Structure dataset 16: Ghanaian Pidgin English

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 16.

Ghanaian Pidgin English is used by roughly a fifth of Ghana’s more than 25 million inhabitants (2012) in a variety of situations. It is a predominantly oral and urban phenomenon, spoken in the south of Ghana, especially in the capital Accra. It is confined to a smaller (though growing) section of society than Pidgin English in other anglophone West African countries, its functional domain is more restricted and the language is more stigmatized. There are two main varieties: "Uneducated" Pidgin is associated with the less educated sections of society, while "educated" Pidgin (also called "Student Pidgin") is usually spoken by Ghanaians who have at least progressed to the upper forms of secondary school. The uneducated variety is the default lect documented in APiCS. This variety can be heard e.g. in the so-called zongos, quarters in the bigger southern cities which are home to migrants from Ghana’s north but also from neighbouring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso. At times, reference is made in the database to alternative structures in Student Pidgin, which is spoken mostly by male speakers in informal settings in the secondary schools and universities, but increasingly also outside these institutions. In one case (Feature 5 "Order of demonstrative and noun) the database provides information on a more acrolectal variety of the default lect (uneducated Pidgin).

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No. Feature Value lect Details Source
No. Feature Value lect Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p  b t  d c ɟ k  g
Sibilant affricate t͡ʃ d͡ʒ ʨ ʥ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ ɕ
Non-sibilant fricative f v h
Approximant ɹ l j
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel long high front unrounded vowel nasalized high front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel long high back rounded vowel nasalized high back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɛ̃nasalized lower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel ɔ̃nasalized lower mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel nasalized low central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide
 k͡p  voiceless labial-velar plosive
 g͡b  voiced labial-velar plosive


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value lect Details Source