Lesson 42: Twi Interjections (Nteam) | Twi Grammar

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Now, let’s continue our grammar series with lesson 16. In this lesson, we take a look at Twi interjections. Before we start, though, let me tell you a story; a true happening in Ghana which trended on various social media platforms for many months. I think it still does.

Somewhere in the year 2014, Gabriel Barima, the then District Chief Executive (DCE) for Ahafo Ano South district of Ghana, rose to fame when a video recording of him walking out on an audience of a ceremony went viral online. What necessitated the walkout? Apparently, he had been invited to grace the function and while delivering his speech, an unknown member of the audience exclaimed tweaa! This got the DCE furious. The exclamation tweaa infuriated our dear DCE so bad that he had to walk out on the people present at the function.

The video became so popular that a number of Ghanaian musicians and comedians jumped in to produce songs and skits respectively around this magic word: tweaa. At one time, even the then president of the republic of Ghana, President John Dramani Mahama made a joke around this word in parliament while delivering the State of the Nation Address. And, when the Speaker of Ghana’s parliament at the time, Edward Doe Adjaho, couldn’t take the incessant use of the word anymore, he issued a ban on it: no member of parliament was to use that word on the floor of the house again!

At this point, I’m sure my Twi learners will be asking what at all this tweaa means that its exclamation could anger a government official to the extent of staging a walkout; get the first gentleman of the land joking about it; and cause the leader of the country’s lawmaking house to ban its usage? We’ll come to that. For now, though, watch the infamous video below.

 

 

This brings us to our topic for discussion today: Twi Interjections; tweaa being one of the many interjections we have in Twi.  Interjections are words or groups of words used to express strong (and, sometimes, mild) feelings or sudden emotions. They express such sentiments as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, enthusiasm, general disapproval, etc. Examples of interjections in English include ouch! hey! wow! oops! oh! Interjections do not bear grammatical functions in sentences and are not related to other parts of sentences. Thus, when an interjection is omitted, the sentence from which it was omitted would still make perfect sense.

 

Sentential examples in English

–> Ouch! It hurts

–> Oops! I broke it

–> Wow! What a lovely smile

 

Below, I list a number of Twi interjections, their meanings and how they are used. If you have more to add, please contribute by leaving them in the comments section below the post.

 

List of Twi Interjections

Twi English Usage
aane

yes

(used to give an affirmative response)

Aane, mete aseɛ

(Yes, I understand)

dabi

no

(used to give a negative response)

Dabi, wontumi nna ha

(No, you can’t sleep here)

yee!

yie!

exclamation of fear

Yee!/Yie! Mawu

(Yee!/Yie! I’m dead)

ei! exclamation of surprise

Ei! Woaba?

(Ei! You’ve arrived?/You’re here?)

agyei!

ouch!

(exclamation of pain)

Agyei! Me nan mu abu

(Agyei! My leg is broken)

ao!

buei!

aa!

exclamation of sorrow

(e.g. to news of someone’s death)

Ao! Wode me gyaa hwan?

(Ao! In whose care did you leave me?)

 

Buei! Adeɛ atɔ m’ani

(‘adeɛ atɔ m’ani’ is a Twi idiomatic expression which means the speaker is bereaved. Literally, ‘adeɛ atɔ m’ani’ corresponds to ‘something has fallen onto my eyes)

 

Ao! Me yere awu agya me yayaaya

(Ao! My wife has died and left me in great pain)

tweaa!

(extreme variant: tweakai!)

apuu!

(extreme variant: apuutɔɔ!)

exclamation of (strong) disapproval

(used to rubbish someone’s claim/authority)

Tweaa! Ɛnyɛ nokorɛ

(Tweaa! It’s not true)

 

Woyɛ kyerɛkyerɛni nti deɛn? Tweaa!

(You are a teacher and so what? Tweaa!)

 

Wobɛtumi ahwe me? Apuu!

(Can you beat me? Apuu!)

hoo!

(the ‘o’ may be extended)

exclamation for shaming

Hoo! Dwonsɔ kurobo!

(Hoo! Bedwetter!)

huu!

exclamation for calling out or drawing attention

(usually used at the farm to figure out a partner’s location)

Huu! Wowɔ he?

(Huu! Where are you?)

ee!

 exclamation of emphasis

(manly used to lay stress on a name when calling out)

 Yaw ee! Di aduane no

(Yaw ee! Eat the food)

 

Akosua ee! Wo maame ada na gyae dede no

(Akosua ee! Your mother is asleep so stop making noise)

ɛ!

eh!

(lays stress on an imperative/a command)

 Wobɛkɔ a kɔ ɛ!

(If you’ll go, go eh!)

aa!

ah!

(exclamation of frustration)

Aa! Ɔbra yɛ ko

(Ah! Life is a struggle)

o!

oh!

(used to express anger, surprise, disappointment or joy)

O! Akosua gyae saa

(Oh! Akosua stop that)

 

O! Ɛnha wo ho

(Oh! Don’t worry yourself)

 

O! Woama m’ani agye nnɛ

(O! You’ve made me happy today)

mm? used to question someone or something

Mm? Wose sɛn?

(Mm? What did you say?)

sɛbe

 

tafrakyɛ

excusatory remark

(used to excuse an inappropriate or unpleasant utterance)

Sɛbe, wonnim nyansa

(Excuse me to say, you are stupid)

 

Sɛbe mprɛ aduasa, ɔhene no yɛ nimguasefoɔ

(Excuse me 30 times, the king is shameful)

 

Sɛ wobɛdi panyin atɛm a, to tafrakyɛ/sɛbe

(If you will insult an elderly person, excuse your saying)

(e)boo!

exclamation of disinterest

(mainly used to show you didn’t do something, know nothing about it or you are simply not interested in it)

Boo! Mennim ho hwee

(Boo! I know nothing about it)

 

Boo! Mempɛ asɛm

(Boo! I don’t want trouble)

 

Let’s end with a skit based on Gabriel Barima’s tweaa video.

 

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