The English in Ghana: British, American or Hybrid English?

Harriet Okoh


As a result of colonization of the British, the English used in many African countries and for that matter Ghana, is the British standard variety. However, the English used in Ghana, appears to have been invaded by the American English. This poses a problem as both teachers and students especially at the senior high school level confuse themselves about which word or spelling is right and vice versa. This study thus seeks to investigate students’ awareness of this invasion, the extent of the invasion and also to ascertain which of the aspects of the language has been much influenced by the American variety. The underpinning framework for this study is Kachru’s (1985) concentric model to situate the type of English used in Ghana. A sample size of 100 Students of English Education Department of University of Education, Winneba was selected for the study. The data was a secondary one: a random collection of vocabulary. Test, interview and questionnaire were also employed to gather other related data for the study. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to analyse the data with precedence on qualitative analysis and the findings were thematically presented. The results indicate that although students use both American and British English together, they have little knowledge about the differences between them, especially, with the vocabulary aspect. Students have fair knowledge about the differences between the two varieties as regards the orthography aspect. These findings have implications on the teaching of English language and on examination issues in the country. It also informs writers of various educational materials about what variety to use.

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