in pidgin English, titled: "To Be a Man Na Wah"' (It is a struggle to be born a man). His second album, which caught the attention of many Ghanaian music fans was "Jealousy." The following is part of the song:

JEALOUSY (a song)

if aduma tin If Idomy thing
mek yu no jel~s Don't be jealous
if aduma tin If Ido mything
mek yu no jel::s Don't be jealous
jelnDst go .4he(m) The jealous one will be ashamed
wayo go Ahe(m) The trickster will be ashamed.
jel=)si go dhe(m) The jealous one will be ashamed
wayo tu go ge(m) The trickster too will be ashamed

There was a Ghanaian woman who never spoke pidgin

English when she was in Ghana. After staying in Lagos for one year, she wrote a letter which contained both pidgin English and standard English, using the pidgin English as a joke. The sample below is an unedited part of a letter she wrote to the writer. The Yoruba words are underlined.








50

Well 2ga I dey happy I received your letter, but as you dey tell me to come home, wetin I fit take
to enter motor? I dey hear your advice goun and I dey
trowey thanks for you for your advice.

Well, big man, I was happy when I received your letter,
but as you are telling me to come home, what thing
(money for transportation) can I use to enter a
vehicle? I have heard your advice very well and I give
you thanks for your advice.

One of our interviewees, a nurse, gave this explanation for the current spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English: "Another reason for this pidgin English is because of these people going down to Nigeria. When they come, you see, I know a teacher, my first husband, you know, he was to leave Saturday for Nigeria. And this man, a teacher, you know, when he came he started speaking that sort of English."

A thirteen year old primary school boy said he learned his pidgin English from a ten year old Nigerian boy whom he had known for two years. They live close to each other, and the Nigerian boy had been in Ghana for only two years.

A primary school female teacher said she started

speaking pidgin English after she had been to Nigeria. When asked why she thinks some Ghanaians speak Pidgin English, she answered: "Well, we were speaking it formerly, but I think to the greater extent it was during the time the Ghanaians were asked to come from Nigeria. That was the peak of the pidgin English in the country."

In a pidgin English conversation in Kumasi, a woman claimed she could speak pidgin English because she had a Nigeria friend.








51

Man: So yu, haw kam wey yu fit spik ptjtn English
lak dat?
(So you, how come that you can speak pidgin
English like that?)
Woman: A get sDm Nigerian fren.
(I have a Nigerian friend.)

Other Factors

one important factor which has contributed to the

spread of GPE is illiteracy. In 1980, only 30% of the adult population in Ghana were literate and 69% of school age persons were literate. Yet only 20 out of the 236, that is

8.5%, respondents attributed the spread of GPE to illiteracy and lack of formal education. Nonetheless, this is an important factor, since a small country like Ghana (Area: 238,537 sq. km.) with nearly 14 million people has 44 languages (refer to Appendix B for the Ghana Language Map) and none of them is the national language. This fact compels people to use English as the means of communication in inter-language conversation. The illiterate ones, therefore, have to recourse to pidgin English.

military regimes in Ghana have also contributed to the spread of pidgin English. Ghana has had four long-term military regimes in the country's history. The 12 respondents (5% of the group) who mentioned this factor said that the military regimes have brought the soldiers into the streets and involved them in the day-to-day life of the civilian population. The civilians have therefore been imitating the pidgin English which most of the soldiers speak.








52

Other factors for the spread of GPE are trade, boarding schools, urbanization, prisoners, and the increasing number of magazines which feature pidgin English, and the increasing interest in reading such magazines.

Summary

After being prompted by the emergence of pidgin English in Ghana in 1984 and having realized that no formal detailed linguistic work had been done on it, we started a research on the language. Within nine months, we sent out 400 questionnaires and received 304 of them responded to. We used audio tape recorders to interview informants; we recorded songs, and collected magazines and books which contain Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE).

From our informants and books, we learned more about the history of GPE and the reasons for its current emergence. GPE dates back from 1631 when the British built their first fort at Cormantine in the then Gold Coast and traded with the people. The second world war which saw members of the Gold Coast Regiment fighting alongside the British soldiers also contributed to the spread of GPE. The soldiers who were mostly illiterates returned from the war with the language. It became the language of the military as well as the police service. The increase of contacts between Ghanaians and the people of some West African states where pidgin English is spoken is a major factor in the current emergence and the fast spread of GPE. Other factors








53

are illiteracy, military regimes in Ghana, urbanization, boarding schools, increase in the number of magazines that feature GPE, and increase in its use for fun.














CHAPTER 4
A PHONOLOGICAL, MORPHOLOGICAL, SYNTACTIC, AND SEMANTIC
SURVEY OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH


Introduction

Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) can be classified into two types: educated pidgin and uneducated pidgin. The uneducated pidgin is also called houseboyy pidgin" or "'motorpark pidgin". It is called uneducated pidgin because its speakers have not had any formal literacy education. Some of these uneducated people, who are mostly men, work in the houses of educated English speakers where they are called "houseboys". It is the type of pidgin that they speak that has been named after them. It is this same type of pidgin that is spoken at the car and lorry stations where passengers who do not own vehicles go for transportation to travel with, hence the pidgin spoken there is called motorpark pidgin.

The other pidgin type is called educated pidgin because its speakers have had formal literacy education. Some people call it "intellectual pidgin" because of the same reason. This is the pidgin that is spoken by young people, especially the students of Ghana. Intellectual pidgin has been influenced by standard English. Over a range of continuum of the types of English spoken in Ghana, 54








55

intellectual pidgin will be the closest to standard English whereas houseboy pidgin will be the farthest from standard English.

We should note that nowadays there is not too much

difference between houseboy pidgin and intellectual pidgin because most of the GPE speakers have had some form of formal education because of the compulsory free education policy of the late 1950's. The GPE that is being spoken these days is not as close to the houseboy pidgin that was spoken in the early 1950's. It is a little bit inclined towards intellectual pidgin but not close to standard English. This has made some people think that Ghana does not have a pidgin that is original, but like any other language, GPE has been there for many years; it has just changed. The type of GPE that will be analyzed in this chapter is a blend of houseboy pidgin and intellectual pidgin. This is the type of pidgin that one will most frequently hear if one visits Ghana.

Ghanaian Pidgin English is primarily a spoken medium of communication, with a very few poems and cartoons that can be found in the written medium. Like many other pidgins, GPE has no standardized orthography. This makes the analysis of the language a heinous task. There may be some oversimplifications or some overgeneralizations here and there. In order to minimize such dangers, the analysis of the language in this chapter has been taken from informants








56

of a homogeneous background (considering such parameters as the level of education, age, profession, exposure to standard English). We have also taken into consideration the type of GPE which is common to most of the speakers, hence an item is chosen for discussion when it occurs very often in most of the conversations, songs, interviews, etc. which have been recorded. A word is selected as being a representative of GPE if it occurs in both the uneducated pidgin and the educated one.

The linguistic change that has occurred in the

derivation of GPE items from English will be discussed on two planes: the form plane and the content plane. The form plane will cover the the phonological, morphological, and syntactic analysis, whereas the content plane will focus on the semantic analysis of these words. These are the shifts in meaning which have occurred in the English derived lexicon of GPE.

Many definitions of pidgin include simplification of the superstrate language. In the case of GPE, I will not say that the superstrate has been simplified. I will rather say that GPE has has been influenced in many ways by the substrate languages which are Akan, Ga, Ewe, Nzema, and some of the other 45 native languages of Ghana. This influence is prevalent at the phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic levels. Words and sentences from GPE will be compared with their counterparts from Akan which is the








57

Ghanaian language spoken by the author. Akan-influenced GPE is the most common one spoken in Ghana.

Phonology

GPE has not been standardized; and as such it has no official orthography. The lexicon is mainly English with few words from the vernaculars of some of the Ghanaian languages. Phonologically, GPE reflects the phonology of the Ghanaian languages which are quite similar since most of them come from the Kwa group. This phonological reflection can be seen in the GPE vowels, consonants, syllable structure, and in its suprasegmental features such as tone, and vowel harmony.

Vowels of GPE

GPE has twelve vowels, nine monothongs and three

diphthongs which are at, au, and :n. These diphthongs are sometimes separated by semi vowels which makes it appear that GPE has nine underlying vowels.

Table 4.1. G.P.E. Monothong Vowels

FRONT CENTRAL BACK


HIGH i u

U


MID e 0





LOW a








58

Table 4.2. G.P.E. Consonants

BI- LABIO- PALATO- GLOTLABIAL DENTAL DENTAL ALVEOLAR PALATAL VELAR TAL PLOSIVE p b t d k g

NASAL m n

AFFRI- ]
CATE

LATERAL 1
r

FRICA- f v s s h
TIVE

SEMI- w y
VOWEL


The standard English vowels have been replaced by

vowels in the Ghanaian languages that are close to them in quality. Diachronically, we cannot say that the English that was introduced to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) was the Received Pronunciation (RP) English since not all the British sailors and traders who came to the country were using RP. Since we are concerned with the current emergence of GPE, we will compare the vowels of RP with those of GPE.

Table 4.3. GPE and RP Vowel Substitution

RP GPE ENGLISH EXAMPLES
/kat/ a /kat/ cat
a /abawt/ a /abaut/ about
a: /wa: rk/ e: /we: k/ work
A /bAs/ /bzsu/ bus


Consonants of GPE

GPE has twenty-one consonants. The voiced labio-dental fricative, /v/, has very limited occurrence. It is mostly








59

replaced by its voiceless counterpart, /f/. It can be seen from the chart below that the RP English consonants, /8/ and /D/ are not part of the GPE consonants. These are replaced by /d/, /t/, or /f/. In the same manner /z/ is replaced by /s/ in many instances.

Syllable Structure of GPE

GPE has eight possible syllabic shapes, examples are:

SYLLABLE GPE ENGLISH
V a "I"
CV mi, go "me, go"
VC tm "his/her"
CVC tif, stn, get "thief, sin, get"
CCV tri "tree"
VCC aks "ask"
CCVC plis, fren "please, friend"

It is very rare to find Ghanaian languages which

contain the kind of complex initial and final consonant clusters of which standard English makes use. These clusters are simplified or sometimes lost altogether as a result of a tendency which operates in some Ghanaian languages to approximate to a syllabicity of CV-CV-CV. Sometimes in order to achieve this syllabicity, vowels or glides are inserted in the clusters. This syllabicity phenomenon also works in GPE; examples are:

ENGLISH GPE
dont don "don't"
ferst fes "first"
prifekt prifet "prefect"
bDtl b)tul "bottle"
f ilm fillm "film"
fayr faya "fire"








60

In some instances, if a consonant or a consonant

cluster has nasals, it is replaced by nasalized vowels or vowels and glides; examples are:

ENGLISH GPE
maynd mai "mind"
nayt nal "night"
fayn fi finen"
may mal "my"

Tone

GPE is becoming a tone language because it uses the

pitch of individual syllables to contrast meanings in some cases. Native Ghanaian languages, especially Akan, have two main tones, high [') (H) and low [ ] (L). The low tone will not have any accent mark.

TONE AKAN WORD ENGLISH
HH papa good(ness)
LH papa father
LL papa fan
HL pa:pa: to slap

The above tone phenomenon of the native Ghanaian languages has been transferred to GPE, e.g.:

L go will / shall
H g6 go

LLH a go g6 I will go

L d6 they
H de copula, continuous aspect
LHH de de g6 they are going

L no negative marker
H n6 know
LLH a no n6 I don't know

LLHHLLH a no n6 sey i go g6.
I don't know that he/she will go.








61

Vowel Harmony

A number of West African languages have harmony

systems, in which vowels are divided into mutually exclusive harmonic sets (e.g. according to height or laxness) so that all the vowels in a word will belong to either one set or the other. For example in Ijo all the vowels will be either lax (t, e, u, D) or tense (i, e, u, o) (Williamson 1965 in Holm 1988:124). This type and other types of vowel harmony are found in other Kwa languages like Ibo, Ewe, and Akan. In all the dialects of Akan, there are two sets of vowels according to the advancement of the tongue root: those with Advanced Tongue Root (+ATR], and those without Advanced Tongue Root [-ATR]. This is horizontal vowel harmony.

[+ATR] i e M u o [-ATR] I e a U D

In any Akan word of two or more syllables, only the vowels of one set will occur.

[+ATR] [-ATR]
[wubebu] "you'll break ." [wubebu] "you'll beat. ."
[osi] "he/she washes." [Dst] "he/she sharpens."
[mini) "here I am." [mint] "I mean ."

The Fante dialect of Akan has labial vowel harmony

which occurs together with the horizontal one. This means rounded [+RD] vowels will occur in one word and the unrounded [-RD] ones will occur in another word.








62

Table 4.4. Labial and Horizontal Vowel Harmony in Akan

[+ATR] [-ATR]

[+RD] [murukotu] [murukatuw]
"I'm going to dig." "I'm going to throw."

[-RD] [mirikedzi] mt r keg~y]
"I'm going to eat." "I'm going to get."


The vowel harmony in Akan operates between words in sentences and in compound words where a word with [+ATR] vowels is followed by a word with [-ATR] vowels. The [+ATR] word assimilates the immediate preceding vowel into the corresponding [+ATR] vowel. The following are some examples:

Compound words
[akukD] + [nini] -> [akukonini]
chicken + male -> rooster

[ahin] + [di] -> [ahindi]
chief + to be -> chieftaincy

There is no assimilation if the first word contains [+ATR] vowels and the second contains [-ATR] vowels; here is an example

[ahuhuro] + [bire] -> [(ehuhubtre] heat + time -> hot weather

Sentences
[=dD mfuo] -> [-do mfuo] "he/she cultivates farms."
[tu tuo] -> [to tuo] "shoot a gun."
but
[di asem] -> [di assm] "settle a case."

The vowel [a] is neutral to the vowel harmony in Akan. That is why [oiamt] "God" has mixed vowels.








63

The horizontal vowel harmony in Akan also works in GPE. The following examples from a conversation we had with a GPE singer are representative of most of GPE speakers:

[+ATR] WORDS ENGLISH
wetin waOt "what thing"
boro brow "borrow"
disko disko "disco"
dokument dakjument "document"
eviridey evridey "everyday"

[-ATR] WORDS ENGLISH
sof a safar "suffer"
moni man% "money"
evt rt bodt evri badi "everybody"
nobodt nobadi "nobody"

We have noticed that the vowel harmony can go through a whole phrase or clause. The following is an example from a

GPE song.

btfD yu gD li v na yu go no
"Before you will live it is you who will know."

We notice from the above sentence that [-ATR] vowels begin

from "btf=" and end at "na", and [+ATR] vowels begin from "yu" and end at "no". In many vowel harmony systems, the vowel [a] seems to be neutral to vowel harmony. That is why

the harmony got broken with "na".

Another observation from the above vocalic harmonic

sentence is on the pronoun "you". In the first part of the sentence its vowel is [-ATR], but it has a [+ATR] vowel in the second part. This depends on the harmonic set of vowel that the word will fall into. The following are more examples of [-ATRJ vowel harmony:








64

luk yuD han welwel
("Look at your hand well"). "Be careful with your hand."

mmni dzn kms am
"Money has caused it."

MOrhology

General inflection system in GPE is limited, therefore the grammatical information is manifested through other devices like tone, reduplication, word formation, and the syntactic system.

Tone is used to bring about lexical as well as grammatical differences in GPE. This has been discussed under tone as a phonemic entity in GPE.

Reduplication

Reduplication is the repetition of all or part of a

lexical item. GPE reduplications are complete. The whole lexical item is repeated. Among other things, reduplication indicates such concepts as plurality, repetition, increase in size, added intensity, and continuance.

Reduplicated nouns. Reduplication of a GPE noun indicates plurality. It may also indicate frequency. Examples are:

A hie rumorumo sey de go kam 19th.

"I heard some rumour that they will come on the 19th."



Haw Misa Danquah tDk sey, mek wi stzp dts pijtnpitn,
wey wi bi English studen.








65

"Mr. Danquah has told us that we should stop this
frequent use of pidgin because we are English
students."


A: So i min sey Asamoah de fak aftanun-aftanun.
B: Eeh.
A: Aftanun-aftanun f=k i no mek fak.

A: "So it means that Asamoah makes love in the
afternoons."
B: "Yes."
A: "Afternoon love-makings are no love-makings."

Reduplicated verbs. Reduplication of a GPE verb shows

repetition. It may also show action continuity. Examples

are:

A: So yu, yu get moni at ==? Yu get mons fD de
eks'mas?
B: Oh, de eks'mas die .....
A: De littl mont yu get, yu kam spen fD skuul hie.
Wey yu de invayt-invayt ledis soso las wik.

A: "So do you have money at all? Do you have money
for the Christmas?"
B: "Oh, as for the Christmas ...."
A: "The little money you have, you have spent it here
in school. You were always inviting all these
women last week."

Wey DD de akawntin pipul, dey dey, evtrtbodt sabi sey
dey dey de mDnt tDp a, dey de rayt sDm tins, dey de
rayt-rayt som tins den dey de tiette sam.

"All the accounting people everybody knows that when
they are in charge of money, they write some things and they write some things again, and then they cancel some
of them."


De fes tam wey ma wayf bDn-bDn lak dis, i jos tro awey
twins fm grawn.

"The first time that my wife gave birth, she just threw
away twins onto the ground."


Den a si D ma fren dem, dem bigin bay-bay sterio,
televishin, friji, en sDm de mart .








66

"Then I saw all my friends beginning to buy stereos,
televisions, fridges, and some were marrying."

A don waku-waku-waku-waku fD dis weld.

"I have worked all over the world."


A: Bat de tDp dee no a, i ren finish?
B: De tDp dee, a think i bi naw i de ren-ren
smDsmD.

A: "But in the North, has it stopped raining?"
B: In the North, I think that it is now that it is
raining moderately."

Reduplicated adjectives. Standard English shows the intensity of an adjective by adding degree words such as "very", "much", or "many" to the adjective. GPE indicates this intensity by reduplicating the adjective. Examples are:

Tumorow elt monin a sen yu bak tu yD= mada. Fal-fa-l
tsitsi, fil-fi wumil, yu no sabt notin; a sen yu bak
tu yDD mada.

"Tomorrow early in the morning I'll send you back to your mother. A very beautiful lady, a very beautiful
woman, you don't know anything. I'll send you back to
your mother."

When wi bi smDsmD pikin dem.

"When we were very little children."

Reduplicated adverbs. Reduplication of the adverb in GPE shows the intensification of the manner in which the action is performed. Examples are:

Remi, luk yD han wel-wel.

"Remi, be very careful about your hand."


Mek evereb=de put in ay fa de tin wey in pikin de do btkDs if yu bDn y: pikin yu no tich am wel-wel; las








67

minit yu go si am sumowk wiiwii, tek drogs; las minit
yu go si am anda brij, wey i crez.

"Everybody should watch the things that his or her child does, because if you have your child and you
don't teach him or her very well, last minute you will
see him or her smoking marijuana, taking drugs; and last moment you will see him or her under a bridge,
when he or she has become crazy person."

Mi a sabi buk DrmDa-pr=pa btkzs no kai skuul wey i
dey f= ma vileji wey a no go btfz.

"I know the academics very well because there is no
school in my village that I have never attended
before."

Functional shift reduplications. The function or class

category of some words change when these words are

reduplicated in GPE. In the following song, the verb "lay"

("lie") has been reduplicated and become an adjective to

qualify the nouns "fayt" ("fight"), "m&" ("man"), and

"wumil" ("woman"). But in the clauses "everebode de laylay"

("everybody is lyinglying" and "a no de laylay" ("I am not
lying"), "lie" has been reduplicated to show the intensity

of the action.

It was wan nayt, a de paspas s=m kana. Ptpul de fayt
insayd s=m rum-kzna. Mi a think i bi propa fayt; at las i bi lavlav fayt. Brada, a hie de wumil sey "yu lavylav
maL, den de mal tuu sey "yu lavlay wumil; den mi a sey
"so evereb=de de laylay"; hahaa fD de stDrt: mi a
no de laylay.

"It was one night when I was passing by a street
corner. People were fighting in a room. I thought it
was a proper fight. At last it was a fake fight.
Brother, I heard the woman saying "you are a liar", then the man too said "you are a liar"; then I also
said "so everybody is lying". For this story, I am not
lying."








68

We realize from the above examples that there is a

morphosyntactic phenomenon that brings about the functional shift of the reduplicated words in GPE. In most cases when the reduplicated verb occurs before the noun phrase (NP), it functions as an adjective whereas when it occurs after the NP it just intensifies the action word.

When a reduplicated noun occurs before an NP, it

functions as an adjective, whereas it functions as an adverb when it occurs after a verb phrase (VP). In both cases the reduplicated noun signifies plurality. This is illustrated in the following conversation where speaker A uses aftanunaftanun in his first sentence as a noun plurality that is also functioning as an adverb, but uses it in his second sentence as an adjective.

A: So i min sey Asamoah de fmk aftanun-aftanun?
B: Eeh.
A: Aftanun-aftanun fDk i no mek fDk.

A: "So it means that Asamoah makes love in the
afternoons?"
B: "Yes."
A: "Afternoons love-making are no love-making."

In most instances, when a reduplicated form of "so" which is "soso" occurs before an NP, it functions as a degree adjective "many" or "plenty". This phenomenon is illustrated in the following examples

LegDn de. Onli sey a don' layk Cape Vas ageyn. Soso
Education, a taya. Gmd sef sabi sey a taya.
"Legon is available. It is only that I don't like Cape
Vars. (University) again. A lot of Education, I am tired of it. Even God knows that I am tired of it."








69

A: Shuga no dey yD haws m sey .
B: (LAUGHING) Shuga no dey mi haws oo. Soso
ristrikshins.

A: "Is there no sugar in your house or ."
B: "(LAUGHING) No, there is no sugar in my house;
plenty of restrictions."


Layf na shzt oo, bat soso trDbuls.

"Life is very short, but there are many troubles."


De tin wey in fa mi, mek a tek am, na soso promis.

"The thing that is for me, let me take it, for there
are too many promises."


BifD a go si, de hoo tebul don ful ap wit soso gels.

"Before I became aware, the whole table was filled up
with many girls."

In some cases when soso occurs after an NP it functions

as an anaphor with an antecedent in the same sentence or

discourse. Examples are:

A: So yu get moni wey yu entetein yuD frens, wey sDm
dey wey yu go tek chop eks'mas a i min sey yu tif
am?
B: Yu mek studen. Yu mek studen. Haw yu de get
plenty mont? Na so. I bi soso a de t=k.
A: Yu shuD?
B: I no bi in? Enewey dey de treyn yu f= hie haw yu
de stil de mDnt. I no bi so? De akawnttn pipul i
no bi soso yu de du?

A: "So if you have money that you entertain your
friends with, and you have some left that you will
spend the Christmas with, does it mean that you
stole it?"

B: "You are a student. You are a student. How do you
get plenty of money like that? That is what I am
talking about."








70

A: "Are you sure?"
B: "Isn't it? Anyway they are training you how to
steal money. Isn't it so? Is it not what you the
accounting people are doing?"


Mi haws no swit mi. I bi soso a dey hie.
"My house is not enjoyable for me. That's why I am
here."

Word Compounding in GPE

There are very few word compounds in GPE. The meanings of these compounds are different from those of their individual parts. The compounds are free forms. In the following speech t~kabawt which means "gossip" is made up of verb-preposition, but the compound is a noun. Bakbayt whose meaning is the same as that of standard English "backbite" is made up of noun-verb, but the compound is a noun.

S~m pipul dey, soso jel~s dem bi; soso t~kabawt; soso
bakbayt. Na wetin bi mD dts?

"There are some people who are very jealous. Many
gossips; many backbites. What are all these?"

In the following sentence, mart-mii and mart-wumil which mean "a married man" and "a married woman" respectfully are made up of verb-noun but the compounds are nouns. M~ni-mata which means "money affairs" is made up of noun-noun and the compound is a noun.

De tin wey i dey insayd mart, na mart-mal en
mart-wumil, i bi dem sabi btkDs everttin wey yu go do i
bi m)nt-mata.

"What is inside marriage, it is the married man and the married woman who know; because every thing that you do
is money affair."








71

In the following speech, the adjectival compound malen'-wuml which qualifies "fayt" ("fight") is made up of noun-conjunction-noun.

Jo, dis no bi yuD palava. I bi mhl-en'-wumal fayt.
Dey kml am laylay fayt.

"Joe, this is not your business. It's a man-and-woman
fight. They call it a fake fight."

Syntax

There is not too much difference between the syntax of GPE and those of the other West African English pidgins (Schneider 1966 and Todd 1984 on Cameroon; Mafeni 1971 and Barbag-Stoll 1983 on Nigerian).



The Basic Sentence Structure

The basic sentence pattern of GPE is (Subject)

Predicate (Object) (Complement) where the bracketed elements are optional:

Rid! "Read!"
Rid de pepa. "Read the paper."
De bDy de rid de pepa. "The boy is reading the paper."
De bDy de rid de pepa plas im spetaktls. "The boy is reading the paper with his spectacles." Tense-Modal-Aspect (TMA)

The following is how Givon has briefly explained TenseModal-Aspect (TMA) of a language:

Tense involves primarily though not exclusively our
experience / concept of time as points in a sequence,
and thus the notions of precedence and subseguence.
Aspects of various kinds involve our notion of the
boundedness of time-spans, i.e. various configurations
of beginning, ending and middle points. But in the
semantic space of aspect, nearly always some element of tense is also involved, in terms of establishing a term








72

of point-of-reference along sequential time. Finally, modality encompasses among other things our notions of
reality, in the sense of "having factual existence at some real time" ("true"), "having existence at no real
time" ("false"), or "having potential existence in some
yet-to-be time" ("possible"). Synchronically,
diachronically and ontogenetically, TAM categories are
interconnected. (Givon 1984:272)

Bickerton (1975) has outlined a classical TMA system as including one preverbal AUX to mark anterior tense (simple past for states and past-before-past for actions), one to mark irrealis mood ("future" and conditional) and one to mark nonpunctual aspect (progressive and habitual). He has further suggested that a prototypical creole TAM system should conform to this description and order.

The TMA of GPE is expressed syntactically. It is not expressed morphologically as it is done in some cases in standard English. Some lexical items precede the main verb to express the TAM of GPE as has been expressed by Bickerton. But GPE departs from Bickerton's analysis by not having any AUX or marker to express anteriority. Because of this a verb without a preverbal AUX has two meanings if it is taken out of a discourse context; for example:

a go skuul.
"I go to school."
OR
"I went to school."

In the following example the discourse context shows that the event happened in the past.

Charlie, a hie sey yu go hom wey yu go spen tu wiks.
Way yu no won' kam skuul?








73

"Charlie, I heard that you went home to spend two
weeks. Why didn't you want to come to school."

Adverbials of time are also used to show time relations, for example

A go skuul eviridey.
"I go to school everyday."

A go skuul las wik.
"I went to school last week."

Aspect GPE is aspect-prominent rather than tenseprominent. GPE aspect conforms to the classical TAM model of Bickerton. The AUX de is used to denote nonpunctual or progressive aspect, for example

a de go skuul.
"I am going to school."

I de chop de tam a go im haws.
"He/She was eating when I went to his/her house."

I de chzp eni tam a go %m house.
"He/She is eating every time I go to his/her house." The AUX de at times denotes habituality, like in the following example:

A no go lv bia. A de lv ginis rada. I bi ginis a de
1)V.

"I will not like beer. I like guiness rather. It's
guiness I like." "I went to school last week."

Perfective aspect The perfective (or completive)

aspect is expressed by preceding the main verb with the AUX dmn which always carries a high tone.

A don go skuul.
"I have gone to school."








74

Mood GPE mood also conforms to the classical TAM

model. The The irrealis AUX _q is used to denote "future". This auxiliary always carries a low tone to differentiate it from the verb g_ which carries a high tone.

A go g6 skuul.
"I will go to school."

The modal "fit" This modal which means "can" or "be able" precedes the main verb. If it occurs together with an auxiliary, the auxiliary precedes "fit" ("fit"): AUX + FIT + MAIN VERB.

A fit go skuul.

"I can go to school. / I could go to school."

A de fit go skuul.
"I can go to school."

A go fit go skuul.
I will be able to go to school."

The modal "fD" This modal stands for obligation. It is sometimes replaced with [mz].

A fD go skuul.
"I should go to school."

Yu ms now.
"You must know."

Focus marker "na" Any constituent in a GPE sentence can be focussed by being fronted and making it occur immediately after the word na.

A de go skuul.
"I am going to school."

Na skuul a de go.
"It is school that I am going to."








75

Na go a de go skuul.
"It is going to school that I am doing."
Na mi de go skuul."
"It is I going to school."

This na is also used in Akan as a focus marker, but it occurs immediately after the fronted constituent which is being focussed.

AKAN
me-re-ka nokware.
I-PRES-speak truth.
"I am speaking the truth."

nokware na me-re-ka.
truth FOCUS I-PRES-speak.
"It's the truth that I am speaking."

If we compare the above Akan sentences to their GPE counterparts we will have the following:

A de tDk tru.
"I am speaking the truth."

Na tru a de tDk.
"It's the truth that I'm speaking."

We are not claiming that this focus na which is used in other West African English pidgins originated from the Akan language. We have just shown that the same syntactic phenomenon do exist in Akan. Further research will have to be done for such a claim. What has been shown is the influence that some of the Ghanaian languages have on GPE.

Another way of focus in GPE is the use of the present

form of the copula BI [bi]. The pronoun I [i] precedes BI to form this focus marker. These two elements precede the constituent that is being focussed. If the focussing









76

constituent is a pronoun, the objective case is chosen. Here are some examples:

I bi tru a de tmk.
"It's the truth that I am speaking."


I bi mi tDk tru.
"It's I speaking the truth."

I bi dem de go hom.
"It's they going home."

I bi im de go hom.
"It's he/she going home."

I bi wi de tDk tru.
"It's we speaking the truth." Negation

Negation is a proposition that is asserted as being

false. Negation is expressed in GPE by preceding TAM with the lexical item "no." This means "no" precedes an irrealis marker like the future go. It will precede an aspect marker like the nonpunctual aspect de, and it will precede a modal like ftt. The sequence will be:

NO + TAM + MAIN VERB.

NEG + MAIN VERB
A no go skuul.
"I don't go to school." OR "I didn't go to
school."

NEG + de + MAIN VERB
A no de go skuul.
"I am not going to school." OR
"I was not going to school."

NEG + go + MAIN VERB
A no go go skuul.
"I will not go to school."








77

NEG + fit + MAIN VERB
A no fit go skuul.
"I can't go to school."

NEG + go + fit + MAIN VERB
A no go fit go skuul.
"I will not be able to go to school."

The perfective aspect dmn does not have a negative

counterpart that takes "no". Instead "yet" ("yet") is added to the construction to show the negative perfective aspect like in the following example.

A dDn go skuul.
"I have gone to school."
a no dmn go skuul.
A no go skuul yet.

"I have not gone to school yet."

Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) and Cameroon Pidgin

English (CPE) use "neva" ("never") as the negative form of the perfective aspect.

NPE/CPE
A neva go skuul.
"I have not gone to school."

GPE does not use "neva" the way it is used by NPE and CPE. It is used by GPE in the way standard English uses it.

GPE
A neva go skuul.
"I don't go to school."

The negative form of the copula is expressed by

preceding bi with "no" which in turn is preceded by the dummy i: I + NO + BI.

I no bi mi bit am.
"It wasn't/isn't I who beat him/her."








78

Imperative

Imperative is an attempt by a speaker to elicit action from a hearer. In GPE this is done in two different ways: One is by the use of the verb phrase alone without any subject; examples:

Go! "Go (away)!
Go tel am! "Go and tell him/her."
Go brtn dem! "Go and bring them."

The other way is by starting each command, request, or exhortation with the word "mek" ("make"). This one requires the mention of the subject which follows the imperative word "mek". In most cases imperative with the copula verb uses this method; examples:

Mek yu go! "Go (away)! / (get away)!"
Mek yu go tel am! "Go and tell him/her!"
Mek yu go brain dem! "Go and bring them!"
Mek yu tel am! "Tell him/her!"
Mek yu brain dem! "Bring them!"
Mek yu bi gud ticha! "Be a good teacher!"

Negative imperatives The imperative form starting with "mek" seems to be the one most commonly used in the negative imperative. "No go!", "No tel am!", etc. do not sound quite appropriate.

Mek yu no go! "Don't go (away)! / (get
away) !"
Mek yu no go tel am! "Don't go and tell him/her!"
Mek yu no go brain dem! "Don't go and bring them!"
Mek yu no tel am! "Don't tell him/her!"
Mek yu no brain dem! "Don't bring them!"
Mek yu no bi bad ticha! "Don't be a bad teacher!" Interrogative

Interrogative is a request by a speaker of information from a hearer. There are two ways of expressing








79

interrogative in GPE. One is by changing the intonation of a statement, and the other is by using interrogative words.

STATEMENT QUESTION
A g6 skuul A g6 skudl
"I go/went to school." "I go/went to school?"

A fit g6 skuul A fit g6 skuul
"I can go to school." "Can I go to school?"

A no de fit g6 skuul A no de fit g6 skdul
"I can't go to school." "Can't I go to school?"

The word "wey" is often used for the question words "where", "when", "what", and "how". The words themselves are used in certain contexts.

Wey (tin) yu go du?
"What will you do?"

Wey i dey?
"Where is he/she?"

Wey i bi?
"Where is he/she?"

Wey i go kam?
"When will he/she come?"

Wey tam i go kam?
"When will he/she come?"
Wey kil pestn kam hi e?
"Who comes/came here?"

The focus na is sometimes used with the question words. In this case na means "and", and it is used for emphasis depending upon the preceding statement by any of the interlocutors; e.g.

Na hu bi im?
"And who is he/she?" ("Who does he/she think he/she
is?")








80

The above question is an example of attitudinal

question. This shows an attitude that the questioner has about the third person. The questioner may have an unhealthy attitude about the third person perhaps the one being talked about has been very boastful, or has been blowing his or her own horn. The following is part of a GPE song showing both the cohesive and focus uses of fa.

If a no beta fn m& own layf,
na hus f~lt
na mi k~s am

"If I don't do well for my own life,
it is whose fault;
It is I who has caused it." Exclamations and Emphasis

Exclamations and emphasis in GPE are commonly conveyed by the addition of particular words or expressions either at the beginning or at the end of a proposition, and are always expressed with the appropriate intonation. Prolonged sounds which are vowels like oo or aa are added to expressions to emphasize the emotional concern of the speaker.

Plenty palava kam oo.
"There's lots of trouble! / We've got real trouble!"

I had oo.
"It is very hard / difficult / trying!"

I fan pr~pa.
"It / He / She is very nice / handsome / beautiful!"

I veks Rr~ga.
"He / She is very angry!"

I gud tuu m~ch.
"He / She is a very good person!. / He / she is so
good!"








81

A. ey I fal tuu m=ch.
"My word! It's really nice! / She's really a fine
lady!"

A chDp am wan tam.
"I ate it immediately / at once!"

I ren plenty plenty.
"It rained a lot / great deal!" Personal pronouns

Table 4.4 shows the personal pronouns in Ghanaian Pidgin English:

Table 4.4. Personal Pronouns of G.P.E.

SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE

1st Person Singular a mi

2nd Person Singular yu yu

3rd Person Singular hi, i am, tm

1st Person Plural wi wi

2nd Person Plural yu yu

3rd Person Plural dey, dem dem


Possessives

The transitive possessive pronouns which occur just

before the possessed element like in standard English are:
"mi", "yu", "t m/an", "yu", "wa", and "dem/dea" for "my", "your"(singular), "his/her", "your"(plural), "our", and "their" respectively; e.g.

I bi ma haws. "It's my house."
I bi in haws. "It's his/her house."
I bi yD haws. "It's your (sg./pl.) house."
I bi wa haws. "It's our house."
I bi dem/dea haws. "It's their house."








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The intransitive possessive pronouns "mine",

"his/hers", "yours", "ours", and "theirs" in GPE are expressed by adding the word "own" to the transitive possessive pronouns; e.g.

I bi m& own "It's mine."
I bi in own "It's his/hers."

There is no morphological possessive marker in GPE as it is in English Is, like "father's house", "Rita's child", or "Joe's house". In GPE the transitive possessive pronoun occurs between the possessor and the possessed, the former on the left and the latter on the right; e.g.

papa in haws "father's house"
Joe in buk "Joe's book"
Rita in pikin "Rita's child"
pikin dem papa "the children's father"

Sometimes a whole expression with the word "get" is used to express possessive; e.g.

I bi mi get am. "It's mine. / It belongs to me."
I bi wi get de haws. "It's our house."
Hu get dts haws. "Whose house is this?

The Articles

There are two main articles in GPE: "de"l and "fa"l.

Both articles are used in the way they are used in standard English. The only difference is that many times "1s~m" is used instead of "a"l, even though "1sz~m" is used with its usual meaning in some contexts. "Wan" is sometimes used instead of "a." GPE does not use "an."

De ples no gud. "The place isn't good.",








83

I bran sum pikin plas am.
"He/She brought a child with him/her."

Dey sey dem brtn sam. "They say they brought some."

A get wan dog. "I have a dog."

Prepositions and Postpositions

The only word which is used as a preposition in GPE is "f:". It is always accompanied with a syntactic phenomenon in some of the Ghanaian languages, whereby some lexical items occur after the noun they qualify. We call these locative lexical items postpositions. Some examples are "top," "inside," "outside," and "under." This means GPE has both prepositions and postpositions. The following is a comparison between an Akan sentence and a GPE sentence.

AKAN
Fa nwoma no to pono no so.
take book the put table the on/top
"Put the book on the table!"

GPE
Put de buk fD de tebul tD.
"Put the book on the table!"

The following are some more examples of the prepositionpostposition phenomenon from some of the recordings we have made.

Wey de pipul kam biliv am f de haws tnsayd.
"That the people came to believe him/her inside the
house."

I go w=ka f dee soso; i de slip f2 brij anda dem.
"He went and roamed about; he was sleeping under
bridges."


Wey == de akawntin pipul dey dey, everiLbdt sabt sey
dey dey mont tD.








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"That all the accountants, everybody knows that they
are on top of the money (they control the money)." Complementizer "sey"

Verbs of saying, thinking, knowing, remembering, and sensing are followed by the complementizer "sey" ("that"). This complementizer might come from the Akan language which uses "se" ("that") in the same syntactic position (Holm 1988:186; Turner 1949:201; Cassidy 1961:63).

AKAN
Joe ka-a se D-be-ba.
Joe say-PAST that he-will-come
"Joe said that he will come."

GPE
Joe tak sey i go kam.
"Joe said that he will come."

AKAN
Me-nim se Joe be-ba.
I-know that Joe will-come
"I know that Joe will come.

GPE
A sabi ay Joe go kam.
"I know that Joe will come."

AKAN
Me-te-e se D-be-ba.
I-hear-PAST that he/she-will-come
"I heard that he/she will come."

GPE
A hie se y i go kam
"I heard that he/she will come."


Comparative / Superlative Expression

There are no morphological markers for the expression of comparative and superlative notions in GPE. The word "pas" ("than") is used to express the notion of comparative.








85

It comes immediately after the adjective or the expression being used to compare the two entities.

Joe btg pas John.
"Joe is bigger than John."

I sabi buk pas t m fren.
"He/She is smarter than his/her friend."

If the superlative notion is being expressed, then quantitative adverbs like "evertttn" ("everything"), "evertb:di" ("everybody"), and "m" ("all") are used together with "pas".

Joe byg pas everabadt.
"Joe is bigger than everybody. / Joe is the biggest."

I sabt buk pas D= tm fren.
"He/She is the smartest among his/her friends."

The expression of the comparative and superlative

notions in GPE follows the syntax of some Kwa languages. This is how the above sentences are expressed in Akan:

AKAN
Joe so kyen John.
Joe big than John
"Joe is bigger than John."

O-nim nwoma kyen n'-adamfo.
He/She-knows books than his/her-friend
"He/She is smarter than his/her friend."

Joe so kyen obiara.
Joe big than everybody
"Joe is bigger than evrybody."

O-nim nwoma kyen ne n-namfo nyinaa.
He/She-knows book than his/her PL-friend all
"He/She is the smartest among his/her friends." Some more GPE common complex constructions and expressions can be found in Appendix C.








86

Semantics of Some G.P.E. Words

Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences. Although the basic vocabulary of GPE comes from English, some of these words have acquired different or additional meanings. GPE also has loan translations or calques which have been made from some of the Ghanaian languages. There are some words which have been borrowed from Portuguese, Yoruba, Hausa, and some of the Ghanaian languages. These words have retained their original meanings. The above semantic phenomena will be discussed in this section. Since many of the word and sentence meanings to be described are affected in one way or the other by calque, it will be appropriate for us to know how Bynon has defined calque.

In loan translation or calque (literally "tracing",
"copy"), the form and meaning of a foreign word, instead of being carried over into the recipient
language as a unit is merely employed as a model for a
native creation. For this to be possible it must be
both morphologically complex and semantically
transparent, and the process consists in substituting for each of its morphs the semantically closest morph
in the recipient language and combining these according
to its own native rules of word-formation. Thus while
the choice of constituent morphs and the overall
meaning of the new construct will be modelled on the
foreign source, the constituent elements themselves and
the rules governing their combination will be native.
(Bynon, 1983:232)

Plas The word "plas" which means 'land" or

"add/addition" has maintained these meanings in GPE and has acquired the new meaning "with", which is unique to GPE.








87

The following examples from the recordings we made will make

this meaning clear.

plas ("with")
Yu shum sey a de go y= haws plas yu? Mi, dos hu
de go awt 1& mi a no de go dem haws _las dem.

"Are you sure that I am going to your house with you?
For me, those who go out with me, I don't go to their
house with them."

A fa go slip plas ma bDyfren.

"I should go and sleep ith my boyfriend."

A dey de sem hal las yu.

"I am/was in the same hall with you."

MALE (SPEAKING STANDARD): How did you pick up pidgin
English?
FEMALE (SPEAKING GPE): Aaa, a no sabt oo. Wey a dey
skuul a rid sayans so de boys wey a de stadi
las dem nu dem DD spik ptjtn so a pik am welwel.

MALE: "How did you pick up pidgin English?"
FEMALE: "Well, I don't know. When I was in school I
read science and all the boys whom I was studying
with spoke pidgin so I picked it up easily."

Yu de waka las sDmbdt ; a no go fit sabt sey s~m
kDneshins dey? A go sabt!

"You are walking with somebody; Can't I know that there
are some connections? I will know!"

plas ("and")
Mek yu go Volta Region Students Union _las Western
Region Students Union.

"Go to the Volta Region Students Union and the Western
Region Students Union."

Wey yu get ted yia a, onli yu de kansentreyt ft y= lDn
ese plas yD kas.

"If you get to third year, you only concentrate on your
long essay and your course work."








88

We observe from the above examples that GPE, like many other creoles and pidgins, uses the same word "piM" for both "with" and "and". Akan uses the word "her" ([n]) for both words in the same way that "pl" is used above in GPE.

Sef The word "sef" ("self") has retained its reflexive meaning in GPE. It has acquired another meaning which is a calque from the Ghanaian languages. This meaning is "even" as an intensive element to emphasize the identity or character of somebody or something. It follows the constituent that is being emphasized. The constituent can be a word, phrase, or sentence. This syntactic structure is akin to that of Akan in which the words mpo or koraa are used. The following example which shows this meaning of "sef" at the word level is part of a discourse by a lady who said she was fed up with Education as a course.

AKAN
Onyame mo_ nim se m-a-bre
God even knows that I-PERF-tire
"Even God knows that I am tired."

GPE
Gmd sef sabi sey a taya.
God even knows that I tire
"Even God knows that I am tired."

LegDn de. Onli sey a don' layk Cape Vas ageyn. Soso
Education, a taya. G:d sef sabt sey a taya.

"Legon (University of Ghana) is there (available).
It's only that I don't like Cape Vars (Cape Coast
University). I am tired of all this education. Even
God knows that I am tired."

The following is part of a conversation between the

author and a steward who does not speak Akan. His usage of








89

"sef" here shows that it is not only the Akan speakers of GPE who use "sef" in this way. I was enquiring about another steward, and this is his answer. We will compare his answer to its counterpart in Akan.

GPE
Yestadey sef i kam.
Yesterday even he come
"Even yesteday he came."

AKAN
enora mpo D-ba-e
Yesterday even he-come-PAST
"Even yesteday he came."

JOE (STANDARD ENGLISH): I don't see Akosombo these
days.
ALHASSAN (GPE): I dey. Yestadey sef i kam.
JOE: "I don't see Akosombo these days."
ALHASSAN: "He's around. Even yesterday he came." The following is an example of the usage of "sef" at the phrase level. This will also be compared to its Akan counterpart.

GPE
Leta Dn se dey show am agen.
Later on even they show it again
"Even later on they showed it again."

AKAN
Akyire yi map wD-yi-i bio.
Later on even they-show-PAST again
"Even later on they showed it again."

The following example of the use of "sef" at the sentence level comes from a conversation by two participants who were expressing their views on how Ghanaian football (soccer) players are neglected after they have retired from active playing.








90

GPE
Dey no go ma yu s_.
They NEG will mind you even
"They will not even think about you."

AKAN
WD-m-mua wo m~po.
They-NEG-mind you even
"They will not even think about you."

A: FD dis Ghana hie, layk yu pley yD bDDl wey yu
finish, nobodi de rigad yu.
B: Dey no go mal yu sef ene mDD.

A: "In Ghana here, if you play football and you
retire, nobody regards you."
B: "They will not even think about you any more."

Sometimes some speakers make the emphasis stronger by

using both "sef" and "koraa" in the same sentence. At times "self" is replaced with "koraa". In the following example "Tamale Real United" and "Hearts" ("Hearts of Oak") are Ghanaian soccer teams.

Tamale sef koraa, Real United koraa, dey de tic
("tear") Hearts oo.

"Even Tamale, even Real United are beating Hearts."

Ch~v In GPE, the word "chzp" ("chop") does not have the same meaning it has in standard English. "Cut" or "fell" will be used in that sense. Instead "chrp" is used with the meanings it has from the Ghanaian languages which are

"eat/feed", "spend", "squander", "food", and the derogatory way of saying that a man makes love to a woman. Some speakers use fDk, for the last meaning. Some even use "m:nch" which sounds milder. Some speakers also use "cho" which is the clipped form of "chzp", and some use "chos" for








91

food. In Akan, the word for "chop" is "i". The following

Akan phrases show how "di" is used.

AKAN
di aduane "eat food"
di sika "spend/squander money"
di buronya "spend christmas"
di afoofi "spend holiday/vacation"
di asem "settle a case"
di Dbaa "make love to a woman (derogatory)"

The following examples show the way the usage of "chap" in

GPE is akin to that of "di" in Akan.

A: So yu get mon% wey yu entetein yuD frens, wey som
dey wey yu go tek chop eks'mas a i min sey yu tif
am?
B: Yu mek studen. Yu mek studen. Haw yu de get
plenty mant? Na so. I bi soso a de tDk.
A: Yu shum?
B: I no bi in? Enewey dey de treyn yu fD hie haw yu
de stil de mani. I no bi so? De akawntin ptpul i
no bi soso yu de du?

A: "So if you have money that you entertain your
friends with, and you have some left that you will
spend the Christmas with, does it mean that you
stole it?"
B: "You are a student. You are a student. How do you
get plenty of money like that? That is what I am
talking about."
A: "Are you sure?"
B: "Isn't it? Anyway they are training how to steal
money. Isn't it so? Is it not what you the
accounting people are doing?"

A: Wey yu no lod tuu, yu no get enetin yu go chop.
B: Eeh, yu no get mDni yu de cho on.

A: "And if you are not loaded (with money), you don't
have anything you'll eat."
B: "Yes you don't have any money to fe on."

De chos nu, wey kal yu won? Yu won de indijinos wan D
mek a mek de oyibo tayp?




Full Text
201
Jov Ride Magazine. 1984. Accra; Gapo Publications.
Koelle, S. 1854. Polvalotta Africana. (1963 reprint,
Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone.
Le Page, R. B., and D. De Camp. 1960. Jamaican Creole:
Creole Studies I. London: Macmillan.
Le Page, Robert Brock and Andree Tabouret-Keller. 1985.
Creole-Based Approaches to Language and Ethnicity.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lipski, John. 1992. Pidgin English Usage in Equatorial
Guinea (Fernando Poo). In English World-Wide; Vol.
13:1. Concord, MA; Heinle and Heinle Enterprise.
Love and Fun. 1984. Accra: Gapo Publications.
Lyons, John. 1981. Language and Linguistics. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Mafeni, B. 1971. Nigerian Pidgin English. In Spencer, J.
(ed.) 1971 .The English Language in West Africa.
London: Longman.
Merriam-Webster, A. 1984. Webster's Ninth Collegiate
Dictionary. Frederick Mish (Chief Editor).
Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Inc.
Mhlhusler, Peter. 1986. Pidgin and Creole Linguistics.
New York: Basil Blackwell Inc.
Naro, Anthony. 1978. A Study on the Origins of
Pidginization. In Language Vol. 54. Baltimore:
Waverly Press Inc.
Osae, T. A., S. N. Nwabara, and A. T. O. Odunsi. 1973. A
Short History of West Africa. New York: Hill, Wang.
Reinecke, J. E. 1937. Marginal Languages: A Sociological
Survey of the Creole Languages and Trade Jargons.
Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University. Ann Arbor:
University Microfilms International.
Reinecke, J. E., S. M. Tsuzaki, D. DeCamp, I. F. Hancock,
and R. E. Wood (eds). 1975. A Bibliography of Pidgin
and Creole Languages. Honolulu: University Press of
Hawaii.
Romaine, Suzanne. 1988. Pidgin and Creole Languages.
London: Longman.


97
Summary
We have discussed the linguistics structure of the
Ghanaian Pidgin English in this chapter. Though the
vocabulary of GPE is mostly English, its phonological system
is highly influenced by that of the Ghanaian languages,
especially Akan. The qualities of the consonants and the
vowels are in line with those of the Ghanaian languages
instead of standard English. Phonemic tones which are
characteristics of Kwa languages are found in GPE. Vowel
harmony is also part of the phonological system of GPE.
Morphologically, the general inflection system in GPE is
very limited. The major morphological process in GPE is
reduplication which is used to denote plurality, frequency,
intensity, and functional shift. Compounding of words is
another GPE morphological process. Syntactically, GPE does
not follow Bickerton's classical TMA system, because GPE
does not have TENSE; it is aspect-prominent instead of
tense-prominent. GPE also contains irrealis and conditional
moods. Its syntax is influenced by those of the native
Ghanaian languages. Semantically, some of the English words
in GPE have acquired additional or differnt meanings. There
are caiques that have been made from the Ghanaian languages.
Some GPE words that have been borrowed from Portuguese,
Yoruba, Hausa, and some of the Ghanaian languages have
maintained their oirginal meanings. We have used phonemic
orthography to differentiate GPE from standard English.


100
to another. At the same time, however, the speaker is
using language to make statements about who she is,
what her group loyalties are, how she perceives her
relationship to her hearer, and what sort of speech
event she considers herself to be engaged in. The two
tasks (communicating information and defining the
social situation) can be carried out simultaneously
precisely because language varies speakers can choose
among alternative linguistic means, any of which would
satisfactorily communicate the propositional
information. It is the selection among these
alternatives that defines the social situation. The
study of the interplay between these two facts about
language is exactly sociolinguistics. (Fasold 1984:3)
Fishman defines sociolinguistics as "the study of the
characteristics of language varieties, the characteristics
of their functions, and the characteristics of their
speakers as these three constantly interact, change, and
change one another within a speech community" (Fishman
1970:4).
Speakers and Places of Ghanaian Pidgin English
In this section I will discuss the current speakers of
Ghanaian Pidgin English and places where it is spoken.
Table 5.1 illustrates the number of respondents who have or
have not spoken the language. It shows the answers given by
our respondents to the question "Have you spoken pidgin
English before?". The total number of respondents to the
survey was 304. All of them answered this question. Figure
5.1 is a further illustration of the answers to the same
question. Most of them (81.6%) said that they had spoken
GPE before. Only 18.4% said they had not spken GPE before.


166
hey-sp7money sin/ne.
LlfE SINCE Y PPOPN. N7E
/¡SONY/ / NO PE SPEC T
MONEY. NtE Pllrs Pot/EQTY
INESE ENEM/ES .
MUGEN! GYPTo
SPECtPl SICK ?
PEN i>£ NORLE
SPOIL. YOU SICK POP.
INHERE ?mP*E/GO
SR/NO HP.c.You |
NOGOTPUC? / SPY
INHERE YovPEY y
r


85
It comes immediately after the adjective or the expression
being used to compare the two entities.
Joe big pas John.
"Joe is bigger than John."
I sabi buk pas im fren.
"He/She is smarter than his/her friend."
If the superlative notion is being expressed, then
quantitative adverbs like "eventin" ("everything"),
"everib=>di" ("everybody"), and "33" ("all") are used
together with "pas".
Joe big pas everibodi.
"Joe is bigger than everybody. / Joe is the biggest."
I sabi buk pas 33 im fren.
"He/She is the smartest among his/her friends."
The expression of the comparative and superlative
notions in GPE follows the syntax of some Kwa languages.
This is how the above sentences are expressed in Akan:
AKAN
Joe so kyen John.
Joe big than John
"Joe is bigger than John."
O-nim nwoma kyen n'-adamfo.
He/She-knows books than his/her-friend
"He/She is smarter than his/her friend."
Joe so kyen obiara.
Joe big than everybody
"Joe is bigger than evrybody."
O-nim nwoma kyen ne n-namfo nyinaa.
He/She-knows book than his/her PL-friend all
"He/She is the smartest among his/her friends."
Some more GPE common complex constructions and expressions
can be found in Appendix C.


203
Turner, L. D. 1949. Africanist in the Gullah Dialect.
(1947 reprint). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
Press.
Valkhoff, Marius F. 1966. Studies in Portuguese and Creole
with Special Reference to South Africa. Johannesburg:
Witwatersrand University Press.
Ward, William E. F. 1948. A History of the Gold Coast.
London: Bradford and Dickens.
Wardhaugh, Ronald. 1990. An Introduction to
Sociolinguistics. Cambridge, Massachussets: Basil
Blackwell.


141
The adverse effect that pidgin English has or will have
on the usage of standard English is the main reason given by
all the 12 respondents who indicated that they like to speak
pidgin English but they do not like to hear others speak it.
Only one of them added another reason, "It sounds crude and
at times raw."
We further requested our informants to indicate whether
or not they think GPE should be encouraged or discouraged
and from Table 5.15 and Figure 5.15 below most of them think
that it should be discouraged.
Table 5.15
Encouragement of Pidgin English in Ghana
Encouraged % Discouraged % No Response %
46 15% 235 77% 23 8%
Encourage or Discourage G.P.E.
300 -
RESPONSES
PIQ. 5.15
Figure 5.15. Encourage or Discourage G.P.E.
During our interviews, we asked our informants to tell
us their attitude towards GPE. We found out that many of


173
HdMOTTfl presents:
v ^MAGANI
p9fe¡-
og


78
Imperative
Imperative is an attempt by a speaker to elicit action
from a hearer. In GPE this is done in two different ways:
One is by the use of the verb phrase alone without any
subject; examples:
Go! "Go (away)!
Go tel am! "Go and tell him/her."
Go brin dem! "Go and bring them."
The other way is by starting each command, request, or
exhortation with the word "mek" ("make"). This one requires
the mention of the subject which follows the imperative word
"mek". In most cases imperative with the copula verb uses
this method; examples:
Mek yu go!
Mek yu go tel am!
Mek yu go brin dem!
Mek yu tel am!
Mek yu brin dem!
Mek yu bi gud ticha!
"Go (away)! / (get away)!"
"Go and tell him/her!"
"Go and bring them!"
"Tell him/her!"
"Bring them!"
"Be a good teacher!"
Negative imperatives The imperative form starting with
"mek" seems to be the one most commonly used in the negative
imperative. "No go!", "No tel am!", etc. do not sound quite
appropriate.
Mek
yu
no
go!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
go tel am!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
go farm dem!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
tel am!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
brin dem!
"Don11
Mek
yu
no
bi bad ticha!
"Don't
go (away)! / (get
away)!"
go and tell him/her!"
go and bring them!"
tell him/her!"
bring them!"
be a bad teacher!"
Interrogative
Interrogative is a request by a speaker of information
from a hearer. There are two ways of expressing




197
Yarn has two major problems to clear. First: Hill he succeed in winning the love of this sophisticated
! but beautiful air hostessl Second: How does Yaro bake sure his former Master will not see hunt
Guess what Yaro will do- But If you are in doubt read Yol. 14.


