Master the Pidgin
An Introductory Grammar of Ghanaian Pidgin English
As a language enthusiast I am keenly interested in what people say and how they say it. Some have called it grammar policing, and I have been accused on occasion of ruining a conversation with tedious, often contextually irrelevant analyses of people’s phraseology. Of course, I plead not guilty. Many times, however, speaking errors in English are brushed aside with a wave of the hand and a dismissive, “It’s not our native language.” But when I corrected a friend’s Pidgin English, he responded indignantly, “Agana, Pidgin no get grammar oo!” “Really?” I thought. It is that assertion, and my interrogation of it, that have eventually culminated in the publishing of this book. And so it is with truest joy that I present to you, Master the Pidgin!
Pidgin English is spoken throughout the West African sub-region. As can be expected, the flavors differ across the sub-region, but with enough commonality to make the different variants mutually intelligible. Ghana’s flavor of Pidgin is spoken across all classes of society, and is celebrated as a great equalizer of Ghanaian society. Pidgin, as it is simply called, is noted for its nonconformity to regular British English. True to its name Pidgin reduces regular English to a much simpler form. Yet achieves this simplification through intriguingly consistent, logical formulae whose by-product is an internal code that is accessible and learnable.
Master the Pidgin teaches you this inner code so you can master Pidgin English. It offers an insightful tour of the grammar and syntax involved in Pidgin as it is spoken — and sometimes written — in Ghana. The book argues by demonstration that Pidgin has predictable form that can be described and classified as well as many “established” languages. This form, or grammar, is should be understood less as a body of “rules,” and more as a guiding framework for understanding how Pidgin works and learning how to speak it with speed, ease, and confidence.
Master the Pidgin, then, is for three groups of people. First, both native and foreign learners will quickly gain a more comprehensive understanding of Pidgin than most phrasebooks afford. By learning how Pidgin works, and not simply what to say, you can more quickly gain a command of the language. Second, language experts and enthusiasts will find a well-thought out perspective on the inner workings of a language whose evolution needs to be taken more seriously and traced more closely. Finally, casual speakers who speak Pidgin English with the notion that they are doing something haphazard or thoughtless will find in this book strong evidence that unlike Kwame once retorted, “Pidgin get grammar” after all.
Together, rather unconsciously; we have created a beauty of a language; this book teaches that language by revealing the marvelous detail of how we did it. Who say Pidgin no get grammar??
Master Pidgin English is now available on Amazon Kindle.
About the Author:
Agana-Nsiire Agana is an author, poet, and essayist born and raised in Ghana. Agana has been active in Ghana’s literary scene since 2004, publishing and performing poetry online and on radio. Agana has published short stories and essays on local and international literary magazines and websites. In 2011 His poem A Bird in Me Heart, was reviewed for Ghana Literary Week, and in 2017 his short story The Message was featured in TheWrongQuarterly, a UK-based literary magazine. A trained theologian, Agana has published numerous articles on theology and philosophy in various journals and magazines. In his spare time a birdwatcher and nature photographer. He can be reached via his website at www.aganansiire.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.