Visiting Ghana for the First Time? Slangs and Lingo You should Know

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Slangs play an important role in communication. Especially because when used in informal situations as they are usually used, they can add humour, wit, emphasis and nuance to what is being said. With pidgin English spoken as a corruption of the English language by non-native speakers across countries where the British had their colonial influence, pidgin English can be as diverse as they are rich from country to country.

Ghanians at an event

Ghana has 7 major languages that are widely spoken. Twi, Ga, Fanti, Ewe, Dangbe, Hausa and English and the Pidgin of the Ghanaians incorporates some words from the native dialects into its vocabulary.

When in Ghana, to blend in with the local, the tourist would need a fairly good command of the Pidgin English with an understanding of the various slangs and lingos. From hailing a taxi, to buying food, from striking conversations with strangers, to asking a friend how their day went, spicing up your communication with local slangs and lingo will warm you up to your hosts as it will make your visit an even more interesting one.

Also, because locals will unashamedly use the slangs in their conversations with you, even when it is clear you are a visitor, having an idea of what the slangs mean might help you catch a drift of where they are going with what they say.

And even though it takes some time to be adept at them, this is meant to be introductory, so that when you hear or encounter them, it’s easier for you to pick up. If you have a tour guide or you have a friend who is a native, ask for the correct pronunciations and intonations for these words.

So you may already know that Chale means Friend, and Trotro is a minibus commonly used for public transportation like the Danfo in Lagos, and you may know that Akwaaba means Welcome, but did you know that Abongoman refers to a soldier, military personnel or generally a hustler, and Apo means information. Alomo means girlfriend, which might be a surprise to many Nigerians, as the alcoholic drink Alomo Bitters which originates from Ghana is very popular there.

Azaaman refers to a dubious person, Abeg means Please, Brooni Waawu are second-hand cloths, and a Wingman is called a Betweener.

You see that cellphone in your hand, the one you might be reading this on, yes, that is called a Battle Commander. If you are from England, just know also, that your country is referred to as Babylon, yea.

If you need to eat at a local restaurant, what you will be asking for in local Ghanaian parlance is a Chopbar, if you need to ask someone to email you, you tell them to dotcom you, yes. .com.

If you find kids or teenage boys playing football on the street, what they are doing is called gutter-to-gutter. A woman wearing high heeled shoes would be said to be wearing Guarantee. If a person is single and without a girlfriend, you say he is Gnashing. When you came in through the Airport, the louts who hound you to carry your bag are known as Goro Boys.

Island doesn’t literally refer to an Island, but to fufu, a staple meal eaten with soup, called Island because it is served with the soup surrounding it in the plate it is served, creating the impression of an Island. (See picture)

Fufu aka Island

If banter is being made and someone says something about someone wearing I Swear to God shoes, it means the shoes have the tips pointing upwards, which is usually a form of ridicule. When you have to walk a distance, rather than take commercial transport because you have no money on you, what you do is called Kak-Dee.

If someone tells you Oyiwa, what he just said means There you are. Padi means Friend, Pikin means Baby. Red Red is a meal of fried plantain and beans, Remote Control refers to Black Magic. Sabi means to know. Split means to leave, Skin Pain refers to keeping malice with someone or someone who is considered a hater.

Commonly said among students, World War 2 means resitting an exam, and a Zombi is used to refer to soldiers, of course, only behind their backs. I think we have to thank Fela for that one.

Trotro commercial bus in Ghana

So there you go folks. By no means an exhaustive list. But this could help improve your vocabulary when it comes to communicating with the average local when in Ghana.

Could you make a sentence from the new Ghanaian words we have introduced you to?

Give it a try and drop your sentences in the comments section.

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