42
various capacities directly under mostly English but also
some Ghanaian and other African "masters" who needed some
means of communication with them.
Pidgin gradually arose through simplifications of the
structure of standard English and adaptation to native
languages among these categories of workers. They tried to
reproduce what they heard and retained of the fast speech of
the English masters, or the Ghanaian and Asian masters.
The categories of people who learned this kind of
simplified English were:
Police corporals. They were employed as guards at the
courts, offices, parliament, "people's" houses, and other
government places. "People" in this sense means the
expatriates and high-ranking government officials who
qualified to employ a guard.
Watchmen. These were employed in government departments
and private houses. They were security officers who watched
the houses and office buildings of the government as well as
those of some private individuals.
Laborers. They were employed in government departments
-usually daily ratedlike Public Works Department, Water
Works, Electricity, and Housing.
Domestic staff. The domestic staff, who in those days
were invariably male, were cooks, steward boys, and garden
boys. They were usually called "small boys" by their
employers. They in turn called their employers "masters",


7
5. a language based on two or more languages that
serves as the native language of its speakers
(Merriam-Webster 1984:305-6)
According to Holm, Crioulo. which is a Portuguese word
"with a diminutive suffix, came to mean an African slave
born in the New World in Brazilian usage. Its meaning was
then extended to include Europeans born in the New World.
The word finally came to refer to the customs and speech of
Africans and Europeans born in the New World. It was later
borrowed as Spanish criollo. French cr^eole. Dutch creol.
and English creole" (Holm 1988:9).
Summary
In this chapter, we have attempted to deal with the
definitions of pidgin and creole languages. Pidgin evolves
when people who do not understand each other's language meet
and they want to communicate verbally. This is the social
definition of pidgin. The structural definition states that
pidgin has a reduced language structure which means that its
phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics are simpler
than those of the language or languages that it may evolve
from. By definition pidgin does not have native speakers.
Pidgin becomes creole when it acquires a native speaker.
The linguistic structure of a creole is more complex than
that of pidgin. Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) which is the
topic of this work has no opportunity of being creolized in
the near future, because the Ghanaian children have access
to one or more of the 45 Ghanaian local languages.


69
A: Shuga no dey yo haws o sey .
B: (LAUGHING) Shuga no dey rna haws oo. Soso
ristrikshins.
A: "Is there no sugar in your house or .
B: "(LAUGHING) No, there is no sugar in my house;
plenty of restrictions."
Layf na shot oo, bat soso trobuls.
"Life is very short, but there are many troubles."
De tin wey m fo mi, mek a tek am, na soso promts.
"The thing that is for me, let me take it, for there
are too many promises."
Bi fo a go si, de hoo tebul don ful ap wit soso gels.
"Before I became aware, the whole table was filled up
with many girls."
In some cases when soso occurs after an NP it functions
as an anaphor with an antecedent in the same sentence or
discourse. Examples are:
A: So yu get moni wey yu entetein yuo frens, wey som
dey wey yu go tek chop eks'mas a i min sey yu tif
am?
B: Yu mek studen. Yu mek studen. Haw yu de get
plenti moni? Na so. I bi soso a de tok.
A: Yu shuo?
B: I no bi in? Enewey dey de treyn yu fo hie haw yu
de stil de moni. I no bi so? De akawntin pi pul i
no bi soso yu de du?
A: "So if you have money that you entertain your
friends with, and you have some left that you will
spend the Christmas with, does it mean that you
stole it?"
B: "You are a student. You are a student. How do you
get plenty of money like that? That is what I am
talking about."


57
Ghanaian language spoken by the author. Akan-influenced GPE
is the most common one spoken in Ghana.
Phonology
GPE has not been standardized; and as such it has no
official orthography. The lexicon is mainly English with
few words from the vernaculars of some of the Ghanaian
languages. Phonologically, GPE reflects the phonology of
the Ghanaian languages which are quite similar since most of
them come from the Kwa group. This phonological reflection
can be seen in the GPE vowels, consonants, syllable
structure, and in its suprasegmental features such as tone,
and vowel harmony.
Vowels of GPE
GPE has twelve vowels, nine monothongs and three
diphthongs which are ai, au, and oi These diphthongs are
sometimes separated by semi vowels which makes it appear
that GPE has nine underlying vowels.
Table 4.1. G.P.E. Monothong Vowels
FRONT
CENTRAL
BACK
HIGH
i
U
i
u
MID
e
o
e
LOW
a


(g) Where do you stay? town
district
154
region
22. Contact address:
J.K.Y.B. AMOAKO
Pidgin English Research Project
Department of Linguistics
University of Ghana
P. 0. Box 61
Legn, Accra
Ghana


88
We observe from the above examples that GPE, like many
other creoles and pidgins, uses the same word "plas" for
both "with" and "and". Akan uses the word "ne" ([ni]) for
both words in the same way that "olas" is used above in GPE.
Sef The word "sef" ("self") has retained its reflexive
meaning in GPE. It has acquired another meaning which is a
caique from the Ghanaian languages. This meaning is "even"
as an intensive element to emphasize the identity or
character of somebody or something. It follows the
constituent that is being emphasized. The constituent can
be a word, phrase, or sentence. This syntactic structure is
akin to that of Akan in which the words moo or koraa are
used. The following example which shows this meaning of
"sef" at the word level is part of a discourse by a lady who
said she was fed up with Education as a course.
AKAN
Onyame mpo nim se m-a-bre
God even knows that I-PERF-tire
"Even God knows that I am tired."
GPE
God sef sabi sey a taya.
God even knows that I tire
"Even God knows that I am tired."
Legn de. Onli sey a don' layk Cape Vas ageyn. Soso
Education, a taya. God sef sabi sey a taya.
"Legn (University of Ghana) is there (available).
It's only that I don't like Cape Vars (Cape Coast
University). I am tired of all this education. Even
God knows that I am tired."
The following is part of a conversation between the
author and a steward who does not speak Akan. His usage of


200
Fage, J. D. 1961. An Introduction to the History of West
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Studies Journal 3:207-213. (Republished as Aspects of
English in Liberia. In J. L. Dillard (ed.) 1975.
Perspectives on Black English. The Hague: Mouton, pp.
248-255.)
Hancock, I. F. 1969. A Provisional Comparison of the
English-based Atlantic Creoles. African Language
Review 8:7-72.
Hancock, I. F. 1971. A Study of the Sources and
Development of the Lexicon of Sierra Leone Creole.
Ph.D. thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies,
University of London.
Holm, John. 1988. Pidgins and Creoles. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Holm, John. 1989. Pidgins and Creoles. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Hymes, Dell. 1971. Pidginization And Creolization of
Languages. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Jones, Eldred. 1971. Krio: An English-based Language of
Sierra Leone. In Spencer (ed.) 1971:67-94. The
English Language in West Africa. London: Longman.
Jones, F. C. 1983. English-derived Words in Sierra Leone
Krio. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Leeds.


119
said that he at first used standard English. He then
realized that not all the readers who were interested in
cartoons could read standard English. He, therefore,
changed to pidgin. People began to buy the magazines more
than they used to when the language was standard English.
Mugu Yaro, the major character of one of the cartoons, is
now a household name in Ghana, especially in the big towns.
Mugu Yaro was guoted on the research guestionnaire (Appendix
A) to indicate to the informants what is meant by Ghanaian
Pidgin English.
I no be kid wey dey go fit catch me;
who go fit catch Yaro?
Walahi! dey no go fit da.
"I am not a child that they can catch me;
who can catch Yaro?
I swear! they can never.
Walahi is a Hausa word for "I swear and da is an Akan word
for "never. Extracts from Mugu Yaro, Gyato, and Baba Dogo
can be found in Appendix E.
Newspapers. Once a while, GPE appears in the
newspapers. A journalist and reporter of a Ghanaian
newspaper said if one is quoting a watchman who speaks
pidgin English, one has to quote him in that language. The
professional ethics and techniques of journalism allow this.
It makes a better impact and gives the readers what the man
actually said. It also serves to break out what journalists
call the "stiff language approach to journalism. I came
across the journalist's observation when I graded an English


188
SUPER
WW9
.. my mother talk', fear, woman
ANb livelong, true. But me Super -
MUGU TARO, /&£ INTERNATIONAL /MAM.
/ sabe Black woman white woman,
chnese woman. Korea worn an.
C 'MON, YARO PONT SNUB ME. AT
LEAST. / CAN RECOGNISE YOUR
BRIEFCASE. SUPER MUGU YARO OF
GHANA ANO AFRICA... NA LIE? rtf
^ rrW
SO YOU PONT REMEMBER ESI THE
GHANAIAN'WOMAN WHO TOOKyou To HER
HOUSE THE PAY YOU ARRIVAL >
YOU SEE IF YOU NO USE YOUR
HEAP, YOU GO GUENCN.PEOFY E
BE SMART. BUT ME, SUPER MUGO
YARO OF GHANA ANO AFRICA. /BE
SMART PASS ALL.
I mi lil. un I*. 16


30
During the first 25 years of immigration, 70% of the
American blacks came from Virginia, Maryland, and North
Carolina. Later immigrants came more often from Georgia and
South Carolina, the origin of over 60% of those arriving
immediately after the American Civil War (Singler 1989).
These "Settlers" were joined by liberated Africans,
delivered by United States Navy. Over the period of twenty
years some 5780 liberated Africans were settled in Liberia
(ibid.). Some 15,000 American freedmen eventually
immigrated Liberia, as well as some 350 settlers from
Barbados, who arrived in 1865 (Singler 1981:6). These
settlers were outnumbered by the indigenous Africans.
There happens to be some kind of classifications in the
language spoken by the Liberians because of the different
groups of people who inhabit the area. The speech that the
Settlers brought from America was the creolized ancestor of
modern Black English vernacular (Holm 1989:424). For
broadcasting and other official purposes there exists a
standard variety of Liberian English which differs little
from standard English elsewhere in West Africa except in its
phonology, which is more American than British (Hancock
1970). Singler (1984:69-71) postulates three distinct
basilects. The first is that of Settler English (called
Merico by Hancock). This has features that are largely
confined to American Black English and the North American
varieties.


86
Semantics of Some G.P.E. Words
Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases
and sentences. Although the basic vocabulary of GPE comes
from English, some of these words have acquired different or
additional meanings. GPE also has loan translations or
caiques which have been made from some of the Ghanaian
languages. There are some words which have been borrowed
from Portuguese, Yoruba, Hausa, and some of the Ghanaian
languages. These words have retained their original
meanings. The above semantic phenomena will be discussed in
this section. Since many of the word and sentence meanings
to be described are affected in one way or the other by
caique, it will be appropriate for us to know how Bynon has
defined caique.
In loan translation or caique (literally "tracing,
"copy"), the form and meaning of a foreign word,
instead of being carried over into the recipient
language as a unit is merely employed as a model for a
native creation. For this to be possible it must be
both morphologically complex and semantically
transparent, and the process consists in substituting
for each of its morphs the semantically closest morph
in the recipient language and combining these according
to its own native rules of word-formation. Thus while
the choice of constituent morphs and the overall
meaning of the new construct will be modelled on the
foreign source, the constituent elements themselves and
the rules governing their combination will be native.
(Bynon, 1983:232)
Plas The word "plas" which means "and" or
"add/addition" has maintained these meanings in GPE and has
acquired the new meaning "with", which is unique to GPE.


56
of a homogeneous background (considering such parameters as
the level of education, age, profession, exposure to
standard English). We have also taken into consideration
the type of GPE which is common to most of the speakers,
hence an item is chosen for discussion when it occurs very
often in most of the conversations, songs, interviews, etc.
which have been recorded. A word is selected as being a
representative of GPE if it occurs in both the uneducated
pidgin and the educated one.
The linguistic change that has occurred in the
derivation of GPE items from English will be discussed on
two planes: the form plane and the content plane. The form
plane will cover the the phonological, morphological, and
syntactic analysis, whereas the content plane will focus on
the semantic analysis of these words. These are the shifts
in meaning which have occurred in the English derived
lexicon of GPE.
Many definitions of pidgin include simplification of
the superstrate language. In the case of GPE, I will not
say that the superstrate has been simplified. I will rather
say that GPE has has been influenced in many ways by the
substrate languages which are Akan, Ga, Ewe, Nzema, and some
of the other 45 native languages of Ghana. This influence
is prevalent at the phonological, morphological, syntactic,
and semantic levels. Words and sentences from GPE will be
compared with their counterparts from Akan which is the


3
(Wardhaugh 1990:59). He argues that one usually does not
attempt to write novels in a pidgin.
NonNative Speaker Criterion
Another criterion which has been used to define pidgin
in addition to the social and structural criteria is that
pidgin does not have native speakers. Hall writes that "by
definition, a pidgin language is one with two special
charateristics: (1) it is native to none, or virtually none,
of those who speak it; (2) it is sharply reduced in
structure and vocabulary, as contrasted with the language
from which it is derived" (Hall 1954:20). He uses Pidgin
English as an example of his definition for pidgin. "Pidgin
English is any one of several kinds of reduced language,
based on but differing from English, used by various parts
of the world as a lingua franca among speakers of different
languages but native to none of them" (ibid 23).
Wardhaugh, in using the nonnative speaker criterion,
defines pidgin as "a language with no native speakers: it is
no one's first language but is a contact language"
(Wardhaugh 1990:57).
Fasold has combined all the three criteria, social,
structural, and nonnative speaker, to define pidgin.
Roughly, a pidgin language is generally understood to
be a "simplified" language with a vocabulary that comes
mostly from another language, but whose grammar is
different. Pidgins, in the stereotypical case, are
formed when speakers of one language engage in trade
with speakers of another, or work on plantations
managed by speakers of another, and neither knows the


Ill
Drivers
"Driver" in this survey means a chauffeur. Ghana has
more drivers who transport people and goods for hire than
people who operate their own vehicles for personal use.
Most drivers have low educational background and come in
contact with many people who speak different languages.
Hence, to communicate with their passengers, they tend to
speak pidgin. That is why "drivers" was chosen by such a
high percentage (72.4%) of our respondents as being a group
that uses GPE (Table 5.3). This is also the reason why
lorry stations (Table 5.4) is slightly higher than that of
the drivers because other people, apart from drivers, are
heard speaking pidgin at the lorry stations. The lorry
stations are also used as markets where different things are
sold to the passengers. Sometimes a person may not be
travelling but will go to the lorry station to look for
something to buy or eat. An informant had this to say:
The lorry stations are the producers of this pidgin
English because there are so many people there; and you
don't know the people, and you don't know what language
to speak to them.
Priests
Priests or religious ministers of the religious groups
in Ghana do not speak pidgin. They normally use the local
Ghanaian languages. Standard English is used only if the
priest, pastor, or preacher does not speak the local
language of the congregation, and an interpreter translates
it. This is why only 1% of our respondents claimed that


189
i tVhy did Super ugu Yaro International tell the Hotel Manager he was called Alfredo PetT Do youthink
Yaro has something to/det Will the Ghanaian gUI betray YaroT Get the answers fromWollO
J--i- irr..PMTi TSSlSS


55
intellectual pidgin will be the closest to standard English
whereas houseboy pidgin will be the farthest from standard
English.
We should note that nowadays there is not too much
difference between houseboy pidgin and intellectual pidgin
because most of the GPE speakers have had some form of
formal education because of the compulsory free education
policy of the late 1950's. The GPE that is being spoken
these days is not as close to the houseboy pidgin that was
spoken in the early 1950's. It is a little bit inclined
towards intellectual pidgin but not close to standard
English. This has made some people think that Ghana does
not have a pidgin that is original, but like any other
language, GPE has been there for many years; it has just
changed. The type of GPE that will be analyzed in this
chapter is a blend of houseboy pidgin and intellectual
pidgin. This is the type of pidgin that one will most
frequently hear if one visits Ghana.
Ghanaian Pidgin English is primarily a spoken medium of
communication, with a very few poems and cartoons that can
be found in the written medium. Like many other pidgins,
GPE has no standardized orthography. This makes the
analysis of the language a heinous task. There may be some
oversimplifications or some overgeneralizations here and
there. In order to minimize such dangers, the analysis of
the language in this chapter has been taken from informants


52
Other factors for the spread of GPE are trade, boarding
schools, urbanization, prisoners, and the increasing number
of magazines which feature pidgin English, and the
increasing interest in reading such magazines.
Summary
After being prompted by the emergence of pidgin English
in Ghana in 1984 and having realized that no formal detailed
linguistic work had been done on it, we started a research
on the language. Within nine months, we sent out 400
questionnaires and received 304 of them responded to. We
used audio tape recorders to interview informants; we
recorded songs, and collected magazines and books which
contain Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE).
From our informants and books, we learned more about
the history of GPE and the reasons for its current
emergence. GPE dates back from 1631 when the British built
their first fort at Cormantine in the then Gold Coast and
traded with the people. The second world war which saw
members of the Gold Coast Regiment fighting alongside the
British soldiers also contributed to the spread of GPE. The
soldiers who were mostlly illiterates returned from the war
with the language. It became the language of the military
as well as the police service. The increase of contacts
between Ghanaians and the people of some West African states
where pidgin English is spoken is a major factor in the
current emergence and the fast spread of GPE. Other factors


136
of the "yes" answers. More female, 105, than male, 101,
answered "no" to the question. The fact that there is not
too much difference between the numbers for the "no" answer
shows the general trend of opposition to the usage of GPE by
both sexes.
Figure 5.
13 is a summary
of the "no" answers.
Age and Sex of "Yes"
Pidgin English?"
Table 5.12
Respondents to
"Do You Like to
Speak
Age (Years)
Female
Male
No Response
Total
15 25
18
35
0
53
26 30
12
15
2
29
31 40
1
11
0
12
41 50
0
1
0
1
Over 50
0
0
0
0
No Response
1
0
0
1
Total
32
62
2
96
Age and Sex of "Yes" Speakers of G.P.E
M
H
X
<
E>
O'
MALE
IH FEMALE
] MO RESPONSE
HO. 5.12
26-30 31-40 41-60 50* MO RESP.
A G E (Y E A R S)
Figure 5.12. Age and Sex of "Yes" Speakers of G.P.E.


172
f C£/, Yot;/? £W t>£M M
I# 0-V/W'V7^ C T m,.0. .SjZ? VI B-//Y> 7-wm..


27
about the negative response that the usage of Krio receives
Jones has this to say:
It is not however encouraged in the schools because of
its supposedly harmful effects on the learning of
English, the language of education, and is not widely
used in its written form, although there have been
sporadic bursts of good writing in it. Its register
Krio remains largely intimate and oral. It is used as
the normal means of communication in Creole homes but
even among educated Creoles outside their homes it
tends to be used only as means of intimate
conversation. Educated Creoles on first meeting other
educated Creoles tend to use English, this being
thought the more polite language. Coversation mellows
into Krio as acquaintanceship grows, although it is apt
to fade into English as topics veer into the more
technical fields. The appropriate occasions for Krio
in Sierra Leone society can involve delicate nuances of
etiquette. (ibid.68)
Some varieties of Krio are spoken in some parts of West
Africa. Gambian Krio (locally called Aku or Patois) is
spoken as a home language by some 3,500 Creoles in Banjul
and by others as a second language (Hancock 1969a:8). A
more conservative form of Krio is preserved in several small
enclaves in French-speaking Guinea and Senegal, where Sierra
Leone traders formed their own Krio-speaking communities
(ibid.9). The same thing happened in such English-speaking
countries as Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon (Reinecke et al.
1975:365). A form of Krio called Fernandino or Porto3
(Lipski 1992:1) is spoken on Bioko (formerly called Fernando
Po). This island, which lies just off the coast of Cameroon
in the Gulf of Guinea, forms part of Equitoral Guinea (Holm
1989:418).


33
official languages of Cameroon. This led to an increasing
influence of Englishand Nigerian Pidginin the west, and
the further isolation of the English-based Pidgin in the
east, where it began to draw on French when further lexicon
was needed (Holm 1989:431). The eastern regions maintain
more Krio features while the western regions are closer to
Nigerian Pidgin.
Cameroon Pidgin English is presently widely used along
the East Cameroon Coast, especially in the Douala area.
Though it has little official recognition, it is still an
important medium of communication for Cameroon's political,
social, religious, and economic life (Barbag-Stoll 1983:38).
Summary
We have discussed how the Portuguese have influenced
the linguistics of West Africa, especially in pidgin. They
traded with the people of the area, and through the orders
of Prince Henry the Navigator some West Africans were taken
to Portugal to learn Portuguese. This was the beginning of
pidgin Portuguese which was called the reconnaissance
language. These Africans were returned to West Africa to
serve as interpreters for the Portuguese traders. The major
transfer of the reconnaissance language to West Africa was
done by the Portuguese traders and settlers who settled in
the area among the Africans, especially the women.
The Dutch followed the Portuguese as the next European
traders with the people of West Africa. They did not make


66
"Then I saw all my friends beginning to buy stereos,
televisions, fridges, and some were marrying."
A don woku-woku-woku-woku fo di s weld.
"I have worked all over the world."
A: Bat de top dee nu a, i ren finish?
B: De top dee, a tink i bi naw i de ren-ren
smosmo.
A: "But in the North, has it stopped raining?"
B: In the North, I think that it is now that it is
raining moderately."
Reduplicated adjectives. Standard English shows the
intensity of an adjective by adding degree words such as
"very", "much", or "many" to the adjective. GPE indicates
this intensity by reduplicating the adjective. Examples
are:
Tumorow eli morn n a sen yu bak tu yoz> moda. Fl -fl
tsitsi, fl -fl wum yu no sabi notm; a sen yu bak
tu yoo moda.
"Tomorrow early in the morning I'll send you back to
your mother. A very beautiful lady, a very beautiful
woman, you don't know anything. I'll send you back to
your mother."
When wi bi smosmo pikin dem.
"When we were very little children."
Reduplicated adverbs. Reduplication of the adverb in
GPE shows the intensification of the manner in which the
action is performed. Examples are:
Remi, luk yo han wel-wel.
"Remi, be very careful about your hand."
Mek everebode put in ay fo de tin wey in pikin de do
bik^s if yu bon yo pikin yu no tich am wel-wel: las


31
The second language varieties of Liberian English have
two different basilects (both quite distinct from the
Settler basilect) that have separate historical origins: (1)
the variety that developed from Kru Pidgin, spoken along the
coast; and (2) the variety that developed from a Mande-
influenced pidgin, spoken in the interior. Interior Pidgin
developed among the military and on plantations, where the
Mande dominated. Both Interior and Coastal Pidgin reflect
the phonology of the speaker's first language. Both of them
are typical of speakers with little or no Western schooling.
The following paragraph from Holm summarizes the varieties
of English in Liberia.
Liberian English encompasses several restructured
varieties. There is a creole spoken as a home language
by the descendants of settlers from the United States
(3% of the total population of 2,180,000 in 1984) who
live largely in and around the capital, Monrovia
(306,000 inhabitants). There are also second-language
varieties of this speech used as a lingua franca
throughout the rest of the country. One of these, Kru
Pidgin English, is more similar than the other
varieties to West African English because of its
distinct historical origins. All of the varieties in
Liberia have influenced one another and appear to form
a continuum rather than discrete entities. (Holm
1989:421)
Cameroon
Cameroonian Pidgin English grew out of the eighteenth-
century Pidgin English used around Calabar on the Bight of
Biafra (Hancock 1969a:17). After the British occupied
Fernando Po in 1827 to stop the trading of slaves in this
area, merchants and missionaries from Britain and Sierra
Leone began coming to what is now coastal Cameroon (Holm


NI Li 9 3A01
183


This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the Program in Linguistics in the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as.
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
December 1992
Dean, Graduate School


195


14
based creole which was once widely spoken along Guyana's
Essequibo river (ibid.333). Afrikaans, which is spoken in
the Republic of South Africa, is a standardized language
that descended from seventeenth-century dialects of
Dutch.
Dutch was never a suoerstrate nor a substrate to any
language in West Africa. "This seems unusual for the Dutch
were trading in West Coast waters for over two centuries and
practically monopolized the trade for 60 years" (Schneider
1967:8). Only some few Dutch words which have been
phonologically assimilated are found in the Akan language of
Ghana. Dutch klaar ("ready to do something") is the Akan
word krado with the same meaning. Dutch doek ("piece of
cloth") is the Akan word duku meaning "headscarf" or
"handkerchief." Some Akans pronounce the Dutch word kalkoen
("turkey") as krakuun while others pronounce it kurokurokoko
because of some semantic extension that has been associated
with the noise made by the turkey (Amoako 1988:6). It is no
wonder that these Dutch words are still used in the Akan
language for the Dutch traded with the Akans for a long time
especially during the slave trade. It is also because of
this long contact between the Dutch and the Akans that the
Negerhollands has a predominantly Twi substrate (Holm
1989:325). Twi is a dialect of Akan.
Some of the reasons that have been attributed to the
lesser impact of the Dutch in linguistic terms are that


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF
DIACHRONIC, SYNCHRONIC, AND SOCIOLINGUISTIC EVIDENCE
By
Joe K. Y. B. Amoako
December 1992
Chairperson: Allan Burns
Major Department: Linguistics
Considerable misinformation has been circulated about
Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE). Some Ghanaians attribute the
worsening of standard English to the emergence of GPE. But
GPE is serving a very important purpose which many critics
overlook. It serves as an important medium of
communication. It is used on a wide scale at many places,
in popular songs, on political platforms, and on many
occasions. It is used by both literate and illiterate
people. Most importantly, pidgin English is becoming the
lingua franca in English speaking West Africa countries.
There has not been much formal attempt to study the
pidgin English situation in Ghana, and because of this, some
linguists do not believe that there is a pidgin in the
country. In a personal letter to me, Professor Ian Hancock,
a creolist at the University of Texas, expressed the need
for a research on Ghanaian Pidgin English: "It is
heartening to learn that serious scholarly attention is
viii


Copyright 1992
by
Joe K. Y. B. Amoako


94
Kwench The meaning of "kwench" ("quench") is "put out"
or "extinguish", but in GPE this meaning is extended to
include "stop" and "suffer".
A no sabi de tin wey i kwench dis program. A no sabi
de risin way dey kwench am.
"I don't know the thing that stopped this program. I
don't know the reason why they stopped it."
Mek yu no won oo
Wan dey, wan dey wi oo go enjoy,
en de rich pi pul dey go kwench.
"Don't worry
One day, we'll all enjoy,
And the rich people will suffer."
If yu no yus yo hed, yu go kwe nch.
"If you don't use your brains, you'll suffer."
Jelosi go sheym,
Wavo tuu go kwench.
"The jealous one will be ashamed,
The trickster too will suffer."
Kach Other meanings that "kach" ("catch") has in GPE
are "be at", "reach", and "enough".
Tumorow a fo kach Accra.
"Tomorrow I should be in Accra."
A: Tuu kach?
B: Tuu no kach; rimeynin sis minis wey tuu go kach.
A: "Is it two?"
B: "It is not two; it is six minutes more when it'll
be two."
De skolaship seketeriet, dey go pey de balans. De Iowa
pi pul rayt bak sey i no rich. i no kach. bi kos wey a no
rip^t fz> August 1st. nu, den dem go tek dem aw3d.
"The scholarship secretariat went and paid the balance.
The Iowa people wrote back that it is not enough, and


109
Family Members and Friends
Ghanaian Pidgin English is not a language spoken among
members of a family. Parents do not want to hear their
children speak it for the fear that it will affect their use
of the standard English. This might be the reason why
family scored only 22.6% (Table 5.4). Instead, the language
is spoken among friends of the same age group. They say
this is so because they use it mainly for fun and
solidarity. Friends use it among themselves, and if a
member of a peer group that uses GPE is not able to
communicate in that language, he is not considered as a
member. This person will learn how to use GPE if he wants
to be a member of the peer group. Some groups develop their
own slang which helps to bring solidarity to the group and
exclude other people who do not belong to it.
Traders and Farmers
One might expect a higher percentage than 56.9% for
traders as speakers of GPE, because trade brings together
people who speak different languages and pidgin might be
expected to emerge. Trade in Ghana is more localized hence
the traders tend to use one of the Ghanaian native languages
instead of pidgin. It is mostly in the urban areas that
pidgin English is used at times.
Most Ghanaian farmers are illiterates, and they are
among people who speak their own language. Hence, it is on
rare occasions that one hears them speaking English. The


Others
113
Uses of Ghanaian Pidgin English 114
Written Usage 114
Literature 115
Entertainment 118
Newspapers 119
Spoken Usage 121
Communication 122
Simplicity of GPE 123
Socialization and Fun 124
Politics 125
Entertainment 126
People's Attitudes Toward GPE 129
Summary 142
6 CONCLUSIONS 147
APPENDICES
A RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE 151
B LANGUAGE MAP OF GHANA 155
C SOME GPE COMMON CONSTRUCTIONS/EXPRESSIONS.... 156
D SOME GPE CONVERSATIONS AND SONGS 158
A Conversation Between Two Students About a
Future Date 158
A Song by Okukuseku International Band 160
Interview with Kofi Sammy 161
A Song by Apollo King International Band 162
E GHANAIAN COMICS IN PIDGIN ENGLISH 164
Gyato Magani 164
Baba Dogo 176
Super Mugu Yaro 186
REFERENCES 199
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 2 04
vii


171


64
luk yuo han welwel
("Look at your hand well"). "Be careful with your
hand."
mom don kos am
"Money has caused it."
Morphology
General inflection system in GPE is limited, therefore
the grammatical information is manifested through other
devices like tone, reduplication, word formation, and the
syntactic system.
Tone is used to bring about lexical as well as grammatical
differences in GPE. This has been discussed under tone as a
phonemic entity in GPE.
Reduplication
Reduplication is the repetition of all or part of a
lexical item. GPE reduplications are complete. The whole
lexical item is repeated. Among other things, reduplication
indicates such concepts as plurality, repetition, increase
in size, added intensity, and continuance.
Reduplicated nouns. Reduplication of a GPE noun
indicates plurality. It may also indicate frequency.
Examples are:
A hie rumorumo sey de go kam 19th.
"I heard some rumour that they will come on the 19th."
Haw Misa Danquah tok sey, mek wi stop di s piiinpiim.
wey wi bi English studen.


70
A: "Are you sure?"
B: "Isn't it? Anyway they are training you how to
steal money. Isn't it so? Is it not what you the
accounting people are doing?"
M haws no swit mi. I bi soso a dey hie.
"My house is not enjoyable for me. That's why I am
here."
Word Compounding in GPE
There are very few word compounds in GPE. The meanings
of these compounds are different from those of their
individual parts. The compounds are free forms. In the
following speech t^kabawt which means "gossip" is made up of
verb-preposition, but the compound is a noun. Bakbavt whose
meaning is the same as that of standard English "backbite"
is made up of noun-verb, but the compound is a noun.
S^m pi pul dey, soso jel^s dem bi; soso t=>kabawt; soso
bakbavt. Na wetin bi == dis?
"There are some people who are very jealous. Many
gossips; many backbites. What are all these?"
In the following sentence, man-ml and man-wumi
which mean "a married man" and "a married woman"
respectfully are made up of verb-noun but the compounds are
nouns. M^ni -mata which means "money affairs" is made up of
noun-noun and the compound is a noun.
De tin wey i dey i nsayd mari na man -ml en
man -wumi i bi dem sabi bi k=>s even tin wey yu go do i
bi m^ni-mata.
"What is inside marriage, it is the married man and the
married woman who know; because every thing that you do
is money affair."


41
English has been the official language of Ghana since
Britain colonized the Gold Coast (now Ghana) by the bond of
1844. This was the bond which made the Gold Coast a British
colony. English was imposed as the language of
administration by the British; their immediate practical aim
being to bring together the separate political units which
they had won either by conquest or treaty (Boadi 1971:49).
After Ghana had its independence from the British rule in
1957, English is still a cohesive force internally. The
adoption of one of the 45 local languages as the lingua
franca has not been easy and is not envisaged. This has
made the English language the most obvious choice for both
internal and external uses (ibid. 50). We may distinguish
between educated and uneducated varieties of English in
Ghana even though there is a graded continuum between them.
The least educated one is the least internationally
acceptable and the most educated one is the most widely
understood in the English-speaking world (ibid. 51). Pidgin
English is one of the varieties that is associated with the
uneducated varieties of English in Ghana.
Ghanaian Pidgin English dates from the time the British
set foot on the coast of the Gold Coast. It was limited to
a relatively small and identifiable section of the
population, mostly illiterate workers of various categories,
almost exclusively from the northern sector of the colonial
territory. These workers were mainly those who served in


152
8.At which places do you hear people speaking Pidgin
English? (e.g. schools; universities; homes; work-places;
streets; churches; mosques; places of entertainment such as
drinking bars, dances, cinema/video houses, parties,
playgrounds; barracks; military/police depot; villages; big
towns; rural areas; urban centres; airports; lorry stations;
harbours; border-posts; Radio Ghana (G.B.C.); etc.) Please,
underline and add yours if any.
9.Where do you usually speak Pidgin English in Ghana?
10.Why do you think people speak Pidgin English in Ghana?
11. Which sex group speaks Pidgin English more than the
other? Male Female
12. Do you like to speak Pidgin English? YES NO
Please give reason(s) for your answer
13.Do you like to hear other people speaking Pidgin
English? YES NO
Please give reason(s) for your answer
14. Will you like the speaking of Pidgin English be
encouraged or discouraged? ENCOURAGED DISCOURAGED
15. (a) Do people use words from Ghanaian languages in their
Pidgin English? YES NO O
(b) If YES, give examples of such words and the language(s)
they take them from
16.Write the titles of Ghanaian newspapers, magazines,
books, etc., in which you have found Pidgin English


148
for fun, and the increase of contacts between Ghanaians and
the people of some West African states where pidgin English
is spoken, especially Nigeria and Liberia.
Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) is an extended pidgin.
It is not a restricted pidgin or a jargon because it has
passed the stage where some few specialized vocabulary items
are communicated among the speakers. The speakers
communicate in complete fluid discourse. GPE is basilectal
in that it is an English-based pidgin. The vocabulary and
even some of the syntax come from the English language. It
is going through a period when some of the English
vocabulary items are being replaced with their counterparts
in the Ghanaian vernaculars. GPE started as a contact
language between white (the British) and African people and
has developed in multilingual areas Africans.
GPE is spreading fast because it is being used to
create social bonds among the youth, the students, the
police, the soldiers, and many other social groups. It
forms part of the lyrics of many Ghanaian Hi-Life songs
which are usually enjoyed by both the old and the young.
Because of its popularity among the youth, both educated and
uneducated, the usage of GPE will be in Ghana for a very
long time, even though it may not become a creole since
children have access to one or more of the 45 Ghanaian local
languages. Another reason why GPE will not become a creole
is that it is not a popular language in the homes of its


202
Schneider, Gilbert D. 1966. West African Pidgin-English:
A Descriptive Linguistic Analysis with Texts and
Glossary from the Cameroon Area. Ph.D. Thesis
submitted to The Hartford Seminary Foundation,
Hartford.
Schneider, Gilbert D. 1967. West African Pidgin-English:
An Historical Over-view. Athens, Ohio: Center for
International Studies; Ohio University.
Sey, K. A. 1973. Ghanaian English. London: MacMillan
Educational Ltd.
Shi, Dingxu. 1991. Pidgin, Pigeon or Business: On the
Etymology of "Pidgin." University of Southern
California. A Paper presented at the Linguistic
Society of America in January 1991 at Chicago.
Singler, J. V. 1981. An Introduction to Liberian English.
East Lansing: Michigan State University, African
Studies Center/Peace Corps.
Singler, J. V. 1984. Variation in Tense-Aspect-Modalitv in
Liberian English. Ph.D. dissertation, University of
California at Los Angeles.
Spencer, John. 1971. The English Language in West Africa.
London ; Longman.
The Mirror. July 14, 1984. Accra; Graphic Corporation.
Todd, L. 1984. Modern Englishes: Pidgins and Creoles.
Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Todd, Loreto. 1974. Pidgins And Creoles. London and
Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Tonkin, E. 1971. Some Coastal Pidgins of West Africa. In
E. Ardener (ed.) Social Anthropology and Language.
London: Association of Social Anthropologists,
monograph 10. pp. 129-155.
Trudgill, Peter. 1984. Sociolinguistics: An Introduction
to Language and Society. New York: Penguin Books.
Trutenau, H. M. J. 1975. The Position of Pidgin English in
the Area of Modern Ghana: a Socio-Historic Perspective.
Paper presented at the Inaugural Congress of the West
African Modern Languages Association, Ibadan, Nigeria.


168
sev" smJs&kl)
bCYFfT r/rr so/^, Tt


49
They spent their holidays in Ghana, and often took whatever
they acquired to Ghana. One important thing they brought
back to Ghana was pidgin English.
In the early 1980s, many Ghanaians and other foreign
nationals were expelled from Nigeria. These returnees
raised the use of pidgin English in Ghana to its ascendancy
The writer taught a boy in elementary school, middle form
four, in 1972. The boy spoke no pidgin English at that
time. After sojourning in Nigeria, he formed a guitar band
and in 1981 sang his first song in pidgin English, titled:
"To Be a Man Na Wah" (It is a struggle to be born a man).
His second album, which caught the attention of many
Ghanaian music fans was "Jealousy." The following is part
of the song:
JEALOUSY (a song)
if a du ma ti n
mek yu no jel^s
if a du ma tin
mek yu no jel^s
jel^si go she(m)
wayo go she(m)
jelosi go she(m)
wayo tu go se(m)
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
The jealous one will be ashamed
The trickster will be ashamed.
The jealous one will be ashamed
The trickster too will be ashamed
There was a Ghanaian woman who never spoke pidgin
English when she was in Ghana. After staying in Lagos for
one year, she wrote a letter which contained both pidgin
English and standard English, using the pidgin English as a
joke. The sample below is an unedited part of a letter she
wrote to the writer. The Yoruba words are underlined.


159
M: bushwa disko,
den wi go go insayd
diasi hoi, siti hotel.
L: a swe ,
25. dat pleys wey
de rayt pleys
a won tu tok tu yu.
i bi de pleys a de lof.
a no de lak eni ada pie
30.M: bikos from de tu
i nia ma haws paa
L: ei so yu shwo sey
a de go yuo haws
plas yu?
35.M: ou, dat, haw?
Bourgeois disco,
then we will go inside
Dease Hall, City Hotel.
I swear,
that is the place which,
the right place
I want to talk to you about
It is the place I like.
I don't like any other place.
Because from there too,
it is very near to my house.
Ei, so you are sure that
I am going to your house
with you?
Oh, that, how?
L: mi, dos hu de go
aut plas mi,
a no de go dem haws
plas dem.
40.M: ou haw?
L: afta dat, mi a go
ma haws.
M: so yu fit go drink
som wot a.
yu fit go drink
45. som wota.
L: mm dat wan die
i no yus.
dat wan di e
ma mami no tok mi dat.
Me, those who go
out with me,
I don't go to their house
with them.
Oh how?
After that, I go to
my house.
So you can go and drink
some water.
You can go and drink
some water.
No, as for that one,
it is not good.
As for that one,
my mother didn't teach me that
Some words in GPE come from Ghanaian native languages;
(lines 13, 46) means 'as for ...'; paa (line 31) means
(line 10) means 'and'.
50.L: wot abawt yuo wayf?
ihii yu tok sey
yu get wayf.
M: ma wayf?
L: a sey, wey i de?
55. wey i de?
die
'very'. na
What about your wife?
Ahaa, you said that
you have a wife.
My wife?
I see, where is she?
Where is she?


News Media 44
Current Emergence of Ghanaian Pidgin English. 46
Contact with other West African States 48
The Nigerian Influence 48
Other Factors 51
Summary 52
4 A PHONOLOGICAL, MORPHOLOGICAL, SYNTACTIC, AND
SEMANTIC SURVEY OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH... 54
Introduction 54
Phonology 57
Vowels of GPE 57
Consonants of GPE 58
Syllable Structure of GPE 59
Tone 60
Vowel Harmony 61
Morphology 64
Reduplication 64
Word Compounding in GPE 70
Syntax 71
The Basic Sentence Structure 71
Tense-Modal-Aspect 71
Negation 76
Imperative 7 8
Interrogative 78
Exclamations and Emphasis 80
Personal Pronouns 81
Possessives 81
The Articles 82
Prepositions and Postpositions 83
Complementizer "sey" 84
Comparative / Superlative Expression 84
Semantics of Some G.P.E. Words 86
Words from other Languages 96
Orthography 96
Summary 97
5 SOCIOLINGUISTICS OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH.. 99
Introduction 99
Speakers and Places of GPE 100
Age Groups 106
Male and Female Speakers 106
Teachers 108
Family Members and Friends 109
Traders and Farmers 109
Ordinary Workers 110
Government Officials 110
Drivers Ill
Priests Ill
Students 112
vi


104
Speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English
300i
250
>-
200
H
H
H
150
Z
<
100
E>
a
50
tM1
§2-
I
s
a
ss
1M1
8£
0
-7-
FIO. 53
ABCDEFGH I JK LMNOPQRSTUVWXY
SPEAKERS
Figure 5.3. Speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Note; A=Students, B=Policemen, C=Male Soldiers, D=Co-
Workers, E=Males, F=Drivers, G=Friends, H=Border Guards,
I=Youngsters, J=Age Mates, K=Traders, L=Females,
M=Policewomen, N=Navy Men, 0=Female Soldiers, P=Teachers
Q=Farmers, R=0thers, S=Family, T=Masters, U=Elders,
V=Tutors, W=Government Officials, X=Lecturers, Y=Priests


APPENDIX E
GHANAIAN COMICS IN PIDGIN ENGLISH
GYATO MAGANI
HOMOTTA presents:


22
retained English as its official language after independence
in 1960 and a knowledge of the standard variety is essential
for higher education and socioeconomic advancement, Pidgin
still plays a major role in interethnic communication in
linguistically heterogeneous urban centers, particularly in
the south (Mafeni 1971:99).
Nigerian Pidgin English is a lingua franca for many,
and thus a true pidgin in Hall's sense; it is also a mother
tongue for a number of families in certain areas and
communities, and as such might in these cases be defined as
a creole language (ibid.95). Mafeni describes how the
creole English has emerged in Nigeria like this:
Inter-tribal and international marriages have become
increasingly common in urban society. In many such
cases husband and wife may not share a common
indigenous language, and as a result will often use
Pidgin as their chief meduim of communication in the
home; or, of course, Pidgin alongside standard English.
Children brought up in such homes naturally speak
Pidgin, sometimes alongside standard English, as their
first language, although they may also speak the native
language(s) of either or both parents. The children
therefore learn to operate several linguistic systems,
of which Pidgin is one of them; and in many cases it
may be the primary and predominant system. However,
even where both parents speak the same native language,
many urban and partially detribalized children learn
Pidgin very early although it is not the language of
the home. Often several families live in the same
compound, and if they differ in linguistic background
Pidgin serves as a convenient lingua franca. The
children in such compounds and neighborhoods find
Pidgin an efficient means of communication among
themselves, and may also use it at home even though
their parents may not approve. (ibid.98)
According to Mafeni, some Nigerians have two types of
pidgin. The majority of servants employed by European


37
the regions of Ghana were not surveyed the informants who
were of different ages, sexes, educational backgrounds,
occupational backgrounds, and social classes consist of
people from all the regions of the country. Three hundred
and four responses were received. Table 3.1 and 3.2 show
the sex and age distributions respectively. Refer to
Appendix A for a copy of the questionnaire. Figures 3.1 and
3.2 are further illustrations on the age and sex
distribution of the population surveyed.
Table 3.1
Sex Distribution of Informants
Male Female No Response Total
163 137 4 304
53.6% 45.1% 1.3% 100%
3.1
Sex Distribution of Informants
MALE
FEMALE
NO RESPONSE
Figure 3.1. Sex Distribution of Informants


46
Current Emergence of Ghanaian Pidgin English: Factors
Within the past ten or twenty years, that is, from the
early 1970s, it has been noticed by the informants in this
survey that more Ghanaians are speaking pidgin English than
in the 1950s and 1960s. This can be seen from table 3.3 and
figure 3.3.
Table 3.3
Number of Years Speakers Have Spoken Ghanaian Pidgin English
Years: 0
-1
1-5
6-10
11-15
16-20
21+
No Res
Speakers: 44
23
90
70
22
8
0
47
% : 14.5
7.6
29.6
23.0
7.2
2.6
0.0
15.5
Years of Speaking G.P.E.
RIG. 3.3 NUMBER OP YEARS
Figure 3.3. Years of Speaking G.P.E.
It should be noted that 23% of the speakers have spoken
pidgin English for the past ten years, and that 29.6% have
spoken it for the past five years. This shows an increase of


l.OVE & FUN
179


48
Contact with Other West African States
The main reason given for the fast spreading of the
Ghanaian Pidgin English within the past twenty years is the
recent increase of contacts between Ghanaians and other West
African states where pidgin English is spoken on a wider
scale. These countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone, and
especially Nigeria. This increase is evidenced by the
responses of informants to the question: "Which events have
contributed toward the introduction and spread of pidgin
English?" Out of 304 questionnaires, 236 informants
responded to that question, 77.6% of the total survey. Out
of the 236 respondents 127, that is, 53.8% mentioned
immigration of Ghanaians to other West African countries.
The Nigerian Influence
Of the 127 respondents who mentioned immigration as a
factor to the current spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English,
105, that is 82.6%, said that Nigeria has been responsible.
Pidgin English is spoken everywhere in Nigeria. The writer
spent three months in Lagos in 1981, and found that
Nigerians speak standard English only on rare occasions in
private conversations. Otherwise, they speak either one of
the Nigerian languages or pidgin English.
The oil boom brought economic improvement to Nigeria in
the early 1970s, and people from many countries, including
Ghana, immigrated there. Both skilled and unskilled
Ghanaian workers went to Nigeria to look for green pastures.


143
the speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English and the places where
the language is spoken. The major speakers are males,
students, military and police personnels, youngsters, co
workers, and friends. Educational institutions, urban
areas, work places, lorry stations, military and police
barracks, and entertainment places are the most obvious
places where one will hear GPE. The usage of GPE is mostly
in the spoken mode. There is little usage of GPE in the
written mode. There is no book that has been written
entirely in GPE. Authors like Kofi Anyidoho and Ayi Kwei
Armah have included a page or two of GPE in their works.
The major written usage of GPE that has received greater
attention of the reading public is found in the comics of
Mugu Yaro, Baba Dogo, and Gyato. Speakers of GPE use it for
communication, entertainment, politics, socialization, and
fun. The attitude of Ghanaians toward GPE is not
encouraging. Many people do not want the language to be
spoken or written. Their major reason for opposing the
usage of GPE is that it has some adverse effects on both the
written and spoken usages of standard English. Most
Ghanaians say that GPE should not be encouraged.
The methodology used for this research might have
contributed toward the negative attitude towards GPE. The
respondents claim not to like to speak pidgin because the
survey was part of an education project where they expected
researchers not to like pidgin. Perhaps they have applied


129
Kpanlogo, and others, which are associated with particular
ethnic groups in Ghana. Hi-Life is nonethnic. It was
unique to Ghana, but these days it is found in some West
African countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon,
Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Togo, and Benin.
There are two types of Hi-Life: slow Hi-Life and fast
Hi-Life. The slow one has low-tempo beat whereas the fast
one has up-tempo beat. It is in the fast type that GPE
lyrics can be heard. Hi-Life songs are enjoyed by all
Ghanaians and many people around the world, young and old,
educated and uneducated, rural and urban, and those who like
or dislike the use of GPE. There is no wonder why the
musicians choose to convey their messages through Hi-Life
and GPE lyrics. This indeed enables them to reach a wider
audience.
People's Attitude Toward Ghanaian Pidgin English
We requested respondents in our survey to indicate
whether or not they like to speak pidgin English. Out of
the 304 respondents, 96 indicated "yes". This is 36% of our
survey. A larger number of 208, which is 68% of our survey,
indicated "no". This shows that many Ghanaians do not want
to speak GPE. Table 5.9 and Figure 5.9 further explain this
statistics.
Table 5.9
Responses to "Do You Like to Speak Pidgin English?"
Yes
96
%
36%
NO
208
%
68%


AJI ISZ1
GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF
DIACHRONIC, SYNCHRONIC, AND SOCIOLINGUISTIC EVIDENCE
By
JOE K. Y. B. AMOAKO
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1992

Copyright 1992
by
Joe K. Y. B. Amoako

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to
Professor John Lipski, the cochair for this dissertation,
who spent a lot of his time in helping me with his very good
suggestions especially on the theoretical aspects.
Professor Allan Burns, the chair for this dissertation, gave
me a lot of encouragement as well as guidance, especially on
the socioliguistics part of this work and he deserves my
gratefulness. Special thanks go to the other members of the
dissertation committee, Professors Chauncey Chu, Norman
Markel, and Goran Hyden, for suggestions that have brought
about the completion of this work. I owe thanks to
Professor Florence Dolphyne of the Department of Linguistics
at the University of Ghana, who brought my attention to the
fact that no formal studies had been done on the pidgin
English situation in Ghana. It was through Professor Kofi
Anyidoho of the University of Ghana, who was also one of my
informants, that I corresponded with Professor Ian Hancook
of the University of Texas who directed me on how to do the
research on the pidgin English in Ghana. I am indebted to
both of them for their assistance. I must express my thanks
to Joyce Adjorlolo and Amoako-Atta for their asssistance in
the distribution and collection of the questionnaire. I
thank the following informants for their time and
information: Mr. Akweyena and George Danyare of Institute of
Adult Education; Dan Amakye-Dede, leader of Apollo High King
iii

Band of Ghana; Georgina Amankwah and Anthony Pegah of Kumasi
Polytechnic; Asiedu-Yirenkyi, first P.N.D.C. secretary for
Culture and Tourism and a lecturer at the University of
Ghana; Mr. Ayeh, managing director of CEREDEC; Nana-Benyin
and Ernest Sarfo-Baidoo of Third Eye Band; Kofi Sammy of
Okukuseku International Band; Gustav Baidoo and Agnes
Ewusiamah of Achimota Primary School; Mr. Torkonoo of the
"Ghanaian Times"; Job Enning of the Ghana Atomic Energy
Commission Primary School; Ms. Salamatu; Ms. Serwah-Awuku;
Monica Addo and Rebecca Djadu; Kofi Ntiamoah of Homotta
comics; H.T.K. Bobobee; Alhassan of Commonwealth Hall at
Legn; and the other numerous informants without whose help
this work would not be successful. Special thanks should go
to Ms. Hellen Odamtten, a former worker of the Ghana
Broadcasting Corporation and a senior research fellow at the
University of Ghana for contributing to the history and
syntax parts of this work. I wish to express my thanks to
Mr. Simbo Odunaiya for his computer guidance that enabled me
make the beautiful graphics in this work. Finally, I thank
my wife, Doris Boateng, for her patience and encouragement.
Needless to say, I am solely responsible for any errors or
imperfections in this work. All I can say is "Na G^d go
tank de pi pul wey dcm help mi. Wey de m^nin k=>k de krow mek
yu sabi sey i bi Joe de tank yu =>=." ("it is God who will
thank the people who helped me. When the morning rooster
crows, you should know that it is Joe thanking you all.").
iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLE DGMENTS iii
ABSTRACT V
CHAPTERS
1 DEFINITION OF PIDGIN 1
Introduction 1
Social and Structural Criteria 1
Nonnative Speaker Criterion 3
Definition of Creole 4
Etymology of "Pidgin" 5
Etymology of Creole 6
Summary 7
2 HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN WEST
AFRICA AND ITS CURRENT STATUS 9
Introduction 9
A Step-by-Step History of Pidgin English in
West Africa 9
The Portuguese 10
The Dutch 13
The British 15
Principal Pidgin English Varieties in West
Africa 18
Nigeria 21
Sierra Leone 23
Liberia 28
Cameroon 31
Summary 3 3
3 GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF CURRENT
AND HISTORICAL EVIDENCE 35
Research Background 35
Methodology 36
History of Ghanaian Pidgin English 39
Colonial Settlement 39
Second World War 43
v

News Media 44
Current Emergence of Ghanaian Pidgin English. 46
Contact with other West African States 48
The Nigerian Influence 48
Other Factors 51
Summary 52
4 A PHONOLOGICAL, MORPHOLOGICAL, SYNTACTIC, AND
SEMANTIC SURVEY OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH... 54
Introduction 54
Phonology 57
Vowels of GPE 57
Consonants of GPE 58
Syllable Structure of GPE 59
Tone 60
Vowel Harmony 61
Morphology 64
Reduplication 64
Word Compounding in GPE 70
Syntax 71
The Basic Sentence Structure 71
Tense-Modal-Aspect 71
Negation 76
Imperative 7 8
Interrogative 78
Exclamations and Emphasis 80
Personal Pronouns 81
Possessives 81
The Articles 82
Prepositions and Postpositions 83
Complementizer "sey" 84
Comparative / Superlative Expression 84
Semantics of Some G.P.E. Words 86
Words from other Languages 96
Orthography 96
Summary 97
5 SOCIOLINGUISTICS OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH.. 99
Introduction 99
Speakers and Places of GPE 100
Age Groups 106
Male and Female Speakers 106
Teachers 108
Family Members and Friends 109
Traders and Farmers 109
Ordinary Workers 110
Government Officials 110
Drivers Ill
Priests Ill
Students 112
vi

Others
113
Uses of Ghanaian Pidgin English 114
Written Usage 114
Literature 115
Entertainment 118
Newspapers 119
Spoken Usage 121
Communication 122
Simplicity of GPE 123
Socialization and Fun 124
Politics 125
Entertainment 126
People's Attitudes Toward GPE 129
Summary 142
6 CONCLUSIONS 147
APPENDICES
A RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE 151
B LANGUAGE MAP OF GHANA 155
C SOME GPE COMMON CONSTRUCTIONS/EXPRESSIONS.... 156
D SOME GPE CONVERSATIONS AND SONGS 158
A Conversation Between Two Students About a
Future Date 158
A Song by Okukuseku International Band 160
Interview with Kofi Sammy 161
A Song by Apollo King International Band 162
E GHANAIAN COMICS IN PIDGIN ENGLISH 164
Gyato Magani 164
Baba Dogo 176
Super Mugu Yaro 186
REFERENCES 199
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 2 04
vii

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF
DIACHRONIC, SYNCHRONIC, AND SOCIOLINGUISTIC EVIDENCE
By
Joe K. Y. B. Amoako
December 1992
Chairperson: Allan Burns
Major Department: Linguistics
Considerable misinformation has been circulated about
Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE). Some Ghanaians attribute the
worsening of standard English to the emergence of GPE. But
GPE is serving a very important purpose which many critics
overlook. It serves as an important medium of
communication. It is used on a wide scale at many places,
in popular songs, on political platforms, and on many
occasions. It is used by both literate and illiterate
people. Most importantly, pidgin English is becoming the
lingua franca in English speaking West Africa countries.
There has not been much formal attempt to study the
pidgin English situation in Ghana, and because of this, some
linguists do not believe that there is a pidgin in the
country. In a personal letter to me, Professor Ian Hancock,
a creolist at the University of Texas, expressed the need
for a research on Ghanaian Pidgin English: "It is
heartening to learn that serious scholarly attention is
viii

being given to Pidgin in Ghana, the one West African nation
for which least information is available on the local pidgin
English." The above observations, among other things,
prompted me to do a research on the language so that it will
open the way for other linguists to know that there is a
pidgin in Ghana.
The study consists of six chapters which deal with the
definitions and etymologies of pidgin and creole, the
history of West African Pidgin English, the methodology of
the research, history of GPE, a detailed linguistic analysis
of GPE, the sociolinguistics of GPE, as well as conclusions
on the survey.
Data were collected on GPE over a period of nine
months. Out of the 400 copies of guestionnaire distributed,
304 were retrieved. This period was also used in tape
recording interviews, conversations, and songs, as well as
collecting magazines and newspapers. The informants who
consisted of both sexes ranged from school children to a
secretary of state.
The survey shows that there is a pidgin English in
Ghana, and that it has been influenced by the substrate
languages. It is spreading fast, especially among the
youths because it is being used not only as a means of
communication but also as a means of solidarity.
ix

CHAPTER 1
DEFINITION OF PIDGIN
Introduction
This chapter is devoted to a literature review on the
definition and etymology of pidgin and creole. I will cite
some of these definitions to acquaint ourselves with these
two concepts are. This will help decide whether what is
being discussed in this work is a pidgin or creole. or it is
none of them.
Social and Structural Criteria
'Pidgin has been defined with different criteria by
various authors. Two of these are social and structural.
The social criterion states the need for a language as a
means of communication when people who do not have a common
language come together; and the structural criterion is the
reduced structure of such a language that would evolve to
serve as a means of communication.
John Lyons defines pidgin languages as:
Specialized languages used for trade or similar
purposes by those who have no other common language.
It is characteristic of pidgin that they have a
simplified grammar and a highly restricted vocabulary
in comparison to the language or languages, upon which
they are based. (Lyons 1981:30-31)
1

2
For Holm, "a pidgin is a reduced language that results from
extended contact between groups of people with no language
in common; it evolves when they need some means of verbal
communication, perhaps for trade" (Holm 1988:4). Todd has
the following to say about the definition of pidgin.
A pidgin is a marginal language which arises to fulfil
certain communication needs among people who have no
common language. In the initial stages of contact the
communication is often limited to transactions where a
detailed exchange of ideas is not required and where a
small vocabulary, drawn almost exclusively from one
language, suffices. The syntactic structure of pidgin
is less complex and less flexible than the structure of
languages which were in contact. (Todd 1974:1-2)
Hall claims that a new pidgin is likely to arise
whenever a guide meets a tourist, or a shopkeeper meets a
customer, and the two do not share a common language. He
further states that a pidgin will draw its minimal
vocabulary from both languages. He again states that the
phonology and syntax will be reduced and the pidgin is
suitable only for minimal and specialized communication
(Hall 1954).
Apart from the communicative approach, Wardhaugh has
added function to his definition of pidgin. He writes that
"pidginization generally involves the simplification of a
language, e.g., reduction in morphology (word structure) and
syntax (grammatical structure), tolerance of considerable
phonological variation (pronunciation), reduction in the
number of functions for which the pidgin is used, and
extensive borrowing of words from local mothertongues"

3
(Wardhaugh 1990:59). He argues that one usually does not
attempt to write novels in a pidgin.
NonNative Speaker Criterion
Another criterion which has been used to define pidgin
in addition to the social and structural criteria is that
pidgin does not have native speakers. Hall writes that "by
definition, a pidgin language is one with two special
charateristics: (1) it is native to none, or virtually none,
of those who speak it; (2) it is sharply reduced in
structure and vocabulary, as contrasted with the language
from which it is derived" (Hall 1954:20). He uses Pidgin
English as an example of his definition for pidgin. "Pidgin
English is any one of several kinds of reduced language,
based on but differing from English, used by various parts
of the world as a lingua franca among speakers of different
languages but native to none of them" (ibid 23).
Wardhaugh, in using the nonnative speaker criterion,
defines pidgin as "a language with no native speakers: it is
no one's first language but is a contact language"
(Wardhaugh 1990:57).
Fasold has combined all the three criteria, social,
structural, and nonnative speaker, to define pidgin.
Roughly, a pidgin language is generally understood to
be a "simplified" language with a vocabulary that comes
mostly from another language, but whose grammar is
different. Pidgins, in the stereotypical case, are
formed when speakers of one language engage in trade
with speakers of another, or work on plantations
managed by speakers of another, and neither knows the

4
other's language. Pidgins are no one's mother tongue.
(Fasold 1990:180)
David De Camp is another writer who has used the three
criteria to define pidgin. He also states that it is a
vernacular.
A pidgin is a contact vernacular, normally not the
native language of any speakers. It is used in trading
or in any situation requiring communication between
persons who do not speak each other's native language.
It is characterized by a limited vocabulary, an
elimination of many grammatical devices such as number
and gender, and a drastic reduction of redundant
features. (De Camp 1971)
Definition of Creole
The most general popular account states that creoles
arise when a pidgin becomes the native language of a new
generation of children. In other words, pidgin becomes a
creole when it acquires native speakers (Fasold 1990:83;
Hall 1954:21; Todd 1974:3; Hymes 1971:3; DeCamp 1971:15;
Wardhaugh 1990:58; Muhlhausler 1986:7; Holm 1988:6).
This occurs, for instance, when parents from different
linguistic backgrounds communicate among themselves and
with their offspring in a makeshift pidgin, which is
elaborated and adopted as a means of intercommunication
by the next generation. Thus the children in this
situation: are exposed to imperfect, reduced language
input; elaborate this input using new grammatical
devices gleaned from internal resources, that is, by
appealing to their innate linguistic knowledge; and
eventually speak a language that is both quantitatively
and qualitatively different from that spoken by their
parents and, in many cases, not intelligible to them.
(Muhlhausler 1986:7)
The appeal of children to the innate linguistic
knowledge in the acquisition of creole suggested by
Muhlhausler is related to Bickerton's definition of creole:

5
"creoles are reflections of a natural bioprogram for human
language which is activated in cases of imperfect language
transmission" (Bickerton 1981).
Bickerton suggests that "the essential difference
between pidginization and creolization is that pidginization
is second-language learning with restricted input and
creolization is first-language learning, also with
restricted input" (Bickerton 1981) .
Etymology of "Pidgin"
There have been many proposals as to the etymology of
the term "pidgin". The more widespread of these proposals
include the following taken from Mhlhusler (1986:1):
PROPOSALS TO THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE TERM "PIDGIN"
1. the definition given by the Oxford English Dictionary
(OED) of a "Chinese corruption of English "business";
2. a Chinese corruption of the Portuguese word ocuoacao:
"business";
3. Hebrew pidiom: "exchange, trade, redemption";
4. Yago (a South American Indian language spoken in an area
colonized by Britain) pidian: "people";
5. South Seas pronunciation of English "beach" (beachee)
from the location where the language was typically used
(Muhlhausler 1986) ;
6. derived from pegueno portugus. roughly "little
Portuguese";
7. derived from Baixo portugus "low Portuguese" (Holm 1988)
Of all the above proposals, the OED theory enjoys the
most popular support. In a paper presented at the 1990

6
Linguistic Society of America (LSA) conference, Dingxu Shi
used phonological evidence to support the OED theory.
The word for "business" is found in a Chinese Pidgin
English phrase book that was popular around Canton in
the early 19th century. It is represented by two
Chinese characters pronounced as [pitsin] with an
unaspirated voiceless stop [p] and an unaspirated
affricate [ts]. The two consonants are the closest a
Cantonese speaker can get for [b] and [z]. The English
speakers in turn would pronounce the two Cantonese
sounds as [ph] and [dz]. The insertion of vowel after
a syllable-final consonant is common in Chinese Pidgin
English. (Shi 1990)
Etymology of Creole
The term "creole" originated in one of Portugal's
colonies in the sixteenth century. Both form and meaning
suggest an etymology criar "to nurse, breed, nourish"
(Valkhoff 1966:34). According to Muhlhausler, "originally
the meaning of criolho was 'slave in European employment,
particularly around the house, white man or woman
originating from the colonies'" (Muhlhausler 1986:6).
The word "creole" has adopted a number of meanings.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary gives the
following meanings to it.
1. white person born in the colonies
2. a person of European descent born especially in the
West Indies or Spanish America
3. a white person descended from early French or
Spanish settlers of the U.S. Gulf states and preserving
their speech and culture
4. a person of mixed French or Spanish and Negro
descent speaking a dialect of French or Spanish

7
5. a language based on two or more languages that
serves as the native language of its speakers
(Merriam-Webster 1984:305-6)
According to Holm, Crioulo. which is a Portuguese word
"with a diminutive suffix, came to mean an African slave
born in the New World in Brazilian usage. Its meaning was
then extended to include Europeans born in the New World.
The word finally came to refer to the customs and speech of
Africans and Europeans born in the New World. It was later
borrowed as Spanish criollo. French cr^eole. Dutch creol.
and English creole" (Holm 1988:9).
Summary
In this chapter, we have attempted to deal with the
definitions of pidgin and creole languages. Pidgin evolves
when people who do not understand each other's language meet
and they want to communicate verbally. This is the social
definition of pidgin. The structural definition states that
pidgin has a reduced language structure which means that its
phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics are simpler
than those of the language or languages that it may evolve
from. By definition pidgin does not have native speakers.
Pidgin becomes creole when it acquires a native speaker.
The linguistic structure of a creole is more complex than
that of pidgin. Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) which is the
topic of this work has no opportunity of being creolized in
the near future, because the Ghanaian children have access
to one or more of the 45 Ghanaian local languages.

