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Ghanaian Word “Charley!” - A word with a thousand meanings

"When someone says Charley, they could be saying, “You know?” or “I’m off this”. “Charley!” Can be used as an expression of happiness or shock"

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African couple play

African couple

“Charley” which is more commonly spelt as “Chale” is a complete statement. If you live in Ghana or have ever been to Ghana, you most likely have heard Charley being used in different contexts.

On the surface, Charley means buddy or friend. However, Charley essentially has a thousand meanings.

Charley is another way to say “I know what you mean,” or “I agree” For example: Kofi: Charley, the dumsor is killing small businesses. Ama: Charley!

Charley, means “stop it.” Charley means “let’s go.” Charley Charley Charley can be decoded as, “Can you believe this?”, “I’m not feeling this” or “I’m feeling this.” What Charley represents is dependent on the context and tone in which it is used.

When someone says Charley, they could be saying, “You know?” or “I’m off this”. “Charley!” Can be used as an expression of happiness or shock. Charleeey can mean, “I know what you are up to” or “I’m in trouble!”

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This fully loaded word with a limitless prospect for diverse interpretation is one of the ways Ghanaians show their adept use of language. When you hear someone say, “oh Charley!” They could be saying, “I’m disappointed,” “I empathize”, or “I am excited by this.”

It all depends on when and how you say it. Most indigenous Ghanaian languages are tonal; like in twi the word “papa” has different meanings. “Papa” – fun, “Papa” - father, “Papa”- good, and there is my favourite Ga sentence, “lɛ lɛ lɛlɛ lɛɛ” which means it’s true the ship is large. Charley, the music in that sentence is just gorgeous!     

So how is it that we belittle such ingenuity and music in a language that we have made, inherited, will leave behind for future generations? “Charley, what dey happen?” Manifest asks. “This is crazy Charleeeey!” EL says. Our artists understands that charley is just one of the most favourite Ghanaian words, they can’t seem to leave out of the art they produce. 

Charley, the next times says charley, be sure to know what they mean.

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