In a usually humorous way, English words have been adopted by Kumasi ‘street culture’ and are used so uniquely that they now have very little to do with the original meaning.
Say what you will, but this shows a real interest in English. So before you laugh and dismiss the Siano’s humble attempt at making English his own, do read on before you jump to any conclusion.
Original definition: A wealthy, powerful person in business or industry
Siano version: Anybody, really. It’s a way to address someone you’re friendly with, usually males, especially if you think they are ‘dosted’ (got dough). So in a way, the Siano version is not too far from correct, is it? Oh, and lest I forget, it’s not pronounced like the English version. The correct Siano rendition is ‘Taakum!’ A friend of mine loves this word. She knows herself.
Similar expressions are director, honourable, and the next entry.
Original definition: A chef is a person who cooks professionally for other people.
Siano version: Much like ‘tycoon’, chef is a somewhat respectful term used to refer to guys mostly. How this particular one crept into such usage, given its original meaning, remains a mystery to me.
Original definition: A citizen of a borough or town, especially one belonging to middle class. However, the version of the word that contributed the most to its current Ghanaian usage is the title of Grand Burgher, a historical German title acquired or inherited by persons and family descendants of the ruling class in German speaking towns.
Siano version: Well everyone knows who a burgher is, right? Back in the day, Sianos loved to travel to Germany in search of greener pastures. When they returned to Ghana, they needed a new title to address their newly found status as a Ghanaian who had succeeded in faraway Germany, with all its cold and subtle (and not so subtle) racism. Burgher was the perfect title, and the expression is now adopted nationwide by anyone who travels off the continent. It is sometimes even used as a verb.
Original definition: Savagely violent.
Siano definition: This is an old, old expression, and is used so frequently it has begun to sound like an actual Twi word. There is nothing violent about the Siano usage of the word. In fact it is mostly used in a positive way. Brutal simply means ‘very much’ or ‘to a high degree’. So if I tell you ‘Medo wo brutal’, then you should know just how much I love you.
Original definition: A personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions and other posts, on a regular basis.
Siano Definition: Before there was anything like blogs or even internet around, folks at Kumasi had our own blog. And this blog was nothing other than ice. Ice blog/block used to be something of an ice cream alternative back in those days. So yeah, we are laying claims to the word. We invented the word, and loaned it back to English, for use in a different capacity. Clap for Kumasi, we have done well.
Original definition: Guy is an informal word for a man, or when used in the plural, people of either sex. According to a teacher in my high school OWASS, a guy is a one-eyed man. Therefore if you’re guy-guy, then you must be blind.
Siano definition: Is this word even a noun or an adjective? Basically, if someone is guy-guy, they’ve got swag, in a show-off way. However when used negatively, then it is similar to the next entry, ‘too known’, but a little milder.
Original definition: Well this phrase doesn’t really appear in conventional English, and a quick Google search would show that most of the results are generated from Ghana. So, kudos to us, I guess. If it were correct English however, then it would mean being overly famous.
Siano version: If you are too known, then you are way too arrogant or stuck up, most likely as a result of thinking you know all there is to know in the world. Thus it is easy to trace how this expression came to be. However its usage covers all forms of snobbish behaviour, whether the person indeed knows a lot or is as dumb as a rock.
Original definition: A claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically one made without proof.
Siano version: This expression definitely takes the cake for pure creativity. If you think hard enough about it, you can decode the origin of the Siano meaning of the word in relation to the original meaning. If a gentleman from Kumasi has no ‘allegation’ with you, then there’s no problem between the two of you and it means you really don’t want to create one either. So just picture a trotro mate in a heated argument with someone, and saying to the mediator, “Chef, mene wo nni allegation biaa. M’ani abre brutal!
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