8
Moreover GPE is not a popular language in the homes of its
speakers. This means GPE will remain a pidgin for a long
time to come.

CHAPTER 2
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN WEST AFRICA
AND ITS CURRENT STATUS
Introduction
This chapter contains two subsections. The first
section deals with the step-by-step history of pidgin
English in West Africa; we will discuss how Portuguese,
Dutch, and British have contributed toward pidgin English in
West Africa. The second section deals with an enumeration
of the principal pidgin English varieties in West Africa,
which are Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cameroon.
A Step-bv-Step History of Pidgin English in West Africa
The exact date of the development of an English-based
pidgin in West Africa cannot be determined. It probably
began with the first contacts with the British in the
sixteenth century (Mafeni 1971:97; Spencer 1971:8). Before
the British built their first English fort at Cormantine on
the Gold Coast in 1631, the Portuguese, who were followed by
the Dutch, had traded with the people of West Africa and had
made some impact on the linguistics of this area. In this
section, I will discuss, chronologically, how these three
European nations contributed toward the evolution of pidgin
English in West Africa.
9

10
The Portuguese
There was a pidgin Portuguese which was used in parts
of Africa throughout the 16th and 17th centuries (Naro
1978:334). Naro states that the history of pidgin
Portuguese is divided into two temporally and geographically
distinct phases. The first phase is the period of formation
in Europe, beginning around the 1440s, and the second phase
is the period of transfer and establishment in West Africa
of the resultant "acquired code," beginning around 1500.
The captains of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal
reached Cape Verde in 1444, Sierra Leone in 1460 and the
Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1471 (Spencer 1971:7). They
colonized the Cape Verde Islands and used them as a base for
settlements south along the coast. They built the fort of
Sao Jorge de Mina1 in the Gold Coast. They set up a station
at Gwato, the port of Benin, and colonized the island of Sao
Thome as a center for their Niger-Cameroons trade. They
established settlements, forts and trading stations down the
western and up the eastern sub-equatorial coasts of Africa,
and they reached Goa and Calicut and the Malabar coast of
India, as well as Malacca on the Malayan peninsular
(ibid.8).
Native speakers of West African languages were captured
and taken to Portugal, where, at the orders of Prince Henry
the Navigator, they were taught Portuguese so that they
could be used as translators on future voyages (Naro

11
1978:314). A pidgin Portuguese which Naro calls
"reconnaisance language" evolved in Europe, first between
those Africans who were sent there and the Portuguese, and
then later on among the Portuguese and other nationalities
who were in Portugal. "The purpose of the reconnaissance
language, from the Portuguese point of view, was to
facilitate linguistic comprehension when necessary; it could
be used in speaking to persons of any social standing and of
any nationality, under appropriate circumstances (ibid:326).
The Portuguese settlers and traders who set up
permanent households, usually with African women, in West
Africa might have been the means of transfer of the
reconnaissance language from Europe to Africa. These
setllers had direct linguistic contact with the Africans in
their daily life.
The major linguistic significance of the Portuguese
voyages and trade is the traces of Portuguese vocabulary
that are found in some African languages and especially in
pidgin and creole languages. In the Akan language of Ghana,
some Portuguese words, which have been phonologically
assimilated into the Akan language, are still in use.
Portuguese carta ("letter") has become Akan krataa ("a
letter or paper"). Porco ("pig") has become prako with the
same meaning. Portuguese camisa ("shirt") has become Akan
kamisa ("a woman's one-piece undergarment"); conta

12
("accounting, reckoning") is konta in Akan with the same
meaning; Portuguese coco ("coconut") is kube2 in Akan; and
Portuguese sapato ("shoe") has become the Akan word sepatere
with the same meaning (Amoako 1988:4).
Many linguists have discussed the Portuguese vocabulary
items in pidgin English. We will provide the discussions by
Schneider and Spencer because they deal specifically with
West African Pidgin English.
A few high frequency vocabulary items are a legacy from
Portuguese Pidgin which held on into the 17th century
and constitutes a vocabulary substratum in West African
Pidgin English. Examples: P-E /pikin/ from
[pequenino] PORT, 'child / little one'. P-E /dash/
from [dache] PORT, 'gift' or 'tribute' and extended to
cover a broad semantic field of meaning. P-E /sabi/
from [saber] PORT. 'know'. P-E /palaba/ from [palavra]
PORT. 'conference', 'discussion' and in Portuguese
'word', The formsdash, pikin. palaver and savvy
appear in many historical sources and 'dialect'
conversations of 19-2Oth century writers. (Schneider
1967:6)
The Portuguese exploration has bequeathed to the world
as well as to West African Pidgin English many of the
prominent place-names which lie recorded in the portulans of
the 15-16th century sources. Examples of these place-names
are Guinea, Elmina, Lagos, Cape Verde, Cape Palmas, Porto
Novo, Sierra Leone, Luanda, Cross River, Fernando Po, and
Cameroons (ibid.7).
Writing about the early voyages and trade of the
Portuguese, Spencer also writes on the Portuguese influence
on Pidgin vocabulary:

13
From these early centuries date some of the most
characteristic Pidgin words, known and used by almost
everyone, English or African, who has lived in the
coastal areas of West Africa: dash. n and v, 1(to
give) a gift, bribe, tip or commission'; pickin. n, 'a
young child'; palaver, n, 'talk, argument, trouble',
and compounds such as maromv-palaver. 'woman (or wife)
trouble', bellv-palaver. 'stomach trouble'; chop n and
v, 'food' and 'eat', and its recent extensions in
phrases such as small chop, 'cocktail eats', chop box,
'food box for use on trek, originally for head
loading', etc. (Spencer 1971:11)
The Dutch
In 1581 the northern Dutch provinces declared their
independence from Spain and successfully defended it. The
Dutch, from that time, embarked on a worldwide commercial
enterprise. By the middle of the seventeenth century they
had built a vast Dutch empire which circled the planet with
outposts from what is today New York to the Caribbean,
Brazil, Africa, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and
Japan (Holm 1989:322). They took over all of Portugal's
possessions in West Africa by 1642. They made some few
settlements on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and traded with
its people between 1595 and 1869 (Ward 1948). They captured
the Elmina castle on the Gold Coast in 1637.
One remarkable thing about the Dutch is that there are
very few linguistic remnants of the vast empire that they
built. Negerhollands (D 'Negro Dutch) is a creole once
widely spoken in what became the United States Virgin
Islands; it is extinct today (Holm 1989:325). Berbice
Creole Dutch is one of the two nearly extinct Dutch-based
creoles spoken in Guyana (ibid.329). Skepi is also a Dutch-

14
based creole which was once widely spoken along Guyana's
Essequibo river (ibid.333). Afrikaans, which is spoken in
the Republic of South Africa, is a standardized language
that descended from seventeenth-century dialects of
Dutch.
Dutch was never a suoerstrate nor a substrate to any
language in West Africa. "This seems unusual for the Dutch
were trading in West Coast waters for over two centuries and
practically monopolized the trade for 60 years" (Schneider
1967:8). Only some few Dutch words which have been
phonologically assimilated are found in the Akan language of
Ghana. Dutch klaar ("ready to do something") is the Akan
word krado with the same meaning. Dutch doek ("piece of
cloth") is the Akan word duku meaning "headscarf" or
"handkerchief." Some Akans pronounce the Dutch word kalkoen
("turkey") as krakuun while others pronounce it kurokurokoko
because of some semantic extension that has been associated
with the noise made by the turkey (Amoako 1988:6). It is no
wonder that these Dutch words are still used in the Akan
language for the Dutch traded with the Akans for a long time
especially during the slave trade. It is also because of
this long contact between the Dutch and the Akans that the
Negerhollands has a predominantly Twi substrate (Holm
1989:325). Twi is a dialect of Akan.
Some of the reasons that have been attributed to the
lesser impact of the Dutch in linguistic terms are that

15
"they were usually neither the first nor the only Europeans
to arrive in the areas they colonized, and in most cases
they did not remain as long as the British and the French"
(ibid.322). Their own attitudes may have undermined the
spread of their language. It is claimed that "till the
middle of the nineteenth century the Hollanders regarded
their language as a sort of caste-language and heard
unwillingly its employment by their inferiors" (quoted by
Reinecke 1937:443). Another probable contributing factor is
the traditional proficiency of the Dutch in more widely
spoken languages? "the Dutch seem linguistically to have
been the most accommmodating traders . they, in contrast
to the British and French, must have made full use of the
Portuguese Pidgin or Creole" (Le Page & Tabouret-Keller
1985:29). In fact, the Dutch tended to be polyglots. It
has also been observed that "the emphasis was on the
commercial. No settlement, no assimilation (inter-marriage,
miscegnation, fraternization), no religous fervor or attempt
to Christianization, no culture contact. The Dutch confined
themselves to their ships and establishments" (Schneider
1967:9).
The British
The following account of the contribution made by the
British toward West African Pidgin English is the one given
by Schneider (1967). His account is a summary of other
accounts given by various writers (Holm 1989, Spencer 1971.)

16
British privateers or "fortune seekers" engaged in
smuggling, "high-jacking" and irregular slaving were working
the Atlantic ever since the sixteenth century. The great
colonial powers were engaged in a highly competitive
Atlantic trade, the business of buying slaves on the African
West coast. The struggle was long and England and France
remained after the Dutch were forced to give up their empire
and concentrate efforts at strategic places. The treaty of
Utrecht in 1713 between England and France divided the West
African Coast. "By 1713 the French had replaced the Dutch
as the strongest European power on the shores of Upper
Guinea, and the English were strongly established in
competition with the Dutch on the Gold Coast" (Fage
1961:67).
The British receive credit for carrying the bulk of
African products and slaves during the eighteenth century.
This very fact demanded closer contact of cultures,
developing of new methods, and exchange of opinions and
ideas, and much closer association. The very foundations
were being laid for the development of West African Pidgin
English. All along the African West Coast the local
indigenous authorities made agreements with individual and
independent traders. During the eighteenth century this
pattern was drastically revised by the companies in what is
known as the "factory system". The "factory" was in reality
a trading post where "factors" lived and conducted the

17
details of large companies. The "factor" himself usually
had a fairly free hand to buy and sell in his own name. He
received a commission for his efforts and was entrusted with
the goods of the company. The larger stores and shops in
Cameroon are still referred to as faktri.
West African Pidgin English became firmly established
through the entire coastal area and there is some evidence
that the slaves of the early nineteenth century, recaptured
and off-loaded at Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Fernando Po
were communicating in pidgin English.
Schneider gives the following as the major reasons why
pidgin English emerged and survived in West Africa.
Firstly: Pidgin-English began to develop during the
17th century. These developments are documented by
Dutch sources of the West Coast. Pidgin-English
competed with Pidgin-Portuguese and perhaps a
smattering of Dutch but by the 18th century had gained
the greater part of the West Coast as its arena of
communication.
Secondly: The ascendancy of Britain as the chief
carrier of slaves and later as the organizer of West
Coast trade set the pattern for the spread and
development of Pidgin-English. This was greatly
facilitated by the "factory" and the attempts to
monopolize the trade through such procedures as the
"trust", creation of a hierarchy of middlemen, the
employment of Africans as factors, the incentives of
gifts, security and bonuses for effort.
Thirdly: The English traders, artisans and sailors
were ordinary men. Many had little formal education.
They had no fixed opinions about language, no visceral
reactions when their dialect was "pounded and battered.
This type of contact situation was excellent soil in
which the seeds of Pidgin-English could thrive.
(Schneider 1969:14-15)

18
We conclude this section by recognizing that history
has influenced the evolution of pigins in West Africa,
especially pidgin English. Pidginization of European
languages in West Africa began with Portuguese and now
pidgin English is spoken in many West Africa countries.
Principal Pidgin English Varieties in West Africa
English-based pidgins and creoles are spoken in West
Africa from the Gambia to the Cameroon. They are spoken in
countries where English is an official language. These
countries are Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria,
and Cameroon. Spencer has the following to say about the
role of the English language in West Africa.
In West Africa English exists alongside a multitude of
other languages which constitute the mother tongues of
practically all the peoples of those states which
retain English as an important auxiliary, or sometimes
as an explicitly national, language. As these
societies develop, as their populations become socially
and geographically more mobile, as institutions and
organizations spread and multiply, and as group
interacts with group in the process of modernization,
so the place of English gets more interwoven with the
lives of more and more people. It is normally through
English that an individual breaks the bonds of West
African traditional life and enters into some kind of
relationship with the westernized sectors of the
society. Through English he obtains the education
which is the road to the kind of success which awaits
him beyond the village or the tribe. Through English
of one kind or another he communicates with fellow
citizens from language groups other than his own, or
with foreigners. English is the language of
institutions implanted by colonialism: the law, large-
scale business, formal education beyond the first two
or three years of primary school, science and
technology, central administration and politics.
(Spencer 1971:3)

19
Standard English is the type of English that Spencer is
talking about in the above quotation. On the other hand, if
one listened to children in the playground, or to students
on educational campuses, one might hear another language,
closely related in some ways to English, but certainly
unintelligible to native English speakers from outside West
Africa: Pidgin English (ibid.5). The social stigma that
people associate with pidgins, and for that matter pidgin
English, is discussed by Spencer:
Where it existed as a lingua franca in local community
life it was forbidden in classroom and hopefully, in
playground and dormitory too. It was frowned upon by
the schoolmaster and swept under the carpet by almost
all colonial educationists. Many Africans who made use
of it were also made ashamed of it. From the point of
view of formal education Pidgin, as well as Krio, the
creole language of Freetown, lived an "underground"
existence. (ibid.5)
For the sake of simplicity, Holm divides the English-
based pidgin and creole in West Africa into three major
groups: Krio, including nonnative and emigrant varieties,
in Sierra Leone; Liberian, with similar divisions; and West
African Pidgin English, as spoken in Ghana, Nigeria, and
Cameroon. "Because of their interconnected histories, Krio
and Pidgin share a number of features and there is
considerable mutual intelligibility between their speakers,
although neither group can understand much Liberian" (Holm
1989:409).
This is how Schneider has defined Pidgin English as it
is related to West Africa:

20
Pidgin-English is the most common name given to a
lingua franca spoken throughout West Africa from Sierra
Leone to the Gabon. It is a meduim of communication
for African peoples who have no first language in
common, for white men of various ethnic backgrounds and
for the West African working man, trader and transient
peoples. Pidgin-English is not a mere simplification
of English, but a separate and describable language.
Its vocabulary is predominantly English-based, but the
lexical forms have changed their meaning to fit into
the value system and world view of the African
people. (Schneider 1966:2)
According to Barbag-Stoll, the term West African Pidgin
English (WAPE) is a linguist's invention which covers
different, often mutually unintelligible varieties spoken on
the West African Coast (Barbag-Stoll 1983:37). Barbag-Stoll
has listed a number of names that are used in referring to
WAPE:
It is often referred to as Bastard English, Broken
English, Funny English, Vulgar English (value judgement
labels), Kitchen English, Factory English, Market
English, Trade English (institution labels), Coast
English, West African Negro English, Liberian English,
Sierra Leone English (dialect labels), etc. (ibid.37)
The above value judgement and institution labels have
come about because of the assumed relationship between WAPE
and standard English. This has happened because of the
language contact between Europe and West Africa which
began,as already stated above, with the arrival of the
Portuguese on the West African coast in the fifteenth
century (Schneider 1967:4; Spencer 1971:7; Holm 1989:268).
The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch who in turn were
followed by the English. They all contributed to carve the

21
pidgin English in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon,
and Ghana.
Nigeria
The area that is now coastal Nigeria never had forts
built by the Europeans for the slave trade. Although the
Portuguese began the traffic in slaves in this area early
on, much of the coast from Nigeria to Cameroon was
relatively ignored by the Europeans, partly because of its
difficult conditions (Tonkin 1971:143). However, the
growing demand for slaves in the eighteenth century drove
slavers further eastward to the lagoons of what is today
Lagos and the creeks of the "Rivers" at the mouth of the
Niger. Here the Europeans could anchor their vessels for
the brief period needed to load the slaves that the African
traders kept ready for them (Osae et al. 1973:180). By the
end of the eighteenth century Bonny and Calabar on the Bight
of Biafra had become two of the most important trading
ports.
The British made the slave trade illegal in 1807, and
their navy patrolled this area to enforce the new law;
however, trade in palm oil and other goods remained
important. Protestant missionaries from England and Sierra
Leone began coming to this area in the 1840s and were
welcomed as teachers of arithmetic and English (Tonkin
1971:144). Britain annexed Lagos in 1861, the Rivers in
1885, and then all of Nigeria in 1900. Although Nigeria

22
retained English as its official language after independence
in 1960 and a knowledge of the standard variety is essential
for higher education and socioeconomic advancement, Pidgin
still plays a major role in interethnic communication in
linguistically heterogeneous urban centers, particularly in
the south (Mafeni 1971:99).
Nigerian Pidgin English is a lingua franca for many,
and thus a true pidgin in Hall's sense; it is also a mother
tongue for a number of families in certain areas and
communities, and as such might in these cases be defined as
a creole language (ibid.95). Mafeni describes how the
creole English has emerged in Nigeria like this:
Inter-tribal and international marriages have become
increasingly common in urban society. In many such
cases husband and wife may not share a common
indigenous language, and as a result will often use
Pidgin as their chief meduim of communication in the
home; or, of course, Pidgin alongside standard English.
Children brought up in such homes naturally speak
Pidgin, sometimes alongside standard English, as their
first language, although they may also speak the native
language(s) of either or both parents. The children
therefore learn to operate several linguistic systems,
of which Pidgin is one of them; and in many cases it
may be the primary and predominant system. However,
even where both parents speak the same native language,
many urban and partially detribalized children learn
Pidgin very early although it is not the language of
the home. Often several families live in the same
compound, and if they differ in linguistic background
Pidgin serves as a convenient lingua franca. The
children in such compounds and neighborhoods find
Pidgin an efficient means of communication among
themselves, and may also use it at home even though
their parents may not approve. (ibid.98)
According to Mafeni, some Nigerians have two types of
pidgin. The majority of servants employed by European

23
families use two quite different varieties of pidgin; one, a
minimal variety, which they use to their employersand
which is the only kind of pidgin which most Europeans come
acrossand a fuller variety, pidgin proper, which they use
elsewhere. Many Nigerians, although use pidgin as a
register in certain, especially familiar, contexts, are
nevertheless ashamed to be associated with the language in
public. This is probably a result of the influence of
parents and school authorities, who have often discouraged
its use because they consider it a debased form of English
and not a language in its own right (ibid.99).
Nigerians use their pidgin in variety of ways, in spite
of the traditional attitudes of disapproval towards the
language. Many Nigerian novelists, playwrights, advertising
agents, trade unionists and even politicians have realized
and are exploiting the great potentialities of the language
as a medium of mass communication. The various broadcasting
corporations in Nigeria have done much to popularize pidgin
by allowing its use in advertisement; the NBC radioserial
"Save Journey" has been running with great success for a
number of years; Achebe and other writers have used pidgin
in their novels and poems (ibid.100).
Sierra Leone
Holm (1989:413) states that it seems both pidgin and
creole English were spoken in the area around Freetown
before it was settled from Britain and the New World in the

24
late eighteenth century. The English might have been
influenced by the Portuguese that was spoken by the traders
and their Afro-European descendants in this area. The
Portuguese reached the peninsula on which Freetown now
stands around 1460 and named the area Serra Lyoa or "Lion
Mountain" (ibid.413). From the late fifteenth century
onward European ships stopped regularly in this area to
trade manufactured goods for slaves and ivory. The English
established a fort on an island near the Sierra Leone
peninsula in 1663; a number of English privateers settled on
the offshore islands from this period onwards and they and
their Afro-European descendants helped establish various
forms of restructured English there. "These mulattoes
merged with the Afro-Portuguese to form a group of about
12,000 by the end of the eighteenth century . [that] may
have formed the 'indigenous' nucleus of the Creole-type
society that was to emerge in the nineteenth century" (Jones
1983:16).
Slavery was abolished in Britain in 1772, and the
American revolution began in 1776. At this time the British
offered freedom to any American-owned slave who would escape
to fight for the crown, and thousands of slaves did this
(Hancock 1971a:12). Some of these soldiers ended up in
England where they and others called the Black Poor were
felt to be a social problem. Some of these were settled in
Africa. In 1787 some four hundred persons (330 blacks and

25
70 white prostitutes) arrived in Sierra Leone and founded
what was to become Freetown. However, many died of disease
and in 1790 the Temne destroyed most of what remained of the
colony. The settlement was revived the following year by
the Sierra Leone Company, which was sponsored by British
opponents of the slave trade. In 1792 some 1,100 former
American slaves who had won their freedom by fighting for
the British were brought from Nova Scotia, where they had
been temporarily resettled after the British lost their more
southernly American colonies in 1783. In 1800 these
"Settlers" were joined by some 550 Jamaican Maroons.
Because of a disturbance in 1796 the British government had
the entire population of a settlement deported from Jamaica
to Nova Scotia; however, so many died from the cold that the
survivors were resettled in Sierra Leone (Le Page and DeCamp
1960:100).
In 1807 Britain outlawed the slave trade and in 1808
took over Freetown from the financially troubled company to
use it as a naval base for anti-slavery patrols to intercept
non-British slave ships. Between 1808 and 1864 tens of
thousands of captives on intercepted slave ships were
settled at Freetown, bringing a great many languages with
them from all over West Africa and the Congo-Angola area
(Koelle 1854). Krio became the lingua franca among these
recaptives and the first language of their descendants, who
joined those of the Settlers and Maroons as members of the

26
Creole society. Singler suggests that "the most important
phase of the development of Krio was the creolization (or
re-creolization) that occurred with the wave upon wave of
Liberated Africans who washed ashore in Freetown (Singler
1984:35). In summary "the Sierra Leone settlement consisted
of the following groups of people: The Black Poor, the
Maroons and Nova Scotians, and the West African recaptives.
The last were by far the most numerous, their arrival being
spread over a number of years" (Jones 1971:67). Jones
describes the language Krio as:
Krio is an English-based lingua franca used throughout
Sierra Leone as an inter-tribal language of trade and
social communication. It is the mother tongue of the
descendants of freed men who settled in the Sierra
Leone peninsula between 1787 and the early years of the
nineteenth century. It is a second language for other
residents in this same area whose mother tongue is one
of the Sierra Leone languages. It has also spread
throughout the country principally in the more urban
areas as an additional language. (ibid.66)
In describing the usage of Krio in Sierra Leone today,
Jones says it is recognized as a useful language of inter
tribal communication and as such a medium of news
dissemination. He says the official news bulletin put out
daily over the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service by the
Ministry of Information, as well as other important
government statements, are broadcast in Krio as well as
English, Mende and Temne. (The other languages of the
country usually have weekly broadcast in them.) Krio is
also used widely in public speeches all over the country as
well as at inter-tribal religious services. In talking

27
about the negative response that the usage of Krio receives
Jones has this to say:
It is not however encouraged in the schools because of
its supposedly harmful effects on the learning of
English, the language of education, and is not widely
used in its written form, although there have been
sporadic bursts of good writing in it. Its register
Krio remains largely intimate and oral. It is used as
the normal means of communication in Creole homes but
even among educated Creoles outside their homes it
tends to be used only as means of intimate
conversation. Educated Creoles on first meeting other
educated Creoles tend to use English, this being
thought the more polite language. Coversation mellows
into Krio as acquaintanceship grows, although it is apt
to fade into English as topics veer into the more
technical fields. The appropriate occasions for Krio
in Sierra Leone society can involve delicate nuances of
etiquette. (ibid.68)
Some varieties of Krio are spoken in some parts of West
Africa. Gambian Krio (locally called Aku or Patois) is
spoken as a home language by some 3,500 Creoles in Banjul
and by others as a second language (Hancock 1969a:8). A
more conservative form of Krio is preserved in several small
enclaves in French-speaking Guinea and Senegal, where Sierra
Leone traders formed their own Krio-speaking communities
(ibid.9). The same thing happened in such English-speaking
countries as Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon (Reinecke et al.
1975:365). A form of Krio called Fernandino or Porto3
(Lipski 1992:1) is spoken on Bioko (formerly called Fernando
Po). This island, which lies just off the coast of Cameroon
in the Gulf of Guinea, forms part of Equitoral Guinea (Holm
1989:418).

28
Liberia
Holm (1989:421-426) writes about the Liberian
Creole/Pidgin English in terms of how the speakers of the
language came in contact with English speakers. The
Portuguese reached what is now Liberia in 1416; because of
the trade in pepper that developed in this area, it came to
be known as the Grain Coast. As the British took over more
of the slave trade in the eighteenth century, their ships
began stopping along the Grain Coast to take on crews to man
their ships and act as middlemen with other Africans as they
proceeded down the coast to trade for slaves. Their ships
would stop again on their return journey to drop off the
sailors (Singler 1981:4). These were called Krumen (earlier
Krooboys) from the ethnic name of Kru (Klao). They enjoyed
a favored position with the white traders and were largely
excempt from slave raiding (Reinecke 1937:617). Holm in
quoting Reinecke suggests that it seems likely that the
Krumen had been using pidgin English for at least a century
when an observer noted in 1856 that "Three-fourths of the
male population of the Kru country speak imperfect, but
intelligible English" (ibid.618).
Holm quotes Tonkin, Jones, and Reinecke to describe how
the Krumen have contributed towards the spread of Pidgin
English in West Africa. The Krumen "must have been
important diffusers and standardizers of Pidgin English, for
their employers included slavers, traders, explorers, and

29
English Navy ... African pidgin speakers such as these
became the main agents of language transmission" (Tonkin
1971:143). Jones suggests that the Kru probably helped
spread Krio features in West African Pidgin English since
they were present in Freetown by the 1790s and by 1820 their
numbers there matched those of the settlers and maroons
(Jones 1971:67). By the end of the nineteenth century the
Krumen had brought a knowledge of Pidgin English as far
south as the Congo River (Reinecke 1937:619). At this time
the largest group of Krumen worked in Nigeria, but by the
end of the First World War the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) had
become their primary venue (Holm 1989:422).
It could be seen from the above paragraphs that Pidgin
English was spoken along the Liberian coast before the
arrival of the Afro-American settlers. One of the officials
of these settlers noted in the 1820s that "every head man
around us, and hundreds of their people speak, and can be
made to understand our language without an interpreter"
(quoted by Singler 1984:39).
The Americans wanted to "get rid of the masses of
blacks that loitered about the city streets, making them
unsafe, but there was also the humane wish to give them a
homeland of their own" (quoted by Holm 1989:423). This was
after the slave trade. In 1821 the American Colonization
Society bought land at the present site of Monrovia and in
1822 the first group of freed American slaves arrived.

30
During the first 25 years of immigration, 70% of the
American blacks came from Virginia, Maryland, and North
Carolina. Later immigrants came more often from Georgia and
South Carolina, the origin of over 60% of those arriving
immediately after the American Civil War (Singler 1989).
These "Settlers" were joined by liberated Africans,
delivered by United States Navy. Over the period of twenty
years some 5780 liberated Africans were settled in Liberia
(ibid.). Some 15,000 American freedmen eventually
immigrated Liberia, as well as some 350 settlers from
Barbados, who arrived in 1865 (Singler 1981:6). These
settlers were outnumbered by the indigenous Africans.
There happens to be some kind of classifications in the
language spoken by the Liberians because of the different
groups of people who inhabit the area. The speech that the
Settlers brought from America was the creolized ancestor of
modern Black English vernacular (Holm 1989:424). For
broadcasting and other official purposes there exists a
standard variety of Liberian English which differs little
from standard English elsewhere in West Africa except in its
phonology, which is more American than British (Hancock
1970). Singler (1984:69-71) postulates three distinct
basilects. The first is that of Settler English (called
Merico by Hancock). This has features that are largely
confined to American Black English and the North American
varieties.

31
The second language varieties of Liberian English have
two different basilects (both quite distinct from the
Settler basilect) that have separate historical origins: (1)
the variety that developed from Kru Pidgin, spoken along the
coast; and (2) the variety that developed from a Mande-
influenced pidgin, spoken in the interior. Interior Pidgin
developed among the military and on plantations, where the
Mande dominated. Both Interior and Coastal Pidgin reflect
the phonology of the speaker's first language. Both of them
are typical of speakers with little or no Western schooling.
The following paragraph from Holm summarizes the varieties
of English in Liberia.
Liberian English encompasses several restructured
varieties. There is a creole spoken as a home language
by the descendants of settlers from the United States
(3% of the total population of 2,180,000 in 1984) who
live largely in and around the capital, Monrovia
(306,000 inhabitants). There are also second-language
varieties of this speech used as a lingua franca
throughout the rest of the country. One of these, Kru
Pidgin English, is more similar than the other
varieties to West African English because of its
distinct historical origins. All of the varieties in
Liberia have influenced one another and appear to form
a continuum rather than discrete entities. (Holm
1989:421)
Cameroon
Cameroonian Pidgin English grew out of the eighteenth-
century Pidgin English used around Calabar on the Bight of
Biafra (Hancock 1969a:17). After the British occupied
Fernando Po in 1827 to stop the trading of slaves in this
area, merchants and missionaries from Britain and Sierra
Leone began coming to what is now coastal Cameroon (Holm

32
1989:430). Between 1845 and 1887, 36% of these missionaries
were creole speakers: 22 spoke Krio (18 from Sierra Leone
and four from Fernando Po) and six spoke Jamaican English
(Todd 1984:94). In 1858 the largely Krio-speaking Baptist
mission on Fernando Po was expelled by the Spanish and
reestablished at what is now Limbe on the Cameroonian coast.
The Pidgin spoken in this area today is more similar to Krio
than are other Cameroonian varieties (ibid.97). The British
set up trading posts near the coastal town of Douala. When
German firms joined the British in the 1860s and in 1884
Cameroon was officially annexed by Germany as a colony,
restructured English was already so well established that
the Germans had to use that instead of their own language in
dealing with the local people.
The German colonization of Cameroon led to the spread
of the Pidgin English into the interior, because the Germans
set up plantations that drew laborers from the interior
grasslands. They returned to their villages with their
knowledge of Pidgin. Other laborers were also brought from
Liberia, Togo, Dahomey (modern Benin), and Nigeria. Pidgin
English was the lingua franca on the plantations as well as
in the colonial German army (ibid.94).
The Germans were driven out of Cameroon by the Allies
in 1916, and in 1919 the country was divided into mandates
under the British (west part near Nigeria) and the French
(east part). English (West) and French (East) became the

33
official languages of Cameroon. This led to an increasing
influence of Englishand Nigerian Pidginin the west, and
the further isolation of the English-based Pidgin in the
east, where it began to draw on French when further lexicon
was needed (Holm 1989:431). The eastern regions maintain
more Krio features while the western regions are closer to
Nigerian Pidgin.
Cameroon Pidgin English is presently widely used along
the East Cameroon Coast, especially in the Douala area.
Though it has little official recognition, it is still an
important medium of communication for Cameroon's political,
social, religious, and economic life (Barbag-Stoll 1983:38).
Summary
We have discussed how the Portuguese have influenced
the linguistics of West Africa, especially in pidgin. They
traded with the people of the area, and through the orders
of Prince Henry the Navigator some West Africans were taken
to Portugal to learn Portuguese. This was the beginning of
pidgin Portuguese which was called the reconnaissance
language. These Africans were returned to West Africa to
serve as interpreters for the Portuguese traders. The major
transfer of the reconnaissance language to West Africa was
done by the Portuguese traders and settlers who settled in
the area among the Africans, especially the women.
The Dutch followed the Portuguese as the next European
traders with the people of West Africa. They did not make

34
much impact on the linguistics of the area because they did
not sttle among the people they traded with. The British
who followed the Dutch had more impact on the linguistics of
West Africa because they were in closer contacts with the
people of this area than their two predecesors. They traded
with the people in products and slaves, settled among them,
and therefore had close contacts with their culture. The
major linguistic legacies of the British contact with West
Africa are standard English and pidgin English which is
spoken in the Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria,
and Cameroon.
Notes
1. The fort of Sao Jorge de Mina is now known as the Elmina
Castle.
2. Semantic extension has contributed to the phonology of
the Akan word kube which was derived from the Portuguese
word "coco" which is pronounced /ko'ku/. In Akan, the root
/be/ means "palm tree", and as the coconut tree looks like
the palm tree, the derivation began with the addition of
/be/ to the Portuguese /ko'ku/ to become /kokube/. The
first syllable was deleted, hence /kube/. Akan vowel
harmony system changed the final /e/ to /e/. The derivation
would be the following:
/ko'ku/
Portuguese
semantic extension
first syllable deletion
vowel harmony
kokube
kube
kube
[kube]
3.Through a personal communication, John Lipski who has
done some studies on the pidgins on Fernando Po, told me
that the pidgin English on the island is no longer known as
Fernandino or Porto. The only current terms are Pichinglis
or the shortened Pichi. The term Fernandino is applied to
the descendents of the original Sierra Leoneans who settled
there.

CHAPTER 3
GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF CURRENT AND
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
Research Background
Considerable misinformation has been circulated about
Ghanaian Pidgin English. Some Ghanaians attribute the
worsening of standard English to the emergence of pidgin
English. An evidence of this can be read from Suzanne
Romaine's 1988 publication.
As recently as 1986 the Times Higher Education
Supplement (17 Jan. 1986) carried a report of a
newspaper in Ghana complaining about the use of Pidgin
English on Ghanaian campuses and recommending that
stern measures be taken against it. The report notes
that in no other case do the future leaders of the
country talk a 'mixture in which all the tenses are
thrown to the wind, and words are picked from far and
wide, making no sense to the listener.' (Romaine
1988:13)
But pidgin English is serving a very important purpose which
many critics overlook. It serves as an important medium of
communication. It is spoken on a wide scale in educational
institutions, work places, airports, seaports, drinking
places, markets, on the radio, in popular songs, on
political platforms, and on many occasions. It is spoken by
both literate and illiterate people. Most importantly,
pidgin English is becoming the lingua franca in English
speaking West Africa countries.
35

36
There has not been any formal attempt to study the
pidgin English situation in Ghana. Sey (1973:3) observed
that the ideal conditions for a pidgin did not exist in
Ghana in 1973, but in 1984 it was observed that pidgin
English was, and continues, to be spoken in Ghana.
The above observations, among other things, prompted us
to consider doing a research on Ghanaian Pidgin English in
1984.
Methodology
Research period Over a period of nine months, data
were collected on Ghanaian Pidgin English (G.P.E.), from
April, 1984 to January, 1985. This period was used in
distributing and collecting questionnaires, tape-recording
interviews, conversations, and songs in Ghanaian Pidgin
English. The period was also used in collecting magazines
and newspapers in which Ghanaian Pidgin English have been
used. I was the major researcher during this period. Since
I did not have any funding for the research, I could not
afford a research assistant. I relied on the help of
friends for both the recordings and the distribution as well
as collection of the questionnaires.
Questionnaire. Four hundred questionnaires were
distributed in Accra in the Greater Accra Region, Aburi and
Abetifi in the Eastern Region, Winneba in the Central
Region, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Sunyani in the Brong
Ahafo Region, and Ho in the Volta Region. Even though all

37
the regions of Ghana were not surveyed the informants who
were of different ages, sexes, educational backgrounds,
occupational backgrounds, and social classes consist of
people from all the regions of the country. Three hundred
and four responses were received. Table 3.1 and 3.2 show
the sex and age distributions respectively. Refer to
Appendix A for a copy of the questionnaire. Figures 3.1 and
3.2 are further illustrations on the age and sex
distribution of the population surveyed.
Table 3.1
Sex Distribution of Informants
Male Female No Response Total
163 137 4 304
53.6% 45.1% 1.3% 100%
3.1
Sex Distribution of Informants
MALE
FEMALE
NO RESPONSE
Figure 3.1. Sex Distribution of Informants

38
Table 3.2
Age Distribution of Informants (Years)
15-25
26-30
31-40
41-50
50+
No Response
Total
167
84
40
7
3
3
304
54.9%
27.6%
13.2%
2.3%
1.0%
1.0%
100%
The ages in table 3.2 begin at 15 because we decided
that informants below that age might not be properly able to
complete the questionnaire. Many people over 40 did not
return the questionnaires because they did not want to be
associated with pidgin, thus pointing to the strong
attitudes about pidgin in Ghana.
Age Distribution of Informants
P1Q-3.1 A O E (Y H A R S)
Figure 3.2. Age Distribution of Informants
Materials used. Tape recorders were used in interviews
with informants who ranged from school children to a
secretary of state. Some of the recording was done during

39
the 1984 New Year School which was held at the University of
Ghana, Legn. This is a one-week school attended by people
from all walks of life and from all parts of Ghana. It is
held between Christmas and New Year's Day. The participants
discuss national issues like Aging, Education, Culture, and
The Environment. This was a good opportunity to gather
views from people across the whole spectrum of life in
Ghana.
Both spontaneous and organized recordings of pidgin
were made, including songs sung in pidgin. We interviewed
some of the singers as well as writers of Ghanaian Pidgin
English. Magazines and newspapers in which GPE has been
featured, especially in the areas of comics and cartoons
were also collected.
The data in this dissertation were obtained from the
questionnaires and some responses from interviewees have
also been included. The discussions on the phonology,
morphology, syntax, semantics, the lexicon and the
sociolinguistics of the language as well as the data in the
appendises were taken from some of the organized and
spontaneous conversations of the informants. Some were also
taken from the magazines.
History of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Colonial Settlement
The Portuguese explored the coast of West Africa around
the middle of the fifteenth century, establishing outposts

40
in what are today Guinea-Bissau, Ghana and Nigeria before
the end of the century. But their trade was taken over
first by the Dutch and then the English (Holm 1989:410).
The English took over part of the slave trade by
establishing forts in West Africa. "The first was built in
1631 at Cormantine in what is today called Ghana" (Spencer
1971:8). In 1672 the British seized from the Dutch a number
of forts for trading for slaves on the Gold Coast and Slave
Coastmodern Ghana, Togo, and Benin (Fage et al. 1959
quoted by Holm 1989:426). Restructured English was brought
to this area from the late eighteenth century onwards by
Krumen and Sierra Leonean Krio speakers.
In 1821 the British forts on the Gold Coast were taken
from the Africa Company and placed under the crown in the
form of the Governor of Sierra Leone. After the British
defeated the Ashanti in the Sagrenti War of 1874, the Gold
Coast and Lagos became the Gold Coast Colony and were
administratively separated from Sierra Leone. "By the end
of the century new medicines made life in the tropics safer
for Europeans, and British-born administrators, teachers,
etc. began taking over the positions previously filled by
Sierra Leoneans" (Trutenau 1975:21-23 quoted by Holm
1989:427). The low-level jobs were the only ones that were
left for the Africans. The demand was largely for unskilled
labor, which were first filled by Ghanaians and then by
Krumen from Liberia.

41
English has been the official language of Ghana since
Britain colonized the Gold Coast (now Ghana) by the bond of
1844. This was the bond which made the Gold Coast a British
colony. English was imposed as the language of
administration by the British; their immediate practical aim
being to bring together the separate political units which
they had won either by conquest or treaty (Boadi 1971:49).
After Ghana had its independence from the British rule in
1957, English is still a cohesive force internally. The
adoption of one of the 45 local languages as the lingua
franca has not been easy and is not envisaged. This has
made the English language the most obvious choice for both
internal and external uses (ibid. 50). We may distinguish
between educated and uneducated varieties of English in
Ghana even though there is a graded continuum between them.
The least educated one is the least internationally
acceptable and the most educated one is the most widely
understood in the English-speaking world (ibid. 51). Pidgin
English is one of the varieties that is associated with the
uneducated varieties of English in Ghana.
Ghanaian Pidgin English dates from the time the British
set foot on the coast of the Gold Coast. It was limited to
a relatively small and identifiable section of the
population, mostly illiterate workers of various categories,
almost exclusively from the northern sector of the colonial
territory. These workers were mainly those who served in

42
various capacities directly under mostly English but also
some Ghanaian and other African "masters" who needed some
means of communication with them.
Pidgin gradually arose through simplifications of the
structure of standard English and adaptation to native
languages among these categories of workers. They tried to
reproduce what they heard and retained of the fast speech of
the English masters, or the Ghanaian and Asian masters.
The categories of people who learned this kind of
simplified English were:
Police corporals. They were employed as guards at the
courts, offices, parliament, "people's" houses, and other
government places. "People" in this sense means the
expatriates and high-ranking government officials who
qualified to employ a guard.
Watchmen. These were employed in government departments
and private houses. They were security officers who watched
the houses and office buildings of the government as well as
those of some private individuals.
Laborers. They were employed in government departments
-usually daily ratedlike Public Works Department, Water
Works, Electricity, and Housing.
Domestic staff. The domestic staff, who in those days
were invariably male, were cooks, steward boys, and garden
boys. They were usually called "small boys" by their
employers. They in turn called their employers "masters",

43
hence the popular expression in Ghana: "Yes sa, masa."
("Yes sir, master.") It was usual for a visitor to ask:
"Masa dey?" (Is your master present?), and the reply: "I
dey" (He's present) or "I no dey." (He isn't present).
The reason for the employment of these categories of
workers from the northern part of Ghana was to promote the
undivided loyalties to their employer, since they did not
have their families with them in the south; even in the
north, they could be far away from their own villages.
In the northern part of Ghana, the people were late in
receiving formal education. That is why the employees from
the North were some of the first speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin
English.
Second World War
In our survey, sixteen informants, or 5% Of the
respondents, mentioned the second World War as one of the
events that have contributed to the emergence of pidgin
English in Ghana. This is especially true of the older
respondents because of their association with the war.
Soldiers of the Gold Coast Regiment fought alongside
their British counterparts during the Second World War
(1939-1945). They served as porters for the British
soldiers. These porters were illiterates; hence in their
efforts to communicate with their British counterparts
Pidgin English evolved. These soldiers returned to Ghana
with the Pidgin English. Some of them joined the Armed

44
Forces and others retired to live among the civilian
population.
A retired soldier informed us that formerly every
soldier was made to learn pidgin English since it is the
language used to drill soldiers on parade and training
grounds. A police officer at a training depot also told us
that police recruits are made to learn pidgin for the same
reason. The trainers are illiterates and the English they
know is the pidgin type. This training started with those
who went to the Second World War.
There is a story in Ghana about a laborer who was
brought before the colonial courts in the early months of
the Second World War on a charge of sedition. The charge
was that he had said Hitler would win the war, impressed by
the astounding blitz of the advancing German forces. In his
defence he made the following statement in Pidgin English:
"If I talk say Hitler go win the war, na my mouth be gun"
(Eyi-Acquah 1985)? (if a t^k sey Hitler go win de w^, na
m m^f bi gon?") ("If I say that Hitler will win the war, is
my mouth a gun?")
News Media
Pidgin English has been used in the Ghanaian news media
since the 1950s. There was a column in the "Evening News" -
an evening newspaperwhich was strictly reserved for the
use of pidgin English. It was used to present vernacular
jokes.

45
There was a radio program done in pidgin English in the
1950s called "Isa Abongo" by the late Leo Riby-Williams. In
the 1960s there was a television comedy series also done in
pidgin English. These were comedy programs meant to
entertain the rank and file mostly illiterate workers who
would be expected to understand or speak pidgin English and
so appreciate such programs in pidgin.
Contrary to the assumption that the majority of
illiterate workers from all over the country spoke and
understood pidgin English and so would welcome such
programs, it turned out that pidgin English was limited to
only a small section of the population and that the rest
would better enjoy programs in one of the local Ghanaian
languages. The radio and television programs were therefore
withdrawn after a short run; and eventually, through
audience research survey, programs like Variety Show Case in
Akan, Ga, Ewe, and other Ghanaian languages were
substituted. These were and are much enjoyed by all
sections of the population.
Sey (1973:3) says that with many educated people in the
large towns it was not necessary for the illiterate people
to deal directly with the English speakers for bilingual
educated Ghanaians were always at hand to act as
interpreters and "letter-writers" for the uneducated ones.
This was one of the reasons why Ghanaian Pidgin English
could not spread.

46
Current Emergence of Ghanaian Pidgin English: Factors
Within the past ten or twenty years, that is, from the
early 1970s, it has been noticed by the informants in this
survey that more Ghanaians are speaking pidgin English than
in the 1950s and 1960s. This can be seen from table 3.3 and
figure 3.3.
Table 3.3
Number of Years Speakers Have Spoken Ghanaian Pidgin English
Years: 0
-1
1-5
6-10
11-15
16-20
21+
No Res
Speakers: 44
23
90
70
22
8
0
47
% : 14.5
7.6
29.6
23.0
7.2
2.6
0.0
15.5
Years of Speaking G.P.E.
RIG. 3.3 NUMBER OP YEARS
Figure 3.3. Years of Speaking G.P.E.
It should be noted that 23% of the speakers have spoken
pidgin English for the past ten years, and that 29.6% have
spoken it for the past five years. This shows an increase of

47
6.6%. Just 7.6% had spoken it for less than a year during
the research period. These ratios are due to the current
attitude of people toward the GPE.
Table 3.4 and figure 3.4 offer further statistical data
and an illustration to show the consensus that Pidgin
English is spreading fast in Ghana.
Table 3.4
Rate of The Spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Slowly Fast Dying Out Not Found Other No Response
21 258 6 0 1 18
6.9% 84.9% 2.0% 0.0% 0.3% 5.9%
Rate of the Spread of G.P.E.
3.4
FAST
SLOWLY
NO RESPONSE
DYING OUT
OTHER
NOT POUND
Figure 3.4. Rate of the Spread of G.P.E.
Whereas 84.9% of the respondents said that the Ghanaian
Pidgin English is spreading fast, only 6.9% said that it is
spreading slowly.

48
Contact with Other West African States
The main reason given for the fast spreading of the
Ghanaian Pidgin English within the past twenty years is the
recent increase of contacts between Ghanaians and other West
African states where pidgin English is spoken on a wider
scale. These countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone, and
especially Nigeria. This increase is evidenced by the
responses of informants to the question: "Which events have
contributed toward the introduction and spread of pidgin
English?" Out of 304 questionnaires, 236 informants
responded to that question, 77.6% of the total survey. Out
of the 236 respondents 127, that is, 53.8% mentioned
immigration of Ghanaians to other West African countries.
The Nigerian Influence
Of the 127 respondents who mentioned immigration as a
factor to the current spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English,
105, that is 82.6%, said that Nigeria has been responsible.
Pidgin English is spoken everywhere in Nigeria. The writer
spent three months in Lagos in 1981, and found that
Nigerians speak standard English only on rare occasions in
private conversations. Otherwise, they speak either one of
the Nigerian languages or pidgin English.
The oil boom brought economic improvement to Nigeria in
the early 1970s, and people from many countries, including
Ghana, immigrated there. Both skilled and unskilled
Ghanaian workers went to Nigeria to look for green pastures.

49
They spent their holidays in Ghana, and often took whatever
they acquired to Ghana. One important thing they brought
back to Ghana was pidgin English.
In the early 1980s, many Ghanaians and other foreign
nationals were expelled from Nigeria. These returnees
raised the use of pidgin English in Ghana to its ascendancy
The writer taught a boy in elementary school, middle form
four, in 1972. The boy spoke no pidgin English at that
time. After sojourning in Nigeria, he formed a guitar band
and in 1981 sang his first song in pidgin English, titled:
"To Be a Man Na Wah" (It is a struggle to be born a man).
His second album, which caught the attention of many
Ghanaian music fans was "Jealousy." The following is part
of the song:
JEALOUSY (a song)
if a du ma ti n
mek yu no jel^s
if a du ma tin
mek yu no jel^s
jel^si go she(m)
wayo go she(m)
jelosi go she(m)
wayo tu go se(m)
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
The jealous one will be ashamed
The trickster will be ashamed.
The jealous one will be ashamed
The trickster too will be ashamed
There was a Ghanaian woman who never spoke pidgin
English when she was in Ghana. After staying in Lagos for
one year, she wrote a letter which contained both pidgin
English and standard English, using the pidgin English as a
joke. The sample below is an unedited part of a letter she
wrote to the writer. The Yoruba words are underlined.

50
Well oga I dey happy I received your letter, but
as you dey tell me to come home, wetin I fit take
to enter motor? I dey hear your advice goun and I dey
trowey thanks for you for your advice.
Well, big man, I was happy when I received your letter,
but as you are telling me to come home, what thing
(money for transportation) can I use to enter a
vehicle? I have heard your advice very well and I give
you thanks for your advice.
One of our interviewees, a nurse, gave this explanation
for the current spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English: "Another
reason for this pidgin English is because of these people
going down to Nigeria. When they come, you see, I know a
teacher, my first husband, you know, he was to leave
Saturday for Nigeria. And this man, a teacher, you know,
when he came he started speaking that sort of English."
A thirteen year old primary school boy said he learned
his pidgin English from a ten year old Nigerian boy whom he
had known for two years. They live close to each other, and
the Nigerian boy had been in Ghana for only two years.
A primary school female teacher said she started
speaking pidgin English after she had been to Nigeria. When
asked why she thinks some Ghanaians speak Pidgin English,
she answered: "Well, we were speaking it formerly, but I
think to the greater extent it was during the time the
Ghanaians were asked to come from Nigeria. That was the
peak of the pidgin English in the country."
In a pidgin English conversation in Kumasi, a woman
claimed she could speak pidgin English because she had a
Nigeria friend.

