12 October 2012

a new kind of english.

In these past nearly seven weeks, I've been learning how the English language looks different here.  Most things are the same, but there are some key phrases that left me absolutely confused in the beginning.  But I am growing to understand them so much that I'm certain they will slip out back in Ohio and I will get some strange glances from friends, so I decided to begin a list (because who doesn't love a list, right?) in order that you can prepare yourselves.

You are invited! - Whenever someone has food and has begun to eat, you can expect that they will extend an invitation.  I think it just has to do with the hospitality of the culture.  It doesn't mean that each person who invites you actually expects you to come and eat, but you could if you wanted to.  Most of the time when fellow teachers say this around lunch time, I just respond with a genuine thank you and continue with my piece of bread and g-nut paste.

Do you get me? - I hear this a lot at the school, said by the teachers to the students.  It's a way of saying "Does this make sense?" or "Do you understand what I'm saying?"

I don't hear you - This one was really confusing to me at first.  Hear does not mean hear, it means understand.  Instead of speaking louder (which was my mistake) you should try to re-phrase what you've just said, or simplify it.  It may also be used in a phrase such as "She is beginning to hear Fante," which would mean that she is starting to understand the language a little.

It's nice - Nice is probably the number one adjective used to describe anything good.  Food isn't good or delicious, it's nice.  You don't look pretty or handsome, you look nice.  His shoes are not ugly, they are not nice.

It is finished - It may be used in a number of ways.  Usually when something is empty or has run out.  If there are no more biscuits, it is finished.  If your phone batter has died, it is finished.

I'm coming - This is probably my favourite one because I find it quite funny.  By American standards, people here are perpetually late.  Though I don't think there's much of a concept of that here, so I'm getting used to it.  We are forever waiting for others to show up if we actually arrive "on time."  That wedding I went to?  It was supposed to start at 11:00, and the bride and groom didn't actually get there until noon.  You can safely add at least half an hour to any estimated time of arrival.  You should know this when I explain "I'm coming."  Most of the time when it is used, it really means "I'm going," or "I'm going but I'll be back."  And the "I'll be back," part usually takes awhile.  I can't tell you how many times I've stood waiting for someone to return after saying "I'm coming" and they never came.

Go and come - It's the direct translation of the word kɔ bra.  Whenever you leave a place, usually a familiar place like home or work, someone may say this to you.  I think it's sort of like saying "be sure you come back," or "be safe."  

What will you take? - This is the question asked by someone who will serve you food.  It's like asking, "What would you like to eat?"

Plenty - It is pretty easy to infer what is meant by plenty, it's just used a little differently.  For instance, Ama told me yesterday that her dad gave her "plenty homework" so she would come outside later.  This meant that he gave her a lot of homework.  Or Priscilla, a friend who lives on the compound, said she didn't want "to talk plenty" with a guy we passed while walking.  This meant that she didn't want to talk too much or for too long.

Isn't it? - Essentially, this is used the way I use "right?" or "you know?" at the end of sentences, kind of as an emphasis of affirmation following a statement.

Where will you pass? - I learned about this in discussions of navigation.  It's similar to "Where are you going?"  You might say some thing like, you will walk to the end of the street and then pass by the taxi station.  It can be used in the place of "turn," but it is also used to explain a final destination.  So when I get in a taxi going to town, I might say "I'll pass at (or by) Municipal Station."

You said? - This is used like "Pardon me?" or "What did you say?"  You just have to repeat yourself, or clarify.

And what again? - I was probably most confused by this one.  But it means something along the lines of "What else?" or "And then what?" or "What comes next?"

I've got about eight weeks left here, so I'm sure there will be more to add later.  But for now, it is finished.

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