51
Man: So yu, haw kam wey yu fit spik ptjm English
lak dat?
(So you, how come that you can speak pidgin
English like that?)
Woman: A get s^m Nigerian fren.
(I have a Nigerian friend.)
Other Factors
One important factor which has contributed to the
spread of GPE is illiteracy. In 1980, only 30% of the adult
population in Ghana were literate and 69% of school age
persons were literate. Yet only 20 out of the 236, that is
8.5%, respondents attributed the spread of GPE to illiteracy
and lack of formal education. Nonetheless, this is an
important factor, since a small country like Ghana (Area:
238,537 sq. km.) with nearly 14 million people has 44
languages (refer to Appendix B for the Ghana Language Map)
and none of them is the national language. This fact
compels people to use English as the means of communication
in inter-language conversation. The illiterate ones,
therefore, have to recourse to pidgin English.
Military regimes in Ghana have also contributed to the
spread of pidgin English. Ghana has had four long-term
military regimes in the country's history. The 12
respondents (5% of the group) who mentioned this factor said
that the military regimes have brought the soldiers into the
streets and involved them in the day-to-day life of the
civilian population. The civilians have therefore been
imitating the pidgin English which most of the soldiers
speak.

52
Other factors for the spread of GPE are trade, boarding
schools, urbanization, prisoners, and the increasing number
of magazines which feature pidgin English, and the
increasing interest in reading such magazines.
Summary
After being prompted by the emergence of pidgin English
in Ghana in 1984 and having realized that no formal detailed
linguistic work had been done on it, we started a research
on the language. Within nine months, we sent out 400
questionnaires and received 304 of them responded to. We
used audio tape recorders to interview informants; we
recorded songs, and collected magazines and books which
contain Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE).
From our informants and books, we learned more about
the history of GPE and the reasons for its current
emergence. GPE dates back from 1631 when the British built
their first fort at Cormantine in the then Gold Coast and
traded with the people. The second world war which saw
members of the Gold Coast Regiment fighting alongside the
British soldiers also contributed to the spread of GPE. The
soldiers who were mostlly illiterates returned from the war
with the language. It became the language of the military
as well as the police service. The increase of contacts
between Ghanaians and the people of some West African states
where pidgin English is spoken is a major factor in the
current emergence and the fast spread of GPE. Other factors

53
are illiteracy, military regimes in Ghana, urbanization,
boarding schools, increase in the number of magazines that
feature GPE, and increase in its use for fun.

CHAPTER 4
A PHONOLOGICAL, MORPHOLOGICAL, SYNTACTIC, AND SEMANTIC
SURVEY OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH
Introduction
Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) can be classified into
two types: educated pidgin and uneducated pidgin. The
uneducated pidgin is also called "houseboy pidgin" or
"motorpark pidgin". It is called uneducated pidgin because
its speakers have not had any formal literacy education.
Some of these uneducated people, who are mostly men, work in
the houses of educated English speakers where they are
called "houseboys". It is the type of pidgin that they
speak that has been named after them. It is this same type
of pidgin that is spoken at the car and lorry stations where
passengers who do not own vehicles go for transportation to
travel with, hence the pidgin spoken there is called
motorpark pidgin.
The other pidgin type is called educated pidgin because
its speakers have had formal literacy education. Some
people call it "intellectual pidgin" because of the same
reason. This is the pidgin that is spoken by young people,
especially the students of Ghana. Intellectual pidgin has
been influenced by standard English. Over a range of
continuum of the types of English spoken in Ghana,
54

55
intellectual pidgin will be the closest to standard English
whereas houseboy pidgin will be the farthest from standard
English.
We should note that nowadays there is not too much
difference between houseboy pidgin and intellectual pidgin
because most of the GPE speakers have had some form of
formal education because of the compulsory free education
policy of the late 1950's. The GPE that is being spoken
these days is not as close to the houseboy pidgin that was
spoken in the early 1950's. It is a little bit inclined
towards intellectual pidgin but not close to standard
English. This has made some people think that Ghana does
not have a pidgin that is original, but like any other
language, GPE has been there for many years; it has just
changed. The type of GPE that will be analyzed in this
chapter is a blend of houseboy pidgin and intellectual
pidgin. This is the type of pidgin that one will most
frequently hear if one visits Ghana.
Ghanaian Pidgin English is primarily a spoken medium of
communication, with a very few poems and cartoons that can
be found in the written medium. Like many other pidgins,
GPE has no standardized orthography. This makes the
analysis of the language a heinous task. There may be some
oversimplifications or some overgeneralizations here and
there. In order to minimize such dangers, the analysis of
the language in this chapter has been taken from informants

56
of a homogeneous background (considering such parameters as
the level of education, age, profession, exposure to
standard English). We have also taken into consideration
the type of GPE which is common to most of the speakers,
hence an item is chosen for discussion when it occurs very
often in most of the conversations, songs, interviews, etc.
which have been recorded. A word is selected as being a
representative of GPE if it occurs in both the uneducated
pidgin and the educated one.
The linguistic change that has occurred in the
derivation of GPE items from English will be discussed on
two planes: the form plane and the content plane. The form
plane will cover the the phonological, morphological, and
syntactic analysis, whereas the content plane will focus on
the semantic analysis of these words. These are the shifts
in meaning which have occurred in the English derived
lexicon of GPE.
Many definitions of pidgin include simplification of
the superstrate language. In the case of GPE, I will not
say that the superstrate has been simplified. I will rather
say that GPE has has been influenced in many ways by the
substrate languages which are Akan, Ga, Ewe, Nzema, and some
of the other 45 native languages of Ghana. This influence
is prevalent at the phonological, morphological, syntactic,
and semantic levels. Words and sentences from GPE will be
compared with their counterparts from Akan which is the

57
Ghanaian language spoken by the author. Akan-influenced GPE
is the most common one spoken in Ghana.
Phonology
GPE has not been standardized; and as such it has no
official orthography. The lexicon is mainly English with
few words from the vernaculars of some of the Ghanaian
languages. Phonologically, GPE reflects the phonology of
the Ghanaian languages which are quite similar since most of
them come from the Kwa group. This phonological reflection
can be seen in the GPE vowels, consonants, syllable
structure, and in its suprasegmental features such as tone,
and vowel harmony.
Vowels of GPE
GPE has twelve vowels, nine monothongs and three
diphthongs which are ai, au, and oi These diphthongs are
sometimes separated by semi vowels which makes it appear
that GPE has nine underlying vowels.
Table 4.1. G.P.E. Monothong Vowels
FRONT
CENTRAL
BACK
HIGH
i
U
i
u
MID
e
o
e
LOW
a

58
Table 4.2. G.P.E. Consonants
BI
LABIAL
LABIO
DENTAL
DENTAL
PALATO-
ALVEOLAR
PALATAL
VELAR
GLOT
TAL
PLOSIVE
P b
t d
k g
NASAL
m
n

AFFRI
CATE
e ]
LATERAL
1
r
FRICA
TIVE
f V
s
s
h
SEMI
VOWEL
w
y
The standard English vowels have been replaced by
vowels in the Ghanaian languages that are close to them in
quality. Diachronically, we cannot say that the English
that was introduced to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) was the
Received Pronunciation (RP) English since not all the
British sailors and traders who came to the country were
using RP. Since we are concerned with the current emergence
of GPE, we will compare the vowels of RP with those of GPE.
Table 4.3. GPE and RP Vowel Substitution
RP
GPE
ENGLISH EXAMPLES
ae
/kaet/
a
/kat/
cat
a
/abawt/
a
/abaut/
about
a:
/w a: rk/
e :
/we:k/
work
A
/bAS/
3
/b^su/
bus
Consonants of GPE
GPE has twenty-one consonants. The voiced labio-dental
fricative, /v/, has very limited occurrence. It is mostly

59
replaced by its voiceless counterpart, /f/. It can be seen
from the chart below that the RP English consonants, /0/ and
/3/ are not part of the GPE consonants. These are replaced
bY /d/, /t/, or /f/. In the same manner /z/ is replaced by
/s/ in many instances.
Syllable Structure of GPE
GPE has eight possible syllabic shapes, examples are:
SYLLABLE
GPE
ENGLISH
V
a
IIJII
CV
mi, go
"me, go"
VC
i m
"his/her"
CVC
tif, sm, get
"thief, sin, get
CCV
tri
"tree"
VCC
aks
"ask"
CCVC
plis, fren
"please, friend"
It is very rare to find Ghanaian languages which
contain the kind of complex initial and final consonant
clusters of which standard English makes use. These
clusters are simplified or sometimes lost altogether as a
result of a tendency which operates in some Ghanaian
languages to approximate to a syllabicity of CV-CV-CV.
Sometimes in order to achieve this syllabicity, vowels or
glides are inserted in
the clusters.
This syllabicity
phenomenon also works
in GPE; examples
are:
ENGLISH
GPE
dont
don
"don't"
f e rst
fes
"first"
prifekt
prifet
"prefect"
botl
b=>ti>l
"bottle"
fi lm
fi li m
"film"
fayr
faya
"fire"

60
In some instances, if a consonant or a consonant
cluster has nasals, it is replaced by nasalized vowels or
vowels and glides; examples are;
ENGLISH
GPE
maynd
m
"mind"
nayt
nal
"night
fayn
f
"fine"
may
m
"my"
Tone
GPE is becoming a tone language because it uses the
pitch of individual syllables to contrast meanings in some
cases. Native Ghanaian languages, especially Akan, have two
main tones, high ['] (H) and low [ ] (L). The low tone will
not have any accent mark.
TONE
AKAN WORD
ENGLISH
HH
pp
good(ness)
LH
pap
father
LL
papa
fan
HL
p:pa:
to slap
The above tone phenomenon of the native Ghanaian languages
has been transferred to GPE, e.g.:
L go
H g
will / shall
go
LLH
a go g
I will go
L d
H de
LHH d de g
they
copula, continuous aspect
they are going
L
H
LLH
no
n
a no n
negative marker
know
I don't know
LLHHLLH a no n sey i go g.
I don't know that he/she will go.

61
Vowel Harmony
A number of West African languages have harmony
systems, in which vowels are divided into mutually exclusive
harmonic sets (e.g. according to height or laxness) so that
all the vowels in a word will belong to either one set or
the other. For example in Ijo all the vowels will be either
lax (i, e, u, 3) or tense (i, e, u, o) (Williamson 1965 in
Holm 1988:124). This type and other types of vowel harmony
are found in other Kwa languages like Ibo, Ewe, and Akan.
In all the dialects of Akan, there are two sets of vowels
according to the advancement of the tongue root: those with
Advanced Tongue Root [+ATR], and those without Advanced
Tongue Root [-ATR]. This is horizontal vowel harmony.
[+ATR] i e ae u o
[-ATR] i e a u 3
In any Akan word of two or more syllables, only the vowels
of one set will occur.
[+ATR] [-ATR]
[wubebu] "you'll break ." [wubebu] "you'll beat. ."
[osi] "he/she washes." [=>si] "he/she sharpens."
[mini] "here I am." [mini] "I mean ."
The Fante dialect of Akan has labial vowel harmony
which occurs together with the horizontal one. This means
rounded [+RD] vowels will occur in one word and the
unrounded [-RD] ones will occur in another word.

62
Table 4.4. Labial and Horizontal Vowel Harmony in Akan
[+ATR]
[-ATR]
[+RD]
[murukotu]
"I'm going to dig."
[muruk^tuw]
"I'm going to throw."
[-RD]
[mirikedzi]
"I'm going to eat."
mi ri kegyi ]
"I'm going to get."
The vowel harmony in Akan operates between words in
sentences and in compound words where a word with [+ATR]
vowels is followed by a word with [-ATR] vowels. The [+ATR]
word assimilates the immediate preceding vowel into the
corresponding [+ATR] vowel. The following are some examples:
Compound words
[akuko] + [nini] -> [akukoninij
chicken + male -> rooster
[ahm] + [di] -> [ahindi]
chief + to be -> chieftaincy
There is no assimilation if the first word contains [+ATR]
vowels and the second contains [-ATR] vowels; here is an
example
[aehuhuro] + [bire] -> [ehuhubi re ]
heat + time -> hot weather
Sentences
[=>d=> mfuo] -> [r>do mfuo] "he/she cultivates farms."
[tu tuo] -> [to tuo] "shoot a gun."
but
[di asem] -> [di asem] "settle a case."
The vowel [a] is neutral to the vowel harmony in Akan.
That is why [oami] "God" has mixed vowels.

63
The horizontal vowel harmony in Akan also works in GPE.
The following examples from a conversation we had with a GPE
singer are representative of
[+ATR] WORDS
wetin
boro
disko
dokument
eviridey
[-ATR] WORDS
sofa
moni
evi ri bodi
nobodi
most of GPE speakers:
ENGLISH
waSll]
"what thing
b=>row
"borrow"
di sko
"disco"
d3kjument
"document"
evridey
"everyday"
ENGLISH
safar
"suffer"
mam
"money"
evri badi
"everybody"
nobadi
"nobody"
We have noticed that the vowel harmony can go through a
whole phrase or clause. The following is an example from a
GPE song.
bifo yu go liv na yu go no
"Before you will live it is you who will know."
We notice from the above sentence that [-ATR] vowels begin
from "bifo" and end at "na", and [+ATR] vowels begin from
"yu" and end at "no". In many vowel harmony systems, the
vowel [a] seems to be neutral to vowel harmony. That is why
the harmony got broken with "na".
Another observation from the above vocalic harmonic
sentence is on the pronoun "you". In the first part of the
sentence its vowel is [-ATR], but it has a [+ATR] vowel in
the second part. This depends on the harmonic set of vowel
that the word will fall into. The following are more
examples of [-ATR] vowel harmony:

64
luk yuo han welwel
("Look at your hand well"). "Be careful with your
hand."
mom don kos am
"Money has caused it."
Morphology
General inflection system in GPE is limited, therefore
the grammatical information is manifested through other
devices like tone, reduplication, word formation, and the
syntactic system.
Tone is used to bring about lexical as well as grammatical
differences in GPE. This has been discussed under tone as a
phonemic entity in GPE.
Reduplication
Reduplication is the repetition of all or part of a
lexical item. GPE reduplications are complete. The whole
lexical item is repeated. Among other things, reduplication
indicates such concepts as plurality, repetition, increase
in size, added intensity, and continuance.
Reduplicated nouns. Reduplication of a GPE noun
indicates plurality. It may also indicate frequency.
Examples are:
A hie rumorumo sey de go kam 19th.
"I heard some rumour that they will come on the 19th."
Haw Misa Danquah tok sey, mek wi stop di s piiinpiim.
wey wi bi English studen.

65
"Mr. Danquah has told us that we should stop this
frequent use of pidgin because we are English
students."
A: So i min sey Asamoah de fok aftanun-aftanun.
B: Eeh.
A: Aftanun-aftanun fok i no mek fok.
A: "So it means that Asamoah makes love in the
afternoons."
B: "Yes."
A: "Afternoon love-makings are no love-makings."
Reduplicated verbs. Reduplication of a GPE verb shows
repetition. It may also show action continuity. Examples
are:
A: So yu, yu get mom at 03? Yu get m^ni fo de
eks'mas?
B: Oh, de eks'mas die
A: De litil moni yu get, yu kam spen fo skuul hie.
Wey yu de invayt-invavt ledis soso las wik.
A: "So do you have money at all? Do you have money
for the Christmas?"
B: "Oh, as for the Christmas ...."
A: "The little money you have, you have spent it here
in school. You were always inviting all these
women last week."
Wey 03 de akawntin pi pul, dey dey, eviribodi sabi sey
dey dey de moni top a, dey de rayt som tins, dey de
ravt-ravt som tins den dey de tietie som.
"All the accounting people everybody knows that when
they are in charge of money, they write some things and
they write some things again, and then they cancel some
of them."
De fes tarn wey m wayf bon-bon lak dis, i jos tro awey
twins fo grawn.
"The first time that my wife gave birth, she just threw
away twins onto the ground."
Den a si 03 ma fren dem, dem bigin bav-bav sterio,
televishin, friji, en som de man.

66
"Then I saw all my friends beginning to buy stereos,
televisions, fridges, and some were marrying."
A don woku-woku-woku-woku fo di s weld.
"I have worked all over the world."
A: Bat de top dee nu a, i ren finish?
B: De top dee, a tink i bi naw i de ren-ren
smosmo.
A: "But in the North, has it stopped raining?"
B: In the North, I think that it is now that it is
raining moderately."
Reduplicated adjectives. Standard English shows the
intensity of an adjective by adding degree words such as
"very", "much", or "many" to the adjective. GPE indicates
this intensity by reduplicating the adjective. Examples
are:
Tumorow eli morn n a sen yu bak tu yoz> moda. Fl -fl
tsitsi, fl -fl wum yu no sabi notm; a sen yu bak
tu yoo moda.
"Tomorrow early in the morning I'll send you back to
your mother. A very beautiful lady, a very beautiful
woman, you don't know anything. I'll send you back to
your mother."
When wi bi smosmo pikin dem.
"When we were very little children."
Reduplicated adverbs. Reduplication of the adverb in
GPE shows the intensification of the manner in which the
action is performed. Examples are:
Remi, luk yo han wel-wel.
"Remi, be very careful about your hand."
Mek everebode put in ay fo de tin wey in pikin de do
bik^s if yu bon yo pikin yu no tich am wel-wel: las

67
minit yu go si am sumowk wiiwii, tek dr:=>gs; las minit
yu go si am anda bri j wey i crez.
"Everybody should watch the things that his or her
child does, because if you have your child and you
don't teach him or her very well, last minute you will
see him or her smoking marijuana, taking drugs; and
last moment you will see him or her under a bridge,
when he or she has become crazy person."
Mi a sabi buk pr^pa-pr^pa bikos no k skuul wey i
dey fo rna vileji wey a no go bifo.
"I know the academics very well because there is no
school in my village that I have never attended
before."
Functional shift reduplications. The function or class
category of some words change when these words are
reduplicated in GPE. In the following song, the verb "lay"
("lie") has been reduplicated and become an adjective to
qualify the nouns "fayt" ("fight"), "m" ("man"), and
"wumal" ("woman"). But in the clauses "evereb^de de laylay"
("everybody is lyinglying" and "a no de laylay" ("I am not
lying"), "lie" has been reduplicated to show the intensity
of the action.
It W3s wan nayt, a de paspas ssm k=>na. Pi pul de fayt
insayd sz>m rum-k^na. Mi a ti nk i bi propa fayt; at las
i bi laylay fayt. Brada, a hi e dc wumal sey "yu laylay
mal. den de mal tuu sey "yu lavlav wumal: den mi a sey
"so evereb=>de de lavlav"; hahaa fo de stori : mi a
no de lavlav.
"It was one night when I was passing by a street
corner. People were fighting in a room. I thought it
was a proper fight. At last it was a fake fight.
Brother, I heard the woman saying "you are a liar",
then the man too said "you are a liar"; then I also
said "so everybody is lying". For this story, I am not
lying."

68
We realize from the above examples that there is a
morphosyntactic phenomenon that brings about the functional
shift of the reduplicated words in GPE. In most cases when
the reduplicated verb occurs before the noun phrase (NP), it
functions as an adjective whereas when it occurs after the
NP it just intensifies the action word.
When a reduplicated noun occurs before an NP, it
functions as an adjective, whereas it functions as an adverb
when it occurs after a verb phrase (VP). In both cases the
reduplicated noun signifies plurality. This is illustrated
in the following conversation where speaker A uses aftanun-
aftanun in his first sentence as a noun plurality that is
also functioning as an adverb, but uses it in his second
sentence as an adjective.
A: So i min sey Asamoah de f=>k aftanun-aftanun?
B: Eeh.
A: Aftanun-aftanun f=>k i no mek f^k.
A: "So it means that Asamoah makes love in the
afternoons?"
B: "Yes."
A: "Afternoons love-making are no love-making."
In most instances, when a reduplicated form of "so"
which is "soso" occurs before an NP, it functions as a
degree adjective "many" or "plenty". This phenomenon is
illustrated in the following examples
Leg^n de. Onli sey a don' layk Cape Vas ageyn. Soso
Education, a taya. G^d sef sabi sey a taya.
"Legn is available. It is only that I don't like Cape
Vars. (University) again. A lot of Education, I am
tired of it. Even God knows that I am tired of it."

69
A: Shuga no dey yo haws o sey .
B: (LAUGHING) Shuga no dey rna haws oo. Soso
ristrikshins.
A: "Is there no sugar in your house or .
B: "(LAUGHING) No, there is no sugar in my house;
plenty of restrictions."
Layf na shot oo, bat soso trobuls.
"Life is very short, but there are many troubles."
De tin wey m fo mi, mek a tek am, na soso promts.
"The thing that is for me, let me take it, for there
are too many promises."
Bi fo a go si, de hoo tebul don ful ap wit soso gels.
"Before I became aware, the whole table was filled up
with many girls."
In some cases when soso occurs after an NP it functions
as an anaphor with an antecedent in the same sentence or
discourse. Examples are:
A: So yu get moni wey yu entetein yuo frens, wey som
dey wey yu go tek chop eks'mas a i min sey yu tif
am?
B: Yu mek studen. Yu mek studen. Haw yu de get
plenti moni? Na so. I bi soso a de tok.
A: Yu shuo?
B: I no bi in? Enewey dey de treyn yu fo hie haw yu
de stil de moni. I no bi so? De akawntin pi pul i
no bi soso yu de du?
A: "So if you have money that you entertain your
friends with, and you have some left that you will
spend the Christmas with, does it mean that you
stole it?"
B: "You are a student. You are a student. How do you
get plenty of money like that? That is what I am
talking about."

70
A: "Are you sure?"
B: "Isn't it? Anyway they are training you how to
steal money. Isn't it so? Is it not what you the
accounting people are doing?"
M haws no swit mi. I bi soso a dey hie.
"My house is not enjoyable for me. That's why I am
here."
Word Compounding in GPE
There are very few word compounds in GPE. The meanings
of these compounds are different from those of their
individual parts. The compounds are free forms. In the
following speech t^kabawt which means "gossip" is made up of
verb-preposition, but the compound is a noun. Bakbavt whose
meaning is the same as that of standard English "backbite"
is made up of noun-verb, but the compound is a noun.
S^m pi pul dey, soso jel^s dem bi; soso t=>kabawt; soso
bakbavt. Na wetin bi == dis?
"There are some people who are very jealous. Many
gossips; many backbites. What are all these?"
In the following sentence, man-ml and man-wumi
which mean "a married man" and "a married woman"
respectfully are made up of verb-noun but the compounds are
nouns. M^ni -mata which means "money affairs" is made up of
noun-noun and the compound is a noun.
De tin wey i dey i nsayd mari na man -ml en
man -wumi i bi dem sabi bi k=>s even tin wey yu go do i
bi m^ni-mata.
"What is inside marriage, it is the married man and the
married woman who know; because every thing that you do
is money affair."

71
In the following speech, the adjectival compound m-
en1-wuml which qualifies "fayt" ("fight") is made up of
noun-conj unction-noun.
Jo, dis no bi yu^ palava. I bi m-en1-wuml fayt.
Dey k^l am laylay fayt.
"Joe, this is not your business. It's a man-and-woman
fight. They call it a fake fight."
Syntax
There is not too much difference between the syntax of
GPE and those of the other West African English pidgins
(Schneider 1966 and Todd 1984 on Cameroon; Mafeni 1971 and
Barbag-Stoll 1983 on Nigerian).
The Basic Sentence Structure
The basic sentence pattern of GPE is (Subject)
Predicate (Object) (Complement) where the bracketed elements
are optional:
Rid! "Read!"
Rid de pepa. "Read the paper."
De b=>y de rid de pepa. "The boy is reading the paper."
De b=>y de rid de pepa pas im spetakils. "The boy is
reading the paper with his spectacles."
Tense-Modal-Aspect (TMA^
The following is how Givon has briefly explained Tense-
Modal-Aspect (TMA) of a language:
Tense involves primarily though not exclusively our
experience / concept of time as points in a sequence,
and thus the notions of precedence and subsequence.
Aspects of various kinds involve our notion of the
boundedness of time-spans, i.e. various configurations
of beginning, ending and middle points. But in the
semantic space of aspect, nearly always some element of
tense is also involved, in terms of establishing a term

72
of point-of-reference along sequential time. Finally,
modality encompasses among other things our notions of
reality. in the sense of "having factual existence at
some real time" ("true"), "having existence at no real
time" ("false"), or "having potential existence in some
vet-to-be time" ("possible"). Synchronically,
diachronically and ontogenetically, TAM categories are
interconnected. (Givon 1984:272)
Bickerton (1975) has outlined a classical TMA system as
including one preverbal AUX to mark anterior tense (simple
past for states and past-before-past for actions), one to
mark irrealis mood ("future" and conditional) and one to
mark nonpunctual aspect (progressive and habitual). He has
further suggested that a prototypical creole TAM system
should conform to this description and order.
The TMA of GPE is expressed syntactically. It is not
expressed morphologically as it is done in some cases in
standard English. Some lexical items precede the main verb
to express the TAM of GPE as has been expressed by
Bickerton. But GPE departs from Bickerton's analysis by not
having any AUX or marker to express anteriority. Because of
this a verb without a preverbal AUX has two meanings if it
is taken out of a discourse context; for example:
a go skuul.
"I go to school."
OR
"I went to school."
In the following example the discourse context shows that
the event happened in the past.
Charlie, a hie sey yu go horn wey yu go spen tu wiks.
Way yu no wz>n' kam skuul?

73
"Charlie, I heard that you went home to spend two
weeks. Why didn't you want to come to school."
Adverbials of time are also used to show time relations, for
example
A go skuul eviridev.
"I go to school everyday."
A go skuul las wik.
"I went to school last week."
Aspect GPE is aspect-prominent rather than tense-
prominent. GPE aspect conforms to the classical TAM model
of Bickerton. The AUX de is used to denote nonpunctual or
progressive aspect, for example
a de go skuul.
"I am going to school."
I de chop de tarn a go im haws.
"He/She was eating when I went to his/her house."
I de chop eni tam a go im house.
"He/She is eating every time I go to his/her house."
The AUX de at times denotes habituality, like in the
following example:
A no go lov bia. A de lov ginis rada. I bi ginis a de
lov.
"I will not like beer. I like guiness rather. It's
guiness I like." "I went to school last week."
Perfective aspect The perfective (or completive)
aspect is expressed by preceding the main verb with the AUX
don which always carries a high tone.
A don go skuul.
"I have gone to school."

74
Mood GPE mood also conforms to the classical TAM
model. The The irrealis AUX go is used to denote "future".
This auxiliary always carries a low tone to differentiate it
from the verb go which carries a high tone.
A go g skuul.
"I will go to school."
The modal "fit" This modal which means "can" or
"be able" precedes the main verb. If it occurs together
with an auxiliary, the auxiliary precedes "fit" ("fit"):
AUX + FIT + MAIN VERB.
A fit go skuul.
"I can go to school. / I could go to school."
A de fit go skuul.
"I can go to school."
A go fit go skuul.
I will be able to go to school."
The modal "fo" This modal stands for obligation. It
is sometimes replaced with [m=>] .
A fo go skuul.
"I should go to school."
Yu ms now.
"You must know."
Focus marker "na" Any constituent in a GPE sentence
can be focussed by being fronted and making it occur
immediately after the word na.
A de go skuul.
"I am going to school."
Na skuul a de go.
"It is school that I am going to."

75
Na go a de go skuul.
"It is going to school that I am doing."
Na mi de go skuul."
"It is I going to school."
This na is also used in Akan as a focus marker, but it
occurs immediately after the fronted constituent which is
being focussed.
AKAN
me-re-ka nokware.
I-PRES-speak truth.
"I am speaking the truth."
nokware na me-re-ka.
truth FOCUS I-PRES-speak.
"It's the truth that I am speaking."
If we compare the above Akan sentences to their GPE
counterparts we will have the following:
A de t=>k tru.
"I am speaking the truth."
Na tru a de tok.
"It's the truth that I'm speaking."
We are not claiming that this focus na which is used in
other West African English pidgins originated from the Akan
language. We have just shown that the same syntactic
phenomenon do exist in Akan. Further research will have to
be done for such a claim. What has been shown is the
influence that some of the Ghanaian languages have on GPE.
Another way of focus in GPE is the use of the present
form of the copula BI [bi]. The pronoun I [i] precedes BI to
form this focus marker. These two elements precede the
constituent that is being focussed. If the focussing

76
constituent is a pronoun, the objective case is chosen.
Here are some examples:
I bi tru a de tok.
"It's the truth that I am speaking."
I bi mi tok tru.
"It's I speaking the truth."
I bi dem de go horn.
"It's they going home."
I bi im de go horn.
"It's he/she going home."
I bi wi de t=>k tru.
"It's we speaking the truth."
Negation
Negation is a proposition that is asserted as being
false. Negation is expressed in GPE by preceding TAM with
the lexical item "no." This means "no" precedes an irrealis
marker like the future go. It will precede an aspect marker
like the nonpunctual aspect de, and it will precede a modal
like fit. The sequence will be:
NO + TAM + MAIN VERB.
NEG + MAIN VERB
A no go skuul.
"I don't go to school." OR "I didn't go to
school."
NEG + de + MAIN VERB
A no de go skuul.
"I am not going to school." OR
"I was not going to school."
NEG + go + MAIN VERB
A no go go skuul.
"I will not go to school."

77
NEG + fit + MAIN VERB
A no fit go skuul.
"I can't go to school."
NEG + go + fit + MAIN VERB
A no go fit go skuul.
"I will not be able to go to school."
The perfective aspect d^n does not have a negative
counterpart that takes "no". Instead "yet" ("yet") is added
to the construction to show the negative perfective aspect
like in the following example.
A dz>n go skuul.
"I have gone to school."
* a no d=>n go skuul.
A no go skuul yet.
"I have not gone to school yet."
Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) and Cameroon Pidgin
English (CPE) use "neva" ("never") as the negative form of
the perfective aspect.
NPE/CPE
A neva go skuul.
"I have not gone to school."
GPE does not use "neva" the way it is used by NPE and CPE.
It is used by GPE in the way standard English uses it.
GPE
A neva go skuul.
"I don't go to school."
The negative form of the copula is expressed by
preceding bi with "no" which in turn is preceded by the
dummy i: I + NO + BI.
I no bi mi bit am.
"It wasn't/isn't I who beat him/her."

78
Imperative
Imperative is an attempt by a speaker to elicit action
from a hearer. In GPE this is done in two different ways:
One is by the use of the verb phrase alone without any
subject; examples:
Go! "Go (away)!
Go tel am! "Go and tell him/her."
Go brin dem! "Go and bring them."
The other way is by starting each command, request, or
exhortation with the word "mek" ("make"). This one requires
the mention of the subject which follows the imperative word
"mek". In most cases imperative with the copula verb uses
this method; examples:
Mek yu go!
Mek yu go tel am!
Mek yu go brin dem!
Mek yu tel am!
Mek yu brin dem!
Mek yu bi gud ticha!
"Go (away)! / (get away)!"
"Go and tell him/her!"
"Go and bring them!"
"Tell him/her!"
"Bring them!"
"Be a good teacher!"
Negative imperatives The imperative form starting with
"mek" seems to be the one most commonly used in the negative
imperative. "No go!", "No tel am!", etc. do not sound quite
appropriate.
Mek
yu
no
go!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
go tel am!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
go farm dem!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
tel am!
"Don't
Mek
yu
no
brin dem!
"Don11
Mek
yu
no
bi bad ticha!
"Don't
go (away)! / (get
away)!"
go and tell him/her!"
go and bring them!"
tell him/her!"
bring them!"
be a bad teacher!"
Interrogative
Interrogative is a request by a speaker of information
from a hearer. There are two ways of expressing

79
interrogative in GPE. One is by changing the intonation of
a statement, and the other is
STATEMENT
A g skuul
"I go/went to school."
A fit g skuul
"I can go to school."
A no de fit g skuul
"I can't go to school."
by using interrogative words.
QUESTION
A g skl
"I go/went to school?"
A fit g skl
"Can I go to school?"
A no de fit g skl
"Can't I go to school?"
The word "wey" is often used for the question words
"where", "when", "what", and "how". The words themselves
are used in certain contexts.
Wey (tin) yu go du?
"What will you do?"
Wey i dey?
"Where is he/she?"
Wey i bi?
"Where is he/she?"
Wey i go kam?
"When will he/she come?"
Wey tam i go kam?
"When will he/she come?"
Wey kl pesm kam hie?
"Who comes/came here?"
The focus na is sometimes used with the question words.
In this case na means "and", and it is used for emphasis
depending upon the preceding statement by any of the
interlocutors; e.g.
Na hu bi im?
"And who is he/she?" ("Who does he/she think he/she
is?")

80
The above question is an example of attitudinal
question. This shows an attitude that the questioner has
about the third person. The questioner may have an
unhealthy attitude about the third person perhaps the one
being talked about has been very boastful, or has been
blowing his or her own horn. The following is part of a GPE
song showing both the cohesive and focus uses of na.
If a no beta fo rna own layf,
na hus folt
na mi k^s am
"If I don't do well for my own life,
it is whose fault;
It is I who has caused it."
Exclamations and Emphasis
Exclamations and emphasis in GPE are commonly conveyed
by the addition of particular words or expressions either at
the beginning or at the end of a proposition, and are always
expressed with the appropriate intonation. Prolonged sounds
which are vowels like oq or aa are added to expressions to
emphasize the emotional concern of the speaker.
Plenti palava kam oq.
"There's lots of trouble! / We've got real trouble!"
I had oo.
"It is very hard / difficult / trying!"
I fan pr^pa.
"It / He / She is very nice / handsome / beautiful!"
I vcks qrqqa.
"He / She is very angry!"
I gud tuu m^ch.
"He / She is a very good person! / He / She is so
good!"

81
A sev! I fal tuu m^ch.
"My word! It's really nice! / She's really a fine
lady!"
A ch^p am wan taro.
"I ate it immediately / at once!"
I ren plenti plenti.
"It rained a lot / great deal!"
Personal pronouns
Table 4.4 shows the personal pronouns in Ghanaian
Pidgin English:
Table 4.4. Personal Pronouns of G.P.E.
SUBJECTIVE
OBJECTIVE
1st Person Singular
a
mi
2nd Person Singular
yu
yu
3rd Person Singular
hi, i
am, im
1st Person Plural
wi
wi
2nd Person Plural
yu
yu
3rd Person Plural
dey, dem
dem
Possessives
The transitive possessive pronouns which occur just
before the possessed element like in standard English are:
"ma", "yu", "im/in", "yu", "wa", and "dem/dea" for "my",
"your"(singular), "his/her", "your"(plural), "our", and
"their" respectively; e.
I bi m haws.
I bi in haws.
I bi yz> haws.
I bi wa haws.
I bi dem/dea haws.
"It's my house."
"It's his/her house."
"It's your (sg./pl.) house."
"It's our house."
"It's their house."

82
The intransitive possessive pronouns "mine",
"his/hers", "yours", "ours", and "theirs" in GPE are
expressed by adding the word "own" to the transitive
possessive pronouns; e.g.
I bi m own "It's mine."
I bi in own "It's his/hers."
There is no morphological possessive marker in GPE as
it is in English _|_s, like "father's house", "Rita's child",
or "Joe's house". In GPE the transitive possessive pronoun
occurs between the possessor and the possessed, the former
on the left and the latter on the right; e.g.
papa m haws "father's house"
Joe m buk "Joe's book"
Rita in pikin "Rita's child"
pikin dem papa "the children's father"
Sometimes a whole expression with the word "get" is used to
express possessive; e.g.
I bi mi get am. "It's mine. / It belongs to me."
I bi wi get de haws. "It's our house."
Hu get di s haws. "Whose house is this?
The Articles
There are two main articles in GPE: "de" and "a".
Both articles are used in the way they are used in standard
English. The only difference is that many times "s^m" is
used instead of "a", even though "s^m" is used with its
usual meaning in some contexts. "Wan" is sometimes used
instead of "a." GPE does not use "an."
Dc pies no gud. "The place isn't good."

83
I brin S3m pikin plas am.
"He/She brought a child with him/her."
Dey sey dem bri n s^m. "They say they brought some."
A get wan d^g. "I have a dog."
Prepositions and Postpositions
The only word which is used as a preposition in GPE is
"f=>". It is always accompanied with a syntactic phenomenon
in some of the Ghanaian languages, whereby some lexical
items occur after the noun they gualify. We call these
locative lexical items postpositions. Some examples are
"top," "inside," "outside," and "under." This means GPE
has both prepositions and postpositions. The following is a
comparison between an Akan sentence and a GPE sentence.
AKAN
Fa nwoma no to pono no so.
take book the put table the on/top
"Put the book on the table!"
GPE
Put de buk £3 de tebul t3p.
"Put the book on the table!"
The following are some more examples of the preposition-
postposition phenomenon from some of the recordings we have
made.
Wey dc pi pul kam biliv am £3 de haws 1nsayd.
"That the people came to believe him/her inside the
house."
I go W3ka £3 dee soso; i de slip £3 bri j anda dem.
"He went and roamed about; he was sleeping under
bridges."
Wey 3D de akawntin pi pul dey dey, everib3di sabi sey
dey dey m3ni t3p.

84
"That all the accountants, everybody knows that they
are on top of the money (they control the money)."
Complementizer "sev"
Verbs of saying, thinking, knowing, remembering, and
sensing are followed by the complementizer "sey" ("that").
This complementizer might come from the Akan language which
uses "sc" ("that") in the same syntactic position (Holm
1988:186; Turner 1949:201; Cassidy 1961:63).
AKAN
Joe ka-a sc 3-be-ba.
Joe say-PAST that he-will-come
"Joe said that he will come."
GPE
Joe tz>k sey i go kam.
"Joe said that he will come."
AKAN
Me-nim sc. Joe be-ba.
I-know that Joe will-come
"I know that Joe will come.
GPE
A sabi sev Joe go kam.
"I know that Joe will come."
AKAN
Me-te-e sc. o-be-ba.
I-hear-PAST that he/she-will-come
"I heard that he/she will come."
GPE
A hie sev i go kam
"I heard that he/she will come."
Comparative / Superlative Expression
There are no morphological markers for the expression
of comparative and superlative notions in GPE. The word
"pas" ("than") is used to express the notion of comparative.

85
It comes immediately after the adjective or the expression
being used to compare the two entities.
Joe big pas John.
"Joe is bigger than John."
I sabi buk pas im fren.
"He/She is smarter than his/her friend."
If the superlative notion is being expressed, then
quantitative adverbs like "eventin" ("everything"),
"everib=>di" ("everybody"), and "33" ("all") are used
together with "pas".
Joe big pas everibodi.
"Joe is bigger than everybody. / Joe is the biggest."
I sabi buk pas 33 im fren.
"He/She is the smartest among his/her friends."
The expression of the comparative and superlative
notions in GPE follows the syntax of some Kwa languages.
This is how the above sentences are expressed in Akan:
AKAN
Joe so kyen John.
Joe big than John
"Joe is bigger than John."
O-nim nwoma kyen n'-adamfo.
He/She-knows books than his/her-friend
"He/She is smarter than his/her friend."
Joe so kyen obiara.
Joe big than everybody
"Joe is bigger than evrybody."
O-nim nwoma kyen ne n-namfo nyinaa.
He/She-knows book than his/her PL-friend all
"He/She is the smartest among his/her friends."
Some more GPE common complex constructions and expressions
can be found in Appendix C.

86
Semantics of Some G.P.E. Words
Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases
and sentences. Although the basic vocabulary of GPE comes
from English, some of these words have acquired different or
additional meanings. GPE also has loan translations or
caiques which have been made from some of the Ghanaian
languages. There are some words which have been borrowed
from Portuguese, Yoruba, Hausa, and some of the Ghanaian
languages. These words have retained their original
meanings. The above semantic phenomena will be discussed in
this section. Since many of the word and sentence meanings
to be described are affected in one way or the other by
caique, it will be appropriate for us to know how Bynon has
defined caique.
In loan translation or caique (literally "tracing,
"copy"), the form and meaning of a foreign word,
instead of being carried over into the recipient
language as a unit is merely employed as a model for a
native creation. For this to be possible it must be
both morphologically complex and semantically
transparent, and the process consists in substituting
for each of its morphs the semantically closest morph
in the recipient language and combining these according
to its own native rules of word-formation. Thus while
the choice of constituent morphs and the overall
meaning of the new construct will be modelled on the
foreign source, the constituent elements themselves and
the rules governing their combination will be native.
(Bynon, 1983:232)
Plas The word "plas" which means "and" or
"add/addition" has maintained these meanings in GPE and has
acquired the new meaning "with", which is unique to GPE.

87
The following examples from the recordings we made will make
this meaning clear.
plas ("with")
Yu shua sey a de go y=> haws pas yu? Mi, dos hu
de go awt plas mi a no de go dem haws plas dem.
"Are you sure that I am going to your house with you?
For me, those who go out with me, I don't go to their
house with them."
A f^ go slip plas ma b^yfren.
"I should go and sleep with my boyfriend."
A dey de sem h^l plas yu.
"I am/was in the same hall with you."
MALE (SPEAKING STANDARD): How did you pick up pidgin
English?
FEMALE (SPEAKING GPE): Aaa, a no sabi oo. Wey a dey
skuul a rid sayans so de b^ys wey a de stadi
plas dem nu dem oo spik pi jin so a pi k am welwel.
MALE: "How did you pick up pidgin English?"
FEMALE: "Well, I don't know. When I was in school I
read science and all the boys whom I was studying
with spoke pidgin so I picked it up easily."
Yu de W3>ka plas s^mb^di ; a no go fi t sabi sey s^m
k^neshins dey? A go sabi!
"You are walking with somebody; Can't I know that there
are some connections? I will know!"
plas ("and")
Mek yu go Volta Region Students Union plas Western
Region Students Union.
"Go to the Volta Region Students Union and the Western
Region Students Union."
Wey yu get ted yi a a, onli yu de k^nsentreyt fz> yz> lz>n
ese plas yz> k^s.
"If you get to third year, you only concentrate on your
long essay and your course work."

88
We observe from the above examples that GPE, like many
other creoles and pidgins, uses the same word "plas" for
both "with" and "and". Akan uses the word "ne" ([ni]) for
both words in the same way that "olas" is used above in GPE.
Sef The word "sef" ("self") has retained its reflexive
meaning in GPE. It has acquired another meaning which is a
caique from the Ghanaian languages. This meaning is "even"
as an intensive element to emphasize the identity or
character of somebody or something. It follows the
constituent that is being emphasized. The constituent can
be a word, phrase, or sentence. This syntactic structure is
akin to that of Akan in which the words moo or koraa are
used. The following example which shows this meaning of
"sef" at the word level is part of a discourse by a lady who
said she was fed up with Education as a course.
AKAN
Onyame mpo nim se m-a-bre
God even knows that I-PERF-tire
"Even God knows that I am tired."
GPE
God sef sabi sey a taya.
God even knows that I tire
"Even God knows that I am tired."
Legn de. Onli sey a don' layk Cape Vas ageyn. Soso
Education, a taya. God sef sabi sey a taya.
"Legn (University of Ghana) is there (available).
It's only that I don't like Cape Vars (Cape Coast
University). I am tired of all this education. Even
God knows that I am tired."
The following is part of a conversation between the
author and a steward who does not speak Akan. His usage of

89
"sef" here shows that it is not only the Akan speakers of
GPE who use "sef" in this way. I was enquiring about
another steward, and this is his answer. We will compare
his answer to its counterpart in Akan.
GPE
Yestadey se f i kam.
Yesterday even he come
"Even yesteday he came."
AKAN
enora mpo o-ba-e
Yesterday even he-come-PAST
"Even yesteday he came."
JOE (STANDARD ENGLISH): I don't see Akosombo these
days.
ALHASSAN (GPE): I dey. Yestadey sef i kam.
JOE: "I don't see Akosombo these days."
ALHASSAN: "He's around. Even yesterday he came."
The following is an example of the usage of "sef" at the
phrase level. This will also be compared to its Akan
counterpart.
GPE
Leta sn sef dey show am agen.
Later on even they show it again
"Even later on they showed it again."
AKAN
Akyire yi mpo wo-yi-i bio.
Later on even they-show-PAST again
"Even later on they showed it again."
The following example of the use of "sef" at the sentence
level comes from a conversation by two participants who were
expressing their views on how Ghanaian football (soccer)
players are neglected after they have retired from active
playing.

90
GPE
Dey no go mal yu se f.
They NEG will mind you even
"They will not even think about you."
AKAN
W^-m-mua wo moo.
They-NEG-mind you even
"They will not even think about you."
A: Fo di s Ghana hie, layk yu pley yo bo^l wey yu
finish, nobodi de ri gad yu.
B: Dey no go mal yu se f ene mo^.
A: "In Ghana here, if you play football and you
retire, nobody regards you."
B: "They will not even think about you any more."
Sometimes some speakers make the emphasis stronger by
using both "sef" and "koraa" in the same sentence. At times
"self" is replaced with "koraa". In the following example
"Tamale Real United" and "Hearts" ("Hearts of Oak") are
Ghanaian soccer teams.
Tamale sef koraa. Real United koraa, dey de tie
("tear") Hearts oo.
"Even Tamale, even Real United are beating Hearts."
Ch^p In GPE, the word "ch^p" ("chop") does not have the
same meaning it has in standard English. "Cut" or "fell"
will be used in that sense. Instead "chcp" is used with the
meanings it has from the Ghanaian languages which are
"eat/feed", "spend", "sguander", "food", and the derogatory
way of saying that a man makes love to a woman. Some
speakers use fz>k, for the last meaning. Some even use
"m^nch" which sounds milder. Some speakers also use "cho"
which is the clipped form of "ch^p", and some use "chos" for

91
food. In Akan, the word for "chop" is "di". The following
Akan phrases show how "di11 is used.
AKAN
di
aduane
"eat food"
di
sika
"spend/squander money"
di
buronya
"spend Christmas"
di
afoofi
"spend holiday/vacation"
di
asem
"settle a case"
di
obaa
"make love to a woman (derogatory)
The following examples show the way the usage of "chop" in
GPE is akin to that of "di" in Akan.
A: So yu get mom wey yu entetein yuo frens, wey som
dey wey yu go tek chop eks'mas a i min sey yu tif
am?
B: Yu mek studen. Yu mek studen. Haw yu de get
plenti moni? Na so. I bi soso a de tok.
A: Yu shuo?
B: I no bi i n? Enewey dey de treyn yu fo hie haw yu
de stil de mom. I no bi so? De akawnti n pi pul i
no bi soso yu de du?
A: "So if you have money that you entertain your
friends with, and you have some left that you will
spend the Christmas with, does it mean that you
stole it?"
B: "You are a student. You are a student. How do you
get plenty of money like that? That is what I am
talking about."
A: "Are you sure?"
B: "Isn't it? Anyway they are training how to steal
money. Isn't it so? Is it not what you the
accounting people are doing?"
A: Wey yu no lod tuu, yu no get enetin yu go chop.
B: Eeh, yu no get mom yu de chop on.
A: "And if you are not loaded (with money), you don't
have anything you'll eat."
B: "Yes you don't have any money to feed on."
De chos nu, wey kal yu won? Yu won de indijinos wan
mek a mek de oyibo tayp?
Z>

92
"The food, what kind do you want? Do you want the
indigeneous type or I should prepare the whiteman
type?"
Wi go chop naw; bele-ful. God dey.
"We'll eat now; stomach-full (satisfaction). God
exists."
I go sit dawn, chop kenke mek sombodi kam bit am.
"He will sit down, eat kenkey, and let somebody come
and beat him (talking about a boxer)."
Na tru sey dis weld i dey bita tu stey. When yu don
sofa put fud tugeda, bat dey no agiriy mek yu chop am.
Yu si am; Monki de wok, babun de chop.
"It is true that this world is a bitter place to live.
When you have suffered to put food together, but they
don't agree to allow you to eat it. You see! Monkey
works, but baboon eniovs."
A no sabi monch.
"I don't know how to make love."
The above comparisons between the usage of di in Akan
and the usage of chop in GPE are further illustrations of
how a substrate language has influenced a pidgin.
Peyn The usage of "peyn" ("pain") in GPE is not
limited to distress and suffer. It also means disturb and
jealousy.
A: I go sit dawn, chop kenke mek sombodi kam bit am.
B: I bi im de pevn mi.
A: "He will sit down, eat kenkey, and let somebody
come and beat him (talking about a boxer)"
B; "That's what disturbs me."
Swiyt The word "swiyt" ("sweet") has some additional
meanings in GPE. It means "sweet", "pleasant", "nice",
"enjoyable", "good", "swollen headed", etc. This phenomenon

93
is also similar to that of the Ghanaian languages where one
word has all the above meanings. In Akan,"de_" has all the
above meanings. Four of the meanings of "sweet'' from
recorded conversations are shown in the following examples:
A: Onli sey, mi, rna haws no swivt me. I bi soso a dey
hie; layk a go l^n taym.
B: (JOKINGLY) Shuga no dey msayd y=> haws, ^ sey .?
A: (LAUGHING) Shuga no dey m haws.
B: (LAUGHING) A si.
A: Soso ristrishins en e hoo l^t 3f .
B: Demdem.
A: "It's only that my house isn't enjoyable. That's
why I am here. I would have gone long time."
B: (JOKINGLY) "Is there no sugar in your house?"
A: (LAUGHING) "There is no sugar in my house."
B: (LAUGHING) "I see."
A: "Many restrictions and a whole lot of . "
B: "Things."
A: Yu rimimba D.K. Poison?
B: Hmm.
A: Wey i go kam wey dem de sin .
B: Dem de mek am .in hed go swivt am.
A: Yu si oo.
B: in hed go swivt am. I bi huma! bin.
A: "Do you remember D.K. Poison?"
B: "Yes."
A: "When he returned (from winning a boxing
championship) people were singing . "
B: "They made him become swollen headed."
A: "You see!"
B: "Yes he would become swollen headed. He's a human
being."
Lecturer Amoako i no yus; i bi ticha Amoako wey i
swivt.
"Lecturer Amoako isn't good. It's teacher Amoako that
is nice/appropriate."
S=>m polisman tuu i dey de wey i kam; i kam as de mata
wey a t=>k, den i sey oo ma mata i swivt.
"There was a policeman who came and asked me about the
case. When I told him he said my case was good."

94
Kwench The meaning of "kwench" ("quench") is "put out"
or "extinguish", but in GPE this meaning is extended to
include "stop" and "suffer".
A no sabi de tin wey i kwench dis program. A no sabi
de risin way dey kwench am.
"I don't know the thing that stopped this program. I
don't know the reason why they stopped it."
Mek yu no won oo
Wan dey, wan dey wi oo go enjoy,
en de rich pi pul dey go kwench.
"Don't worry
One day, we'll all enjoy,
And the rich people will suffer."
If yu no yus yo hed, yu go kwe nch.
"If you don't use your brains, you'll suffer."
Jelosi go sheym,
Wavo tuu go kwench.
"The jealous one will be ashamed,
The trickster too will suffer."
Kach Other meanings that "kach" ("catch") has in GPE
are "be at", "reach", and "enough".
Tumorow a fo kach Accra.
"Tomorrow I should be in Accra."
A: Tuu kach?
B: Tuu no kach; rimeynin sis minis wey tuu go kach.
A: "Is it two?"
B: "It is not two; it is six minutes more when it'll
be two."
De skolaship seketeriet, dey go pey de balans. De Iowa
pi pul rayt bak sey i no rich. i no kach. bi kos wey a no
rip^t fz> August 1st. nu, den dem go tek dem aw3d.
"The scholarship secretariat went and paid the balance.
The Iowa people wrote back that it is not enough, and

95
if I don't report by August 1st. they will take their
award back."
Grow When a GPE speaker tells you that you are a grown
person he or she means you are an old person.
De wuml i grow? I grow pas Doggie?
"Is the woman old? Is she older than Doggie?"
I grow smo. I mek ova teti .
"He/She is a little old. He/She is over thirty."
Yus Another meaning of "yus" ("use") in GPE apart from
its traditional meanings is "good" or "nice".
Fes taym wey wi de pey nayn fifti-eit nu a, a ti nk sey
i yus; bik^s naw wi de pey omos fayf handred sidis,
wey, dat's f=> lzsjin alown; wey a ti nk sey i no yus.
Dey de chit wi.
"First time when we were paying nine fifty-eight, I
think that it was good, because now we are paying
almost five hundred cedis which is for lodging; lodging
alone, which I think that it is not good. They are
cheating us."
Rap In GPE, "rap" means "to talk to somebody to
convince him or her". A man raps a woman by trying to woo
her; or an offender raps his or her boss to avoid
punishment. In the following example, some students were
late in returning to school, and two other students are
discussing the plight of these latecomers.
A; Mi, a tink sey if yu go kam a, i tuu i bi fada so
de pr3blem wey i mek yu che nu a, yu rap am wey i
mek genun a, a fil sey i go fit k^nsida yu.
B; Haw kam dat .... yu figa sey so dis pi pul go fit go
stan in skin wey dey de go rap am wan wan wan.
A: "For me, I think that if you go and come; he too
he's a father; so the problem that made you late,
if you tell him and it is genuine, I fell he'll be
able to consider you."

96
B: "How do you think all these people will go and
stand by him to talk to him one after the other?"
Words from Other Languages
English supplies the bulk of the vocabulary of GPE. A
few loan words have been borrowed other languages. Among
the European languages, Portuguese is a major contributor to
the loan words in GPE. Some of these Portuguese words are
sab; (know), pikin (a child), dash (gift, give a present),
and palava/palaba (quarrel).
GPE contains words from other West African languages,
especially Hausa and Yoruba. Some of the words from Yoruba
are jga (master, superior), and ovibo (a white man or a
light-skinned person). There are more words from Hausa than
from Yoruba because many Ghanaians speak Hausa, whereas only
a few speak Yoruba. Some of the words borrowed from Hausa
are wayo (tricks, trickster), yanga or nvanga (vanity), jara
(bonus), and wahala (trouble).
Some words in GPE come from Ghanaian native languages;
from Akan are die (as for ...), oaa (very), koraa (even), na
(and, it's), etc; and from Ga is cho (very).
Orthography
We have used phonemic orthography as much as possible
in this work. There are two main reason for this: 1. to
make it easier for those who want to write GPE to have a
writing system, and 2. to make people aware that GPE is a
different language from standard English. This will help
the users know the situational usages of both languages.

97
Summary
We have discussed the linguistics structure of the
Ghanaian Pidgin English in this chapter. Though the
vocabulary of GPE is mostly English, its phonological system
is highly influenced by that of the Ghanaian languages,
especially Akan. The qualities of the consonants and the
vowels are in line with those of the Ghanaian languages
instead of standard English. Phonemic tones which are
characteristics of Kwa languages are found in GPE. Vowel
harmony is also part of the phonological system of GPE.
Morphologically, the general inflection system in GPE is
very limited. The major morphological process in GPE is
reduplication which is used to denote plurality, frequency,
intensity, and functional shift. Compounding of words is
another GPE morphological process. Syntactically, GPE does
not follow Bickerton's classical TMA system, because GPE
does not have TENSE; it is aspect-prominent instead of
tense-prominent. GPE also contains irrealis and conditional
moods. Its syntax is influenced by those of the native
Ghanaian languages. Semantically, some of the English words
in GPE have acquired additional or differnt meanings. There
are caiques that have been made from the Ghanaian languages.
Some GPE words that have been borrowed from Portuguese,
Yoruba, Hausa, and some of the Ghanaian languages have
maintained their oirginal meanings. We have used phonemic
orthography to differentiate GPE from standard English.

98
Notes
1. There is an ongoing controversy on the status of
('for") in English-based pidgins and creoles. It is
clear that fo is behaving as a modal in all cases.
M c

CHAPTER 5
SOCIOLINGUISTICS OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH
Introduction
I discussed the linguistic details of Ghanaian Pidgin
English in the previous chapter. This has helped
substantiate the assertion that pidgin is spoken in Ghana.
This chapter is a further contribution to the demonstration.
I will use the data from the guestionnaire as well as the
answers of informants who were interviewed during the
research to discuss (1) the speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin
English (GPE); (2) the places where the language is spoken;
(3) the spoken and written uses of the language; and (4)
people's attitude toward it. But before we discuss the
above issues, we should familiarize ourselves with the
meaning of the concept "sociolinguistics" since this is the
branch of linguistics that deals with what is to be
discussed.
Sociolinguistics is that part of linguistics which is
concerned with language as a social and cultural phenomenon;
it investigates the field of language and society (Trudgill
1984:32). Fasold has given a more detailed definition of
sociolinguistics:
It is obvious that language is supposed to be used for
transmitting information and thoughts from one person
99

100
to another. At the same time, however, the speaker is
using language to make statements about who she is,
what her group loyalties are, how she perceives her
relationship to her hearer, and what sort of speech
event she considers herself to be engaged in. The two
tasks (communicating information and defining the
social situation) can be carried out simultaneously
precisely because language varies speakers can choose
among alternative linguistic means, any of which would
satisfactorily communicate the propositional
information. It is the selection among these
alternatives that defines the social situation. The
study of the interplay between these two facts about
language is exactly sociolinguistics. (Fasold 1984:3)
Fishman defines sociolinguistics as "the study of the
characteristics of language varieties, the characteristics
of their functions, and the characteristics of their
speakers as these three constantly interact, change, and
change one another within a speech community" (Fishman
1970:4).
Speakers and Places of Ghanaian Pidgin English
In this section I will discuss the current speakers of
Ghanaian Pidgin English and places where it is spoken.
Table 5.1 illustrates the number of respondents who have or
have not spoken the language. It shows the answers given by
our respondents to the question "Have you spoken pidgin
English before?". The total number of respondents to the
survey was 304. All of them answered this question. Figure
5.1 is a further illustration of the answers to the same
question. Most of them (81.6%) said that they had spoken
GPE before. Only 18.4% said they had not spken GPE before.

101
Table 5.1
Have You Spoken Ghanaian Pidgin English?
Yes No No Response Total
248 56 0 304
(81.6%) (18.4%) (0%) (100%)
The high percentage of respondents saying they have
spoken Ghanaian Pidgin English might be due to our selection
procedure. To compensate for any possible skewing, the
informants were asked if they had heard other Ghanaians
speaking Pidgin English. Of the 304 respondents, 301
answered ''Yes" to that question. Table 5.2 and figure 5.2
illustrate this.
Table 5.2
Have Heard Ghanaians Speak Pidgin English
Yes
301
(99.0%)
No
0
(0%)
No Response
3
(1.0%)
Total
304
(100%)

102
The next issue to be considered is the type of people
who speak Ghanaian Pidgin English. In the survey,
informants were requested to mark who they think speak
Pidgin English in Ghana, and where. Names of the people and
places were provided, and informants were requested to add
their own observations. Table 5.3 shows the types of
people, and table 5.4 shows the places where it is spoken.
The numbers on these tables represesnt the number of times a
particular category was selected by the informants. The
percentages have been calculated by comparing the numbers
with the total of respondents which is 304. Figures 5.3 and
5.4 are further illustrations of these facts.

103
Table 5.3
"Who Speaks Pidgin English?" Affirmative Responses
Males
Females
Policemen
Policewomen
232
140
254
132
(76.3%)
(46.0%)
(83.6%)
(43.1%)
Family
Friends
Elders
Youngsters
69
213
39
207
(22.6%)
(70.0%)
(12.8%)
(68.1%)
Lecturers
Masters
Tutors
Teachers
16
43
36
75
(5.3%)
(14.1%)
(11.8%)
(24.7%)
Students
Age-mates
Priests
Drivers
257
198
3
220
(84.5%)
(65.1%)
(1.0%)
(72.4%)
Co-Worker:.
Gov't. Officials Traders
Farmers
234
20
173
74
(77.0%)
(6.6%)
(56.9%)
(24.3%)
Male Soldiers
Female Soldiers Border
Guards Navy Men
247
93
211
108
(81.3%)
(30.6%)
(69.4%)
(35.5%)
* Others
73
(24.0%)
* Others include watchmen, laborers, prostitutes, seaport
workers, ship's crew, stewards, bookmen or vehicle loaders,
bandsmen and comedians, prisoners and prison officials, fire
service workers, currency traffickers, and miners.

104
Speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English
300i
250
>-
200
H
H
H
150
Z
<
100
E>
a
50
tM1
§2-
I
s
a
ss
1M1
8£
0
-7-
FIO. 53
ABCDEFGH I JK LMNOPQRSTUVWXY
SPEAKERS
Figure 5.3. Speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Note; A=Students, B=Policemen, C=Male Soldiers, D=Co-
Workers, E=Males, F=Drivers, G=Friends, H=Border Guards,
I=Youngsters, J=Age Mates, K=Traders, L=Females,
M=Policewomen, N=Navy Men, 0=Female Soldiers, P=Teachers
Q=Farmers, R=0thers, S=Family, T=Masters, U=Elders,
V=Tutors, W=Government Officials, X=Lecturers, Y=Priests

105
Table 5.4
"Where Is Pidgin English Spoken?" Affirmative Responses
Schools
Universities
Homes
Streets
224
199
109
230
(73.7%)
(65.5%)
(35.9%)
(75.7%)
Churches
Mosques
Dances
Parties
6
8
188
147
(2.0%)
(2.6%)
(61.8%)
(48.4%)
Villages
Big Towns
Rural Areas
Urban
Centers
83
192
83
156
(27.3%)
(63.2%)
(27.3%)
(51.3%)
Airports
Lorry Stations
Harbors
Borders
91
233
155
175
(29.9%)
(76.6%)
(51.0%)
(57.6%)
Work-
Entertainment
Drinking
Cinema
Places
Places
Bars
Houses
198
184
226
210
(65.1%)
(60.5%)
(74.3%)
(69.1)
Play-
Military/Police
Army/Police
Radio
Grounds
Depot
Barracks
Ghana
157
181
190
46
(51.6%)
(59.5%)
(62.5%)
(15.1%)
* Others
34
(11.2%)
* Others include markets, railway stations, hotels, shops,
beaches, and prisons.

106
Ghanaian Pidgin English Speaking Places
Figure 5.4. Ghanaian Pidgin English Speaking Places
Note: A=Lorry Stations, B=Streets, C=Drinking Bars,
D=Schools, E=Cinema Houses, F=Universities, G=Work Places,
H=Big Towns, I=Army/Police Barracks, J=Dances,
K=Entertainment Places, L=Military/Police depot, M=Borders,
N=Playgrounds, 0=Urban Centers, P=Harbors, Q=Parties,
R=Homes, S=Airports, T=Villages, U=Rural Areas, V=Radio
Ghana, W=Others, X=Mosques, Y=Churches.
Age Groups
Ghanaian Pidgin English is currently the language of
the youth; for whereas younger people scored 68.1% (Table
5.4) their elders had only 12.8%. The few older people who
use pidgin English say they use it mostly for essential
communication purposes. It is just a few of them who use it
for fun. The younger generation have many reasons why they
use it. This will be discussed later on in this chapter.
Male and Female Speakers
Respondents to the questionnaire claim that both males
and females speak Ghanaian Pidgin English, but there are

107
more male (76.3%) speakers than female speakers(46.0%).
Based on the questionnaire, this ratio is also seen in the
police and the armed forces, where Pidgin English is used on
a large scale. Whereas 83.6% of the respondents marked that
they have heard policemen speak pidgin English, 43.1% marked
that they have heard policewomen speak it; and whereas male
soldiers obtained 81.3%, the female soldiers received only
30.6%.
Based on the responses from our questionnaire, it can
be seen from Tables 5.3 and 5.4 that police speak pidgin
more than soldiers, border guards, and navy people. This is
so because the respondents have closer contacts with the
police than with the others.
Table 5.5 represents further data suggesting that there
are more male speakers of the language than female. The
informants were requested to mark the sex group that speaks
pidgin the more. This is further illustrated by Figure 5.5.
Table 5.5
Sex Group That Speaks Pidgin English The More
Male Female No Response Indifferent
281 3 17 3
(92.4%) (1.0%) (5.6%) (1.0%)
The reason for fewer female speakers of the language
stems from the attitude Ghanaian women have toward the
language. The Ghanaian females tend to prefer the more
elegant form of a language. More reasons will be given when
we discuss people's attitude towards the language.

108
Teachers
In general, teachers do not like to speak or hear
others speak pidgin English because they see themselves as
the custodians of standard English. But for some other
reasons which will be seen later, some teachers speak this
language. 'Teachers' in this sense include university
lecturers, technical college tutors, and elementary school
teachers. As one moves up from elementary school teachers
through university lecturers, the percentage of pidgin
English users falls. This means the level of education of
the teachers is also a factor in the spread of pidgin
English. Normally, university graduates do not teach in the
elementary schools of Ghana. They teach in the second cycle
institutions.

109
Family Members and Friends
Ghanaian Pidgin English is not a language spoken among
members of a family. Parents do not want to hear their
children speak it for the fear that it will affect their use
of the standard English. This might be the reason why
family scored only 22.6% (Table 5.4). Instead, the language
is spoken among friends of the same age group. They say
this is so because they use it mainly for fun and
solidarity. Friends use it among themselves, and if a
member of a peer group that uses GPE is not able to
communicate in that language, he is not considered as a
member. This person will learn how to use GPE if he wants
to be a member of the peer group. Some groups develop their
own slang which helps to bring solidarity to the group and
exclude other people who do not belong to it.
Traders and Farmers
One might expect a higher percentage than 56.9% for
traders as speakers of GPE, because trade brings together
people who speak different languages and pidgin might be
expected to emerge. Trade in Ghana is more localized hence
the traders tend to use one of the Ghanaian native languages
instead of pidgin. It is mostly in the urban areas that
pidgin English is used at times.
Most Ghanaian farmers are illiterates, and they are
among people who speak their own language. Hence, it is on
rare occasions that one hears them speaking English. The

110
24.3% who are reported to use GPE represents a few semi
literate farmers or school-dropouts who have taken to
farming. Included in this group are literate absentee farm
owners who communicate with farm workers with a different
native language.
Ordinary Workers
Co-workers on table 5.4 was chosen by 77.0% of our
respondents as a group that uses GPE. The percentage is high
because these include mainly lower and a few middle class
workers in the factories, governmental ministries and
departments. It is here that we find the bulk of the
unskilled and semi-skilled labor force. As most of them
have low educational background, pidgin English is the
language they use mostly if they are not using a Ghanaian
native language. Some of these workers use pidgin English
to show that they can also speak English. It does not
matter to them whether it is standard or not.
Government Officials
Government officials are, as a general rule, highly
educated. They usually deal with people who can speak
standard English and hence are not compelled to use pidgin.
They also have interpreters to translate standard English
into the native languages if the need arises. This is why
only 6.6% of the respondents claimed that government
officials are speakers of pidgin.

Ill
Drivers
"Driver" in this survey means a chauffeur. Ghana has
more drivers who transport people and goods for hire than
people who operate their own vehicles for personal use.
Most drivers have low educational background and come in
contact with many people who speak different languages.
Hence, to communicate with their passengers, they tend to
speak pidgin. That is why "drivers" was chosen by such a
high percentage (72.4%) of our respondents as being a group
that uses GPE (Table 5.3). This is also the reason why
lorry stations (Table 5.4) is slightly higher than that of
the drivers because other people, apart from drivers, are
heard speaking pidgin at the lorry stations. The lorry
stations are also used as markets where different things are
sold to the passengers. Sometimes a person may not be
travelling but will go to the lorry station to look for
something to buy or eat. An informant had this to say:
The lorry stations are the producers of this pidgin
English because there are so many people there; and you
don't know the people, and you don't know what language
to speak to them.
Priests
Priests or religious ministers of the religious groups
in Ghana do not speak pidgin. They normally use the local
Ghanaian languages. Standard English is used only if the
priest, pastor, or preacher does not speak the local
language of the congregation, and an interpreter translates
it. This is why only 1% of our respondents claimed that

112
priests use GPE and only 2% said that churches are places
where GPE is spoken (Tables 5.3 and 5.4). Churches scored
slightly higher than priests because some interviewees said
that while they do not speak pidgin in the chapel, they do
so on the church premises with their friends rather than
with priests or pastors.
Students
From Table 5.3 it can be seen that students are claimed
to be the largest group (84.5%) of Ghanaian Pidgin English
speakers. Schools also received 73.7% on Table 5.4. The
main reason is the fashion in Ghana that if one is a student
then one should know how to speak pidgin in order to be
accepted as a member of the student community. For example,
I made an effort to learn pidgin English when I entered the
university. My roommate used to tease me that my spoken
pidgin English was not perfect at that time. This is also
illustrated in a short story about students' behavior in
Ghanaian secondary schools that appeared in one of the
Ghanaian weekly newspapers. The title of the story was
'THE SLEDGE BROTHERS: Pidgin was their language, bullying
their habit; and they had no time for their books.' The
beginning of the story shows that Pidgin is the language of
the students.
It was the day for the re-opening for the second
term of the academic year, and at Astor Secondary
School, in Accra, a group of students known as the
Sledge Brothers couldn't help hailing their friend,

113
Akpatse Sledge whom they had been waiting for since
arrival.
"Akpatse; Sledge Akpatse; Jah Jah Akpatse!" they
shouted as they rushed out to meet him. Eight form one
boys were called to carry his trunk whilst another
eight carried his mattress to the dormitory.
"But Charley why you keep long for house so?"
Lugu asked in the dormitory.
"Ho, but I no be kid wey I for come school six
a.m. on re-opening day.
"Weytin you want talk?" Toyas questioned. "You
want mean say we wey we come quick be kids?"
(The Mirror, 1984:6)
Others
'Others' on Table 5.3, which was chosen as a category
of GPE users by 24.0% of our respondents, includes those
groups of people which the informants added to the list
provided on the questionnaires. These include watchmen,
laborers, prostitutes, seaport workers, ships' crew,
stewards, vehicle loaders (also known as bookmen), bandsmen
and comedians, currency dealers, and miners. All the
respondents who mentioned prisoners and prison officers were
prison officers themselves and thus were in a position to
know what goes on within the prison yard.
Most of the informants mentioned watchmen or security
guards. Watchmen are mostly former service personnel who
have left the armed forces. Some are also lower working
class people with little or no formal education who are
part-time watchmen. Their work usually brings them in
contact with speakers of standard English, and the only
English they know is pidgin. This is illustrated in a novel
by Ayi Kwei Armah, where he quotes a watchman who had

114
recognized one of the ministers of the Nkrumah regime trying
to escape when the regime was toppled by a military coup.
You tink say ah no sabe. Ah sabe sey you be
Nkrumah party man. You no fit pass (Armah
1969:173) .
"You think that I don't know. I know that you are
a member of Nkrumah's party. You cannot pass by."
We should note that there is statistically significant
correlation coefficient between the speakers and places of
GPE. When we used the Spearman rank order correlation to
test the null hypothesis of no significant relationship, the
results were significant at pc.Ol.1 The observed statistic
value was .80. This shows that there is 99 percent
probability that the observed relationship between the two
variables, speakers and places, did not occur by chance or
accident. We chose the Spearman rank order correlation test
because it is this test that allows us to use ranks instead
of the actual scores, the actual scores of our data do not
have interval scales which other tests like the Pearson rho
and t-test demand.
Uses of Ghanaian Pidgin English
This section deals with the different usages of the
Ghanaian Pidgin English. A major concern is the mode of
usage, that is, whether spoken or written.
Written Usage
Table 5.6 shows the number of respondents who indicated
that they have written Pidgin English before.

115
Table 5.6
Writers of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Yes o No Response
46 256 2
(15.1%) (84.2%) (0.7%)
Table 5.6 suggests that Ghanaian Pidgin English is not
used in a written mode: 84.2% of the respondents indicated
that they have never written the language before, and only
15.1% said that they have done so. Figure 5.6 is a further
illustration of the use of GPE in the written mode.
Have You Written Pidgin English?
300-,
RESPONSES
no. s.
Figure 5.6. Have You Written Pidgin English?
Literature. There is not much written literature in
Ghanaian Pidgin English. No book has been written in only
Ghanaian Pidgin English. Ghanaian writers write in either
one of the native languages or standard English. Generally,
writers who use the Ghanaian native languages do not write
Pidgin English in their books.

116
Writers who write in standard English sometimes include
passages to represent the speech of a character. For
example, Kofi Anyidoho (1985a:88) quoted in one of his poems
an illiterate moslem from the Northern Region of Ghana who
used pidgin English in a treason trial in the 1960s. The
moslem had attempted to assassinate the first president of
Ghana by throwing a bomb at him. When the president died in
exile, there was a debate on whether Ghanaians should go for
his remains or not. In a poetic way the writer has the
character speak pidgin English when the latter was invited
as a witness:
Salaam aleikum
Me I be Malam
And Malam no fit tell lie
Some bigi bigi men You sabe dem name -
Dey dey for back
Dey put Malam for flont
Dey put hot bomb for Malam pocket
So dey push Malam
and push Malam
and push Malam
Now see which side Malam dey!
Our Bigi Man the Masita imsef
The one who now idie
Me I say e be stron man proper
Dat bomb we trow ino fit kill am
Some bugabuga mans come take Malam for contaback
De bigi bigi afraidmens dem all run away
But the Bigi masita imsef icatchi dem sharp sharp
he put dem all for detention
So today me I stand I say
Lak somebody tell you say
our masita imhead strong too mush
iputu plenty peoplo for detention for notin
Me I tell you say dat man imhead ino collect
All dem be lie lie tief men
Ibi so so chop chop dem wan chop
And derefore lak you ass me jus now
Wetin we go do Bigi Masita and imdead body?
I go say make you bringam home one tarn
Me alone I fit digi bigi hole and buryiam proper

117
Palaver finis
Ibe mea. Malam Mama Tulale.
(Anyidoho, 1985:88)
"Peace be with you
I am a moslem
And a moslem cannot tell a lie
Some big men you know their names -
They were behind
They sent Malam in front
They put a deadly bomb in Malam's back pocket
So they pushed Malam
and pushed Malam
and pushed Malam
Now see where Malam is: (prison)
Our Big Man, the Master himself
The one who is now dead
I say he was a very strong man
That bomb we threw couldn't kill him
Some police escorts came for Malam
placed him at counterback (jail)
The coward big men, they all ran away
But the Big Master himself, he caught them at once
He put all of them in detention
So standing here today, I say
if somebody tells you that
Our Master's head was too much strong (he was cruel)
he put a lot of prominent people in detention
for nothing
I tell you that man's head isn't correct (he's crazy)
They are all liars and thieves
It is only sguandering that they want to do
And so, if you ask me just now
What thing we will do to the Big Master's dead body?
I will say bring it home one time (at once)
I alone can dig a big hole and bury him well
The trouble is finished (There is no problem)
It is me, Malam Tulale"
Anyidoho (1985b) has written another poem in GPE in
another book, A Harvest of our Dreams. This time it was a
personal letter he wrote to a long time friend. When we
interviewed Anyidoho, who is an English professor at the
University of Ghana, why he had written these GPE poems, he
said, in the case of the illiterate moslem, that is the only
type of English that the character can speak. He said he

118
wrote the GPE poetic letter to his friend to show the
intimacy between them. They have been friends for a long
time, and even though they speak the same language, Ewe,
they use GPE when, in his own words, "it comes to matters of
intimacy."
The use of such written Ghanaian Pidgin English in
books is rare. We find Anyidoho's first GPE poem as one out
of sixty-two poems in that book and on one page out of 122.
His poetic letter to his friend is also one out of sixty-six
poems in that book. Another instance occurs in Ayi Kwei
Armah's (1968) novel The Beautvful Ones Are Not Yet Born,
with Pidgin English found on eight pages out of 180.
When a former Ghana secretary for culture and tourism,
who is also a writer and a university professor, was asked
why he would write GPE in his works, this is how he
answered:
Incidentally, I happen to be a writer; and every writer
is looking for new avenues of expression. So, to me,
the pidgin language is one of the most expressive; it's
much closer to our way of life and our expressions, our
sensibilities, and our feelings, than the standard
English, (I personally interviewed Mr. Asiedu-Yirenkyi
with a tape recorder).
Entertainment. The written usage normally found in
magazines appears in cartoons. In recent years these GPE
cartoons are gaining popularity among the reading public
because of the current popularity of pidgin.
The cartoonist of the three most popular pidgin English
cartoons in Ghana, "Mugu Yaro", "Gyato", and "Baba Dogo",

119
said that he at first used standard English. He then
realized that not all the readers who were interested in
cartoons could read standard English. He, therefore,
changed to pidgin. People began to buy the magazines more
than they used to when the language was standard English.
Mugu Yaro, the major character of one of the cartoons, is
now a household name in Ghana, especially in the big towns.
Mugu Yaro was guoted on the research guestionnaire (Appendix
A) to indicate to the informants what is meant by Ghanaian
Pidgin English.
I no be kid wey dey go fit catch me;
who go fit catch Yaro?
Walahi! dey no go fit da.
"I am not a child that they can catch me;
who can catch Yaro?
I swear! they can never.
Walahi is a Hausa word for "I swear and da is an Akan word
for "never. Extracts from Mugu Yaro, Gyato, and Baba Dogo
can be found in Appendix E.
Newspapers. Once a while, GPE appears in the
newspapers. A journalist and reporter of a Ghanaian
newspaper said if one is quoting a watchman who speaks
pidgin English, one has to quote him in that language. The
professional ethics and techniques of journalism allow this.
It makes a better impact and gives the readers what the man
actually said. It also serves to break out what journalists
call the "stiff language approach to journalism. I came
across the journalist's observation when I graded an English

120
paper by an examinee of the West African Examinations
Council. In the following quotation from the candidate's
paper, pira. boa. kwa, and hunahuna. are Akan words which
mean "hurt", "help", "just", and "threaten" respectively.
Unfortunately we heard a sudden noise. It was the
school watchman, "hei! if you move, I go pira you". I
was shaken so I shouted, "Watchman, I no dey among oo.
I came to boa them kwa. Ah! it was Jakadu, Nana Oku
and Siboree who hunahuna me oo, watch-tch-tch-m-ma-ma-
man!!"
"Unfortunately we heard a sudden noise. It was the
school watchman, "hei! if you move, I will hurt you".
I was shaken so I shouted, "Watchman, I am not among
them. I just came to help them. Ah! it was Jakadu,
Nana Oku and Siboree who threatened me, watchman!!"
Writings on vehicles. Some Ghanaians express
themselves in GPE by writing GPE on their vehicles,
especially lorries and buses which are used to convey
passengers. Some of such expressions are: "One Man No
Chop", "God Dey", "Sea Never Dry", "Do Me I Do You", and
"Jealousy Go Shame". "One Man No Chop" literally means "A
person does not eat alone". Its actual meaning is that we
should all work together and enjoy the fruit of our labor
together. "God Dey" literally means "God is always
available". Its actual meaning is that once God exists his
providence is always available and that he will help both
the poor and the rich to survive. "Sea Never Dry" is used
to show how strong someone is. It is a simile denoting a
person's power and immortality like the sea. "Do Me I Do
You" means "If you hurt me I will retaliate". "Jealousy Go

121
Shame" means "Any person who is jealous of another person
will be disgraced or put to shame.
Spoken Usage
Ghanaian Pidgin English is far more a spoken mode than
a written one. As we saw from Table 5.1, 81.6% of the
respondents to the survey said they have spoken the language
before, whereas only 15.1% said they have written it.
Figure 5.7 and Table 5.7 illustrate the difference.
Comparing Spoken and Written Modes
WRITTEN SPOKEN
MODES
Figure 5.7. Comparing Spoken and Written Modes
Table 5.7. Comparing the Spoken and Written Modes of G.P.E.
Spoken GPE Written GPE
Yes 248 81.6% 46 15.1%
No 56 18.4% 256 84.2%
No Response 0 0.0% 2 0.7%
Out of 304 respondents, 276 (90.8%) responded to the
question "Why do you think people speak Pidgin English in
Ghana?". Their answers have been grouped into three main

122
categories: (Table 5.8) a. because it helps communication;
b. because pidgin English is simpler than standard English;
c. because pidgin English has become fashionable in Ghana
and speakers use it as a means of socialization and
solidarity.
Table 5.8
Reasons for Speaking Ghanaian Pidgin English
Communication
147
(53.3%)
Simplicity of
Pidgin English
122
(44.2%)
Socialization
and Fun
110
(39.9%)
Reasons for Speaking G.P.E.
200-i
<
H
M
H
K
<
P
O'
150
100
COMMUNICATION
SIMPLICITY OF G.P.E
SOCIALIZATION & FUN
HO.
5.8
Figure 5.8. Reasons for Speaking G.P.E.
Communication
It can be seen from Table 5.8 and Figure 5.8 that, as
for any other language, communication is the major purpose
for the use of pidgin English in Ghana. When people from
different language groups meet and do not have a common
language, they must use pidgin English if some of them have

123
low educational background. This usage will depend upon the
type of people in the conversation. For example, a social
worker who comes from the Volta Region of Ghana and speaks
Ewe said he speaks GPE with the people he works with because
they do not understand his language and he does not
understand Dagbani or Hausa, the languages spoken in the
Northern Region of Ghana where he works. Two workers of the
Institute of Adult Education, a university bursar, a
president of a Student Representative Council and other
interviewees agreed that whenever they are dealing with
lower class labor force they use GPE to facilitate
communication.
As another example, a speaker used GPE at a New Year
School (explained in chapter 3) during his speech. When he
was asked why he had used pidgin English, he had this to
say:
Yes I have to speak pidgin English because not all
participants have formal education. Others have
informal education. Others haven't been to school at
all but they just pick this English as what we call
pidgin English. So to make everybody feel at home, at
times I must jokingly speak the pidgin English and then
to crack some jokes just to make the thing lively (Mr.
Hunnour T. K. Bobobee, a fisherman, and native of Bator
in the Volta Region of Ghana)
Simplicity of GPE
Many speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English say that they
speak it because it has a very simple grammar. Out of the
304 questionnaires, 44.2% respondents said that they
communicate in GPE because of its simplicity. They often

124
say that the speaker does not need to follow the rigid rules
of phonology and syntax of any particular language, for
instance, standard English. They say the speaker's aim is
to make the message communicative. We do not agree with
this idea because GPE has its syntactic as well as
phonological rules. What has made the respondents think
that GPE does not require any strict syntactic or
phonological rules is that these rules are similar to those
of the Ghanaian languages which the speakers are familiar
with.
Socialization and Fun
About forty percent (39.9%) of the speakers surveyed
say they speak GPE to be accepted into a group that speaks
the language. This usage of Ghanaian Pidgin English is for
socialization, and fun. GPE is spoken as a solidarity
language. This is so because the speakers have one or two
of the Ghanaian languages in common that they can use but
they choose to use GPE as one of their registers to show the
solidarity among them. This usage will depend upon the
speakers, the topic and the situation. The solidarity usage
of GPE is prominent among the youth especially the male
students.
When a female teacher in one of the high schools in
Ghana was asked whether there are any rules in her school
prohibiting the students from speaking GPE, and whether the

125
students were punished if they spoke GPE, this is how she
replied:
Well there are no rules as such. We just try to
convince them not to, because we find that whether
there are rules or not, whether they are punished or
not, they still continue speaking it. They look upon
it as a form of fashionable way of speaking, (Miss
Mable Komasi, a secondary school teacher)
Politics
It is not only in discourse that Ghanaian Pidgin
English is used as an important means of communication.
Apart from using it on political platforms once in a while,
Ghanaian politicians use the language in sending radio
messages to the people. The tactic became very prominent in
the revolutionary era of the nation, which began in June
1979, when many of the youths became involved in politics.
The following is a typical example, which was aired on Radio
Ghana as a signature tune to one of the revolutionary
programs.
People!
Revolution!
People!
Revolution!
Ghana people make we wake up,
Make we fight for our right.
Response:
We no go sit down
Make dem cheat we everyday
Ghana workers make we wake up
Make we fight for our right
Response
Ghana fishermen make we wake up,
Make we fight for our right

126
Response
No
Response
Dabida
Response
Walahi
Response
People!
Once again time with the PDCs and you're welcomed.
Stay tuned in for the next twenty-five minutes for your
program "The People's Revolutionary Program''.
The above can be paraphrased as: "Ghanaian people, let
us wake up and fight for our rights. We will not sit down
and let them cheat us everyday." (Daabida is an Akan word
for "no" or "never", and walahi is a Hausa word for "I
swear".)
Entertainment
Telling jokes. Ghanaian Pidgin English is used for
entertainment in the spoken mode in the areas of music and
telling jokes. People tell jokes in GPE because they say
that makes it funnier than telling it in standard English.
But one thing about these comedians is that most of them
have low educational backgrounds so it is easier for them to
tell their jokes in GPE instead of telling them in standard
English. Members of a comedian group called Osofo Dadzie
use Akan language but once a while they will use GPE.
Music. All the Ghanaian musicians who have been
interviewed say that they sing in pidgin English in order to

127
send their message not only to Ghanaians but also to people
in other English speaking countries. They also say that
they want their messages to be understood by both listeners
who can and those who cannot understand standard English.
One of them said:
wan tin abawt Pidgin English in Ghana hie, in Afrika;
sey, Ghanaian myuzishiens lak dis, most de rek^ds
wey dey do, wi no go bi lak dem, so wi tuu fo fal awa
own wey. Awa own wey tuu bi, sey, Twi o brokin so dat
pi pul, most of de Afrikan pi pul, Afrikan English
kontri wey dey spik brokin, dey tuu dey go andastan;
bikos as yu no, sey plenti pi pul no go skuul bat
brokin die dey fit andastan. (Source: personal
interview of Mr. Ernest Sarfo-Baidoo, alias Afro Moses,
of the "Third Eye" Band)
"One thing about Pidgin English in Ghana or in Africa,
say, Ghanaian musicians like this, most of the European
records which they do, we will not be like them; so we
must find our own way. Our own way is Twi or broken
(Pidgin English) so that most of the African people,
English speaking African countries where they speak
broken, they too, they will understand; because as
you know many people haven't gone to (attended) school,
but they can understand broken (Pidgin English) (Die.
is Akan word for "as for").
Another musician who shares the same idea of communicating
to more people by using GPE in his songs further said that
this is his aim that is why in one song, "Yellow Tsitsi", he
sang the same message in Akan, Ewe, Yoruba, Hausa, standard
English, and GPE. There are other Ghanaian musicians who
deliver the same message in different languages including
GPE in one song.
It is not only the musicians who express the idea of
communicating to wider audience as their main reason of
using GPE in their songs. When an elderly headteacher of an

128
elementary school who vehemently opposes the use of GPE was
asked why he thinks old musicians of his age would sing in
GPE, he expressed the same reason of communicating to a
wider audience. Since the interview with this headteacher
summarizes what many people would say about why the Ghanaian
musicians sing in GPE, we think it will be appropriate to
quote part of the interview here:
INTERVIEWER (INT): E. T. Mensah, this Ghanaian singer
who is now fairly old, I think he may be 50, do
you not hear him singing in pidgin English?
HEADTEACHER (HDT): You see, that is his profession.
You know he wants to put across the language of
his music; and by that if he is able to speak
pidgin English in the music it will be easily
adopted by everybody, whether you speak good
English or pidgin English; so he likes using
pidgin English to embrace all those who either
speak good English or pidgin English.
INT: Apart from him, in modern times, do you hear some
Ghanaian singers also singing in pidgin English?
HDT: Oh yes; in fact, what you are saying is true.
Most of them don't actually compose their music
with very good English. They contain a lot of
pidgin English.
INT: Why do you think they compose in pidgin English
instead of composing in standard English?
HDT: One thing is: it may be the composers, their
educational background may not be so good enough
for them to produce some good English in their
compositions. Then, secondly, as I've already
indicated, they wanted their language in the music
to be embraced and understood by those who speak
good English and those who speak pidgin English.
(Source: Personal interview of Mr. Enning;
headteacher of Atomic Energy Commission
Experimental Primary School, Kwabenya, Ghana.)
We may wonder the type of music in which we can hear
GPE being used. GPE is used in Ghanaian Hi-Life songs. Hi-
Life songs are not traditional or folk songs like Adowa,
Kete, Nnwonkoro, Fontonfrom, Boboobo, Agbaja, Adenkum,

129
Kpanlogo, and others, which are associated with particular
ethnic groups in Ghana. Hi-Life is nonethnic. It was
unique to Ghana, but these days it is found in some West
African countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon,
Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Togo, and Benin.
There are two types of Hi-Life: slow Hi-Life and fast
Hi-Life. The slow one has low-tempo beat whereas the fast
one has up-tempo beat. It is in the fast type that GPE
lyrics can be heard. Hi-Life songs are enjoyed by all
Ghanaians and many people around the world, young and old,
educated and uneducated, rural and urban, and those who like
or dislike the use of GPE. There is no wonder why the
musicians choose to convey their messages through Hi-Life
and GPE lyrics. This indeed enables them to reach a wider
audience.
People's Attitude Toward Ghanaian Pidgin English
We requested respondents in our survey to indicate
whether or not they like to speak pidgin English. Out of
the 304 respondents, 96 indicated "yes". This is 36% of our
survey. A larger number of 208, which is 68% of our survey,
indicated "no". This shows that many Ghanaians do not want
to speak GPE. Table 5.9 and Figure 5.9 further explain this
statistics.
Table 5.9
Responses to "Do You Like to Speak Pidgin English?"
Yes
96
%
36%
NO
208
%
68%

130
Do You Like to Speak Pidgin English?
300 -i
Figure 5.9. Do You Like to Speak Pidgin English?
We reguested our informants to give reasons for
indicating "yes" or "no" to our guestion "Do you like to
speak pidgin English?" We summarized the reasons given by
those who indicated "yes" into four categories:
communication, simplicity and ease, solidarity and fun, and
interesting. Of the 96 informants who said "yes", 38
mentioned communication? 27 used simplicity and ease of
pidgin English as their reason to like to speak GPE; 36 gave
solidarity and fun among peer groups as their reason; and 18
said the language sounds interesting to them. Table 5.10
and Figure 5.10 indicate the statistics of the reasons why
the respondents like to speak GPE.

131
Table 5.10
Reasons for Liking to Speak Ghanaian Pidgin English
Simplicity Solidarity
Communication and Ease and Fun Interesting
38 40% 27 28% 36 38% 18 19%
><
H
X
<
D
O'
Reasons for Liking to Speak G.P.E.
Ti
COMMUNICATION
SOLIDARITY A FUN
SIMPLICITY k EASE
INTERESTING
REASONS
PIQ.
5.10
Figure 5.10. Reasons for Liking to Speak G.P.E.
When we look at Table 5.10, we see that there is not
much difference between the percentages for "communication"
and "solidarity and fun". As it has already been indicated,
solidarity is one of the major reasons for the wide spread
of GPE in Ghana. The following are some unedited quotations
from our questionnaire indicating respondents' reasons for
their likeness for speaking GPE.
It affords easy expression as well as promoting
cordiality amongst friends who are not of the same
educational levels. Socially, one is welcomed into any
peer group that has amusement as their goal.

132
For convenience sake to be able to communicate with
people who do not speak polished English and do not
speak the same Ghanaian language as me. This
especially refers to people down the social ladder.
I speak it because it is entertaining and the common
language spoken among comrades. Moreover it is a
convenient way of speaking to people who do not
understand English very well.
Facilitates easy communication speaker does not think
of the grammatical aspect of the English language.
Majority of the people whom we surveyed, 68%, indicated
that they do not like to speak pidgin English, Table 5.9
above. We grouped their reasons for not being enthusiastic
in speaking GPE into three categories; namely, adverse
effect on standard English, lack of ability to speak GPE,
and inappropriate language. Table 5.11 and Figure 5.11
indicate the statistics for the respondents' reasons for
their not wanting to speak GPE.
Table 5.11
Reasons for Not Wanting to Speak Ghanaian Pidgin English
Adverse Effect Lack of Ability to Inappropriate
on Standard Eng. Speak GPE Language
161 77% 17 8% 47 23%
Out of the 208 respondents who said they do not like to
speak pidgin English, 77% indicated that speaking GPE has or
will have an adverse effect on their usage of standard
English. This is actually the major reason why Ghanaians
oppose the usage of GPE. The following are some of the ways
the respondents expressed themselves on this reason;

133
Reasons for Not Wanting to Speak G.P.E.
200
1S0
100
so
^ADVERSE EFFECTS
HI INAPPROPRIATE LANS.
f~j LACK OF ABIUTY
SEASONS
me. j.i t
Figure 5.11. Reasons for Not Wanting to Speak G.P.E.
It will spoil my good English and also affect my
writing of English.
It can weaken the courage or confidence you've acquired
in speaking the English language. The regular use of
the pidgin can result in one losing the eloquence he
has gained in the standardized English. You may lose
the trend.
One is usually prompted to include such language when
writing, e.g. essays or when giving a speech.
Because I am a student and if one day I am asked to
write an essay I can easily write pidgin English
without knowing.
One will unknowingly write pidgin English in an
examination or write it in an application and it would
not be accepted.
It is true that some examination candidates write GPE
in examinations when they are writing essays or short
compositions. As an examiner of the General Certificate of
Education (GCE), I came across the blend of standard English

134
and pidgin English in some of the Ordinary Level ("O" Level)
English essays I graded. The following are some few
examples of such standard/pidgin English from the papers I
graded.
I am in great pleasure and giving to you this account
of standing trial on charges of gross indiscipline to
you. Uncle how be at Mama and the children at home?
I heard this junior saying it pains her a lot that I
obtained majority seats of votes.
One of our tutor come to assemble said something about
our extra feed cost and some of our classmates sav "we
no ao pay".
It is only 17, that is 8%, of the respondents who
indicated that they do not like to speak GPE because they
lack the ability to speak it. They just said they do not
know how to speak it and they are not prepared to learn
another language. Two of them wrote:
I don't move in the group which speaks pidgin English.
It's going to be a new demand on me learning new
language habits and vocab which I don't need.
No, because firstly I'm not fluent in it. Secondly it
doesn't sound nice to me when ladies speak it; it's
sort of out of place in my opinion.
The second part of the last reason which can be
categorized as the inappropriateness of the usage of GPE by
some people at some particular times was expressed by 47,
that is 23%, of our respondents as their reason for
disliking to speak GPE. They say GPE is an inappropriate
language; and some even go to the extent of saying that it
is indecent and crude for ladies, teachers, respected
people, and the educated elite. The following are some of

135
the unedited quotations from the respondents who used
inappropriateness or indecency as their reason for their
dislikeness of GPE.
The nature of my work does not permit me to speak
pidgin English. Moreso, I don't belong to that age
group that speak pidgin English most (teacher; 31 40
years old).
As a bank official I am expected to speak better
English.
It is an indecent language for the educated person.
The educated man who speaks it loses his respect in the
eyes of their colleagues.
The grown-ups look upon you as a ruffian.
It does not speak well of the speaker.
It does not fit a lady. I feel like a rascal when I
speak it.
It is unladylike to speak pidgin English.
As a woman I think I have to speak standard English not
to tarnish my reputation and status.
Pidgin English is not a language spoken in the European
countries. A good English man does not respect anyone
who speaks it. As an educated person, I do not think
it proper for such a person to speak pidgin English.
The fact that, in Ghana, GPE is the language of the
male and not of the female, even though some of the female
population speak it, has been demonstrated in previous
chapters. Tables 5.12 and 5.13 put emphasis on this notion.
These tables which describe the ages and sex of the
respondents according to how they responded to the question
"Do you like to speak pidgin English?" show that more male,
62, than female, 32, answered "yes". The male number is
almost twice that of the female. Figure 5.12 is a summary

136
of the "yes" answers. More female, 105, than male, 101,
answered "no" to the question. The fact that there is not
too much difference between the numbers for the "no" answer
shows the general trend of opposition to the usage of GPE by
both sexes.
Figure 5.
13 is a summary
of the "no" answers.
Age and Sex of "Yes"
Pidgin English?"
Table 5.12
Respondents to
"Do You Like to
Speak
Age (Years)
Female
Male
No Response
Total
15 25
18
35
0
53
26 30
12
15
2
29
31 40
1
11
0
12
41 50
0
1
0
1
Over 50
0
0
0
0
No Response
1
0
0
1
Total
32
62
2
96
Age and Sex of "Yes" Speakers of G.P.E
M
H
X
<
E>
O'
MALE
IH FEMALE
] MO RESPONSE
HO. 5.12
26-30 31-40 41-60 50* MO RESP.
A G E (Y E A R S)
Figure 5.12. Age and Sex of "Yes" Speakers of G.P.E.

137
Table 5.13
Age and Sex of "No"
Pidgin English?"
Respondents to
"Do You Like to
Speak
Age (Years)
Female
Male
Unmarked
Total
15 25
64
50
0
14
26 30
27
26
2
55
31 40
10
18
0
28
41 50
3
3
0
6
Over 50
0
3
0
3
Unmarked
1
1
0
2
Total
105
101
2
208
Age and Sex of "No" Speakers of G.P.E.
15-25 25-30 31-40 41-60 50+ NO RESP.
AGE(YBARS)
Figure 5.13. Age and Sex of "No" Speakers of G.P.E.
Most of our respondents fall between the ages of 15 and
25 years. There were 167 of them. Here too we see another
indication that more male respondents than their female
counterparts like to speak GPE. The "yes no" ratio for

138
both male and female explains this. The female "yes no"
ratio is 18:64 whereas the male one is 35:50. We had only
seven respondents who fall within the 1141 50" age bracket.
Only one of them, who happens to be male, indicated that he
likes to speak GPE. The remaining six consisting of three
male and three female respondents all indicated that they do
not like to speak GPE. Three of our respondents who are all
male are above the age of 50. All the three indicated that
they do not like to speak GPE. These comments and Tables
5.12 and 5.13 are further illustrations that show that GPE
is mostly the language of the youth nd also the language of
male.
We requested our informants to indicate whether or not
they would like to hear other people speak pidgin English,
and Table 5.14 and Figure 5.14 show the results.
Table 5.14
Response to "Do You Like to Hear Others Speak Pidgin
English?"
Yes % No % Unmarked % Indifferent %
134 44% 157 52% 93% 41%

139
Like to Hear Others Speak G.P.E.
200-,
RESPONSES
no. 5.14
Figure 5.14. Like to Hear Others Speak G.P.E.
If we compare Tables 5.9 and 5.14, we realize that even
though the respondents would not like to speak GPE
themselves they would not mind if other people speak it. We
know that 36% of them said they like to speak GPE and 68%
said they do not like to speak it. The difference is 32%,
but when they were asked whether or not they like to hear
others speak it, 44% indicated "yes" and 52% indicated "no".
The difference is only 8%. In fact, 54 respondents said
they do not like to speak pidgin English but they would not
mind if others speak it. Only 12 respondents said that they
like to speak pidgin English but they would not like others
speak it.
The major reason given by the 54 respondents who say
they do not like to speak GPE but they would not mind if

140
others speak it is that the language is interesting and
funny. Forty-three of the 54 took this stand, and 17 of
them indicated that the language serves as a means of
communication. Some of them indicated both reasons. The
following are some of the quotations from the respondents.
It is interesting when two youths are pitched against
each other in conversation in pidgin English.
It just amuses me. Quite pleasant to hear the
uneducated expressing themselves in pidgin English.
I do really like to hear people speaking pidgin English
because the language itself is an interesting one.
It sounds funny and has a touch of humor even when
serious matters are at stake.
The coinage of vocabulary for pidgin is quite
interesting (female).
It makes friends, age groups, and co-workers to express
themselves easily especially where workers or age
groups are of different ethnic groups and where they
can't understand each other's language.
It sounds good and it is full of humor. At times
people add phrases which are similar to their mother
tongue. Others will just rattle something funny. "You
think sey I bi h=>o" literally "You think I am
blockhead". It helps most illiterates to speak at
least a bit of English. It brings a little bit of
modification and breaks monotony (female).
Yes because it sounds nice to listen to. Secondly, it
serves as a better communication medium than proper
English, thus it limits the incidence of class
distinctions among different classes of people and
people express themselves better in it.
Some do not understand all the Ghanaian languages and
the need to communicate may compel such people to use
pidgin English.
Helping in communicating information across where the
person does not speak one's dialect.

141
The adverse effect that pidgin English has or will have
on the usage of standard English is the main reason given by
all the 12 respondents who indicated that they like to speak
pidgin English but they do not like to hear others speak it.
Only one of them added another reason, "It sounds crude and
at times raw."
We further requested our informants to indicate whether
or not they think GPE should be encouraged or discouraged
and from Table 5.15 and Figure 5.15 below most of them think
that it should be discouraged.
Table 5.15
Encouragement of Pidgin English in Ghana
Encouraged % Discouraged % No Response %
46 15% 235 77% 23 8%
Encourage or Discourage G.P.E.
300 -
RESPONSES
PIQ. 5.15
Figure 5.15. Encourage or Discourage G.P.E.
During our interviews, we asked our informants to tell
us their attitude towards GPE. We found out that many of

142
them wished that GPE did not exist. A journalist said that
he has no problem with those who have not had any formal
education speaking GPE, but he is against its use by those
who can speak standard English but choose to speak GPE when
it is not necessary. When a female nurse was asked to
express her attitude towards GPE, she simply said, "It
annoys me". A social worker said apart from using GPE as a
means of communication, he thinks, it should not be used at
all because it is influencing the usage of standard English
adversely. Many of the students we interviewed said they
would not like GPE to be eradicated. Their concern is that
speakers of GPE should know when it should be used and when
standard English should be used. A managing director of a
regional development corporation had this to say when he was
requested to express his attitude towards GPE.
Certainly the language is not ours. It assumes a goal
by dimension; and quite naturally one would like it
properly in order to communicate with other peoples all
over the continent or all over the planet earth. My
attitude to this pidgin English is certainly not
healthy. I think, as a former teacher, I've realized
that this language has affected the writing of most of
our students in schools. No doubt the results of
English Language in most of our schools, and even the
universities, are now becoming appalling. I wouldn't
like this to be continued. If I can help it, I would
like it to be discouraged entirely from our
institutions in the first place and that will naturally
effect those in our working places. (Source: Mr.
Ayeh, Managing Director, Central Region Development
Corporation, Ghana)
Summary
This chapter is a further demonstration of the
assertion that pidgin is spoken in Ghana. We have discussed

143
the speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English and the places where
the language is spoken. The major speakers are males,
students, military and police personnels, youngsters, co
workers, and friends. Educational institutions, urban
areas, work places, lorry stations, military and police
barracks, and entertainment places are the most obvious
places where one will hear GPE. The usage of GPE is mostly
in the spoken mode. There is little usage of GPE in the
written mode. There is no book that has been written
entirely in GPE. Authors like Kofi Anyidoho and Ayi Kwei
Armah have included a page or two of GPE in their works.
The major written usage of GPE that has received greater
attention of the reading public is found in the comics of
Mugu Yaro, Baba Dogo, and Gyato. Speakers of GPE use it for
communication, entertainment, politics, socialization, and
fun. The attitude of Ghanaians toward GPE is not
encouraging. Many people do not want the language to be
spoken or written. Their major reason for opposing the
usage of GPE is that it has some adverse effects on both the
written and spoken usages of standard English. Most
Ghanaians say that GPE should not be encouraged.
The methodology used for this research might have
contributed toward the negative attitude towards GPE. The
respondents claim not to like to speak pidgin because the
survey was part of an education project where they expected
researchers not to like pidgin. Perhaps they have applied

144
an argumentum ad populum policy, that is, telling the
researchers what they want to hear.

145
Notes
1. Spearman Rank-Order Correlation Coefficient
Spearman's rho is used when an experimenter or a
researcher wishes to determine whether two sets of rank-
ordered data are related.
As part of our research, we asked informants to
indicate the people who they think speak Ghanaian Pidgin
English (GPE), and also the places where they see or hear
GPE being spoken. We used Spearman's rho to determine
whether the ranks of the speakers and those of the places
are related. Table 1 shows the scores of speakers and
places of GPE and Table 2 shows the ranks of the scores, the
difference of the ranks, and the square of the difference of
the ranks.
Table 1 Scores on Speakers and Places of Ghanaian Pidgin
English
SCORES
Matched Speakers
Pairs
Scores
Places Scores
A
Students
257
Schools
224
B
Policemen
254
Police Barracks
190
C
Priests
3
Churches
6
D
Drivers
220
Lorry Stations
233
E
Farmers
74
Villages
83
F
Family
69
Homes
109
G
Co-Workers
234
Work Places
198
H
Age-Mates
198
Entertainment Place
184
I
Friends
213
Streets
230
J
Gov't. Officials
20
Radio Ghana
46
K
Border Guards
211
Borders
175
L
Youngsters
207
Cinema Houses
210

146
Table 2 Ranks of Speakers and Places of Ghanaian Pidgin
English
RANKS
Matched
Pairs
Speakers
Places
*1
d12
A
12
10
2
4
B
11
7
4
16
C
1
1
0
0
D
9
12
-3
9
E
4
3
1
1
F
3
4
-1
1
G
10
8
2
4
H
5
6
-1
1
I
8
11
-3
1
J
2
2
0
0
K
7
5
2
4
L
6
9
-3
9
58
We used the data in table 2 to compute the value of rs.
6 (58)
= 1 -
(12) 12
= .8
From a table of critical values of rs, the Spearman Rank
Correlation Coefficient, .8 is significant at p<0.01. This
means the ranks of the speakers and the places are related.

CHAPTER 6
CONCLUSIONS
The present research has aimed at proving that there
has been and there is a pidgin English in Ghana. We have
demonstrated that pidginization of a European language in
West Africa, and as such Ghana, began with the arrival of
the Portuguese on the coast of this region around 1500.
Through trade and settlements among the people of West
Africa, pidgin Portuguese spread in some parts of the
region. Some of the linguistic remnants of pidgin
Portuguese can be found in Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE).
Some of these are words like "sabi", "pikin", and
"palava/palaba". Because of the very close contacts that
the British traders had with the people of West Africa and
therefore wanted to have some verbal communication among
them pidgin English evolved. Another reason for the
presence of pidgin English in Ghana is that the soldiers of
Ghana and Britain fought together in the Second World War,
and the Ghanaian soldiers returned home speaking pidgin
English. The current emergence and the fast spreading of
GPE have come about because of illiteracy, military regimes
in Ghana, urbanization, boarding schools, increase in the
number of magazines that feature GPE, increase in its use
147

148
for fun, and the increase of contacts between Ghanaians and
the people of some West African states where pidgin English
is spoken, especially Nigeria and Liberia.
Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) is an extended pidgin.
It is not a restricted pidgin or a jargon because it has
passed the stage where some few specialized vocabulary items
are communicated among the speakers. The speakers
communicate in complete fluid discourse. GPE is basilectal
in that it is an English-based pidgin. The vocabulary and
even some of the syntax come from the English language. It
is going through a period when some of the English
vocabulary items are being replaced with their counterparts
in the Ghanaian vernaculars. GPE started as a contact
language between white (the British) and African people and
has developed in multilingual areas Africans.
GPE is spreading fast because it is being used to
create social bonds among the youth, the students, the
police, the soldiers, and many other social groups. It
forms part of the lyrics of many Ghanaian Hi-Life songs
which are usually enjoyed by both the old and the young.
Because of its popularity among the youth, both educated and
uneducated, the usage of GPE will be in Ghana for a very
long time, even though it may not become a creole since
children have access to one or more of the 45 Ghanaian local
languages. Another reason why GPE will not become a creole
is that it is not a popular language in the homes of its

149
speakers. This means it will remain a pidgin for a long
time to come.
The phonology, morphology, and the syntax of GPE have
shown that substrate languages have influence on pidgins.
It is in the area of vocabulary that the superstrate, which
in this study is English, has much influence. Even in this
area, some of the superstrate words acquire different or
additional meanings from their original meanings. These are
some of the reasons why we should not think of pidgins as
corrupt forms of their superstrates. They are totally
different languages from their superstrates and their
substrates. After all, there is no mutual intelligibility
between a pidgin and its superstrate or its substrate.
This study has shown that pidgin does not thrive mainly
because of the need for communication for some purposes such
as trade. Pidgin can thrive because its users want to use
it as a means of solidarity among themselves, and also
because it sounds interesting to them. The study has also
shown that one of the major criteria for the formation of a
pidgin, which is the lack of a common language, may not be
very important, since most of GPE speakers have one or two
of the 45 Ghanaian languages in common that they can use but
they choose to use GPE on some occasions.
It is true that many Ghanaians do not like GPE to be
encouraged because they think it has some adverse effects on
standard English, but they admit that it is spreading very

150
fast and it does not seem that it is going to die sooner or
later. What is important is that the users of both GPE and
English should realize that they are different languages,
and that they should know when it is appropriate to use any
of them. It is because of this that we have used phonemic
orthography to sharpen the difference between GPE and
standard English.
I hope this research has opened the way for linguists
and writers to know the existence of pidgin English in
Ghana, and that more research will be done on it so that it
can be placed well on the maps of pidgins and creoles.

APPENDIX A
RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE
RESEARCH PROJECT: THE USE OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN GHANA
There is a type of English being spoken in Ghana.
People say it is influencing the spoken standard English of
many Ghanaians, especially the youth. Many people call it
Pidgin English. Some people call it Broken English, and
others call it Kru or Krio English.
e.g. 1. I no be kid wey dey go fit catch me; who go fit
catch Yaro? walahi! dey no go fit da.
2.We no go sit down make dem cheat we everyday.
This research seeks to determine among other things:
people's attitude towards the language; the conditions that
have brought about its emergence; its speakers; where and
when it is spoken; its vocabulary and structure; and its
influence on other languages.
1. Have you spoken Pidgin English before? YES NO
2. Have you written Pidgin English before? YES NO
3. Do you still speak or write Pidgin English? YES NO
4. How long have you spoken Pidgin English? ..years ..months
5. Have you heard other people speaking Pidgin English?
YES NO
6. Which people do you hear speaking Pidgin English? (e.g.
males, females, friends, members of a family, lecturers,
masters, tutors, teachers, policemen, policewomen, male-
soldiers, female-soldiers, border guards, navy-men, co
workers, age-mates, elders, youngsters, priests, drivers,
government officials, traders, farmers, students, etc.)
Please underline and add yours if any.
7.You speak Pidgin English with which people?
151

152
8.At which places do you hear people speaking Pidgin
English? (e.g. schools; universities; homes; work-places;
streets; churches; mosques; places of entertainment such as
drinking bars, dances, cinema/video houses, parties,
playgrounds; barracks; military/police depot; villages; big
towns; rural areas; urban centres; airports; lorry stations;
harbours; border-posts; Radio Ghana (G.B.C.); etc.) Please,
underline and add yours if any.
9.Where do you usually speak Pidgin English in Ghana?
10.Why do you think people speak Pidgin English in Ghana?
11. Which sex group speaks Pidgin English more than the
other? Male Female
12. Do you like to speak Pidgin English? YES NO
Please give reason(s) for your answer
13.Do you like to hear other people speaking Pidgin
English? YES NO
Please give reason(s) for your answer
14. Will you like the speaking of Pidgin English be
encouraged or discouraged? ENCOURAGED DISCOURAGED
15. (a) Do people use words from Ghanaian languages in their
Pidgin English? YES NO O
(b) If YES, give examples of such words and the language(s)
they take them from
16.Write the titles of Ghanaian newspapers, magazines,
books, etc., in which you have found Pidgin English

153
17.(a) Write the titles of Ghanaian songs which are or were
sung in Pidgin English. You may write the groups which sing
or sang them
(b)Why do you think they sing in Pidgin English?
18. How do you think Pidgin English is spreading in Ghana?
(i) spreading slowly; (ii) spreading fast; (iii) dying out;
(iv) not found in Ghana.
19. How do people learn to speak Pidgin English in Ghana?
(e.g. by travelling to a country/countries where Pidgin
English is spoken; through friends; through trade; by
reading magazines or books written in Pidgin English; by
joining the armed/police forces; etc.) Please underline and
add yours if any
20.Which event(s) has/have contributed towards the
introduction and spread of Pidgin English in Ghana?
21.Please provide the following information about yourself:
(a) sex: male female
(b) age: 15 years-25 years ; 26-30 ; 31-40 0;
41-50 ; over 50 ;
(c) Occupation ; place of occupation
(d) Levels of education you have passed through (e.g. public
elementary school; preparatory/experimental elementary
school; secondary school form 5; sixth form; teacher
training college (4-yr.)/post-secondary; technical college;
vocational college; commercial college; diploma institution;
police training school; military academy; university; etc.)
(e)Are you a student? YES NO O If YES state
level and class (e.g. secondary school Form 3, University
2nd year, etc.)
(f)What languages do you speak?

(g) Where do you stay? town
district
154
region
22. Contact address:
J.K.Y.B. AMOAKO
Pidgin English Research Project
Department of Linguistics
University of Ghana
P. 0. Box 61
Legn, Accra
Ghana

APPENDIX B
LANGUAGE MAP OF GHANA
MANDE
CENTRAL VOLTA REGION
TOGO RESTSPRACHCN
Ade*t
0u**(L **. Ltono I
Skoi (LImI
S'V ( L0<00>-AkoO Son'^okofi
4J. LogOo
A*0""' -NjrO^OO-Tofl
Adopted from Mop c 1 Ghana Languages 6/ Longuage Centre, Logon ond Ghana IniiUtde at Linguistics. 1900.
155

APPENDIX C
SOME GPE COMMON COMPLEX CONSTRUCTIONS / EXPRESSIONS
If yu no go, a go tel am.
"If you don't go, I will tell him/her."
Dem go si sey yu de lay.
"They'll see that you're lying." OR
"They'll be able to tell that you're lying."
De tarn wey yu kam i bi mi yu si fo hie.
"When you came, I was the one you saw here."
Kam kwik if yu fo si am.
"Come early in order to see him."
Lak (like) yu kam yestadey, wi get plenti.
"If you'd come yesterday (you'd have seen that) we had
a lot."
Yu de sp= (spoil) ma w^k (work) f=> mi.
"You're getting in my way." OR
"You're ruining my chances at my job."
Kam Sondey, a go go fo ma fam.
"I'll go to my farm on Sunday."
Sat^dey lak dis, a go fo maket.
"I usually go to the market on Saturdays."
Wey tarn kach, a go go si am.
"When the time comes, I'll go and see him/her."
Wey a do ma w=>k finish, a slip f=> rna rum.
"When I finish (doing) my work, I go to sleep in my
(bed)room."
A f=> tel am sey, mek i no kam leyt.
"I must/should tell him/her not to be late." OR
"I am to tell him/her not to be late."
A dz>n tel am sey, mek i no du am, bat i no m mi.
"I have told him/her not to do it, but he/she doesn't
pay any attention (to me)."
156

Wey bi de tam?
What's the time?
I aks mi ba(t) mi, a tel am sey, a no no.
"He/She asked me, but I told him/her that I
don't/didn't know.
I bi so a tel am, ba(t) i no 'giriy.
"That's what I told him/her but he/she wouldn't hear of
it."
Wey mun day, a go go f=> rna k=>ntri / tawn.
"I shall go to my hometown at the end of the month."
Dem go pey wi wey mun day, den a go go f=> m kz>ntri
pies.
"They'll pay us at the end of the month, then I'll go
home /to my hometown."
A beg yu tu borow mi y=> pen sm^.
"Please lend me your pen for a short while."
Wey tin yu de w^n f=> hie (at z>z>) ?
"What do you want here (anyway)?" OR
"What are you looking for around here (anyway)?
Weyt am; i go kam j=>s naw.
"Wait for him/her; he'll soon be here."
Wey a sak am f^ hie, i veks f^ mi pr^pa!
"When I sacked him/her from here, he/she was very angry
with me." OR
"When I drove him/her away from here, he/she became
very angry with me."
I t=>k sey i sabi yu. Yu tu yu sabi am?
"He/She says he/she knows you. Do you also know
him/her."
Mek dem kam kwik.
"They should come soon." OR "Let them come soon."
I go fa pies. I kip l^n(g) (naw). I fo kam horn si
im mcda/fada. I de grow (old).
"He/She has gone abroad for a long time. He/She should
come home and see his/her mother/father. He/She is
getting old."
157

APPENDIX D
SOME GPE CONVERSATIONS AND SONGS
The Lexicon; Most of the words of the Ghanaian Pidgin English
(GPE) come from English, but some of the English words take on
different meanings in GPE. e.g.
English
plus (line 34, 37, 39, 60)
fit (line 43, 45)
say (line 51, 58, 61)
for (line 12, 59)
GPE
and, with
can, have the ability to
do something
say, complementizer 'that'
must, should
A CONVERSATION BETWEEN TWO STUDENTS ABOUT A FUTURE DATE
L=Lady; M=Man.
1. L: a no go lov bia.
a de lov ginis rada.
M: ginis?
L: i bi ginis a de lov.
5. M: mi, a tek bia o ginis a,
den m ays de klos so
i bi ogoqro wey i yus
fo mi.
L: yu si o, wey wi tek
10. yu tek de ogoqro na mi
a tek de ginis a
wi fo go disko.
yu sabi mi die may problem
i bi dansin, soso dansin
15. so wi go go disko.
wot kay disko sey
yu won es
M: nadisko? de bes wan.
I will not like beer.
I like Guiness rather.
Guiness?
It is Guiness that I like.
Me, if I take beer or Guiness
then my eyes are closing, so
it is ogoqro which is good
for me.
You see, when we take,
you take the ogoqro and I
I take the Guiness,
we should go to a disco.
You know, for me, my problem
is dancing, just dancing
so we will go to a disco.
What kind of disco is it that
you want us
L: a w=n bushwa
20. a won bushwa disko
158
Nadisco; the best one.
I want a bourgeois
I want a bourgeois disco.

159
M: bushwa disko,
den wi go go insayd
diasi hoi, siti hotel.
L: a swe ,
25. dat pleys wey
de rayt pleys
a won tu tok tu yu.
i bi de pleys a de lof.
a no de lak eni ada pie
30.M: bikos from de tu
i nia ma haws paa
L: ei so yu shwo sey
a de go yuo haws
plas yu?
35.M: ou, dat, haw?
Bourgeois disco,
then we will go inside
Dease Hall, City Hotel.
I swear,
that is the place which,
the right place
I want to talk to you about
It is the place I like.
I don't like any other place.
Because from there too,
it is very near to my house.
Ei, so you are sure that
I am going to your house
with you?
Oh, that, how?
L: mi, dos hu de go
aut plas mi,
a no de go dem haws
plas dem.
40.M: ou haw?
L: afta dat, mi a go
ma haws.
M: so yu fit go drink
som wot a.
yu fit go drink
45. som wota.
L: mm dat wan die
i no yus.
dat wan di e
ma mami no tok mi dat.
Me, those who go
out with me,
I don't go to their house
with them.
Oh how?
After that, I go to
my house.
So you can go and drink
some water.
You can go and drink
some water.
No, as for that one,
it is not good.
As for that one,
my mother didn't teach me that
Some words in GPE come from Ghanaian native languages;
(lines 13, 46) means 'as for ...'; paa (line 31) means
(line 10) means 'and'.
50.L: wot abawt yuo wayf?
ihii yu tok sey
yu get wayf.
M: ma wayf?
L: a sey, wey i de?
55. wey i de?
die
'very'. na
What about your wife?
Ahaa, you said that
you have a wife.
My wife?
I see, where is she?
Where is she?

160
M: ou a fit tek
bapas am.
L: na yu, yu t=>k sey
a de, a f= go yuo haws
60. plas yu,
yu foget sey
yu= wayf de?
Oh I can
bypass her.
And you, you said that,
I'll, I must go to your house
with you,
You forgot that
your wife is present?
There are also some Portuguese words in GPE, e.g. sabi (line 13)
means 'to know' or 'to understand', and pikin (line 63) means
'child' or 'children'.
L: haw meni, pikins
yu get, sayd ishus
65.M: mi, ou, a get
wan mo tu ten.
How many children
do you have, side issues?
Me? Oh, I have
one more to ten.
A SONG BY OKUKUSEKU INTERNATIONAL BAND OF GHANA
Sofa Sofa
Suffer Suffer
eviribodi go si
wi d in neked ay
in dis weld
everybody will see
with his/her naked eye
in this world.
eviribodi go si
wid m neked ay
in di s we Id
everybody will see
with his/her naked eye
in this world.
bi fo yu go liv
na yu go no
haw yu go do
before you will live
it is you who will know
how you will do.
bi fo yu go hapi
na yu go no
nobodi go no
before you'll be happy
it is you who will know,
nobody will know.
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de sofa
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always suffering.
ey
papa chika
legos gay
haw wi go muv
how?
Papa Chika
Lagos Guy
how shall we move

161
in dis legos
na wao
in (this) Lagos?
it is tough.
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de sofa
papa chika
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always suffering.
Papa Chika.
moni don kos am oo money has really caused it.
moni don kos am oo money has caused it.
moni, moni don kos am oo it's money that has caused it.
wondaful wonderful.
remi, luk yuo han Remi, (look) be careful about your hands
welwel
a beg
tek tam
wayo wayo
I beg you.
take (your) time,
little by little.
moni don kos am oo
moni don kos am oo
moni don kos am oo
money has really caused it.
money has really caused it.
money has caused it.
eviridey ma de taya
bifo yu go chop
eviridey ma de taya
bifo yu go get bisines
eviridey ma de taya
bifo yu go slip
eviridey ma de taya
everyday man is always tired,
before you'll eat
everyday man is always tired,
before you'll get business
everyday man is always tired,
before you'll sleep
everyday man is always tired.
eh
remi
luk yuo han welwel oo
wayo wayo
t.k.
na so a lak am
aha
Remi
(look) be careful about your hand,
little by little
T.K.
and that is how I like it.
INTERVIEW WITH KOFI SAMMY, THE SINGER OF "SUFFER SUFFER"
(J=Joe; K=Kofi Sammy)
1. J: naw yuo "sofa sofa"
yu sin som son
wey yu sey sofa sofa
way yu sin dis son
now your 'Suffer Suffer'
you sang a song
in which you say 'Suffer Suffer'
why did you sing this song?

162
5. K: yu no
bifo de go bon yu
yu go no wot yu go do
J: mhm
K: en yu, as yu de
10. yuo papa go tich yu
you know
before you're born
you'll know what you'll do.
yes.
and you, as you live,
your father will teach you.
J: mhm
yes.
K: i go tich yu finis
yu go no se.
a papa de tok tru oo
15. so di s tin wey papa
de tok na sofa sofa
he'll finis teaching you
you'll know that
yes, father was spaking the truth.
so this thing which father
was saying is suffering suffering.
J: mhm
yes.
K: yea
das way a sin ....
20.J: yu sin am fo hwe
K: a sin am fo onisa
oni.., najeria
yes.
thus why I sang.
you sang it at where?
I sang it at Onitsha
On.., Nigeria.
A SONG BY APOLLO KING INTERNATIONAL BAND OF GHANA
JeLoSI JEALOUSY
1. if a du ma tin
mek yu no jelos
i f a du ma ti n
mek yu no jelos
5. jelosi go she(m)
wayo go she(m)
jelosi go she(m)
wayo tu go she(m)
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster will be ashamed.
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster too will be ashamed.
i f a du ma tin
10. mek yu no jelos
if a du ma ti n
mek yu no jelos
jelosi go she(m)
wayo go she(m)
15. jelosi go she(m)
wayo tu go she(m)
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster will be ashamed.
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster too will be ashamed.

163
sista ee
Sister
mek yu no jel=>s
Don't be jealous
br^da e
Brother
20.
mek yu no jel=>s
Don't be jealous
sista ee
Sister
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
wayo tu go she(m)
The trickster too will
be
ashamed.
25.
if yu si ma tin
If you see my thing
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu si ma wayf
If you see my wife
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu si ma son oo
If you see my son
30.
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
wayo tu go kwench
The trickster too will
be
finished
if yu si ma haws
If you see my house
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
35.
if yu si ma wok
If you see my work
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu si ma s^n oo
If you see my son
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
40.
wayo tu go kwench
The trickster too will
be
finished
yu bi drava
You are a driver
a bi aboro
I am a bus/car conductor.
yuo wok di fi ren
Your work is different
ma own difiren oo
Mine is different
45.
yu bi ticha
You are a teacher
a bi treda
I am a retailer
yuo wok di fi ren
Your work is different
ma on di fi ren oo
Mine is different
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu jelos
If you are jealous
yu go she(m)
You'll be ashamed
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
wayo tu go kwench
The trickster too will
be
finished

APPENDIX E
GHANAIAN COMICS IN PIDGIN ENGLISH
GYATO MAGANI
HOMOTTA presents:

165

166
hey-sp7money sin/ne.
LlfE SINCE Y PPOPN. N7E
/¡SONY/ / NO PE SPEC T
MONEY. NtE Pllrs Pot/EQTY
INESE ENEM/ES .
MUGEN! GYPTo
SPECtPl SICK ?
PEN i>£ NORLE
SPOIL. YOU SICK POP.
INHERE ?mP*E/GO
SR/NO HP.c.You |
NOGOTPUC? / SPY
INHERE YovPEY y
r

167

168
sev" smJs&kl)
bCYFfT r/rr so/^, Tt

169
CO/VSIDERIIUG THRT GYPTo'S OPE DESIRE /P THE WORLD /s 70 SLEEP Op P P/OP7PP L/p£
Bfl&Y WPYOj ¡PWT PCT/OP P/LL RE TPKE WOP/? /F HE EXPOSES TVE G/RL, HERJ/SSES
THE BODY HE LO /,ES/ (REVER MISS THE NEXT ISSUE. GYPTO SPEC/PL J

170
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173
HdMOTTfl presents:
v ^MAGANI
p9fe¡-
og

174

175
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' FiEE-F/A/E GlEL JPE YOo.YooP g EVEPYTOTG FOP EfPTSPM,
HvsBflM) BE book-ecyyg Pokvtbt\ so mfM Go SPYP/Pt
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J orYOTE-PYPTE /COSE AMP
PITO uJo/nEPI HEY GET.. -
P/S OPEPfl SP£CM£-.. .
EHH CE BAP, fF-SUE G/YEME
nVLUOES CEP/S SEF / GO
- GET HIM1 ting'
'Gepou>piirt
SET WPTCHP7
To* E-GET
Ol/PfpOWEP. |

LOVE & FUN
176
BABA DOGO
i PLACE S^TEET fox MM' On/ So-So I(
V Ei/ERYOAY / MARE HAPPY/ N|
MOWLOMG AT ALL MAM Go STAY ,
fop £>'S EARTH. f/MH£~£-R£
SO YEARS mm go 0£y for l
C^Pr^t a/a _ u >... ~ J
MAKE / TAKE
£>£ Town PEOPLE WEY CE Y s]
i Say Of*!£Y( Qp£y/. c>eM q,0 aoy
v LS*rf£'>£S plenty/. MO *
X£Y auT OEM /VO SABEFARM J
.WH£NP£y COME S££ ME A
/ MAKE Hflppy OEM
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BECAUSE (/VO Go Pop
ACC (CP BE PORE 7
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El/ERYP Ay SO-SO
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MAKE ABOUT
ACCRA. ..
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ON£, THEN (NH/T£/VIA/v U//V1 On/A/ TlNO. i
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MAN /V//Yt BOOR rNS/0£ f OR A CCA A
'<****-
-PAT ACCRA me. Too, /
GO GO TURE SOME.
£ HO BE Money DEM
PEY TAKE GO THERE 7
Tomorrow, / go ask
AGYA BoPkyE him PikiH
IHEY E-PEYpoR
AUMUl/AS/TY, e- B£ HIM
SABE THER PR O PA
B(JTE-OEY talk white-l
MAM him language too
- -o/r > u *
4-rs
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For P'S Accra
JO SEE POR MY
OWN E YES'YAGA A//
/Go Go Sleep Pop ,
AY BROCA v*F v
SAY HE (NOkk / /" V >?.;
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ME. TOO, / NO SABE (NATORf .
t Go GO POR ACCRA- THEN Nt£
ANP my 8ROPA Go TRAVEL Go
SEE WATuRf SMALL
MAKE t P/N/S HIY LAST TlNO
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home Sweet
< MHKE man TAL K TRUE- o
r SINCE / GROW, /(VO Go For *
J my home-Country for <"
WATURt FOR UPPER region
I Bur Ip / Go SEL A, who sabe
I ME THERE. MY EATHE f- Or
\ME / NO CHOP/ *,' I
} The n he Com a
y_ TOR CfZ At As. d

177
VE FUN

178
*

l.OVE & FUN
179

180
£>'S /V/7 SfilALl.
Go FOX syiy6££>
UNbER E-b£y
PLENTY- PtNTY
cx>cRonche sclT
NO Ftr CHOEi/V/7 ro
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cocwr ?^-£F
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181
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prop u/ll ROE Soup
SuDjtEhlL.^
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O/s/YR LORRY ff/S'tX
Toe you C¡£Y mfKB
CHVRcHfl j -HiMO'Jb-
RCE'

182

NI Li 9 3A01
183

LOVE & FUN
184

LOVE& FUN
185

oavA nDnw aadns
981

187
SUPER
Contd. on PdfeM?*

188
SUPER
WW9
.. my mother talk', fear, woman
ANb livelong, true. But me Super -
MUGU TARO, /&£ INTERNATIONAL /MAM.
/ sabe Black woman white woman,
chnese woman. Korea worn an.
C 'MON, YARO PONT SNUB ME. AT
LEAST. / CAN RECOGNISE YOUR
BRIEFCASE. SUPER MUGU YARO OF
GHANA ANO AFRICA... NA LIE? rtf
^ rrW
SO YOU PONT REMEMBER ESI THE
GHANAIAN'WOMAN WHO TOOKyou To HER
HOUSE THE PAY YOU ARRIVAL >
YOU SEE IF YOU NO USE YOUR
HEAP, YOU GO GUENCN.PEOFY E
BE SMART. BUT ME, SUPER MUGO
YARO OF GHANA ANO AFRICA. /BE
SMART PASS ALL.
I mi lil. un I*. 16

189
i tVhy did Super ugu Yaro International tell the Hotel Manager he was called Alfredo PetT Do youthink
Yaro has something to/det Will the Ghanaian gUI betray YaroT Get the answers fromWollO
J--i- irr..PMTi TSSlSS

190
j
r\
SUPER.

191

192
,, you SEE E-BE OIEEICULT
M T IMF/tcr/NO
lyl!, BSSlfitp;.! womwbefore...you.
mmm&k &r *£&>*£?
% o:^7f^ I /rj
K fJNYTH/NG.../ poR BUYNElN
CloTHLS, TWO Shv, N£tv SR/££
cj7s{ / 6£r MONEY POR
/ MEET
PLENTY P£Op_ £ foR Si/S/NESS
b/SCUSS/ONS SOME GO CONTE
HER£_^- '
,HHVE'. _
' ATYHVS&HNP
(BEFORE HOWMUCH?
/aoBuy
c>FtMKt y ,
ATtf/HE nMonE
/H/LL/O/U CFH
FRffJCS-.yoUGO
GET /fat ONE WEEK
..SOW SHE
<30ESJARKEr
6HECOMEO(VE
ME PLENTY money.
POlNN THE HOTEL LOBBY. ¡gifeH
1,.-..rollin'^1 hS'.'-'Z--.

193
P£YtfOCrO
FTPPU a
,
tbammmmK
M
Super Afugu Yaro international is always in^t rouble. Why? Will'he run away to Ghana because of
the hotel Managert Will\he ever get to Bouaket Read VoL\12.

194
BUT MAKE
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195

196
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197
Yarn has two major problems to clear. First: Hill he succeed in winning the love of this sophisticated
! but beautiful air hostessl Second: How does Yaro bake sure his former Master will not see hunt
Guess what Yaro will do- But If you are in doubt read Yol. 14.

198
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Sociolinguistics. Cambridge, Massachussets: Basil
Blackwell.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
I had my elemantary school education in Ghana from 1951
to 1961. I attended a four-year teacher's college, Saint
Joseph's Training College at Bechem in Ghana, where I
obtained a teacher's Certificate "A" diploma in 1968. After
teaching in the elementary schools in Ghana from 1968 to
1974, I attended a teachers' specialist college at the
School of Ghana Languages at Ajumako in Ghana, where, for
two years, I specialized in the teaching of Akan and
languages in general. I taught Akan and English at the
Sunyani Secondary School for one year and then entered the
University of Ghana to study for a B.A. degree in 1977 which
I obtained with honors in linguistics and Swahili in 1981.
I spent the 1979-80 academic year at the University of Dar
Es Salam in Tanzania for proficiency in Swahili. From 1981
to 1984, I was a teaching assistant at the Department of
Linguistics at the University of Ghana. During the same
period I was a part-time teacher of linguistics and English
at the Advanced Teacher Training College at Winneba in
Ghana. I was also an examiner of English language for the
West African Examination Council and the Royal Society of
Arts.
204

205
I started a graduate program in linguistics at the
University of Iowa in Iowa City in 1985, and obtained my
M.A. degree in 1987. I began a doctoral work in linguistics
at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1987. I was
accepted as a Ph.D. candidate in 1989. I have been teaching
linguistics and Swahili at the Ohio University in Athens
since 1990.

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Allan Burns, Chair
Professor of Linguistics
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
d/phn LipskiV' CocRir
rofessor yof Linguistics
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
( Chauncey Chu /
Professor of Linguistics
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Norman Markel
Professor of Linguistics
1 certify that I have read th
opinion it conforms to acceptable/
presentation and is fully adequ
as a dissertation for the degre
study and that in my
andards of scholarly
in scope arid quality,
Doctor ot/Phi^pbophy.
Goran Hyden
Professor of Po
ical Science

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty
of the Program in Linguistics in the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as.
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
December 1992
Dean, Graduate School




127
send their message not only to Ghanaians but also to people
in other English speaking countries. They also say that
they want their messages to be understood by both listeners
who can and those who cannot understand standard English.
One of them said:
wan tin abawt Pidgin English in Ghana hie, in Afrika;
sey, Ghanaian myuzishiens lak dis, most de rek^ds
wey dey do, wi no go bi lak dem, so wi tuu fo fal awa
own wey. Awa own wey tuu bi, sey, Twi o brokin so dat
pi pul, most of de Afrikan pi pul, Afrikan English
kontri wey dey spik brokin, dey tuu dey go andastan;
bikos as yu no, sey plenti pi pul no go skuul bat
brokin die dey fit andastan. (Source: personal
interview of Mr. Ernest Sarfo-Baidoo, alias Afro Moses,
of the "Third Eye" Band)
"One thing about Pidgin English in Ghana or in Africa,
say, Ghanaian musicians like this, most of the European
records which they do, we will not be like them; so we
must find our own way. Our own way is Twi or broken
(Pidgin English) so that most of the African people,
English speaking African countries where they speak
broken, they too, they will understand; because as
you know many people haven't gone to (attended) school,
but they can understand broken (Pidgin English) (Die.
is Akan word for "as for").
Another musician who shares the same idea of communicating
to more people by using GPE in his songs further said that
this is his aim that is why in one song, "Yellow Tsitsi", he
sang the same message in Akan, Ewe, Yoruba, Hausa, standard
English, and GPE. There are other Ghanaian musicians who
deliver the same message in different languages including
GPE in one song.
It is not only the musicians who express the idea of
communicating to wider audience as their main reason of
using GPE in their songs. When an elderly headteacher of an


45
There was a radio program done in pidgin English in the
1950s called "Isa Abongo" by the late Leo Riby-Williams. In
the 1960s there was a television comedy series also done in
pidgin English. These were comedy programs meant to
entertain the rank and file mostly illiterate workers who
would be expected to understand or speak pidgin English and
so appreciate such programs in pidgin.
Contrary to the assumption that the majority of
illiterate workers from all over the country spoke and
understood pidgin English and so would welcome such
programs, it turned out that pidgin English was limited to
only a small section of the population and that the rest
would better enjoy programs in one of the local Ghanaian
languages. The radio and television programs were therefore
withdrawn after a short run; and eventually, through
audience research survey, programs like Variety Show Case in
Akan, Ga, Ewe, and other Ghanaian languages were
substituted. These were and are much enjoyed by all
sections of the population.
Sey (1973:3) says that with many educated people in the
large towns it was not necessary for the illiterate people
to deal directly with the English speakers for bilingual
educated Ghanaians were always at hand to act as
interpreters and "letter-writers" for the uneducated ones.
This was one of the reasons why Ghanaian Pidgin English
could not spread.


130
Do You Like to Speak Pidgin English?
300 -i
Figure 5.9. Do You Like to Speak Pidgin English?
We reguested our informants to give reasons for
indicating "yes" or "no" to our guestion "Do you like to
speak pidgin English?" We summarized the reasons given by
those who indicated "yes" into four categories:
communication, simplicity and ease, solidarity and fun, and
interesting. Of the 96 informants who said "yes", 38
mentioned communication? 27 used simplicity and ease of
pidgin English as their reason to like to speak GPE; 36 gave
solidarity and fun among peer groups as their reason; and 18
said the language sounds interesting to them. Table 5.10
and Figure 5.10 indicate the statistics of the reasons why
the respondents like to speak GPE.


80
The above question is an example of attitudinal
question. This shows an attitude that the questioner has
about the third person. The questioner may have an
unhealthy attitude about the third person perhaps the one
being talked about has been very boastful, or has been
blowing his or her own horn. The following is part of a GPE
song showing both the cohesive and focus uses of na.
If a no beta fo rna own layf,
na hus folt
na mi k^s am
"If I don't do well for my own life,
it is whose fault;
It is I who has caused it."
Exclamations and Emphasis
Exclamations and emphasis in GPE are commonly conveyed
by the addition of particular words or expressions either at
the beginning or at the end of a proposition, and are always
expressed with the appropriate intonation. Prolonged sounds
which are vowels like oq or aa are added to expressions to
emphasize the emotional concern of the speaker.
Plenti palava kam oq.
"There's lots of trouble! / We've got real trouble!"
I had oo.
"It is very hard / difficult / trying!"
I fan pr^pa.
"It / He / She is very nice / handsome / beautiful!"
I vcks qrqqa.
"He / She is very angry!"
I gud tuu m^ch.
"He / She is a very good person! / He / She is so
good!"


6
Linguistic Society of America (LSA) conference, Dingxu Shi
used phonological evidence to support the OED theory.
The word for "business" is found in a Chinese Pidgin
English phrase book that was popular around Canton in
the early 19th century. It is represented by two
Chinese characters pronounced as [pitsin] with an
unaspirated voiceless stop [p] and an unaspirated
affricate [ts]. The two consonants are the closest a
Cantonese speaker can get for [b] and [z]. The English
speakers in turn would pronounce the two Cantonese
sounds as [ph] and [dz]. The insertion of vowel after
a syllable-final consonant is common in Chinese Pidgin
English. (Shi 1990)
Etymology of Creole
The term "creole" originated in one of Portugal's
colonies in the sixteenth century. Both form and meaning
suggest an etymology criar "to nurse, breed, nourish"
(Valkhoff 1966:34). According to Muhlhausler, "originally
the meaning of criolho was 'slave in European employment,
particularly around the house, white man or woman
originating from the colonies'" (Muhlhausler 1986:6).
The word "creole" has adopted a number of meanings.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary gives the
following meanings to it.
1. white person born in the colonies
2. a person of European descent born especially in the
West Indies or Spanish America
3. a white person descended from early French or
Spanish settlers of the U.S. Gulf states and preserving
their speech and culture
4. a person of mixed French or Spanish and Negro
descent speaking a dialect of French or Spanish


Band of Ghana; Georgina Amankwah and Anthony Pegah of Kumasi
Polytechnic; Asiedu-Yirenkyi, first P.N.D.C. secretary for
Culture and Tourism and a lecturer at the University of
Ghana; Mr. Ayeh, managing director of CEREDEC; Nana-Benyin
and Ernest Sarfo-Baidoo of Third Eye Band; Kofi Sammy of
Okukuseku International Band; Gustav Baidoo and Agnes
Ewusiamah of Achimota Primary School; Mr. Torkonoo of the
"Ghanaian Times"; Job Enning of the Ghana Atomic Energy
Commission Primary School; Ms. Salamatu; Ms. Serwah-Awuku;
Monica Addo and Rebecca Djadu; Kofi Ntiamoah of Homotta
comics; H.T.K. Bobobee; Alhassan of Commonwealth Hall at
Legn; and the other numerous informants without whose help
this work would not be successful. Special thanks should go
to Ms. Hellen Odamtten, a former worker of the Ghana
Broadcasting Corporation and a senior research fellow at the
University of Ghana for contributing to the history and
syntax parts of this work. I wish to express my thanks to
Mr. Simbo Odunaiya for his computer guidance that enabled me
make the beautiful graphics in this work. Finally, I thank
my wife, Doris Boateng, for her patience and encouragement.
Needless to say, I am solely responsible for any errors or
imperfections in this work. All I can say is "Na G^d go
tank de pi pul wey dcm help mi. Wey de m^nin k=>k de krow mek
yu sabi sey i bi Joe de tank yu =>=." ("it is God who will
thank the people who helped me. When the morning rooster
crows, you should know that it is Joe thanking you all.").
iv


126
Response
No
Response
Dabida
Response
Walahi
Response
People!
Once again time with the PDCs and you're welcomed.
Stay tuned in for the next twenty-five minutes for your
program "The People's Revolutionary Program''.
The above can be paraphrased as: "Ghanaian people, let
us wake up and fight for our rights. We will not sit down
and let them cheat us everyday." (Daabida is an Akan word
for "no" or "never", and walahi is a Hausa word for "I
swear".)
Entertainment
Telling jokes. Ghanaian Pidgin English is used for
entertainment in the spoken mode in the areas of music and
telling jokes. People tell jokes in GPE because they say
that makes it funnier than telling it in standard English.
But one thing about these comedians is that most of them
have low educational backgrounds so it is easier for them to
tell their jokes in GPE instead of telling them in standard
English. Members of a comedian group called Osofo Dadzie
use Akan language but once a while they will use GPE.
Music. All the Ghanaian musicians who have been
interviewed say that they sing in pidgin English in order to


167


76
constituent is a pronoun, the objective case is chosen.
Here are some examples:
I bi tru a de tok.
"It's the truth that I am speaking."
I bi mi tok tru.
"It's I speaking the truth."
I bi dem de go horn.
"It's they going home."
I bi im de go horn.
"It's he/she going home."
I bi wi de t=>k tru.
"It's we speaking the truth."
Negation
Negation is a proposition that is asserted as being
false. Negation is expressed in GPE by preceding TAM with
the lexical item "no." This means "no" precedes an irrealis
marker like the future go. It will precede an aspect marker
like the nonpunctual aspect de, and it will precede a modal
like fit. The sequence will be:
NO + TAM + MAIN VERB.
NEG + MAIN VERB
A no go skuul.
"I don't go to school." OR "I didn't go to
school."
NEG + de + MAIN VERB
A no de go skuul.
"I am not going to school." OR
"I was not going to school."
NEG + go + MAIN VERB
A no go go skuul.
"I will not go to school."


113
Akpatse Sledge whom they had been waiting for since
arrival.
"Akpatse; Sledge Akpatse; Jah Jah Akpatse!" they
shouted as they rushed out to meet him. Eight form one
boys were called to carry his trunk whilst another
eight carried his mattress to the dormitory.
"But Charley why you keep long for house so?"
Lugu asked in the dormitory.
"Ho, but I no be kid wey I for come school six
a.m. on re-opening day.
"Weytin you want talk?" Toyas questioned. "You
want mean say we wey we come quick be kids?"
(The Mirror, 1984:6)
Others
'Others' on Table 5.3, which was chosen as a category
of GPE users by 24.0% of our respondents, includes those
groups of people which the informants added to the list
provided on the questionnaires. These include watchmen,
laborers, prostitutes, seaport workers, ships' crew,
stewards, vehicle loaders (also known as bookmen), bandsmen
and comedians, currency dealers, and miners. All the
respondents who mentioned prisoners and prison officers were
prison officers themselves and thus were in a position to
know what goes on within the prison yard.
Most of the informants mentioned watchmen or security
guards. Watchmen are mostly former service personnel who
have left the armed forces. Some are also lower working
class people with little or no formal education who are
part-time watchmen. Their work usually brings them in
contact with speakers of standard English, and the only
English they know is pidgin. This is illustrated in a novel
by Ayi Kwei Armah, where he quotes a watchman who had


13
From these early centuries date some of the most
characteristic Pidgin words, known and used by almost
everyone, English or African, who has lived in the
coastal areas of West Africa: dash. n and v, 1(to
give) a gift, bribe, tip or commission'; pickin. n, 'a
young child'; palaver, n, 'talk, argument, trouble',
and compounds such as maromv-palaver. 'woman (or wife)
trouble', bellv-palaver. 'stomach trouble'; chop n and
v, 'food' and 'eat', and its recent extensions in
phrases such as small chop, 'cocktail eats', chop box,
'food box for use on trek, originally for head
loading', etc. (Spencer 1971:11)
The Dutch
In 1581 the northern Dutch provinces declared their
independence from Spain and successfully defended it. The
Dutch, from that time, embarked on a worldwide commercial
enterprise. By the middle of the seventeenth century they
had built a vast Dutch empire which circled the planet with
outposts from what is today New York to the Caribbean,
Brazil, Africa, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and
Japan (Holm 1989:322). They took over all of Portugal's
possessions in West Africa by 1642. They made some few
settlements on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and traded with
its people between 1595 and 1869 (Ward 1948). They captured
the Elmina castle on the Gold Coast in 1637.
One remarkable thing about the Dutch is that there are
very few linguistic remnants of the vast empire that they
built. Negerhollands (D 'Negro Dutch) is a creole once
widely spoken in what became the United States Virgin
Islands; it is extinct today (Holm 1989:325). Berbice
Creole Dutch is one of the two nearly extinct Dutch-based
creoles spoken in Guyana (ibid.329). Skepi is also a Dutch-


196
SUPER


112
priests use GPE and only 2% said that churches are places
where GPE is spoken (Tables 5.3 and 5.4). Churches scored
slightly higher than priests because some interviewees said
that while they do not speak pidgin in the chapel, they do
so on the church premises with their friends rather than
with priests or pastors.
Students
From Table 5.3 it can be seen that students are claimed
to be the largest group (84.5%) of Ghanaian Pidgin English
speakers. Schools also received 73.7% on Table 5.4. The
main reason is the fashion in Ghana that if one is a student
then one should know how to speak pidgin in order to be
accepted as a member of the student community. For example,
I made an effort to learn pidgin English when I entered the
university. My roommate used to tease me that my spoken
pidgin English was not perfect at that time. This is also
illustrated in a short story about students' behavior in
Ghanaian secondary schools that appeared in one of the
Ghanaian weekly newspapers. The title of the story was
'THE SLEDGE BROTHERS: Pidgin was their language, bullying
their habit; and they had no time for their books.' The
beginning of the story shows that Pidgin is the language of
the students.
It was the day for the re-opening for the second
term of the academic year, and at Astor Secondary
School, in Accra, a group of students known as the
Sledge Brothers couldn't help hailing their friend,


11
1978:314). A pidgin Portuguese which Naro calls
"reconnaisance language" evolved in Europe, first between
those Africans who were sent there and the Portuguese, and
then later on among the Portuguese and other nationalities
who were in Portugal. "The purpose of the reconnaissance
language, from the Portuguese point of view, was to
facilitate linguistic comprehension when necessary; it could
be used in speaking to persons of any social standing and of
any nationality, under appropriate circumstances (ibid:326).
The Portuguese settlers and traders who set up
permanent households, usually with African women, in West
Africa might have been the means of transfer of the
reconnaissance language from Europe to Africa. These
setllers had direct linguistic contact with the Africans in
their daily life.
The major linguistic significance of the Portuguese
voyages and trade is the traces of Portuguese vocabulary
that are found in some African languages and especially in
pidgin and creole languages. In the Akan language of Ghana,
some Portuguese words, which have been phonologically
assimilated into the Akan language, are still in use.
Portuguese carta ("letter") has become Akan krataa ("a
letter or paper"). Porco ("pig") has become prako with the
same meaning. Portuguese camisa ("shirt") has become Akan
kamisa ("a woman's one-piece undergarment"); conta


12
("accounting, reckoning") is konta in Akan with the same
meaning; Portuguese coco ("coconut") is kube2 in Akan; and
Portuguese sapato ("shoe") has become the Akan word sepatere
with the same meaning (Amoako 1988:4).
Many linguists have discussed the Portuguese vocabulary
items in pidgin English. We will provide the discussions by
Schneider and Spencer because they deal specifically with
West African Pidgin English.
A few high frequency vocabulary items are a legacy from
Portuguese Pidgin which held on into the 17th century
and constitutes a vocabulary substratum in West African
Pidgin English. Examples: P-E /pikin/ from
[pequenino] PORT, 'child / little one'. P-E /dash/
from [dache] PORT, 'gift' or 'tribute' and extended to
cover a broad semantic field of meaning. P-E /sabi/
from [saber] PORT. 'know'. P-E /palaba/ from [palavra]
PORT. 'conference', 'discussion' and in Portuguese
'word', The formsdash, pikin. palaver and savvy
appear in many historical sources and 'dialect'
conversations of 19-2Oth century writers. (Schneider
1967:6)
The Portuguese exploration has bequeathed to the world
as well as to West African Pidgin English many of the
prominent place-names which lie recorded in the portulans of
the 15-16th century sources. Examples of these place-names
are Guinea, Elmina, Lagos, Cape Verde, Cape Palmas, Porto
Novo, Sierra Leone, Luanda, Cross River, Fernando Po, and
Cameroons (ibid.7).
Writing about the early voyages and trade of the
Portuguese, Spencer also writes on the Portuguese influence
on Pidgin vocabulary:


144
an argumentum ad populum policy, that is, telling the
researchers what they want to hear.


192
,, you SEE E-BE OIEEICULT
M T IMF/tcr/NO
lyl!, BSSlfitp;.! womwbefore...you.
mmm&k &r *£&>*£?
% o:^7f^ I /rj
K fJNYTH/NG.../ poR BUYNElN
CloTHLS, TWO Shv, N£tv SR/££
cj7s{ / 6£r MONEY POR
/ MEET
PLENTY P£Op_ £ foR Si/S/NESS
b/SCUSS/ONS SOME GO CONTE
HER£_^- '
,HHVE'. _
' ATYHVS&HNP
(BEFORE HOWMUCH?
/aoBuy
c>FtMKt y ,
ATtf/HE nMonE
/H/LL/O/U CFH
FRffJCS-.yoUGO
GET /fat ONE WEEK
..SOW SHE
<30ESJARKEr
6HECOMEO(VE
ME PLENTY money.
POlNN THE HOTEL LOBBY. ¡gifeH
1,.-..rollin'^1 hS'.'-'Z--.


71
In the following speech, the adjectival compound m-
en1-wuml which qualifies "fayt" ("fight") is made up of
noun-conj unction-noun.
Jo, dis no bi yu^ palava. I bi m-en1-wuml fayt.
Dey k^l am laylay fayt.
"Joe, this is not your business. It's a man-and-woman
fight. They call it a fake fight."
Syntax
There is not too much difference between the syntax of
GPE and those of the other West African English pidgins
(Schneider 1966 and Todd 1984 on Cameroon; Mafeni 1971 and
Barbag-Stoll 1983 on Nigerian).
The Basic Sentence Structure
The basic sentence pattern of GPE is (Subject)
Predicate (Object) (Complement) where the bracketed elements
are optional:
Rid! "Read!"
Rid de pepa. "Read the paper."
De b=>y de rid de pepa. "The boy is reading the paper."
De b=>y de rid de pepa pas im spetakils. "The boy is
reading the paper with his spectacles."
Tense-Modal-Aspect (TMA^
The following is how Givon has briefly explained Tense-
Modal-Aspect (TMA) of a language:
Tense involves primarily though not exclusively our
experience / concept of time as points in a sequence,
and thus the notions of precedence and subsequence.
Aspects of various kinds involve our notion of the
boundedness of time-spans, i.e. various configurations
of beginning, ending and middle points. But in the
semantic space of aspect, nearly always some element of
tense is also involved, in terms of establishing a term


95
if I don't report by August 1st. they will take their
award back."
Grow When a GPE speaker tells you that you are a grown
person he or she means you are an old person.
De wuml i grow? I grow pas Doggie?
"Is the woman old? Is she older than Doggie?"
I grow smo. I mek ova teti .
"He/She is a little old. He/She is over thirty."
Yus Another meaning of "yus" ("use") in GPE apart from
its traditional meanings is "good" or "nice".
Fes taym wey wi de pey nayn fifti-eit nu a, a ti nk sey
i yus; bik^s naw wi de pey omos fayf handred sidis,
wey, dat's f=> lzsjin alown; wey a ti nk sey i no yus.
Dey de chit wi.
"First time when we were paying nine fifty-eight, I
think that it was good, because now we are paying
almost five hundred cedis which is for lodging; lodging
alone, which I think that it is not good. They are
cheating us."
Rap In GPE, "rap" means "to talk to somebody to
convince him or her". A man raps a woman by trying to woo
her; or an offender raps his or her boss to avoid
punishment. In the following example, some students were
late in returning to school, and two other students are
discussing the plight of these latecomers.
A; Mi, a tink sey if yu go kam a, i tuu i bi fada so
de pr3blem wey i mek yu che nu a, yu rap am wey i
mek genun a, a fil sey i go fit k^nsida yu.
B; Haw kam dat .... yu figa sey so dis pi pul go fit go
stan in skin wey dey de go rap am wan wan wan.
A: "For me, I think that if you go and come; he too
he's a father; so the problem that made you late,
if you tell him and it is genuine, I fell he'll be
able to consider you."


116
Writers who write in standard English sometimes include
passages to represent the speech of a character. For
example, Kofi Anyidoho (1985a:88) quoted in one of his poems
an illiterate moslem from the Northern Region of Ghana who
used pidgin English in a treason trial in the 1960s. The
moslem had attempted to assassinate the first president of
Ghana by throwing a bomb at him. When the president died in
exile, there was a debate on whether Ghanaians should go for
his remains or not. In a poetic way the writer has the
character speak pidgin English when the latter was invited
as a witness:
Salaam aleikum
Me I be Malam
And Malam no fit tell lie
Some bigi bigi men You sabe dem name -
Dey dey for back
Dey put Malam for flont
Dey put hot bomb for Malam pocket
So dey push Malam
and push Malam
and push Malam
Now see which side Malam dey!
Our Bigi Man the Masita imsef
The one who now idie
Me I say e be stron man proper
Dat bomb we trow ino fit kill am
Some bugabuga mans come take Malam for contaback
De bigi bigi afraidmens dem all run away
But the Bigi masita imsef icatchi dem sharp sharp
he put dem all for detention
So today me I stand I say
Lak somebody tell you say
our masita imhead strong too mush
iputu plenty peoplo for detention for notin
Me I tell you say dat man imhead ino collect
All dem be lie lie tief men
Ibi so so chop chop dem wan chop
And derefore lak you ass me jus now
Wetin we go do Bigi Masita and imdead body?
I go say make you bringam home one tarn
Me alone I fit digi bigi hole and buryiam proper


105
Table 5.4
"Where Is Pidgin English Spoken?" Affirmative Responses
Schools
Universities
Homes
Streets
224
199
109
230
(73.7%)
(65.5%)
(35.9%)
(75.7%)
Churches
Mosques
Dances
Parties
6
8
188
147
(2.0%)
(2.6%)
(61.8%)
(48.4%)
Villages
Big Towns
Rural Areas
Urban
Centers
83
192
83
156
(27.3%)
(63.2%)
(27.3%)
(51.3%)
Airports
Lorry Stations
Harbors
Borders
91
233
155
175
(29.9%)
(76.6%)
(51.0%)
(57.6%)
Work-
Entertainment
Drinking
Cinema
Places
Places
Bars
Houses
198
184
226
210
(65.1%)
(60.5%)
(74.3%)
(69.1)
Play-
Military/Police
Army/Police
Radio
Grounds
Depot
Barracks
Ghana
157
181
190
46
(51.6%)
(59.5%)
(62.5%)
(15.1%)
* Others
34
(11.2%)
* Others include markets, railway stations, hotels, shops,
beaches, and prisons.


124
say that the speaker does not need to follow the rigid rules
of phonology and syntax of any particular language, for
instance, standard English. They say the speaker's aim is
to make the message communicative. We do not agree with
this idea because GPE has its syntactic as well as
phonological rules. What has made the respondents think
that GPE does not require any strict syntactic or
phonological rules is that these rules are similar to those
of the Ghanaian languages which the speakers are familiar
with.
Socialization and Fun
About forty percent (39.9%) of the speakers surveyed
say they speak GPE to be accepted into a group that speaks
the language. This usage of Ghanaian Pidgin English is for
socialization, and fun. GPE is spoken as a solidarity
language. This is so because the speakers have one or two
of the Ghanaian languages in common that they can use but
they choose to use GPE as one of their registers to show the
solidarity among them. This usage will depend upon the
speakers, the topic and the situation. The solidarity usage
of GPE is prominent among the youth especially the male
students.
When a female teacher in one of the high schools in
Ghana was asked whether there are any rules in her school
prohibiting the students from speaking GPE, and whether the


205
I started a graduate program in linguistics at the
University of Iowa in Iowa City in 1985, and obtained my
M.A. degree in 1987. I began a doctoral work in linguistics
at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1987. I was
accepted as a Ph.D. candidate in 1989. I have been teaching
linguistics and Swahili at the Ohio University in Athens
since 1990.


174


181
fLLU/J. DPT POOMPP SPBC M8k£ )
SOUP WELL-WELL W£lL £-&[ )
prop u/ll ROE Soup
SuDjtEhlL.^
r.n VJ£ YT/rJ£
O/s/YR LORRY ff/S'tX
Toe you C¡£Y mfKB
CHVRcHfl j -HiMO'Jb-
RCE'


CHAPTER 4
A PHONOLOGICAL, MORPHOLOGICAL, SYNTACTIC, AND SEMANTIC
SURVEY OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH
Introduction
Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE) can be classified into
two types: educated pidgin and uneducated pidgin. The
uneducated pidgin is also called "houseboy pidgin" or
"motorpark pidgin". It is called uneducated pidgin because
its speakers have not had any formal literacy education.
Some of these uneducated people, who are mostly men, work in
the houses of educated English speakers where they are
called "houseboys". It is the type of pidgin that they
speak that has been named after them. It is this same type
of pidgin that is spoken at the car and lorry stations where
passengers who do not own vehicles go for transportation to
travel with, hence the pidgin spoken there is called
motorpark pidgin.
The other pidgin type is called educated pidgin because
its speakers have had formal literacy education. Some
people call it "intellectual pidgin" because of the same
reason. This is the pidgin that is spoken by young people,
especially the students of Ghana. Intellectual pidgin has
been influenced by standard English. Over a range of
continuum of the types of English spoken in Ghana,
54


21
pidgin English in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon,
and Ghana.
Nigeria
The area that is now coastal Nigeria never had forts
built by the Europeans for the slave trade. Although the
Portuguese began the traffic in slaves in this area early
on, much of the coast from Nigeria to Cameroon was
relatively ignored by the Europeans, partly because of its
difficult conditions (Tonkin 1971:143). However, the
growing demand for slaves in the eighteenth century drove
slavers further eastward to the lagoons of what is today
Lagos and the creeks of the "Rivers" at the mouth of the
Niger. Here the Europeans could anchor their vessels for
the brief period needed to load the slaves that the African
traders kept ready for them (Osae et al. 1973:180). By the
end of the eighteenth century Bonny and Calabar on the Bight
of Biafra had become two of the most important trading
ports.
The British made the slave trade illegal in 1807, and
their navy patrolled this area to enforce the new law;
however, trade in palm oil and other goods remained
important. Protestant missionaries from England and Sierra
Leone began coming to this area in the 1840s and were
welcomed as teachers of arithmetic and English (Tonkin
1971:144). Britain annexed Lagos in 1861, the Rivers in
1885, and then all of Nigeria in 1900. Although Nigeria


58
Table 4.2. G.P.E. Consonants
BI
LABIAL
LABIO
DENTAL
DENTAL
PALATO-
ALVEOLAR
PALATAL
VELAR
GLOT
TAL
PLOSIVE
P b
t d
k g
NASAL
m
n

AFFRI
CATE
e ]
LATERAL
1
r
FRICA
TIVE
f V
s
s
h
SEMI
VOWEL
w
y
The standard English vowels have been replaced by
vowels in the Ghanaian languages that are close to them in
quality. Diachronically, we cannot say that the English
that was introduced to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) was the
Received Pronunciation (RP) English since not all the
British sailors and traders who came to the country were
using RP. Since we are concerned with the current emergence
of GPE, we will compare the vowels of RP with those of GPE.
Table 4.3. GPE and RP Vowel Substitution
RP
GPE
ENGLISH EXAMPLES
ae
/kaet/
a
/kat/
cat
a
/abawt/
a
/abaut/
about
a:
/w a: rk/
e :
/we:k/
work
A
/bAS/
3
/b^su/
bus
Consonants of GPE
GPE has twenty-one consonants. The voiced labio-dental
fricative, /v/, has very limited occurrence. It is mostly


75
Na go a de go skuul.
"It is going to school that I am doing."
Na mi de go skuul."
"It is I going to school."
This na is also used in Akan as a focus marker, but it
occurs immediately after the fronted constituent which is
being focussed.
AKAN
me-re-ka nokware.
I-PRES-speak truth.
"I am speaking the truth."
nokware na me-re-ka.
truth FOCUS I-PRES-speak.
"It's the truth that I am speaking."
If we compare the above Akan sentences to their GPE
counterparts we will have the following:
A de t=>k tru.
"I am speaking the truth."
Na tru a de tok.
"It's the truth that I'm speaking."
We are not claiming that this focus na which is used in
other West African English pidgins originated from the Akan
language. We have just shown that the same syntactic
phenomenon do exist in Akan. Further research will have to
be done for such a claim. What has been shown is the
influence that some of the Ghanaian languages have on GPE.
Another way of focus in GPE is the use of the present
form of the copula BI [bi]. The pronoun I [i] precedes BI to
form this focus marker. These two elements precede the
constituent that is being focussed. If the focussing


191


182


19
Standard English is the type of English that Spencer is
talking about in the above quotation. On the other hand, if
one listened to children in the playground, or to students
on educational campuses, one might hear another language,
closely related in some ways to English, but certainly
unintelligible to native English speakers from outside West
Africa: Pidgin English (ibid.5). The social stigma that
people associate with pidgins, and for that matter pidgin
English, is discussed by Spencer:
Where it existed as a lingua franca in local community
life it was forbidden in classroom and hopefully, in
playground and dormitory too. It was frowned upon by
the schoolmaster and swept under the carpet by almost
all colonial educationists. Many Africans who made use
of it were also made ashamed of it. From the point of
view of formal education Pidgin, as well as Krio, the
creole language of Freetown, lived an "underground"
existence. (ibid.5)
For the sake of simplicity, Holm divides the English-
based pidgin and creole in West Africa into three major
groups: Krio, including nonnative and emigrant varieties,
in Sierra Leone; Liberian, with similar divisions; and West
African Pidgin English, as spoken in Ghana, Nigeria, and
Cameroon. "Because of their interconnected histories, Krio
and Pidgin share a number of features and there is
considerable mutual intelligibility between their speakers,
although neither group can understand much Liberian" (Holm
1989:409).
This is how Schneider has defined Pidgin English as it
is related to West Africa:


193
P£YtfOCrO
FTPPU a
,
tbammmmK
M
Super Afugu Yaro international is always in^t rouble. Why? Will'he run away to Ghana because of
the hotel Managert Will\he ever get to Bouaket Read VoL\12.


102
The next issue to be considered is the type of people
who speak Ghanaian Pidgin English. In the survey,
informants were requested to mark who they think speak
Pidgin English in Ghana, and where. Names of the people and
places were provided, and informants were requested to add
their own observations. Table 5.3 shows the types of
people, and table 5.4 shows the places where it is spoken.
The numbers on these tables represesnt the number of times a
particular category was selected by the informants. The
percentages have been calculated by comparing the numbers
with the total of respondents which is 304. Figures 5.3 and
5.4 are further illustrations of these facts.


72
of point-of-reference along sequential time. Finally,
modality encompasses among other things our notions of
reality. in the sense of "having factual existence at
some real time" ("true"), "having existence at no real
time" ("false"), or "having potential existence in some
vet-to-be time" ("possible"). Synchronically,
diachronically and ontogenetically, TAM categories are
interconnected. (Givon 1984:272)
Bickerton (1975) has outlined a classical TMA system as
including one preverbal AUX to mark anterior tense (simple
past for states and past-before-past for actions), one to
mark irrealis mood ("future" and conditional) and one to
mark nonpunctual aspect (progressive and habitual). He has
further suggested that a prototypical creole TAM system
should conform to this description and order.
The TMA of GPE is expressed syntactically. It is not
expressed morphologically as it is done in some cases in
standard English. Some lexical items precede the main verb
to express the TAM of GPE as has been expressed by
Bickerton. But GPE departs from Bickerton's analysis by not
having any AUX or marker to express anteriority. Because of
this a verb without a preverbal AUX has two meanings if it
is taken out of a discourse context; for example:
a go skuul.
"I go to school."
OR
"I went to school."
In the following example the discourse context shows that
the event happened in the past.
Charlie, a hie sey yu go horn wey yu go spen tu wiks.
Way yu no wz>n' kam skuul?


being given to Pidgin in Ghana, the one West African nation
for which least information is available on the local pidgin
English." The above observations, among other things,
prompted me to do a research on the language so that it will
open the way for other linguists to know that there is a
pidgin in Ghana.
The study consists of six chapters which deal with the
definitions and etymologies of pidgin and creole, the
history of West African Pidgin English, the methodology of
the research, history of GPE, a detailed linguistic analysis
of GPE, the sociolinguistics of GPE, as well as conclusions
on the survey.
Data were collected on GPE over a period of nine
months. Out of the 400 copies of guestionnaire distributed,
304 were retrieved. This period was also used in tape
recording interviews, conversations, and songs, as well as
collecting magazines and newspapers. The informants who
consisted of both sexes ranged from school children to a
secretary of state.
The survey shows that there is a pidgin English in
Ghana, and that it has been influenced by the substrate
languages. It is spreading fast, especially among the
youths because it is being used not only as a means of
communication but also as a means of solidarity.
ix


10
The Portuguese
There was a pidgin Portuguese which was used in parts
of Africa throughout the 16th and 17th centuries (Naro
1978:334). Naro states that the history of pidgin
Portuguese is divided into two temporally and geographically
distinct phases. The first phase is the period of formation
in Europe, beginning around the 1440s, and the second phase
is the period of transfer and establishment in West Africa
of the resultant "acquired code," beginning around 1500.
The captains of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal
reached Cape Verde in 1444, Sierra Leone in 1460 and the
Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1471 (Spencer 1971:7). They
colonized the Cape Verde Islands and used them as a base for
settlements south along the coast. They built the fort of
Sao Jorge de Mina1 in the Gold Coast. They set up a station
at Gwato, the port of Benin, and colonized the island of Sao
Thome as a center for their Niger-Cameroons trade. They
established settlements, forts and trading stations down the
western and up the eastern sub-equatorial coasts of Africa,
and they reached Goa and Calicut and the Malabar coast of
India, as well as Malacca on the Malayan peninsular
(ibid.8).
Native speakers of West African languages were captured
and taken to Portugal, where, at the orders of Prince Henry
the Navigator, they were taught Portuguese so that they
could be used as translators on future voyages (Naro


CHAPTER 3
GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF CURRENT AND
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
Research Background
Considerable misinformation has been circulated about
Ghanaian Pidgin English. Some Ghanaians attribute the
worsening of standard English to the emergence of pidgin
English. An evidence of this can be read from Suzanne
Romaine's 1988 publication.
As recently as 1986 the Times Higher Education
Supplement (17 Jan. 1986) carried a report of a
newspaper in Ghana complaining about the use of Pidgin
English on Ghanaian campuses and recommending that
stern measures be taken against it. The report notes
that in no other case do the future leaders of the
country talk a 'mixture in which all the tenses are
thrown to the wind, and words are picked from far and
wide, making no sense to the listener.' (Romaine
1988:13)
But pidgin English is serving a very important purpose which
many critics overlook. It serves as an important medium of
communication. It is spoken on a wide scale in educational
institutions, work places, airports, seaports, drinking
places, markets, on the radio, in popular songs, on
political platforms, and on many occasions. It is spoken by
both literate and illiterate people. Most importantly,
pidgin English is becoming the lingua franca in English
speaking West Africa countries.
35


108
Teachers
In general, teachers do not like to speak or hear
others speak pidgin English because they see themselves as
the custodians of standard English. But for some other
reasons which will be seen later, some teachers speak this
language. 'Teachers' in this sense include university
lecturers, technical college tutors, and elementary school
teachers. As one moves up from elementary school teachers
through university lecturers, the percentage of pidgin
English users falls. This means the level of education of
the teachers is also a factor in the spread of pidgin
English. Normally, university graduates do not teach in the
elementary schools of Ghana. They teach in the second cycle
institutions.


146
Table 2 Ranks of Speakers and Places of Ghanaian Pidgin
English
RANKS
Matched
Pairs
Speakers
Places
*1
d12
A
12
10
2
4
B
11
7
4
16
C
1
1
0
0
D
9
12
-3
9
E
4
3
1
1
F
3
4
-1
1
G
10
8
2
4
H
5
6
-1
1
I
8
11
-3
1
J
2
2
0
0
K
7
5
2
4
L
6
9
-3
9
58
We used the data in table 2 to compute the value of rs.
6 (58)
= 1 -
(12) 12
= .8
From a table of critical values of rs, the Spearman Rank
Correlation Coefficient, .8 is significant at p<0.01. This
means the ranks of the speakers and the places are related.


24
late eighteenth century. The English might have been
influenced by the Portuguese that was spoken by the traders
and their Afro-European descendants in this area. The
Portuguese reached the peninsula on which Freetown now
stands around 1460 and named the area Serra Lyoa or "Lion
Mountain" (ibid.413). From the late fifteenth century
onward European ships stopped regularly in this area to
trade manufactured goods for slaves and ivory. The English
established a fort on an island near the Sierra Leone
peninsula in 1663; a number of English privateers settled on
the offshore islands from this period onwards and they and
their Afro-European descendants helped establish various
forms of restructured English there. "These mulattoes
merged with the Afro-Portuguese to form a group of about
12,000 by the end of the eighteenth century . [that] may
have formed the 'indigenous' nucleus of the Creole-type
society that was to emerge in the nineteenth century" (Jones
1983:16).
Slavery was abolished in Britain in 1772, and the
American revolution began in 1776. At this time the British
offered freedom to any American-owned slave who would escape
to fight for the crown, and thousands of slaves did this
(Hancock 1971a:12). Some of these soldiers ended up in
England where they and others called the Black Poor were
felt to be a social problem. Some of these were settled in
Africa. In 1787 some four hundred persons (330 blacks and


5
"creoles are reflections of a natural bioprogram for human
language which is activated in cases of imperfect language
transmission" (Bickerton 1981).
Bickerton suggests that "the essential difference
between pidginization and creolization is that pidginization
is second-language learning with restricted input and
creolization is first-language learning, also with
restricted input" (Bickerton 1981) .
Etymology of "Pidgin"
There have been many proposals as to the etymology of
the term "pidgin". The more widespread of these proposals
include the following taken from Mhlhusler (1986:1):
PROPOSALS TO THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE TERM "PIDGIN"
1. the definition given by the Oxford English Dictionary
(OED) of a "Chinese corruption of English "business";
2. a Chinese corruption of the Portuguese word ocuoacao:
"business";
3. Hebrew pidiom: "exchange, trade, redemption";
4. Yago (a South American Indian language spoken in an area
colonized by Britain) pidian: "people";
5. South Seas pronunciation of English "beach" (beachee)
from the location where the language was typically used
(Muhlhausler 1986) ;
6. derived from pegueno portugus. roughly "little
Portuguese";
7. derived from Baixo portugus "low Portuguese" (Holm 1988)
Of all the above proposals, the OED theory enjoys the
most popular support. In a paper presented at the 1990


29
English Navy ... African pidgin speakers such as these
became the main agents of language transmission" (Tonkin
1971:143). Jones suggests that the Kru probably helped
spread Krio features in West African Pidgin English since
they were present in Freetown by the 1790s and by 1820 their
numbers there matched those of the settlers and maroons
(Jones 1971:67). By the end of the nineteenth century the
Krumen had brought a knowledge of Pidgin English as far
south as the Congo River (Reinecke 1937:619). At this time
the largest group of Krumen worked in Nigeria, but by the
end of the First World War the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) had
become their primary venue (Holm 1989:422).
It could be seen from the above paragraphs that Pidgin
English was spoken along the Liberian coast before the
arrival of the Afro-American settlers. One of the officials
of these settlers noted in the 1820s that "every head man
around us, and hundreds of their people speak, and can be
made to understand our language without an interpreter"
(quoted by Singler 1984:39).
The Americans wanted to "get rid of the masses of
blacks that loitered about the city streets, making them
unsafe, but there was also the humane wish to give them a
homeland of their own" (quoted by Holm 1989:423). This was
after the slave trade. In 1821 the American Colonization
Society bought land at the present site of Monrovia and in
1822 the first group of freed American slaves arrived.


APPENDIX D
SOME GPE CONVERSATIONS AND SONGS
The Lexicon; Most of the words of the Ghanaian Pidgin English
(GPE) come from English, but some of the English words take on
different meanings in GPE. e.g.
English
plus (line 34, 37, 39, 60)
fit (line 43, 45)
say (line 51, 58, 61)
for (line 12, 59)
GPE
and, with
can, have the ability to
do something
say, complementizer 'that'
must, should
A CONVERSATION BETWEEN TWO STUDENTS ABOUT A FUTURE DATE
L=Lady; M=Man.
1. L: a no go lov bia.
a de lov ginis rada.
M: ginis?
L: i bi ginis a de lov.
5. M: mi, a tek bia o ginis a,
den m ays de klos so
i bi ogoqro wey i yus
fo mi.
L: yu si o, wey wi tek
10. yu tek de ogoqro na mi
a tek de ginis a
wi fo go disko.
yu sabi mi die may problem
i bi dansin, soso dansin
15. so wi go go disko.
wot kay disko sey
yu won es
M: nadisko? de bes wan.
I will not like beer.
I like Guiness rather.
Guiness?
It is Guiness that I like.
Me, if I take beer or Guiness
then my eyes are closing, so
it is ogoqro which is good
for me.
You see, when we take,
you take the ogoqro and I
I take the Guiness,
we should go to a disco.
You know, for me, my problem
is dancing, just dancing
so we will go to a disco.
What kind of disco is it that
you want us
L: a w=n bushwa
20. a won bushwa disko
158
Nadisco; the best one.
I want a bourgeois
I want a bourgeois disco.


40
in what are today Guinea-Bissau, Ghana and Nigeria before
the end of the century. But their trade was taken over
first by the Dutch and then the English (Holm 1989:410).
The English took over part of the slave trade by
establishing forts in West Africa. "The first was built in
1631 at Cormantine in what is today called Ghana" (Spencer
1971:8). In 1672 the British seized from the Dutch a number
of forts for trading for slaves on the Gold Coast and Slave
Coastmodern Ghana, Togo, and Benin (Fage et al. 1959
quoted by Holm 1989:426). Restructured English was brought
to this area from the late eighteenth century onwards by
Krumen and Sierra Leonean Krio speakers.
In 1821 the British forts on the Gold Coast were taken
from the Africa Company and placed under the crown in the
form of the Governor of Sierra Leone. After the British
defeated the Ashanti in the Sagrenti War of 1874, the Gold
Coast and Lagos became the Gold Coast Colony and were
administratively separated from Sierra Leone. "By the end
of the century new medicines made life in the tropics safer
for Europeans, and British-born administrators, teachers,
etc. began taking over the positions previously filled by
Sierra Leoneans" (Trutenau 1975:21-23 quoted by Holm
1989:427). The low-level jobs were the only ones that were
left for the Africans. The demand was largely for unskilled
labor, which were first filled by Ghanaians and then by
Krumen from Liberia.


139
Like to Hear Others Speak G.P.E.
200-,
RESPONSES
no. 5.14
Figure 5.14. Like to Hear Others Speak G.P.E.
If we compare Tables 5.9 and 5.14, we realize that even
though the respondents would not like to speak GPE
themselves they would not mind if other people speak it. We
know that 36% of them said they like to speak GPE and 68%
said they do not like to speak it. The difference is 32%,
but when they were asked whether or not they like to hear
others speak it, 44% indicated "yes" and 52% indicated "no".
The difference is only 8%. In fact, 54 respondents said
they do not like to speak pidgin English but they would not
mind if others speak it. Only 12 respondents said that they
like to speak pidgin English but they would not like others
speak it.
The major reason given by the 54 respondents who say
they do not like to speak GPE but they would not mind if


25
70 white prostitutes) arrived in Sierra Leone and founded
what was to become Freetown. However, many died of disease
and in 1790 the Temne destroyed most of what remained of the
colony. The settlement was revived the following year by
the Sierra Leone Company, which was sponsored by British
opponents of the slave trade. In 1792 some 1,100 former
American slaves who had won their freedom by fighting for
the British were brought from Nova Scotia, where they had
been temporarily resettled after the British lost their more
southernly American colonies in 1783. In 1800 these
"Settlers" were joined by some 550 Jamaican Maroons.
Because of a disturbance in 1796 the British government had
the entire population of a settlement deported from Jamaica
to Nova Scotia; however, so many died from the cold that the
survivors were resettled in Sierra Leone (Le Page and DeCamp
1960:100).
In 1807 Britain outlawed the slave trade and in 1808
took over Freetown from the financially troubled company to
use it as a naval base for anti-slavery patrols to intercept
non-British slave ships. Between 1808 and 1864 tens of
thousands of captives on intercepted slave ships were
settled at Freetown, bringing a great many languages with
them from all over West Africa and the Congo-Angola area
(Koelle 1854). Krio became the lingua franca among these
recaptives and the first language of their descendants, who
joined those of the Settlers and Maroons as members of the


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81
A sev! I fal tuu m^ch.
"My word! It's really nice! / She's really a fine
lady!"
A ch^p am wan taro.
"I ate it immediately / at once!"
I ren plenti plenti.
"It rained a lot / great deal!"
Personal pronouns
Table 4.4 shows the personal pronouns in Ghanaian
Pidgin English:
Table 4.4. Personal Pronouns of G.P.E.
SUBJECTIVE
OBJECTIVE
1st Person Singular
a
mi
2nd Person Singular
yu
yu
3rd Person Singular
hi, i
am, im
1st Person Plural
wi
wi
2nd Person Plural
yu
yu
3rd Person Plural
dey, dem
dem
Possessives
The transitive possessive pronouns which occur just
before the possessed element like in standard English are:
"ma", "yu", "im/in", "yu", "wa", and "dem/dea" for "my",
"your"(singular), "his/her", "your"(plural), "our", and
"their" respectively; e.
I bi m haws.
I bi in haws.
I bi yz> haws.
I bi wa haws.
I bi dem/dea haws.
"It's my house."
"It's his/her house."
"It's your (sg./pl.) house."
"It's our house."
"It's their house."


47
6.6%. Just 7.6% had spoken it for less than a year during
the research period. These ratios are due to the current
attitude of people toward the GPE.
Table 3.4 and figure 3.4 offer further statistical data
and an illustration to show the consensus that Pidgin
English is spreading fast in Ghana.
Table 3.4
Rate of The Spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Slowly Fast Dying Out Not Found Other No Response
21 258 6 0 1 18
6.9% 84.9% 2.0% 0.0% 0.3% 5.9%
Rate of the Spread of G.P.E.
3.4
FAST
SLOWLY
NO RESPONSE
DYING OUT
OTHER
NOT POUND
Figure 3.4. Rate of the Spread of G.P.E.
Whereas 84.9% of the respondents said that the Ghanaian
Pidgin English is spreading fast, only 6.9% said that it is
spreading slowly.


2
For Holm, "a pidgin is a reduced language that results from
extended contact between groups of people with no language
in common; it evolves when they need some means of verbal
communication, perhaps for trade" (Holm 1988:4). Todd has
the following to say about the definition of pidgin.
A pidgin is a marginal language which arises to fulfil
certain communication needs among people who have no
common language. In the initial stages of contact the
communication is often limited to transactions where a
detailed exchange of ideas is not required and where a
small vocabulary, drawn almost exclusively from one
language, suffices. The syntactic structure of pidgin
is less complex and less flexible than the structure of
languages which were in contact. (Todd 1974:1-2)
Hall claims that a new pidgin is likely to arise
whenever a guide meets a tourist, or a shopkeeper meets a
customer, and the two do not share a common language. He
further states that a pidgin will draw its minimal
vocabulary from both languages. He again states that the
phonology and syntax will be reduced and the pidgin is
suitable only for minimal and specialized communication
(Hall 1954).
Apart from the communicative approach, Wardhaugh has
added function to his definition of pidgin. He writes that
"pidginization generally involves the simplification of a
language, e.g., reduction in morphology (word structure) and
syntax (grammatical structure), tolerance of considerable
phonological variation (pronunciation), reduction in the
number of functions for which the pidgin is used, and
extensive borrowing of words from local mothertongues"


53
are illiteracy, military regimes in Ghana, urbanization,
boarding schools, increase in the number of magazines that
feature GPE, and increase in its use for fun.


161
in dis legos
na wao
in (this) Lagos?
it is tough.
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de sofa
papa chika
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always suffering.
Papa Chika.
moni don kos am oo money has really caused it.
moni don kos am oo money has caused it.
moni, moni don kos am oo it's money that has caused it.
wondaful wonderful.
remi, luk yuo han Remi, (look) be careful about your hands
welwel
a beg
tek tam
wayo wayo
I beg you.
take (your) time,
little by little.
moni don kos am oo
moni don kos am oo
moni don kos am oo
money has really caused it.
money has really caused it.
money has caused it.
eviridey ma de taya
bifo yu go chop
eviridey ma de taya
bifo yu go get bisines
eviridey ma de taya
bifo yu go slip
eviridey ma de taya
everyday man is always tired,
before you'll eat
everyday man is always tired,
before you'll get business
everyday man is always tired,
before you'll sleep
everyday man is always tired.
eh
remi
luk yuo han welwel oo
wayo wayo
t.k.
na so a lak am
aha
Remi
(look) be careful about your hand,
little by little
T.K.
and that is how I like it.
INTERVIEW WITH KOFI SAMMY, THE SINGER OF "SUFFER SUFFER"
(J=Joe; K=Kofi Sammy)
1. J: naw yuo "sofa sofa"
yu sin som son
wey yu sey sofa sofa
way yu sin dis son
now your 'Suffer Suffer'
you sang a song
in which you say 'Suffer Suffer'
why did you sing this song?


132
For convenience sake to be able to communicate with
people who do not speak polished English and do not
speak the same Ghanaian language as me. This
especially refers to people down the social ladder.
I speak it because it is entertaining and the common
language spoken among comrades. Moreover it is a
convenient way of speaking to people who do not
understand English very well.
Facilitates easy communication speaker does not think
of the grammatical aspect of the English language.
Majority of the people whom we surveyed, 68%, indicated
that they do not like to speak pidgin English, Table 5.9
above. We grouped their reasons for not being enthusiastic
in speaking GPE into three categories; namely, adverse
effect on standard English, lack of ability to speak GPE,
and inappropriate language. Table 5.11 and Figure 5.11
indicate the statistics for the respondents' reasons for
their not wanting to speak GPE.
Table 5.11
Reasons for Not Wanting to Speak Ghanaian Pidgin English
Adverse Effect Lack of Ability to Inappropriate
on Standard Eng. Speak GPE Language
161 77% 17 8% 47 23%
Out of the 208 respondents who said they do not like to
speak pidgin English, 77% indicated that speaking GPE has or
will have an adverse effect on their usage of standard
English. This is actually the major reason why Ghanaians
oppose the usage of GPE. The following are some of the ways
the respondents expressed themselves on this reason;


17
details of large companies. The "factor" himself usually
had a fairly free hand to buy and sell in his own name. He
received a commission for his efforts and was entrusted with
the goods of the company. The larger stores and shops in
Cameroon are still referred to as faktri.
West African Pidgin English became firmly established
through the entire coastal area and there is some evidence
that the slaves of the early nineteenth century, recaptured
and off-loaded at Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Fernando Po
were communicating in pidgin English.
Schneider gives the following as the major reasons why
pidgin English emerged and survived in West Africa.
Firstly: Pidgin-English began to develop during the
17th century. These developments are documented by
Dutch sources of the West Coast. Pidgin-English
competed with Pidgin-Portuguese and perhaps a
smattering of Dutch but by the 18th century had gained
the greater part of the West Coast as its arena of
communication.
Secondly: The ascendancy of Britain as the chief
carrier of slaves and later as the organizer of West
Coast trade set the pattern for the spread and
development of Pidgin-English. This was greatly
facilitated by the "factory" and the attempts to
monopolize the trade through such procedures as the
"trust", creation of a hierarchy of middlemen, the
employment of Africans as factors, the incentives of
gifts, security and bonuses for effort.
Thirdly: The English traders, artisans and sailors
were ordinary men. Many had little formal education.
They had no fixed opinions about language, no visceral
reactions when their dialect was "pounded and battered.
This type of contact situation was excellent soil in
which the seeds of Pidgin-English could thrive.
(Schneider 1969:14-15)


118
wrote the GPE poetic letter to his friend to show the
intimacy between them. They have been friends for a long
time, and even though they speak the same language, Ewe,
they use GPE when, in his own words, "it comes to matters of
intimacy."
The use of such written Ghanaian Pidgin English in
books is rare. We find Anyidoho's first GPE poem as one out
of sixty-two poems in that book and on one page out of 122.
His poetic letter to his friend is also one out of sixty-six
poems in that book. Another instance occurs in Ayi Kwei
Armah's (1968) novel The Beautvful Ones Are Not Yet Born,
with Pidgin English found on eight pages out of 180.
When a former Ghana secretary for culture and tourism,
who is also a writer and a university professor, was asked
why he would write GPE in his works, this is how he
answered:
Incidentally, I happen to be a writer; and every writer
is looking for new avenues of expression. So, to me,
the pidgin language is one of the most expressive; it's
much closer to our way of life and our expressions, our
sensibilities, and our feelings, than the standard
English, (I personally interviewed Mr. Asiedu-Yirenkyi
with a tape recorder).
Entertainment. The written usage normally found in
magazines appears in cartoons. In recent years these GPE
cartoons are gaining popularity among the reading public
because of the current popularity of pidgin.
The cartoonist of the three most popular pidgin English
cartoons in Ghana, "Mugu Yaro", "Gyato", and "Baba Dogo",


128
elementary school who vehemently opposes the use of GPE was
asked why he thinks old musicians of his age would sing in
GPE, he expressed the same reason of communicating to a
wider audience. Since the interview with this headteacher
summarizes what many people would say about why the Ghanaian
musicians sing in GPE, we think it will be appropriate to
quote part of the interview here:
INTERVIEWER (INT): E. T. Mensah, this Ghanaian singer
who is now fairly old, I think he may be 50, do
you not hear him singing in pidgin English?
HEADTEACHER (HDT): You see, that is his profession.
You know he wants to put across the language of
his music; and by that if he is able to speak
pidgin English in the music it will be easily
adopted by everybody, whether you speak good
English or pidgin English; so he likes using
pidgin English to embrace all those who either
speak good English or pidgin English.
INT: Apart from him, in modern times, do you hear some
Ghanaian singers also singing in pidgin English?
HDT: Oh yes; in fact, what you are saying is true.
Most of them don't actually compose their music
with very good English. They contain a lot of
pidgin English.
INT: Why do you think they compose in pidgin English
instead of composing in standard English?
HDT: One thing is: it may be the composers, their
educational background may not be so good enough
for them to produce some good English in their
compositions. Then, secondly, as I've already
indicated, they wanted their language in the music
to be embraced and understood by those who speak
good English and those who speak pidgin English.
(Source: Personal interview of Mr. Enning;
headteacher of Atomic Energy Commission
Experimental Primary School, Kwabenya, Ghana.)
We may wonder the type of music in which we can hear
GPE being used. GPE is used in Ghanaian Hi-Life songs. Hi-
Life songs are not traditional or folk songs like Adowa,
Kete, Nnwonkoro, Fontonfrom, Boboobo, Agbaja, Adenkum,


CHAPTER 6
CONCLUSIONS
The present research has aimed at proving that there
has been and there is a pidgin English in Ghana. We have
demonstrated that pidginization of a European language in
West Africa, and as such Ghana, began with the arrival of
the Portuguese on the coast of this region around 1500.
Through trade and settlements among the people of West
Africa, pidgin Portuguese spread in some parts of the
region. Some of the linguistic remnants of pidgin
Portuguese can be found in Ghanaian Pidgin English (GPE).
Some of these are words like "sabi", "pikin", and
"palava/palaba". Because of the very close contacts that
the British traders had with the people of West Africa and
therefore wanted to have some verbal communication among
them pidgin English evolved. Another reason for the
presence of pidgin English in Ghana is that the soldiers of
Ghana and Britain fought together in the Second World War,
and the Ghanaian soldiers returned home speaking pidgin
English. The current emergence and the fast spreading of
GPE have come about because of illiteracy, military regimes
in Ghana, urbanization, boarding schools, increase in the
number of magazines that feature GPE, increase in its use
147


APPENDIX A
RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE
RESEARCH PROJECT: THE USE OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN GHANA
There is a type of English being spoken in Ghana.
People say it is influencing the spoken standard English of
many Ghanaians, especially the youth. Many people call it
Pidgin English. Some people call it Broken English, and
others call it Kru or Krio English.
e.g. 1. I no be kid wey dey go fit catch me; who go fit
catch Yaro? walahi! dey no go fit da.
2.We no go sit down make dem cheat we everyday.
This research seeks to determine among other things:
people's attitude towards the language; the conditions that
have brought about its emergence; its speakers; where and
when it is spoken; its vocabulary and structure; and its
influence on other languages.
1. Have you spoken Pidgin English before? YES NO
2. Have you written Pidgin English before? YES NO
3. Do you still speak or write Pidgin English? YES NO
4. How long have you spoken Pidgin English? ..years ..months
5. Have you heard other people speaking Pidgin English?
YES NO
6. Which people do you hear speaking Pidgin English? (e.g.
males, females, friends, members of a family, lecturers,
masters, tutors, teachers, policemen, policewomen, male-
soldiers, female-soldiers, border guards, navy-men, co
workers, age-mates, elders, youngsters, priests, drivers,
government officials, traders, farmers, students, etc.)
Please underline and add yours if any.
7.You speak Pidgin English with which people?
151


122
categories: (Table 5.8) a. because it helps communication;
b. because pidgin English is simpler than standard English;
c. because pidgin English has become fashionable in Ghana
and speakers use it as a means of socialization and
solidarity.
Table 5.8
Reasons for Speaking Ghanaian Pidgin English
Communication
147
(53.3%)
Simplicity of
Pidgin English
122
(44.2%)
Socialization
and Fun
110
(39.9%)
Reasons for Speaking G.P.E.
200-i
<
H
M
H
K
<
P
O'
150
100
COMMUNICATION
SIMPLICITY OF G.P.E
SOCIALIZATION & FUN
HO.
5.8
Figure 5.8. Reasons for Speaking G.P.E.
Communication
It can be seen from Table 5.8 and Figure 5.8 that, as
for any other language, communication is the major purpose
for the use of pidgin English in Ghana. When people from
different language groups meet and do not have a common
language, they must use pidgin English if some of them have


APPENDIX B
LANGUAGE MAP OF GHANA
MANDE
CENTRAL VOLTA REGION
TOGO RESTSPRACHCN
Ade*t
0u**(L **. Ltono I
Skoi (LImI
S'V ( L0<00>-AkoO Son'^okofi
4J. LogOo
A*0""' -NjrO^OO-Tofl
Adopted from Mop c 1 Ghana Languages 6/ Longuage Centre, Logon ond Ghana IniiUtde at Linguistics. 1900.
155


150
fast and it does not seem that it is going to die sooner or
later. What is important is that the users of both GPE and
English should realize that they are different languages,
and that they should know when it is appropriate to use any
of them. It is because of this that we have used phonemic
orthography to sharpen the difference between GPE and
standard English.
I hope this research has opened the way for linguists
and writers to know the existence of pidgin English in
Ghana, and that more research will be done on it so that it
can be placed well on the maps of pidgins and creoles.


140
others speak it is that the language is interesting and
funny. Forty-three of the 54 took this stand, and 17 of
them indicated that the language serves as a means of
communication. Some of them indicated both reasons. The
following are some of the quotations from the respondents.
It is interesting when two youths are pitched against
each other in conversation in pidgin English.
It just amuses me. Quite pleasant to hear the
uneducated expressing themselves in pidgin English.
I do really like to hear people speaking pidgin English
because the language itself is an interesting one.
It sounds funny and has a touch of humor even when
serious matters are at stake.
The coinage of vocabulary for pidgin is quite
interesting (female).
It makes friends, age groups, and co-workers to express
themselves easily especially where workers or age
groups are of different ethnic groups and where they
can't understand each other's language.
It sounds good and it is full of humor. At times
people add phrases which are similar to their mother
tongue. Others will just rattle something funny. "You
think sey I bi h=>o" literally "You think I am
blockhead". It helps most illiterates to speak at
least a bit of English. It brings a little bit of
modification and breaks monotony (female).
Yes because it sounds nice to listen to. Secondly, it
serves as a better communication medium than proper
English, thus it limits the incidence of class
distinctions among different classes of people and
people express themselves better in it.
Some do not understand all the Ghanaian languages and
the need to communicate may compel such people to use
pidgin English.
Helping in communicating information across where the
person does not speak one's dialect.


44
Forces and others retired to live among the civilian
population.
A retired soldier informed us that formerly every
soldier was made to learn pidgin English since it is the
language used to drill soldiers on parade and training
grounds. A police officer at a training depot also told us
that police recruits are made to learn pidgin for the same
reason. The trainers are illiterates and the English they
know is the pidgin type. This training started with those
who went to the Second World War.
There is a story in Ghana about a laborer who was
brought before the colonial courts in the early months of
the Second World War on a charge of sedition. The charge
was that he had said Hitler would win the war, impressed by
the astounding blitz of the advancing German forces. In his
defence he made the following statement in Pidgin English:
"If I talk say Hitler go win the war, na my mouth be gun"
(Eyi-Acquah 1985)? (if a t^k sey Hitler go win de w^, na
m m^f bi gon?") ("If I say that Hitler will win the war, is
my mouth a gun?")
News Media
Pidgin English has been used in the Ghanaian news media
since the 1950s. There was a column in the "Evening News" -
an evening newspaperwhich was strictly reserved for the
use of pidgin English. It was used to present vernacular
jokes.


87
The following examples from the recordings we made will make
this meaning clear.
plas ("with")
Yu shua sey a de go y=> haws pas yu? Mi, dos hu
de go awt plas mi a no de go dem haws plas dem.
"Are you sure that I am going to your house with you?
For me, those who go out with me, I don't go to their
house with them."
A f^ go slip plas ma b^yfren.
"I should go and sleep with my boyfriend."
A dey de sem h^l plas yu.
"I am/was in the same hall with you."
MALE (SPEAKING STANDARD): How did you pick up pidgin
English?
FEMALE (SPEAKING GPE): Aaa, a no sabi oo. Wey a dey
skuul a rid sayans so de b^ys wey a de stadi
plas dem nu dem oo spik pi jin so a pi k am welwel.
MALE: "How did you pick up pidgin English?"
FEMALE: "Well, I don't know. When I was in school I
read science and all the boys whom I was studying
with spoke pidgin so I picked it up easily."
Yu de W3>ka plas s^mb^di ; a no go fi t sabi sey s^m
k^neshins dey? A go sabi!
"You are walking with somebody; Can't I know that there
are some connections? I will know!"
plas ("and")
Mek yu go Volta Region Students Union plas Western
Region Students Union.
"Go to the Volta Region Students Union and the Western
Region Students Union."
Wey yu get ted yi a a, onli yu de k^nsentreyt fz> yz> lz>n
ese plas yz> k^s.
"If you get to third year, you only concentrate on your
long essay and your course work."


51
Man: So yu, haw kam wey yu fit spik ptjm English
lak dat?
(So you, how come that you can speak pidgin
English like that?)
Woman: A get s^m Nigerian fren.
(I have a Nigerian friend.)
Other Factors
One important factor which has contributed to the
spread of GPE is illiteracy. In 1980, only 30% of the adult
population in Ghana were literate and 69% of school age
persons were literate. Yet only 20 out of the 236, that is
8.5%, respondents attributed the spread of GPE to illiteracy
and lack of formal education. Nonetheless, this is an
important factor, since a small country like Ghana (Area:
238,537 sq. km.) with nearly 14 million people has 44
languages (refer to Appendix B for the Ghana Language Map)
and none of them is the national language. This fact
compels people to use English as the means of communication
in inter-language conversation. The illiterate ones,
therefore, have to recourse to pidgin English.
Military regimes in Ghana have also contributed to the
spread of pidgin English. Ghana has had four long-term
military regimes in the country's history. The 12
respondents (5% of the group) who mentioned this factor said
that the military regimes have brought the soldiers into the
streets and involved them in the day-to-day life of the
civilian population. The civilians have therefore been
imitating the pidgin English which most of the soldiers
speak.


8
Moreover GPE is not a popular language in the homes of its
speakers. This means GPE will remain a pidgin for a long
time to come.


82
The intransitive possessive pronouns "mine",
"his/hers", "yours", "ours", and "theirs" in GPE are
expressed by adding the word "own" to the transitive
possessive pronouns; e.g.
I bi m own "It's mine."
I bi in own "It's his/hers."
There is no morphological possessive marker in GPE as
it is in English _|_s, like "father's house", "Rita's child",
or "Joe's house". In GPE the transitive possessive pronoun
occurs between the possessor and the possessed, the former
on the left and the latter on the right; e.g.
papa m haws "father's house"
Joe m buk "Joe's book"
Rita in pikin "Rita's child"
pikin dem papa "the children's father"
Sometimes a whole expression with the word "get" is used to
express possessive; e.g.
I bi mi get am. "It's mine. / It belongs to me."
I bi wi get de haws. "It's our house."
Hu get di s haws. "Whose house is this?
The Articles
There are two main articles in GPE: "de" and "a".
Both articles are used in the way they are used in standard
English. The only difference is that many times "s^m" is
used instead of "a", even though "s^m" is used with its
usual meaning in some contexts. "Wan" is sometimes used
instead of "a." GPE does not use "an."
Dc pies no gud. "The place isn't good."


110
24.3% who are reported to use GPE represents a few semi
literate farmers or school-dropouts who have taken to
farming. Included in this group are literate absentee farm
owners who communicate with farm workers with a different
native language.
Ordinary Workers
Co-workers on table 5.4 was chosen by 77.0% of our
respondents as a group that uses GPE. The percentage is high
because these include mainly lower and a few middle class
workers in the factories, governmental ministries and
departments. It is here that we find the bulk of the
unskilled and semi-skilled labor force. As most of them
have low educational background, pidgin English is the
language they use mostly if they are not using a Ghanaian
native language. Some of these workers use pidgin English
to show that they can also speak English. It does not
matter to them whether it is standard or not.
Government Officials
Government officials are, as a general rule, highly
educated. They usually deal with people who can speak
standard English and hence are not compelled to use pidgin.
They also have interpreters to translate standard English
into the native languages if the need arises. This is why
only 6.6% of the respondents claimed that government
officials are speakers of pidgin.


163
sista ee
Sister
mek yu no jel=>s
Don't be jealous
br^da e
Brother
20.
mek yu no jel=>s
Don't be jealous
sista ee
Sister
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
wayo tu go she(m)
The trickster too will
be
ashamed.
25.
if yu si ma tin
If you see my thing
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu si ma wayf
If you see my wife
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu si ma son oo
If you see my son
30.
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
wayo tu go kwench
The trickster too will
be
finished
if yu si ma haws
If you see my house
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
35.
if yu si ma wok
If you see my work
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu si ma s^n oo
If you see my son
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
40.
wayo tu go kwench
The trickster too will
be
finished
yu bi drava
You are a driver
a bi aboro
I am a bus/car conductor.
yuo wok di fi ren
Your work is different
ma own difiren oo
Mine is different
45.
yu bi ticha
You are a teacher
a bi treda
I am a retailer
yuo wok di fi ren
Your work is different
ma on di fi ren oo
Mine is different
mek yu no jelos
Don't be jealous
if yu jelos
If you are jealous
yu go she(m)
You'll be ashamed
jelosi go she(m)
The jealous one will be
ashamed.
wayo tu go kwench
The trickster too will
be
finished


REFERENCE LIST
Amoako, Joe K.Y.B. 1988. The Phonological Structure of
Assimilated Portuguese and Dutch borrowed Words in
Akan; in FOCAL, Program in Linguistics, University of
Florida, Gainesville.
Anyidoho, Kofi. 1985a. Earthchild. Accra: Woeli
Publishing Services.
Anyidoho, Kofi. 1985b. A Harvest of our Time. Accra: Woeli
Publishing Services.
Armah, Ayi Kwei. 1979. The Beautvful Ones Are Not Yet
Born. New York: Collier Books.
Barbag-Stoll, Anna. 1983. Social and Linguistic History of
Nigerian Pidgin English as Spoken by the Yoruba with
Special Reference to the English Derived Lexicon.
Tubingen: Stauffenberg Verlag.
Bickerton, Derek. 1975. Dynamics of a Creole System. New
York: Cambridge University Press.
Bickerton, Derek. 1981. Roots of Language. Ann Arbor:
Karoma Publishers.
Boadi, L. A. 1971. Education and the Role of English in
Ghana. In Spencer (ed.) 1971. The English Language in
West Africa. London: Longman.
Bynon, Theodora. 1983. Historical Linguistics. Cambridge:
University Press.
Cassidy, F. G. 1961. Jamaica Talk: Three Hundred Years of
the English Language in Jamaica. London; Macmillan.
De Camp, David. 1971. Introduction: The Study of Pidgin
and Creole Languages. In Hymes (ed.) 1971.
Pidginization and Creolization of Languages. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Eyi Acquah, Kobena. 1985. Na Mv Mouth Be Gun? (The Writer's
Responsibility; The Ghanaian Experience) A presentation
to the International Program Panel on 'Society and the
Writer,' University of Iowa, Iowa City.
199


63
The horizontal vowel harmony in Akan also works in GPE.
The following examples from a conversation we had with a GPE
singer are representative of
[+ATR] WORDS
wetin
boro
disko
dokument
eviridey
[-ATR] WORDS
sofa
moni
evi ri bodi
nobodi
most of GPE speakers:
ENGLISH
waSll]
"what thing
b=>row
"borrow"
di sko
"disco"
d3kjument
"document"
evridey
"everyday"
ENGLISH
safar
"suffer"
mam
"money"
evri badi
"everybody"
nobadi
"nobody"
We have noticed that the vowel harmony can go through a
whole phrase or clause. The following is an example from a
GPE song.
bifo yu go liv na yu go no
"Before you will live it is you who will know."
We notice from the above sentence that [-ATR] vowels begin
from "bifo" and end at "na", and [+ATR] vowels begin from
"yu" and end at "no". In many vowel harmony systems, the
vowel [a] seems to be neutral to vowel harmony. That is why
the harmony got broken with "na".
Another observation from the above vocalic harmonic
sentence is on the pronoun "you". In the first part of the
sentence its vowel is [-ATR], but it has a [+ATR] vowel in
the second part. This depends on the harmonic set of vowel
that the word will fall into. The following are more
examples of [-ATR] vowel harmony:


89
"sef" here shows that it is not only the Akan speakers of
GPE who use "sef" in this way. I was enquiring about
another steward, and this is his answer. We will compare
his answer to its counterpart in Akan.
GPE
Yestadey se f i kam.
Yesterday even he come
"Even yesteday he came."
AKAN
enora mpo o-ba-e
Yesterday even he-come-PAST
"Even yesteday he came."
JOE (STANDARD ENGLISH): I don't see Akosombo these
days.
ALHASSAN (GPE): I dey. Yestadey sef i kam.
JOE: "I don't see Akosombo these days."
ALHASSAN: "He's around. Even yesterday he came."
The following is an example of the usage of "sef" at the
phrase level. This will also be compared to its Akan
counterpart.
GPE
Leta sn sef dey show am agen.
Later on even they show it again
"Even later on they showed it again."
AKAN
Akyire yi mpo wo-yi-i bio.
Later on even they-show-PAST again
"Even later on they showed it again."
The following example of the use of "sef" at the sentence
level comes from a conversation by two participants who were
expressing their views on how Ghanaian football (soccer)
players are neglected after they have retired from active
playing.


114
recognized one of the ministers of the Nkrumah regime trying
to escape when the regime was toppled by a military coup.
You tink say ah no sabe. Ah sabe sey you be
Nkrumah party man. You no fit pass (Armah
1969:173) .
"You think that I don't know. I know that you are
a member of Nkrumah's party. You cannot pass by."
We should note that there is statistically significant
correlation coefficient between the speakers and places of
GPE. When we used the Spearman rank order correlation to
test the null hypothesis of no significant relationship, the
results were significant at pc.Ol.1 The observed statistic
value was .80. This shows that there is 99 percent
probability that the observed relationship between the two
variables, speakers and places, did not occur by chance or
accident. We chose the Spearman rank order correlation test
because it is this test that allows us to use ranks instead
of the actual scores, the actual scores of our data do not
have interval scales which other tests like the Pearson rho
and t-test demand.
Uses of Ghanaian Pidgin English
This section deals with the different usages of the
Ghanaian Pidgin English. A major concern is the mode of
usage, that is, whether spoken or written.
Written Usage
Table 5.6 shows the number of respondents who indicated
that they have written Pidgin English before.


187
SUPER
Contd. on PdfeM?*


138
both male and female explains this. The female "yes no"
ratio is 18:64 whereas the male one is 35:50. We had only
seven respondents who fall within the 1141 50" age bracket.
Only one of them, who happens to be male, indicated that he
likes to speak GPE. The remaining six consisting of three
male and three female respondents all indicated that they do
not like to speak GPE. Three of our respondents who are all
male are above the age of 50. All the three indicated that
they do not like to speak GPE. These comments and Tables
5.12 and 5.13 are further illustrations that show that GPE
is mostly the language of the youth nd also the language of
male.
We requested our informants to indicate whether or not
they would like to hear other people speak pidgin English,
and Table 5.14 and Figure 5.14 show the results.
Table 5.14
Response to "Do You Like to Hear Others Speak Pidgin
English?"
Yes % No % Unmarked % Indifferent %
134 44% 157 52% 93% 41%


133
Reasons for Not Wanting to Speak G.P.E.
200
1S0
100
so
^ADVERSE EFFECTS
HI INAPPROPRIATE LANS.
f~j LACK OF ABIUTY
SEASONS
me. j.i t
Figure 5.11. Reasons for Not Wanting to Speak G.P.E.
It will spoil my good English and also affect my
writing of English.
It can weaken the courage or confidence you've acquired
in speaking the English language. The regular use of
the pidgin can result in one losing the eloquence he
has gained in the standardized English. You may lose
the trend.
One is usually prompted to include such language when
writing, e.g. essays or when giving a speech.
Because I am a student and if one day I am asked to
write an essay I can easily write pidgin English
without knowing.
One will unknowingly write pidgin English in an
examination or write it in an application and it would
not be accepted.
It is true that some examination candidates write GPE
in examinations when they are writing essays or short
compositions. As an examiner of the General Certificate of
Education (GCE), I came across the blend of standard English


50
Well oga I dey happy I received your letter, but
as you dey tell me to come home, wetin I fit take
to enter motor? I dey hear your advice goun and I dey
trowey thanks for you for your advice.
Well, big man, I was happy when I received your letter,
but as you are telling me to come home, what thing
(money for transportation) can I use to enter a
vehicle? I have heard your advice very well and I give
you thanks for your advice.
One of our interviewees, a nurse, gave this explanation
for the current spread of Ghanaian Pidgin English: "Another
reason for this pidgin English is because of these people
going down to Nigeria. When they come, you see, I know a
teacher, my first husband, you know, he was to leave
Saturday for Nigeria. And this man, a teacher, you know,
when he came he started speaking that sort of English."
A thirteen year old primary school boy said he learned
his pidgin English from a ten year old Nigerian boy whom he
had known for two years. They live close to each other, and
the Nigerian boy had been in Ghana for only two years.
A primary school female teacher said she started
speaking pidgin English after she had been to Nigeria. When
asked why she thinks some Ghanaians speak Pidgin English,
she answered: "Well, we were speaking it formerly, but I
think to the greater extent it was during the time the
Ghanaians were asked to come from Nigeria. That was the
peak of the pidgin English in the country."
In a pidgin English conversation in Kumasi, a woman
claimed she could speak pidgin English because she had a
Nigeria friend.


Wey bi de tam?
What's the time?
I aks mi ba(t) mi, a tel am sey, a no no.
"He/She asked me, but I told him/her that I
don't/didn't know.
I bi so a tel am, ba(t) i no 'giriy.
"That's what I told him/her but he/she wouldn't hear of
it."
Wey mun day, a go go f=> rna k=>ntri / tawn.
"I shall go to my hometown at the end of the month."
Dem go pey wi wey mun day, den a go go f=> m kz>ntri
pies.
"They'll pay us at the end of the month, then I'll go
home /to my hometown."
A beg yu tu borow mi y=> pen sm^.
"Please lend me your pen for a short while."
Wey tin yu de w^n f=> hie (at z>z>) ?
"What do you want here (anyway)?" OR
"What are you looking for around here (anyway)?
Weyt am; i go kam j=>s naw.
"Wait for him/her; he'll soon be here."
Wey a sak am f^ hie, i veks f^ mi pr^pa!
"When I sacked him/her from here, he/she was very angry
with me." OR
"When I drove him/her away from here, he/she became
very angry with me."
I t=>k sey i sabi yu. Yu tu yu sabi am?
"He/She says he/she knows you. Do you also know
him/her."
Mek dem kam kwik.
"They should come soon." OR "Let them come soon."
I go fa pies. I kip l^n(g) (naw). I fo kam horn si
im mcda/fada. I de grow (old).
"He/She has gone abroad for a long time. He/She should
come home and see his/her mother/father. He/She is
getting old."
157


165


74
Mood GPE mood also conforms to the classical TAM
model. The The irrealis AUX go is used to denote "future".
This auxiliary always carries a low tone to differentiate it
from the verb go which carries a high tone.
A go g skuul.
"I will go to school."
The modal "fit" This modal which means "can" or
"be able" precedes the main verb. If it occurs together
with an auxiliary, the auxiliary precedes "fit" ("fit"):
AUX + FIT + MAIN VERB.
A fit go skuul.
"I can go to school. / I could go to school."
A de fit go skuul.
"I can go to school."
A go fit go skuul.
I will be able to go to school."
The modal "fo" This modal stands for obligation. It
is sometimes replaced with [m=>] .
A fo go skuul.
"I should go to school."
Yu ms now.
"You must know."
Focus marker "na" Any constituent in a GPE sentence
can be focussed by being fronted and making it occur
immediately after the word na.
A de go skuul.
"I am going to school."
Na skuul a de go.
"It is school that I am going to."


32
1989:430). Between 1845 and 1887, 36% of these missionaries
were creole speakers: 22 spoke Krio (18 from Sierra Leone
and four from Fernando Po) and six spoke Jamaican English
(Todd 1984:94). In 1858 the largely Krio-speaking Baptist
mission on Fernando Po was expelled by the Spanish and
reestablished at what is now Limbe on the Cameroonian coast.
The Pidgin spoken in this area today is more similar to Krio
than are other Cameroonian varieties (ibid.97). The British
set up trading posts near the coastal town of Douala. When
German firms joined the British in the 1860s and in 1884
Cameroon was officially annexed by Germany as a colony,
restructured English was already so well established that
the Germans had to use that instead of their own language in
dealing with the local people.
The German colonization of Cameroon led to the spread
of the Pidgin English into the interior, because the Germans
set up plantations that drew laborers from the interior
grasslands. They returned to their villages with their
knowledge of Pidgin. Other laborers were also brought from
Liberia, Togo, Dahomey (modern Benin), and Nigeria. Pidgin
English was the lingua franca on the plantations as well as
in the colonial German army (ibid.94).
The Germans were driven out of Cameroon by the Allies
in 1916, and in 1919 the country was divided into mandates
under the British (west part near Nigeria) and the French
(east part). English (West) and French (East) became the


149
speakers. This means it will remain a pidgin for a long
time to come.
The phonology, morphology, and the syntax of GPE have
shown that substrate languages have influence on pidgins.
It is in the area of vocabulary that the superstrate, which
in this study is English, has much influence. Even in this
area, some of the superstrate words acquire different or
additional meanings from their original meanings. These are
some of the reasons why we should not think of pidgins as
corrupt forms of their superstrates. They are totally
different languages from their superstrates and their
substrates. After all, there is no mutual intelligibility
between a pidgin and its superstrate or its substrate.
This study has shown that pidgin does not thrive mainly
because of the need for communication for some purposes such
as trade. Pidgin can thrive because its users want to use
it as a means of solidarity among themselves, and also
because it sounds interesting to them. The study has also
shown that one of the major criteria for the formation of a
pidgin, which is the lack of a common language, may not be
very important, since most of GPE speakers have one or two
of the 45 Ghanaian languages in common that they can use but
they choose to use GPE on some occasions.
It is true that many Ghanaians do not like GPE to be
encouraged because they think it has some adverse effects on
standard English, but they admit that it is spreading very


16
British privateers or "fortune seekers" engaged in
smuggling, "high-jacking" and irregular slaving were working
the Atlantic ever since the sixteenth century. The great
colonial powers were engaged in a highly competitive
Atlantic trade, the business of buying slaves on the African
West coast. The struggle was long and England and France
remained after the Dutch were forced to give up their empire
and concentrate efforts at strategic places. The treaty of
Utrecht in 1713 between England and France divided the West
African Coast. "By 1713 the French had replaced the Dutch
as the strongest European power on the shores of Upper
Guinea, and the English were strongly established in
competition with the Dutch on the Gold Coast" (Fage
1961:67).
The British receive credit for carrying the bulk of
African products and slaves during the eighteenth century.
This very fact demanded closer contact of cultures,
developing of new methods, and exchange of opinions and
ideas, and much closer association. The very foundations
were being laid for the development of West African Pidgin
English. All along the African West Coast the local
indigenous authorities made agreements with individual and
independent traders. During the eighteenth century this
pattern was drastically revised by the companies in what is
known as the "factory system". The "factory" was in reality
a trading post where "factors" lived and conducted the


62
Table 4.4. Labial and Horizontal Vowel Harmony in Akan
[+ATR]
[-ATR]
[+RD]
[murukotu]
"I'm going to dig."
[muruk^tuw]
"I'm going to throw."
[-RD]
[mirikedzi]
"I'm going to eat."
mi ri kegyi ]
"I'm going to get."
The vowel harmony in Akan operates between words in
sentences and in compound words where a word with [+ATR]
vowels is followed by a word with [-ATR] vowels. The [+ATR]
word assimilates the immediate preceding vowel into the
corresponding [+ATR] vowel. The following are some examples:
Compound words
[akuko] + [nini] -> [akukoninij
chicken + male -> rooster
[ahm] + [di] -> [ahindi]
chief + to be -> chieftaincy
There is no assimilation if the first word contains [+ATR]
vowels and the second contains [-ATR] vowels; here is an
example
[aehuhuro] + [bire] -> [ehuhubi re ]
heat + time -> hot weather
Sentences
[=>d=> mfuo] -> [r>do mfuo] "he/she cultivates farms."
[tu tuo] -> [to tuo] "shoot a gun."
but
[di asem] -> [di asem] "settle a case."
The vowel [a] is neutral to the vowel harmony in Akan.
That is why [oami] "God" has mixed vowels.


AJI ISZ1
GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF
DIACHRONIC, SYNCHRONIC, AND SOCIOLINGUISTIC EVIDENCE
By
JOE K. Y. B. AMOAKO
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1992


4
other's language. Pidgins are no one's mother tongue.
(Fasold 1990:180)
David De Camp is another writer who has used the three
criteria to define pidgin. He also states that it is a
vernacular.
A pidgin is a contact vernacular, normally not the
native language of any speakers. It is used in trading
or in any situation requiring communication between
persons who do not speak each other's native language.
It is characterized by a limited vocabulary, an
elimination of many grammatical devices such as number
and gender, and a drastic reduction of redundant
features. (De Camp 1971)
Definition of Creole
The most general popular account states that creoles
arise when a pidgin becomes the native language of a new
generation of children. In other words, pidgin becomes a
creole when it acquires native speakers (Fasold 1990:83;
Hall 1954:21; Todd 1974:3; Hymes 1971:3; DeCamp 1971:15;
Wardhaugh 1990:58; Muhlhausler 1986:7; Holm 1988:6).
This occurs, for instance, when parents from different
linguistic backgrounds communicate among themselves and
with their offspring in a makeshift pidgin, which is
elaborated and adopted as a means of intercommunication
by the next generation. Thus the children in this
situation: are exposed to imperfect, reduced language
input; elaborate this input using new grammatical
devices gleaned from internal resources, that is, by
appealing to their innate linguistic knowledge; and
eventually speak a language that is both quantitatively
and qualitatively different from that spoken by their
parents and, in many cases, not intelligible to them.
(Muhlhausler 1986:7)
The appeal of children to the innate linguistic
knowledge in the acquisition of creole suggested by
Muhlhausler is related to Bickerton's definition of creole:


CHAPTER 5
SOCIOLINGUISTICS OF GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH
Introduction
I discussed the linguistic details of Ghanaian Pidgin
English in the previous chapter. This has helped
substantiate the assertion that pidgin is spoken in Ghana.
This chapter is a further contribution to the demonstration.
I will use the data from the guestionnaire as well as the
answers of informants who were interviewed during the
research to discuss (1) the speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin
English (GPE); (2) the places where the language is spoken;
(3) the spoken and written uses of the language; and (4)
people's attitude toward it. But before we discuss the
above issues, we should familiarize ourselves with the
meaning of the concept "sociolinguistics" since this is the
branch of linguistics that deals with what is to be
discussed.
Sociolinguistics is that part of linguistics which is
concerned with language as a social and cultural phenomenon;
it investigates the field of language and society (Trudgill
1984:32). Fasold has given a more detailed definition of
sociolinguistics:
It is obvious that language is supposed to be used for
transmitting information and thoughts from one person
99


160
M: ou a fit tek
bapas am.
L: na yu, yu t=>k sey
a de, a f= go yuo haws
60. plas yu,
yu foget sey
yu= wayf de?
Oh I can
bypass her.
And you, you said that,
I'll, I must go to your house
with you,
You forgot that
your wife is present?
There are also some Portuguese words in GPE, e.g. sabi (line 13)
means 'to know' or 'to understand', and pikin (line 63) means
'child' or 'children'.
L: haw meni, pikins
yu get, sayd ishus
65.M: mi, ou, a get
wan mo tu ten.
How many children
do you have, side issues?
Me? Oh, I have
one more to ten.
A SONG BY OKUKUSEKU INTERNATIONAL BAND OF GHANA
Sofa Sofa
Suffer Suffer
eviribodi go si
wi d in neked ay
in dis weld
everybody will see
with his/her naked eye
in this world.
eviribodi go si
wid m neked ay
in di s we Id
everybody will see
with his/her naked eye
in this world.
bi fo yu go liv
na yu go no
haw yu go do
before you will live
it is you who will know
how you will do.
bi fo yu go hapi
na yu go no
nobodi go no
before you'll be happy
it is you who will know,
nobody will know.
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de taya
soso tayataya
eviridey ma de sofa
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always tired,
it is all tiredness tiredness
everyday man is always suffering.
ey
papa chika
legos gay
haw wi go muv
how?
Papa Chika
Lagos Guy
how shall we move


123
low educational background. This usage will depend upon the
type of people in the conversation. For example, a social
worker who comes from the Volta Region of Ghana and speaks
Ewe said he speaks GPE with the people he works with because
they do not understand his language and he does not
understand Dagbani or Hausa, the languages spoken in the
Northern Region of Ghana where he works. Two workers of the
Institute of Adult Education, a university bursar, a
president of a Student Representative Council and other
interviewees agreed that whenever they are dealing with
lower class labor force they use GPE to facilitate
communication.
As another example, a speaker used GPE at a New Year
School (explained in chapter 3) during his speech. When he
was asked why he had used pidgin English, he had this to
say:
Yes I have to speak pidgin English because not all
participants have formal education. Others have
informal education. Others haven't been to school at
all but they just pick this English as what we call
pidgin English. So to make everybody feel at home, at
times I must jokingly speak the pidgin English and then
to crack some jokes just to make the thing lively (Mr.
Hunnour T. K. Bobobee, a fisherman, and native of Bator
in the Volta Region of Ghana)
Simplicity of GPE
Many speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin English say that they
speak it because it has a very simple grammar. Out of the
304 questionnaires, 44.2% respondents said that they
communicate in GPE because of its simplicity. They often


98
Notes
1. There is an ongoing controversy on the status of
('for") in English-based pidgins and creoles. It is
clear that fo is behaving as a modal in all cases.
M c


117
Palaver finis
Ibe mea. Malam Mama Tulale.
(Anyidoho, 1985:88)
"Peace be with you
I am a moslem
And a moslem cannot tell a lie
Some big men you know their names -
They were behind
They sent Malam in front
They put a deadly bomb in Malam's back pocket
So they pushed Malam
and pushed Malam
and pushed Malam
Now see where Malam is: (prison)
Our Big Man, the Master himself
The one who is now dead
I say he was a very strong man
That bomb we threw couldn't kill him
Some police escorts came for Malam
placed him at counterback (jail)
The coward big men, they all ran away
But the Big Master himself, he caught them at once
He put all of them in detention
So standing here today, I say
if somebody tells you that
Our Master's head was too much strong (he was cruel)
he put a lot of prominent people in detention
for nothing
I tell you that man's head isn't correct (he's crazy)
They are all liars and thieves
It is only sguandering that they want to do
And so, if you ask me just now
What thing we will do to the Big Master's dead body?
I will say bring it home one time (at once)
I alone can dig a big hole and bury him well
The trouble is finished (There is no problem)
It is me, Malam Tulale"
Anyidoho (1985b) has written another poem in GPE in
another book, A Harvest of our Dreams. This time it was a
personal letter he wrote to a long time friend. When we
interviewed Anyidoho, who is an English professor at the
University of Ghana, why he had written these GPE poems, he
said, in the case of the illiterate moslem, that is the only
type of English that the character can speak. He said he


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLE DGMENTS iii
ABSTRACT V
CHAPTERS
1 DEFINITION OF PIDGIN 1
Introduction 1
Social and Structural Criteria 1
Nonnative Speaker Criterion 3
Definition of Creole 4
Etymology of "Pidgin" 5
Etymology of Creole 6
Summary 7
2 HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN WEST
AFRICA AND ITS CURRENT STATUS 9
Introduction 9
A Step-by-Step History of Pidgin English in
West Africa 9
The Portuguese 10
The Dutch 13
The British 15
Principal Pidgin English Varieties in West
Africa 18
Nigeria 21
Sierra Leone 23
Liberia 28
Cameroon 31
Summary 3 3
3 GHANAIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH: IN SEARCH OF CURRENT
AND HISTORICAL EVIDENCE 35
Research Background 35
Methodology 36
History of Ghanaian Pidgin English 39
Colonial Settlement 39
Second World War 43
v


107
more male (76.3%) speakers than female speakers(46.0%).
Based on the questionnaire, this ratio is also seen in the
police and the armed forces, where Pidgin English is used on
a large scale. Whereas 83.6% of the respondents marked that
they have heard policemen speak pidgin English, 43.1% marked
that they have heard policewomen speak it; and whereas male
soldiers obtained 81.3%, the female soldiers received only
30.6%.
Based on the responses from our questionnaire, it can
be seen from Tables 5.3 and 5.4 that police speak pidgin
more than soldiers, border guards, and navy people. This is
so because the respondents have closer contacts with the
police than with the others.
Table 5.5 represents further data suggesting that there
are more male speakers of the language than female. The
informants were requested to mark the sex group that speaks
pidgin the more. This is further illustrated by Figure 5.5.
Table 5.5
Sex Group That Speaks Pidgin English The More
Male Female No Response Indifferent
281 3 17 3
(92.4%) (1.0%) (5.6%) (1.0%)
The reason for fewer female speakers of the language
stems from the attitude Ghanaian women have toward the
language. The Ghanaian females tend to prefer the more
elegant form of a language. More reasons will be given when
we discuss people's attitude towards the language.


170
fdftSS* fto
co/fT'P


77
NEG + fit + MAIN VERB
A no fit go skuul.
"I can't go to school."
NEG + go + fit + MAIN VERB
A no go fit go skuul.
"I will not be able to go to school."
The perfective aspect d^n does not have a negative
counterpart that takes "no". Instead "yet" ("yet") is added
to the construction to show the negative perfective aspect
like in the following example.
A dz>n go skuul.
"I have gone to school."
* a no d=>n go skuul.
A no go skuul yet.
"I have not gone to school yet."
Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) and Cameroon Pidgin
English (CPE) use "neva" ("never") as the negative form of
the perfective aspect.
NPE/CPE
A neva go skuul.
"I have not gone to school."
GPE does not use "neva" the way it is used by NPE and CPE.
It is used by GPE in the way standard English uses it.
GPE
A neva go skuul.
"I don't go to school."
The negative form of the copula is expressed by
preceding bi with "no" which in turn is preceded by the
dummy i: I + NO + BI.
I no bi mi bit am.
"It wasn't/isn't I who beat him/her."


LOVE & FUN
184


79
interrogative in GPE. One is by changing the intonation of
a statement, and the other is
STATEMENT
A g skuul
"I go/went to school."
A fit g skuul
"I can go to school."
A no de fit g skuul
"I can't go to school."
by using interrogative words.
QUESTION
A g skl
"I go/went to school?"
A fit g skl
"Can I go to school?"
A no de fit g skl
"Can't I go to school?"
The word "wey" is often used for the question words
"where", "when", "what", and "how". The words themselves
are used in certain contexts.
Wey (tin) yu go du?
"What will you do?"
Wey i dey?
"Where is he/she?"
Wey i bi?
"Where is he/she?"
Wey i go kam?
"When will he/she come?"
Wey tam i go kam?
"When will he/she come?"
Wey kl pesm kam hie?
"Who comes/came here?"
The focus na is sometimes used with the question words.
In this case na means "and", and it is used for emphasis
depending upon the preceding statement by any of the
interlocutors; e.g.
Na hu bi im?
"And who is he/she?" ("Who does he/she think he/she
is?")


LOVE & FUN
176
BABA DOGO
i PLACE S^TEET fox MM' On/ So-So I(
V Ei/ERYOAY / MARE HAPPY/ N|
MOWLOMG AT ALL MAM Go STAY ,
fop £>'S EARTH. f/MH£~£-R£
SO YEARS mm go 0£y for l
C^Pr^t a/a _ u >... ~ J
MAKE / TAKE
£>£ Town PEOPLE WEY CE Y s]
i Say Of*!£Y( Qp£y/. c>eM q,0 aoy
v LS*rf£'>£S plenty/. MO *
X£Y auT OEM /VO SABEFARM J
.WH£NP£y COME S££ ME A
/ MAKE Hflppy OEM
&OSH-
fy/Zi/f'
C ME (BE Bush mm
BECAUSE (/VO Go Pop
ACC (CP BE PORE 7
, / Go SUCIA/ EM
El/ERYP Ay SO-SO
(YO(S£ ben
MAKE ABOUT
ACCRA. ..
OAT...,.
E~7alk himcountrylanguage N
ON£, THEN (NH/T£/VIA/v U//V1 On/A/ TlNO. i
A A. WELL, E-BE u/m OE y Go fox
O/U/VUYAS/TY. f-OEYZOOK PoR n/H/TE
MAN /V//Yt BOOR rNS/0£ f OR A CCA A
'<****-
-PAT ACCRA me. Too, /
GO GO TURE SOME.
£ HO BE Money DEM
PEY TAKE GO THERE 7
Tomorrow, / go ask
AGYA BoPkyE him PikiH
IHEY E-PEYpoR
AUMUl/AS/TY, e- B£ HIM
SABE THER PR O PA
B(JTE-OEY talk white-l
MAM him language too
- -o/r > u *
4-rs
.-Allah/ GO Go
For P'S Accra
JO SEE POR MY
OWN E YES'YAGA A//
/Go Go Sleep Pop ,
AY BROCA v*F v
SAY HE (NOkk / /" V >?.;
' OCM /VI/3* c /-A/tsFt o />£
/'How. NOW, HE £>/£ GO
ME. TOO, / NO SABE (NATORf .
t Go GO POR ACCRA- THEN Nt£
ANP my 8ROPA Go TRAVEL Go
SEE WATuRf SMALL
MAKE t P/N/S HIY LAST TlNO
v CALABASH, hr.R-BP-BO-
home Sweet
< MHKE man TAL K TRUE- o
r SINCE / GROW, /(VO Go For *
J my home-Country for <"
WATURt FOR UPPER region
I Bur Ip / Go SEL A, who sabe
I ME THERE. MY EATHE f- Or
\ME / NO CHOP/ *,' I
} The n he Com a
y_ TOR CfZ At As. d


92
"The food, what kind do you want? Do you want the
indigeneous type or I should prepare the whiteman
type?"
Wi go chop naw; bele-ful. God dey.
"We'll eat now; stomach-full (satisfaction). God
exists."
I go sit dawn, chop kenke mek sombodi kam bit am.
"He will sit down, eat kenkey, and let somebody come
and beat him (talking about a boxer)."
Na tru sey dis weld i dey bita tu stey. When yu don
sofa put fud tugeda, bat dey no agiriy mek yu chop am.
Yu si am; Monki de wok, babun de chop.
"It is true that this world is a bitter place to live.
When you have suffered to put food together, but they
don't agree to allow you to eat it. You see! Monkey
works, but baboon eniovs."
A no sabi monch.
"I don't know how to make love."
The above comparisons between the usage of di in Akan
and the usage of chop in GPE are further illustrations of
how a substrate language has influenced a pidgin.
Peyn The usage of "peyn" ("pain") in GPE is not
limited to distress and suffer. It also means disturb and
jealousy.
A: I go sit dawn, chop kenke mek sombodi kam bit am.
B: I bi im de pevn mi.
A: "He will sit down, eat kenkey, and let somebody
come and beat him (talking about a boxer)"
B; "That's what disturbs me."
Swiyt The word "swiyt" ("sweet") has some additional
meanings in GPE. It means "sweet", "pleasant", "nice",
"enjoyable", "good", "swollen headed", etc. This phenomenon


83
I brin S3m pikin plas am.
"He/She brought a child with him/her."
Dey sey dem bri n s^m. "They say they brought some."
A get wan d^g. "I have a dog."
Prepositions and Postpositions
The only word which is used as a preposition in GPE is
"f=>". It is always accompanied with a syntactic phenomenon
in some of the Ghanaian languages, whereby some lexical
items occur after the noun they gualify. We call these
locative lexical items postpositions. Some examples are
"top," "inside," "outside," and "under." This means GPE
has both prepositions and postpositions. The following is a
comparison between an Akan sentence and a GPE sentence.
AKAN
Fa nwoma no to pono no so.
take book the put table the on/top
"Put the book on the table!"
GPE
Put de buk £3 de tebul t3p.
"Put the book on the table!"
The following are some more examples of the preposition-
postposition phenomenon from some of the recordings we have
made.
Wey dc pi pul kam biliv am £3 de haws 1nsayd.
"That the people came to believe him/her inside the
house."
I go W3ka £3 dee soso; i de slip £3 bri j anda dem.
"He went and roamed about; he was sleeping under
bridges."
Wey 3D de akawntin pi pul dey dey, everib3di sabi sey
dey dey m3ni t3p.


121
Shame" means "Any person who is jealous of another person
will be disgraced or put to shame.
Spoken Usage
Ghanaian Pidgin English is far more a spoken mode than
a written one. As we saw from Table 5.1, 81.6% of the
respondents to the survey said they have spoken the language
before, whereas only 15.1% said they have written it.
Figure 5.7 and Table 5.7 illustrate the difference.
Comparing Spoken and Written Modes
WRITTEN SPOKEN
MODES
Figure 5.7. Comparing Spoken and Written Modes
Table 5.7. Comparing the Spoken and Written Modes of G.P.E.
Spoken GPE Written GPE
Yes 248 81.6% 46 15.1%
No 56 18.4% 256 84.2%
No Response 0 0.0% 2 0.7%
Out of 304 respondents, 276 (90.8%) responded to the
question "Why do you think people speak Pidgin English in
Ghana?". Their answers have been grouped into three main


153
17.(a) Write the titles of Ghanaian songs which are or were
sung in Pidgin English. You may write the groups which sing
or sang them
(b)Why do you think they sing in Pidgin English?
18. How do you think Pidgin English is spreading in Ghana?
(i) spreading slowly; (ii) spreading fast; (iii) dying out;
(iv) not found in Ghana.
19. How do people learn to speak Pidgin English in Ghana?
(e.g. by travelling to a country/countries where Pidgin
English is spoken; through friends; through trade; by
reading magazines or books written in Pidgin English; by
joining the armed/police forces; etc.) Please underline and
add yours if any
20.Which event(s) has/have contributed towards the
introduction and spread of Pidgin English in Ghana?
21.Please provide the following information about yourself:
(a) sex: male female
(b) age: 15 years-25 years ; 26-30 ; 31-40 0;
41-50 ; over 50 ;
(c) Occupation ; place of occupation
(d) Levels of education you have passed through (e.g. public
elementary school; preparatory/experimental elementary
school; secondary school form 5; sixth form; teacher
training college (4-yr.)/post-secondary; technical college;
vocational college; commercial college; diploma institution;
police training school; military academy; university; etc.)
(e)Are you a student? YES NO O If YES state
level and class (e.g. secondary school Form 3, University
2nd year, etc.)
(f)What languages do you speak?


175
BOT PE IpOKiP BE SOIYlETWG.CookU WO/tifA WfH'PVT
' FiEE-F/A/E GlEL JPE YOo.YooP g EVEPYTOTG FOP EfPTSPM,
HvsBflM) BE book-ecyyg Pokvtbt\ so mfM Go SPYP/Pt
w AVLOIPPPCES S£P Go P/revy/i BEflVTV PPEs Ev&ntworwn
ope r fGfW, fi/OtfPP PEY TEL ?S lA/Wl
S/ECE /YTY /floTPEP Box/Y
TokUtS.'HO* 1 ¡%si -SGKOOPMVT,
I GO FIT TEErtKj) seu-tPS MOTEOSE
J orYOTE-PYPTE /COSE AMP
PITO uJo/nEPI HEY GET.. -
P/S OPEPfl SP£CM£-.. .
EHH CE BAP, fF-SUE G/YEME
nVLUOES CEP/S SEF / GO
- GET HIM1 ting'
'Gepou>piirt
SET WPTCHP7
To* E-GET
Ol/PfpOWEP. |


34
much impact on the linguistics of the area because they did
not sttle among the people they traded with. The British
who followed the Dutch had more impact on the linguistics of
West Africa because they were in closer contacts with the
people of this area than their two predecesors. They traded
with the people in products and slaves, settled among them,
and therefore had close contacts with their culture. The
major linguistic legacies of the British contact with West
Africa are standard English and pidgin English which is
spoken in the Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria,
and Cameroon.
Notes
1. The fort of Sao Jorge de Mina is now known as the Elmina
Castle.
2. Semantic extension has contributed to the phonology of
the Akan word kube which was derived from the Portuguese
word "coco" which is pronounced /ko'ku/. In Akan, the root
/be/ means "palm tree", and as the coconut tree looks like
the palm tree, the derivation began with the addition of
/be/ to the Portuguese /ko'ku/ to become /kokube/. The
first syllable was deleted, hence /kube/. Akan vowel
harmony system changed the final /e/ to /e/. The derivation
would be the following:
/ko'ku/
Portuguese
semantic extension
first syllable deletion
vowel harmony
kokube
kube
kube
[kube]
3.Through a personal communication, John Lipski who has
done some studies on the pidgins on Fernando Po, told me
that the pidgin English on the island is no longer known as
Fernandino or Porto. The only current terms are Pichinglis
or the shortened Pichi. The term Fernandino is applied to
the descendents of the original Sierra Leoneans who settled
there.


CHAPTER 1
DEFINITION OF PIDGIN
Introduction
This chapter is devoted to a literature review on the
definition and etymology of pidgin and creole. I will cite
some of these definitions to acquaint ourselves with these
two concepts are. This will help decide whether what is
being discussed in this work is a pidgin or creole. or it is
none of them.
Social and Structural Criteria
'Pidgin has been defined with different criteria by
various authors. Two of these are social and structural.
The social criterion states the need for a language as a
means of communication when people who do not have a common
language come together; and the structural criterion is the
reduced structure of such a language that would evolve to
serve as a means of communication.
John Lyons defines pidgin languages as:
Specialized languages used for trade or similar
purposes by those who have no other common language.
It is characteristic of pidgin that they have a
simplified grammar and a highly restricted vocabulary
in comparison to the language or languages, upon which
they are based. (Lyons 1981:30-31)
1


73
"Charlie, I heard that you went home to spend two
weeks. Why didn't you want to come to school."
Adverbials of time are also used to show time relations, for
example
A go skuul eviridev.
"I go to school everyday."
A go skuul las wik.
"I went to school last week."
Aspect GPE is aspect-prominent rather than tense-
prominent. GPE aspect conforms to the classical TAM model
of Bickerton. The AUX de is used to denote nonpunctual or
progressive aspect, for example
a de go skuul.
"I am going to school."
I de chop de tarn a go im haws.
"He/She was eating when I went to his/her house."
I de chop eni tam a go im house.
"He/She is eating every time I go to his/her house."
The AUX de at times denotes habituality, like in the
following example:
A no go lov bia. A de lov ginis rada. I bi ginis a de
lov.
"I will not like beer. I like guiness rather. It's
guiness I like." "I went to school last week."
Perfective aspect The perfective (or completive)
aspect is expressed by preceding the main verb with the AUX
don which always carries a high tone.
A don go skuul.
"I have gone to school."


125
students were punished if they spoke GPE, this is how she
replied:
Well there are no rules as such. We just try to
convince them not to, because we find that whether
there are rules or not, whether they are punished or
not, they still continue speaking it. They look upon
it as a form of fashionable way of speaking, (Miss
Mable Komasi, a secondary school teacher)
Politics
It is not only in discourse that Ghanaian Pidgin
English is used as an important means of communication.
Apart from using it on political platforms once in a while,
Ghanaian politicians use the language in sending radio
messages to the people. The tactic became very prominent in
the revolutionary era of the nation, which began in June
1979, when many of the youths became involved in politics.
The following is a typical example, which was aired on Radio
Ghana as a signature tune to one of the revolutionary
programs.
People!
Revolution!
People!
Revolution!
Ghana people make we wake up,
Make we fight for our right.
Response:
We no go sit down
Make dem cheat we everyday
Ghana workers make we wake up
Make we fight for our right
Response
Ghana fishermen make we wake up,
Make we fight for our right


20
Pidgin-English is the most common name given to a
lingua franca spoken throughout West Africa from Sierra
Leone to the Gabon. It is a meduim of communication
for African peoples who have no first language in
common, for white men of various ethnic backgrounds and
for the West African working man, trader and transient
peoples. Pidgin-English is not a mere simplification
of English, but a separate and describable language.
Its vocabulary is predominantly English-based, but the
lexical forms have changed their meaning to fit into
the value system and world view of the African
people. (Schneider 1966:2)
According to Barbag-Stoll, the term West African Pidgin
English (WAPE) is a linguist's invention which covers
different, often mutually unintelligible varieties spoken on
the West African Coast (Barbag-Stoll 1983:37). Barbag-Stoll
has listed a number of names that are used in referring to
WAPE:
It is often referred to as Bastard English, Broken
English, Funny English, Vulgar English (value judgement
labels), Kitchen English, Factory English, Market
English, Trade English (institution labels), Coast
English, West African Negro English, Liberian English,
Sierra Leone English (dialect labels), etc. (ibid.37)
The above value judgement and institution labels have
come about because of the assumed relationship between WAPE
and standard English. This has happened because of the
language contact between Europe and West Africa which
began,as already stated above, with the arrival of the
Portuguese on the West African coast in the fifteenth
century (Schneider 1967:4; Spencer 1971:7; Holm 1989:268).
The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch who in turn were
followed by the English. They all contributed to carve the


106
Ghanaian Pidgin English Speaking Places
Figure 5.4. Ghanaian Pidgin English Speaking Places
Note: A=Lorry Stations, B=Streets, C=Drinking Bars,
D=Schools, E=Cinema Houses, F=Universities, G=Work Places,
H=Big Towns, I=Army/Police Barracks, J=Dances,
K=Entertainment Places, L=Military/Police depot, M=Borders,
N=Playgrounds, 0=Urban Centers, P=Harbors, Q=Parties,
R=Homes, S=Airports, T=Villages, U=Rural Areas, V=Radio
Ghana, W=Others, X=Mosques, Y=Churches.
Age Groups
Ghanaian Pidgin English is currently the language of
the youth; for whereas younger people scored 68.1% (Table
5.4) their elders had only 12.8%. The few older people who
use pidgin English say they use it mostly for essential
communication purposes. It is just a few of them who use it
for fun. The younger generation have many reasons why they
use it. This will be discussed later on in this chapter.
Male and Female Speakers
Respondents to the questionnaire claim that both males
and females speak Ghanaian Pidgin English, but there are


142
them wished that GPE did not exist. A journalist said that
he has no problem with those who have not had any formal
education speaking GPE, but he is against its use by those
who can speak standard English but choose to speak GPE when
it is not necessary. When a female nurse was asked to
express her attitude towards GPE, she simply said, "It
annoys me". A social worker said apart from using GPE as a
means of communication, he thinks, it should not be used at
all because it is influencing the usage of standard English
adversely. Many of the students we interviewed said they
would not like GPE to be eradicated. Their concern is that
speakers of GPE should know when it should be used and when
standard English should be used. A managing director of a
regional development corporation had this to say when he was
requested to express his attitude towards GPE.
Certainly the language is not ours. It assumes a goal
by dimension; and quite naturally one would like it
properly in order to communicate with other peoples all
over the continent or all over the planet earth. My
attitude to this pidgin English is certainly not
healthy. I think, as a former teacher, I've realized
that this language has affected the writing of most of
our students in schools. No doubt the results of
English Language in most of our schools, and even the
universities, are now becoming appalling. I wouldn't
like this to be continued. If I can help it, I would
like it to be discouraged entirely from our
institutions in the first place and that will naturally
effect those in our working places. (Source: Mr.
Ayeh, Managing Director, Central Region Development
Corporation, Ghana)
Summary
This chapter is a further demonstration of the
assertion that pidgin is spoken in Ghana. We have discussed


60
In some instances, if a consonant or a consonant
cluster has nasals, it is replaced by nasalized vowels or
vowels and glides; examples are;
ENGLISH
GPE
maynd
m
"mind"
nayt
nal
"night
fayn
f
"fine"
may
m
"my"
Tone
GPE is becoming a tone language because it uses the
pitch of individual syllables to contrast meanings in some
cases. Native Ghanaian languages, especially Akan, have two
main tones, high ['] (H) and low [ ] (L). The low tone will
not have any accent mark.
TONE
AKAN WORD
ENGLISH
HH
pp
good(ness)
LH
pap
father
LL
papa
fan
HL
p:pa:
to slap
The above tone phenomenon of the native Ghanaian languages
has been transferred to GPE, e.g.:
L go
H g
will / shall
go
LLH
a go g
I will go
L d
H de
LHH d de g
they
copula, continuous aspect
they are going
L
H
LLH
no
n
a no n
negative marker
know
I don't know
LLHHLLH a no n sey i go g.
I don't know that he/she will go.


oavA nDnw aadns
981


131
Table 5.10
Reasons for Liking to Speak Ghanaian Pidgin English
Simplicity Solidarity
Communication and Ease and Fun Interesting
38 40% 27 28% 36 38% 18 19%
><
H
X
<
D
O'
Reasons for Liking to Speak G.P.E.
Ti
COMMUNICATION
SOLIDARITY A FUN
SIMPLICITY k EASE
INTERESTING
REASONS
PIQ.
5.10
Figure 5.10. Reasons for Liking to Speak G.P.E.
When we look at Table 5.10, we see that there is not
much difference between the percentages for "communication"
and "solidarity and fun". As it has already been indicated,
solidarity is one of the major reasons for the wide spread
of GPE in Ghana. The following are some unedited quotations
from our questionnaire indicating respondents' reasons for
their likeness for speaking GPE.
It affords easy expression as well as promoting
cordiality amongst friends who are not of the same
educational levels. Socially, one is welcomed into any
peer group that has amusement as their goal.


15
"they were usually neither the first nor the only Europeans
to arrive in the areas they colonized, and in most cases
they did not remain as long as the British and the French"
(ibid.322). Their own attitudes may have undermined the
spread of their language. It is claimed that "till the
middle of the nineteenth century the Hollanders regarded
their language as a sort of caste-language and heard
unwillingly its employment by their inferiors" (quoted by
Reinecke 1937:443). Another probable contributing factor is
the traditional proficiency of the Dutch in more widely
spoken languages? "the Dutch seem linguistically to have
been the most accommmodating traders . they, in contrast
to the British and French, must have made full use of the
Portuguese Pidgin or Creole" (Le Page & Tabouret-Keller
1985:29). In fact, the Dutch tended to be polyglots. It
has also been observed that "the emphasis was on the
commercial. No settlement, no assimilation (inter-marriage,
miscegnation, fraternization), no religous fervor or attempt
to Christianization, no culture contact. The Dutch confined
themselves to their ships and establishments" (Schneider
1967:9).
The British
The following account of the contribution made by the
British toward West African Pidgin English is the one given
by Schneider (1967). His account is a summary of other
accounts given by various writers (Holm 1989, Spencer 1971.)


91
food. In Akan, the word for "chop" is "di". The following
Akan phrases show how "di11 is used.
AKAN
di
aduane
"eat food"
di
sika
"spend/squander money"
di
buronya
"spend Christmas"
di
afoofi
"spend holiday/vacation"
di
asem
"settle a case"
di
obaa
"make love to a woman (derogatory)
The following examples show the way the usage of "chop" in
GPE is akin to that of "di" in Akan.
A: So yu get mom wey yu entetein yuo frens, wey som
dey wey yu go tek chop eks'mas a i min sey yu tif
am?
B: Yu mek studen. Yu mek studen. Haw yu de get
plenti moni? Na so. I bi soso a de tok.
A: Yu shuo?
B: I no bi i n? Enewey dey de treyn yu fo hie haw yu
de stil de mom. I no bi so? De akawnti n pi pul i
no bi soso yu de du?
A: "So if you have money that you entertain your
friends with, and you have some left that you will
spend the Christmas with, does it mean that you
stole it?"
B: "You are a student. You are a student. How do you
get plenty of money like that? That is what I am
talking about."
A: "Are you sure?"
B: "Isn't it? Anyway they are training how to steal
money. Isn't it so? Is it not what you the
accounting people are doing?"
A: Wey yu no lod tuu, yu no get enetin yu go chop.
B: Eeh, yu no get mom yu de chop on.
A: "And if you are not loaded (with money), you don't
have anything you'll eat."
B: "Yes you don't have any money to feed on."
De chos nu, wey kal yu won? Yu won de indijinos wan
mek a mek de oyibo tayp?
Z>


38
Table 3.2
Age Distribution of Informants (Years)
15-25
26-30
31-40
41-50
50+
No Response
Total
167
84
40
7
3
3
304
54.9%
27.6%
13.2%
2.3%
1.0%
1.0%
100%
The ages in table 3.2 begin at 15 because we decided
that informants below that age might not be properly able to
complete the questionnaire. Many people over 40 did not
return the questionnaires because they did not want to be
associated with pidgin, thus pointing to the strong
attitudes about pidgin in Ghana.
Age Distribution of Informants
P1Q-3.1 A O E (Y H A R S)
Figure 3.2. Age Distribution of Informants
Materials used. Tape recorders were used in interviews
with informants who ranged from school children to a
secretary of state. Some of the recording was done during


115
Table 5.6
Writers of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Yes o No Response
46 256 2
(15.1%) (84.2%) (0.7%)
Table 5.6 suggests that Ghanaian Pidgin English is not
used in a written mode: 84.2% of the respondents indicated
that they have never written the language before, and only
15.1% said that they have done so. Figure 5.6 is a further
illustration of the use of GPE in the written mode.
Have You Written Pidgin English?
300-,
RESPONSES
no. s.
Figure 5.6. Have You Written Pidgin English?
Literature. There is not much written literature in
Ghanaian Pidgin English. No book has been written in only
Ghanaian Pidgin English. Ghanaian writers write in either
one of the native languages or standard English. Generally,
writers who use the Ghanaian native languages do not write
Pidgin English in their books.


178
*


93
is also similar to that of the Ghanaian languages where one
word has all the above meanings. In Akan,"de_" has all the
above meanings. Four of the meanings of "sweet'' from
recorded conversations are shown in the following examples:
A: Onli sey, mi, rna haws no swivt me. I bi soso a dey
hie; layk a go l^n taym.
B: (JOKINGLY) Shuga no dey msayd y=> haws, ^ sey .?
A: (LAUGHING) Shuga no dey m haws.
B: (LAUGHING) A si.
A: Soso ristrishins en e hoo l^t 3f .
B: Demdem.
A: "It's only that my house isn't enjoyable. That's
why I am here. I would have gone long time."
B: (JOKINGLY) "Is there no sugar in your house?"
A: (LAUGHING) "There is no sugar in my house."
B: (LAUGHING) "I see."
A: "Many restrictions and a whole lot of . "
B: "Things."
A: Yu rimimba D.K. Poison?
B: Hmm.
A: Wey i go kam wey dem de sin .
B: Dem de mek am .in hed go swivt am.
A: Yu si oo.
B: in hed go swivt am. I bi huma! bin.
A: "Do you remember D.K. Poison?"
B: "Yes."
A: "When he returned (from winning a boxing
championship) people were singing . "
B: "They made him become swollen headed."
A: "You see!"
B: "Yes he would become swollen headed. He's a human
being."
Lecturer Amoako i no yus; i bi ticha Amoako wey i
swivt.
"Lecturer Amoako isn't good. It's teacher Amoako that
is nice/appropriate."
S=>m polisman tuu i dey de wey i kam; i kam as de mata
wey a t=>k, den i sey oo ma mata i swivt.
"There was a policeman who came and asked me about the
case. When I told him he said my case was good."


59
replaced by its voiceless counterpart, /f/. It can be seen
from the chart below that the RP English consonants, /0/ and
/3/ are not part of the GPE consonants. These are replaced
bY /d/, /t/, or /f/. In the same manner /z/ is replaced by
/s/ in many instances.
Syllable Structure of GPE
GPE has eight possible syllabic shapes, examples are:
SYLLABLE
GPE
ENGLISH
V
a
IIJII
CV
mi, go
"me, go"
VC
i m
"his/her"
CVC
tif, sm, get
"thief, sin, get
CCV
tri
"tree"
VCC
aks
"ask"
CCVC
plis, fren
"please, friend"
It is very rare to find Ghanaian languages which
contain the kind of complex initial and final consonant
clusters of which standard English makes use. These
clusters are simplified or sometimes lost altogether as a
result of a tendency which operates in some Ghanaian
languages to approximate to a syllabicity of CV-CV-CV.
Sometimes in order to achieve this syllabicity, vowels or
glides are inserted in
the clusters.
This syllabicity
phenomenon also works
in GPE; examples
are:
ENGLISH
GPE
dont
don
"don't"
f e rst
fes
"first"
prifekt
prifet
"prefect"
botl
b=>ti>l
"bottle"
fi lm
fi li m
"film"
fayr
faya
"fire"


169
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Bfl&Y WPYOj ¡PWT PCT/OP P/LL RE TPKE WOP/? /F HE EXPOSES TVE G/RL, HERJ/SSES
THE BODY HE LO /,ES/ (REVER MISS THE NEXT ISSUE. GYPTO SPEC/PL J


134
and pidgin English in some of the Ordinary Level ("O" Level)
English essays I graded. The following are some few
examples of such standard/pidgin English from the papers I
graded.
I am in great pleasure and giving to you this account
of standing trial on charges of gross indiscipline to
you. Uncle how be at Mama and the children at home?
I heard this junior saying it pains her a lot that I
obtained majority seats of votes.
One of our tutor come to assemble said something about
our extra feed cost and some of our classmates sav "we
no ao pay".
It is only 17, that is 8%, of the respondents who
indicated that they do not like to speak GPE because they
lack the ability to speak it. They just said they do not
know how to speak it and they are not prepared to learn
another language. Two of them wrote:
I don't move in the group which speaks pidgin English.
It's going to be a new demand on me learning new
language habits and vocab which I don't need.
No, because firstly I'm not fluent in it. Secondly it
doesn't sound nice to me when ladies speak it; it's
sort of out of place in my opinion.
The second part of the last reason which can be
categorized as the inappropriateness of the usage of GPE by
some people at some particular times was expressed by 47,
that is 23%, of our respondents as their reason for
disliking to speak GPE. They say GPE is an inappropriate
language; and some even go to the extent of saying that it
is indecent and crude for ladies, teachers, respected
people, and the educated elite. The following are some of


177
VE FUN


36
There has not been any formal attempt to study the
pidgin English situation in Ghana. Sey (1973:3) observed
that the ideal conditions for a pidgin did not exist in
Ghana in 1973, but in 1984 it was observed that pidgin
English was, and continues, to be spoken in Ghana.
The above observations, among other things, prompted us
to consider doing a research on Ghanaian Pidgin English in
1984.
Methodology
Research period Over a period of nine months, data
were collected on Ghanaian Pidgin English (G.P.E.), from
April, 1984 to January, 1985. This period was used in
distributing and collecting questionnaires, tape-recording
interviews, conversations, and songs in Ghanaian Pidgin
English. The period was also used in collecting magazines
and newspapers in which Ghanaian Pidgin English have been
used. I was the major researcher during this period. Since
I did not have any funding for the research, I could not
afford a research assistant. I relied on the help of
friends for both the recordings and the distribution as well
as collection of the questionnaires.
Questionnaire. Four hundred questionnaires were
distributed in Accra in the Greater Accra Region, Aburi and
Abetifi in the Eastern Region, Winneba in the Central
Region, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Sunyani in the Brong
Ahafo Region, and Ho in the Volta Region. Even though all


APPENDIX C
SOME GPE COMMON COMPLEX CONSTRUCTIONS / EXPRESSIONS
If yu no go, a go tel am.
"If you don't go, I will tell him/her."
Dem go si sey yu de lay.
"They'll see that you're lying." OR
"They'll be able to tell that you're lying."
De tarn wey yu kam i bi mi yu si fo hie.
"When you came, I was the one you saw here."
Kam kwik if yu fo si am.
"Come early in order to see him."
Lak (like) yu kam yestadey, wi get plenti.
"If you'd come yesterday (you'd have seen that) we had
a lot."
Yu de sp= (spoil) ma w^k (work) f=> mi.
"You're getting in my way." OR
"You're ruining my chances at my job."
Kam Sondey, a go go fo ma fam.
"I'll go to my farm on Sunday."
Sat^dey lak dis, a go fo maket.
"I usually go to the market on Saturdays."
Wey tarn kach, a go go si am.
"When the time comes, I'll go and see him/her."
Wey a do ma w=>k finish, a slip f=> rna rum.
"When I finish (doing) my work, I go to sleep in my
(bed)room."
A f=> tel am sey, mek i no kam leyt.
"I must/should tell him/her not to be late." OR
"I am to tell him/her not to be late."
A dz>n tel am sey, mek i no du am, bat i no m mi.
"I have told him/her not to do it, but he/she doesn't
pay any attention (to me)."
156


84
"That all the accountants, everybody knows that they
are on top of the money (they control the money)."
Complementizer "sev"
Verbs of saying, thinking, knowing, remembering, and
sensing are followed by the complementizer "sey" ("that").
This complementizer might come from the Akan language which
uses "sc" ("that") in the same syntactic position (Holm
1988:186; Turner 1949:201; Cassidy 1961:63).
AKAN
Joe ka-a sc 3-be-ba.
Joe say-PAST that he-will-come
"Joe said that he will come."
GPE
Joe tz>k sey i go kam.
"Joe said that he will come."
AKAN
Me-nim sc. Joe be-ba.
I-know that Joe will-come
"I know that Joe will come.
GPE
A sabi sev Joe go kam.
"I know that Joe will come."
AKAN
Me-te-e sc. o-be-ba.
I-hear-PAST that he/she-will-come
"I heard that he/she will come."
GPE
A hie sev i go kam
"I heard that he/she will come."
Comparative / Superlative Expression
There are no morphological markers for the expression
of comparative and superlative notions in GPE. The word
"pas" ("than") is used to express the notion of comparative.


67
minit yu go si am sumowk wiiwii, tek dr:=>gs; las minit
yu go si am anda bri j wey i crez.
"Everybody should watch the things that his or her
child does, because if you have your child and you
don't teach him or her very well, last minute you will
see him or her smoking marijuana, taking drugs; and
last moment you will see him or her under a bridge,
when he or she has become crazy person."
Mi a sabi buk pr^pa-pr^pa bikos no k skuul wey i
dey fo rna vileji wey a no go bifo.
"I know the academics very well because there is no
school in my village that I have never attended
before."
Functional shift reduplications. The function or class
category of some words change when these words are
reduplicated in GPE. In the following song, the verb "lay"
("lie") has been reduplicated and become an adjective to
qualify the nouns "fayt" ("fight"), "m" ("man"), and
"wumal" ("woman"). But in the clauses "evereb^de de laylay"
("everybody is lyinglying" and "a no de laylay" ("I am not
lying"), "lie" has been reduplicated to show the intensity
of the action.
It W3s wan nayt, a de paspas ssm k=>na. Pi pul de fayt
insayd sz>m rum-k^na. Mi a ti nk i bi propa fayt; at las
i bi laylay fayt. Brada, a hi e dc wumal sey "yu laylay
mal. den de mal tuu sey "yu lavlav wumal: den mi a sey
"so evereb=>de de lavlav"; hahaa fo de stori : mi a
no de lavlav.
"It was one night when I was passing by a street
corner. People were fighting in a room. I thought it
was a proper fight. At last it was a fake fight.
Brother, I heard the woman saying "you are a liar",
then the man too said "you are a liar"; then I also
said "so everybody is lying". For this story, I am not
lying."


90
GPE
Dey no go mal yu se f.
They NEG will mind you even
"They will not even think about you."
AKAN
W^-m-mua wo moo.
They-NEG-mind you even
"They will not even think about you."
A: Fo di s Ghana hie, layk yu pley yo bo^l wey yu
finish, nobodi de ri gad yu.
B: Dey no go mal yu se f ene mo^.
A: "In Ghana here, if you play football and you
retire, nobody regards you."
B: "They will not even think about you any more."
Sometimes some speakers make the emphasis stronger by
using both "sef" and "koraa" in the same sentence. At times
"self" is replaced with "koraa". In the following example
"Tamale Real United" and "Hearts" ("Hearts of Oak") are
Ghanaian soccer teams.
Tamale sef koraa. Real United koraa, dey de tie
("tear") Hearts oo.
"Even Tamale, even Real United are beating Hearts."
Ch^p In GPE, the word "ch^p" ("chop") does not have the
same meaning it has in standard English. "Cut" or "fell"
will be used in that sense. Instead "chcp" is used with the
meanings it has from the Ghanaian languages which are
"eat/feed", "spend", "sguander", "food", and the derogatory
way of saying that a man makes love to a woman. Some
speakers use fz>k, for the last meaning. Some even use
"m^nch" which sounds milder. Some speakers also use "cho"
which is the clipped form of "ch^p", and some use "chos" for


145
Notes
1. Spearman Rank-Order Correlation Coefficient
Spearman's rho is used when an experimenter or a
researcher wishes to determine whether two sets of rank-
ordered data are related.
As part of our research, we asked informants to
indicate the people who they think speak Ghanaian Pidgin
English (GPE), and also the places where they see or hear
GPE being spoken. We used Spearman's rho to determine
whether the ranks of the speakers and those of the places
are related. Table 1 shows the scores of speakers and
places of GPE and Table 2 shows the ranks of the scores, the
difference of the ranks, and the square of the difference of
the ranks.
Table 1 Scores on Speakers and Places of Ghanaian Pidgin
English
SCORES
Matched Speakers
Pairs
Scores
Places Scores
A
Students
257
Schools
224
B
Policemen
254
Police Barracks
190
C
Priests
3
Churches
6
D
Drivers
220
Lorry Stations
233
E
Farmers
74
Villages
83
F
Family
69
Homes
109
G
Co-Workers
234
Work Places
198
H
Age-Mates
198
Entertainment Place
184
I
Friends
213
Streets
230
J
Gov't. Officials
20
Radio Ghana
46
K
Border Guards
211
Borders
175
L
Youngsters
207
Cinema Houses
210


96
B: "How do you think all these people will go and
stand by him to talk to him one after the other?"
Words from Other Languages
English supplies the bulk of the vocabulary of GPE. A
few loan words have been borrowed other languages. Among
the European languages, Portuguese is a major contributor to
the loan words in GPE. Some of these Portuguese words are
sab; (know), pikin (a child), dash (gift, give a present),
and palava/palaba (quarrel).
GPE contains words from other West African languages,
especially Hausa and Yoruba. Some of the words from Yoruba
are jga (master, superior), and ovibo (a white man or a
light-skinned person). There are more words from Hausa than
from Yoruba because many Ghanaians speak Hausa, whereas only
a few speak Yoruba. Some of the words borrowed from Hausa
are wayo (tricks, trickster), yanga or nvanga (vanity), jara
(bonus), and wahala (trouble).
Some words in GPE come from Ghanaian native languages;
from Akan are die (as for ...), oaa (very), koraa (even), na
(and, it's), etc; and from Ga is cho (very).
Orthography
We have used phonemic orthography as much as possible
in this work. There are two main reason for this: 1. to
make it easier for those who want to write GPE to have a
writing system, and 2. to make people aware that GPE is a
different language from standard English. This will help
the users know the situational usages of both languages.


68
We realize from the above examples that there is a
morphosyntactic phenomenon that brings about the functional
shift of the reduplicated words in GPE. In most cases when
the reduplicated verb occurs before the noun phrase (NP), it
functions as an adjective whereas when it occurs after the
NP it just intensifies the action word.
When a reduplicated noun occurs before an NP, it
functions as an adjective, whereas it functions as an adverb
when it occurs after a verb phrase (VP). In both cases the
reduplicated noun signifies plurality. This is illustrated
in the following conversation where speaker A uses aftanun-
aftanun in his first sentence as a noun plurality that is
also functioning as an adverb, but uses it in his second
sentence as an adjective.
A: So i min sey Asamoah de f=>k aftanun-aftanun?
B: Eeh.
A: Aftanun-aftanun f=>k i no mek f^k.
A: "So it means that Asamoah makes love in the
afternoons?"
B: "Yes."
A: "Afternoons love-making are no love-making."
In most instances, when a reduplicated form of "so"
which is "soso" occurs before an NP, it functions as a
degree adjective "many" or "plenty". This phenomenon is
illustrated in the following examples
Leg^n de. Onli sey a don' layk Cape Vas ageyn. Soso
Education, a taya. G^d sef sabi sey a taya.
"Legn is available. It is only that I don't like Cape
Vars. (University) again. A lot of Education, I am
tired of it. Even God knows that I am tired of it."


65
"Mr. Danquah has told us that we should stop this
frequent use of pidgin because we are English
students."
A: So i min sey Asamoah de fok aftanun-aftanun.
B: Eeh.
A: Aftanun-aftanun fok i no mek fok.
A: "So it means that Asamoah makes love in the
afternoons."
B: "Yes."
A: "Afternoon love-makings are no love-makings."
Reduplicated verbs. Reduplication of a GPE verb shows
repetition. It may also show action continuity. Examples
are:
A: So yu, yu get mom at 03? Yu get m^ni fo de
eks'mas?
B: Oh, de eks'mas die
A: De litil moni yu get, yu kam spen fo skuul hie.
Wey yu de invayt-invavt ledis soso las wik.
A: "So do you have money at all? Do you have money
for the Christmas?"
B: "Oh, as for the Christmas ...."
A: "The little money you have, you have spent it here
in school. You were always inviting all these
women last week."
Wey 03 de akawntin pi pul, dey dey, eviribodi sabi sey
dey dey de moni top a, dey de rayt som tins, dey de
ravt-ravt som tins den dey de tietie som.
"All the accounting people everybody knows that when
they are in charge of money, they write some things and
they write some things again, and then they cancel some
of them."
De fes tarn wey m wayf bon-bon lak dis, i jos tro awey
twins fo grawn.
"The first time that my wife gave birth, she just threw
away twins onto the ground."
Den a si 03 ma fren dem, dem bigin bav-bav sterio,
televishin, friji, en som de man.


190
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194
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\ 7


CHAPTER 2
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF PIDGIN ENGLISH IN WEST AFRICA
AND ITS CURRENT STATUS
Introduction
This chapter contains two subsections. The first
section deals with the step-by-step history of pidgin
English in West Africa; we will discuss how Portuguese,
Dutch, and British have contributed toward pidgin English in
West Africa. The second section deals with an enumeration
of the principal pidgin English varieties in West Africa,
which are Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cameroon.
A Step-bv-Step History of Pidgin English in West Africa
The exact date of the development of an English-based
pidgin in West Africa cannot be determined. It probably
began with the first contacts with the British in the
sixteenth century (Mafeni 1971:97; Spencer 1971:8). Before
the British built their first English fort at Cormantine on
the Gold Coast in 1631, the Portuguese, who were followed by
the Dutch, had traded with the people of West Africa and had
made some impact on the linguistics of this area. In this
section, I will discuss, chronologically, how these three
European nations contributed toward the evolution of pidgin
English in West Africa.
9


39
the 1984 New Year School which was held at the University of
Ghana, Legn. This is a one-week school attended by people
from all walks of life and from all parts of Ghana. It is
held between Christmas and New Year's Day. The participants
discuss national issues like Aging, Education, Culture, and
The Environment. This was a good opportunity to gather
views from people across the whole spectrum of life in
Ghana.
Both spontaneous and organized recordings of pidgin
were made, including songs sung in pidgin. We interviewed
some of the singers as well as writers of Ghanaian Pidgin
English. Magazines and newspapers in which GPE has been
featured, especially in the areas of comics and cartoons
were also collected.
The data in this dissertation were obtained from the
questionnaires and some responses from interviewees have
also been included. The discussions on the phonology,
morphology, syntax, semantics, the lexicon and the
sociolinguistics of the language as well as the data in the
appendises were taken from some of the organized and
spontaneous conversations of the informants. Some were also
taken from the magazines.
History of Ghanaian Pidgin English
Colonial Settlement
The Portuguese explored the coast of West Africa around
the middle of the fifteenth century, establishing outposts


101
Table 5.1
Have You Spoken Ghanaian Pidgin English?
Yes No No Response Total
248 56 0 304
(81.6%) (18.4%) (0%) (100%)
The high percentage of respondents saying they have
spoken Ghanaian Pidgin English might be due to our selection
procedure. To compensate for any possible skewing, the
informants were asked if they had heard other Ghanaians
speaking Pidgin English. Of the 304 respondents, 301
answered ''Yes" to that question. Table 5.2 and figure 5.2
illustrate this.
Table 5.2
Have Heard Ghanaians Speak Pidgin English
Yes
301
(99.0%)
No
0
(0%)
No Response
3
(1.0%)
Total
304
(100%)


198
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23
families use two quite different varieties of pidgin; one, a
minimal variety, which they use to their employersand
which is the only kind of pidgin which most Europeans come
acrossand a fuller variety, pidgin proper, which they use
elsewhere. Many Nigerians, although use pidgin as a
register in certain, especially familiar, contexts, are
nevertheless ashamed to be associated with the language in
public. This is probably a result of the influence of
parents and school authorities, who have often discouraged
its use because they consider it a debased form of English
and not a language in its own right (ibid.99).
Nigerians use their pidgin in variety of ways, in spite
of the traditional attitudes of disapproval towards the
language. Many Nigerian novelists, playwrights, advertising
agents, trade unionists and even politicians have realized
and are exploiting the great potentialities of the language
as a medium of mass communication. The various broadcasting
corporations in Nigeria have done much to popularize pidgin
by allowing its use in advertisement; the NBC radioserial
"Save Journey" has been running with great success for a
number of years; Achebe and other writers have used pidgin
in their novels and poems (ibid.100).
Sierra Leone
Holm (1989:413) states that it seems both pidgin and
creole English were spoken in the area around Freetown
before it was settled from Britain and the New World in the


18
We conclude this section by recognizing that history
has influenced the evolution of pigins in West Africa,
especially pidgin English. Pidginization of European
languages in West Africa began with Portuguese and now
pidgin English is spoken in many West Africa countries.
Principal Pidgin English Varieties in West Africa
English-based pidgins and creoles are spoken in West
Africa from the Gambia to the Cameroon. They are spoken in
countries where English is an official language. These
countries are Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria,
and Cameroon. Spencer has the following to say about the
role of the English language in West Africa.
In West Africa English exists alongside a multitude of
other languages which constitute the mother tongues of
practically all the peoples of those states which
retain English as an important auxiliary, or sometimes
as an explicitly national, language. As these
societies develop, as their populations become socially
and geographically more mobile, as institutions and
organizations spread and multiply, and as group
interacts with group in the process of modernization,
so the place of English gets more interwoven with the
lives of more and more people. It is normally through
English that an individual breaks the bonds of West
African traditional life and enters into some kind of
relationship with the westernized sectors of the
society. Through English he obtains the education
which is the road to the kind of success which awaits
him beyond the village or the tribe. Through English
of one kind or another he communicates with fellow
citizens from language groups other than his own, or
with foreigners. English is the language of
institutions implanted by colonialism: the law, large-
scale business, formal education beyond the first two
or three years of primary school, science and
technology, central administration and politics.
(Spencer 1971:3)


180
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28
Liberia
Holm (1989:421-426) writes about the Liberian
Creole/Pidgin English in terms of how the speakers of the
language came in contact with English speakers. The
Portuguese reached what is now Liberia in 1416; because of
the trade in pepper that developed in this area, it came to
be known as the Grain Coast. As the British took over more
of the slave trade in the eighteenth century, their ships
began stopping along the Grain Coast to take on crews to man
their ships and act as middlemen with other Africans as they
proceeded down the coast to trade for slaves. Their ships
would stop again on their return journey to drop off the
sailors (Singler 1981:4). These were called Krumen (earlier
Krooboys) from the ethnic name of Kru (Klao). They enjoyed
a favored position with the white traders and were largely
excempt from slave raiding (Reinecke 1937:617). Holm in
quoting Reinecke suggests that it seems likely that the
Krumen had been using pidgin English for at least a century
when an observer noted in 1856 that "Three-fourths of the
male population of the Kru country speak imperfect, but
intelligible English" (ibid.618).
Holm quotes Tonkin, Jones, and Reinecke to describe how
the Krumen have contributed towards the spread of Pidgin
English in West Africa. The Krumen "must have been
important diffusers and standardizers of Pidgin English, for
their employers included slavers, traders, explorers, and


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
I had my elemantary school education in Ghana from 1951
to 1961. I attended a four-year teacher's college, Saint
Joseph's Training College at Bechem in Ghana, where I
obtained a teacher's Certificate "A" diploma in 1968. After
teaching in the elementary schools in Ghana from 1968 to
1974, I attended a teachers' specialist college at the
School of Ghana Languages at Ajumako in Ghana, where, for
two years, I specialized in the teaching of Akan and
languages in general. I taught Akan and English at the
Sunyani Secondary School for one year and then entered the
University of Ghana to study for a B.A. degree in 1977 which
I obtained with honors in linguistics and Swahili in 1981.
I spent the 1979-80 academic year at the University of Dar
Es Salam in Tanzania for proficiency in Swahili. From 1981
to 1984, I was a teaching assistant at the Department of
Linguistics at the University of Ghana. During the same
period I was a part-time teacher of linguistics and English
at the Advanced Teacher Training College at Winneba in
Ghana. I was also an examiner of English language for the
West African Examination Council and the Royal Society of
Arts.
204


162
5. K: yu no
bifo de go bon yu
yu go no wot yu go do
J: mhm
K: en yu, as yu de
10. yuo papa go tich yu
you know
before you're born
you'll know what you'll do.
yes.
and you, as you live,
your father will teach you.
J: mhm
yes.
K: i go tich yu finis
yu go no se.
a papa de tok tru oo
15. so di s tin wey papa
de tok na sofa sofa
he'll finis teaching you
you'll know that
yes, father was spaking the truth.
so this thing which father
was saying is suffering suffering.
J: mhm
yes.
K: yea
das way a sin ....
20.J: yu sin am fo hwe
K: a sin am fo onisa
oni.., najeria
yes.
thus why I sang.
you sang it at where?
I sang it at Onitsha
On.., Nigeria.
A SONG BY APOLLO KING INTERNATIONAL BAND OF GHANA
JeLoSI JEALOUSY
1. if a du ma tin
mek yu no jelos
i f a du ma ti n
mek yu no jelos
5. jelosi go she(m)
wayo go she(m)
jelosi go she(m)
wayo tu go she(m)
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster will be ashamed.
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster too will be ashamed.
i f a du ma tin
10. mek yu no jelos
if a du ma ti n
mek yu no jelos
jelosi go she(m)
wayo go she(m)
15. jelosi go she(m)
wayo tu go she(m)
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
If I do my thing
Don't be jealous
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster will be ashamed.
The jealous one will be ashamed.
The trickster too will be ashamed.


43
hence the popular expression in Ghana: "Yes sa, masa."
("Yes sir, master.") It was usual for a visitor to ask:
"Masa dey?" (Is your master present?), and the reply: "I
dey" (He's present) or "I no dey." (He isn't present).
The reason for the employment of these categories of
workers from the northern part of Ghana was to promote the
undivided loyalties to their employer, since they did not
have their families with them in the south; even in the
north, they could be far away from their own villages.
In the northern part of Ghana, the people were late in
receiving formal education. That is why the employees from
the North were some of the first speakers of Ghanaian Pidgin
English.
Second World War
In our survey, sixteen informants, or 5% Of the
respondents, mentioned the second World War as one of the
events that have contributed to the emergence of pidgin
English in Ghana. This is especially true of the older
respondents because of their association with the war.
Soldiers of the Gold Coast Regiment fought alongside
their British counterparts during the Second World War
(1939-1945). They served as porters for the British
soldiers. These porters were illiterates; hence in their
efforts to communicate with their British counterparts
Pidgin English evolved. These soldiers returned to Ghana
with the Pidgin English. Some of them joined the Armed


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to
Professor John Lipski, the cochair for this dissertation,
who spent a lot of his time in helping me with his very good
suggestions especially on the theoretical aspects.
Professor Allan Burns, the chair for this dissertation, gave
me a lot of encouragement as well as guidance, especially on
the socioliguistics part of this work and he deserves my
gratefulness. Special thanks go to the other members of the
dissertation committee, Professors Chauncey Chu, Norman
Markel, and Goran Hyden, for suggestions that have brought
about the completion of this work. I owe thanks to
Professor Florence Dolphyne of the Department of Linguistics
at the University of Ghana, who brought my attention to the
fact that no formal studies had been done on the pidgin
English situation in Ghana. It was through Professor Kofi
Anyidoho of the University of Ghana, who was also one of my
informants, that I corresponded with Professor Ian Hancook
of the University of Texas who directed me on how to do the
research on the pidgin English in Ghana. I am indebted to
both of them for their assistance. I must express my thanks
to Joyce Adjorlolo and Amoako-Atta for their asssistance in
the distribution and collection of the questionnaire. I
thank the following informants for their time and
information: Mr. Akweyena and George Danyare of Institute of
Adult Education; Dan Amakye-Dede, leader of Apollo High King
iii


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Allan Burns, Chair
Professor of Linguistics
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
d/phn LipskiV' CocRir
rofessor yof Linguistics
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
( Chauncey Chu /
Professor of Linguistics
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Norman Markel
Professor of Linguistics
1 certify that I have read th
opinion it conforms to acceptable/
presentation and is fully adequ
as a dissertation for the degre
study and that in my
andards of scholarly
in scope arid quality,
Doctor ot/Phi^pbophy.
Goran Hyden
Professor of Po
ical Science


LOVE& FUN
185


137
Table 5.13
Age and Sex of "No"
Pidgin English?"
Respondents to
"Do You Like to
Speak
Age (Years)
Female
Male
Unmarked
Total
15 25
64
50
0
14
26 30
27
26
2
55
31 40
10
18
0
28
41 50
3
3
0
6
Over 50
0
3
0
3
Unmarked
1
1
0
2
Total
105
101
2
208
Age and Sex of "No" Speakers of G.P.E.
15-25 25-30 31-40 41-60 50+ NO RESP.
AGE(YBARS)
Figure 5.13. Age and Sex of "No" Speakers of G.P.E.
Most of our respondents fall between the ages of 15 and
25 years. There were 167 of them. Here too we see another
indication that more male respondents than their female
counterparts like to speak GPE. The "yes no" ratio for


135
the unedited quotations from the respondents who used
inappropriateness or indecency as their reason for their
dislikeness of GPE.
The nature of my work does not permit me to speak
pidgin English. Moreso, I don't belong to that age
group that speak pidgin English most (teacher; 31 40
years old).
As a bank official I am expected to speak better
English.
It is an indecent language for the educated person.
The educated man who speaks it loses his respect in the
eyes of their colleagues.
The grown-ups look upon you as a ruffian.
It does not speak well of the speaker.
It does not fit a lady. I feel like a rascal when I
speak it.
It is unladylike to speak pidgin English.
As a woman I think I have to speak standard English not
to tarnish my reputation and status.
Pidgin English is not a language spoken in the European
countries. A good English man does not respect anyone
who speaks it. As an educated person, I do not think
it proper for such a person to speak pidgin English.
The fact that, in Ghana, GPE is the language of the
male and not of the female, even though some of the female
population speak it, has been demonstrated in previous
chapters. Tables 5.12 and 5.13 put emphasis on this notion.
These tables which describe the ages and sex of the
respondents according to how they responded to the question
"Do you like to speak pidgin English?" show that more male,
62, than female, 32, answered "yes". The male number is
almost twice that of the female. Figure 5.12 is a summary


61
Vowel Harmony
A number of West African languages have harmony
systems, in which vowels are divided into mutually exclusive
harmonic sets (e.g. according to height or laxness) so that
all the vowels in a word will belong to either one set or
the other. For example in Ijo all the vowels will be either
lax (i, e, u, 3) or tense (i, e, u, o) (Williamson 1965 in
Holm 1988:124). This type and other types of vowel harmony
are found in other Kwa languages like Ibo, Ewe, and Akan.
In all the dialects of Akan, there are two sets of vowels
according to the advancement of the tongue root: those with
Advanced Tongue Root [+ATR], and those without Advanced
Tongue Root [-ATR]. This is horizontal vowel harmony.
[+ATR] i e ae u o
[-ATR] i e a u 3
In any Akan word of two or more syllables, only the vowels
of one set will occur.
[+ATR] [-ATR]
[wubebu] "you'll break ." [wubebu] "you'll beat. ."
[osi] "he/she washes." [=>si] "he/she sharpens."
[mini] "here I am." [mini] "I mean ."
The Fante dialect of Akan has labial vowel harmony
which occurs together with the horizontal one. This means
rounded [+RD] vowels will occur in one word and the
unrounded [-RD] ones will occur in another word.


103
Table 5.3
"Who Speaks Pidgin English?" Affirmative Responses
Males
Females
Policemen
Policewomen
232
140
254
132
(76.3%)
(46.0%)
(83.6%)
(43.1%)
Family
Friends
Elders
Youngsters
69
213
39
207
(22.6%)
(70.0%)
(12.8%)
(68.1%)
Lecturers
Masters
Tutors
Teachers
16
43
36
75
(5.3%)
(14.1%)
(11.8%)
(24.7%)
Students
Age-mates
Priests
Drivers
257
198
3
220
(84.5%)
(65.1%)
(1.0%)
(72.4%)
Co-Worker:.
Gov't. Officials Traders
Farmers
234
20
173
74
(77.0%)
(6.6%)
(56.9%)
(24.3%)
Male Soldiers
Female Soldiers Border
Guards Navy Men
247
93
211
108
(81.3%)
(30.6%)
(69.4%)
(35.5%)
* Others
73
(24.0%)
* Others include watchmen, laborers, prostitutes, seaport
workers, ship's crew, stewards, bookmen or vehicle loaders,
bandsmen and comedians, prisoners and prison officials, fire
service workers, currency traffickers, and miners.


120
paper by an examinee of the West African Examinations
Council. In the following quotation from the candidate's
paper, pira. boa. kwa, and hunahuna. are Akan words which
mean "hurt", "help", "just", and "threaten" respectively.
Unfortunately we heard a sudden noise. It was the
school watchman, "hei! if you move, I go pira you". I
was shaken so I shouted, "Watchman, I no dey among oo.
I came to boa them kwa. Ah! it was Jakadu, Nana Oku
and Siboree who hunahuna me oo, watch-tch-tch-m-ma-ma-
man!!"
"Unfortunately we heard a sudden noise. It was the
school watchman, "hei! if you move, I will hurt you".
I was shaken so I shouted, "Watchman, I am not among
them. I just came to help them. Ah! it was Jakadu,
Nana Oku and Siboree who threatened me, watchman!!"
Writings on vehicles. Some Ghanaians express
themselves in GPE by writing GPE on their vehicles,
especially lorries and buses which are used to convey
passengers. Some of such expressions are: "One Man No
Chop", "God Dey", "Sea Never Dry", "Do Me I Do You", and
"Jealousy Go Shame". "One Man No Chop" literally means "A
person does not eat alone". Its actual meaning is that we
should all work together and enjoy the fruit of our labor
together. "God Dey" literally means "God is always
available". Its actual meaning is that once God exists his
providence is always available and that he will help both
the poor and the rich to survive. "Sea Never Dry" is used
to show how strong someone is. It is a simile denoting a
person's power and immortality like the sea. "Do Me I Do
You" means "If you hurt me I will retaliate". "Jealousy Go


26
Creole society. Singler suggests that "the most important
phase of the development of Krio was the creolization (or
re-creolization) that occurred with the wave upon wave of
Liberated Africans who washed ashore in Freetown (Singler
1984:35). In summary "the Sierra Leone settlement consisted
of the following groups of people: The Black Poor, the
Maroons and Nova Scotians, and the West African recaptives.
The last were by far the most numerous, their arrival being
spread over a number of years" (Jones 1971:67). Jones
describes the language Krio as:
Krio is an English-based lingua franca used throughout
Sierra Leone as an inter-tribal language of trade and
social communication. It is the mother tongue of the
descendants of freed men who settled in the Sierra
Leone peninsula between 1787 and the early years of the
nineteenth century. It is a second language for other
residents in this same area whose mother tongue is one
of the Sierra Leone languages. It has also spread
throughout the country principally in the more urban
areas as an additional language. (ibid.66)
In describing the usage of Krio in Sierra Leone today,
Jones says it is recognized as a useful language of inter
tribal communication and as such a medium of news
dissemination. He says the official news bulletin put out
daily over the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service by the
Ministry of Information, as well as other important
government statements, are broadcast in Krio as well as
English, Mende and Temne. (The other languages of the
country usually have weekly broadcast in them.) Krio is
also used widely in public speeches all over the country as
well as at inter-tribal religious services. In talking