Monday, May 27, 2013

Word of the Day: Basabasa

I'm reading a book called African Market Women by Gracia Clark.  It's a collection of interviews that the author, and anthropologist at Indiana University, conducted with seven women who were or had been entrepreneurs in the Kumasi Central Market in Ghana. While it's interesting to read the words of these Ashanti women reflecting on their lives and world they live in, I could probably enjoy the book more if I had a bit more context.  Still, I do enjoy understanding little bits of this place.  My favorite discovery is the word basabasa.  Since English is a magpie language, I want to nominate basabasa as the next word we appropriate.

According to Professor Clark, basabasa is defined in the Akan, or Twi language, as:
Disorderly or sloppy, as an adjective or adverb.  The word describes action done at random or every which way, always with a negative connotation, and can also describe thoughtless or careless people.
How wonderfully useful. Consider --

This congress is completely basabasa.

This place used to be well kept but now everything is basabasa.

The new landlord is basabasa.

With so much uncertainty, our economy is basabasa.

They tell us that the air strikes are targeted, but they are completely basabasa (every which way).

There is no respect for the law, their decisions are basabasa.

You need to straighten up this room, it is totally basabasa.

A basabasa person like you will only waste the money.  You will treat it basabasa.

The shortstop's play was basabasa, so the runner advanced to third on the error.

I can't recall any other words that we have "borrowed" from the Ashanti people.  If anybody knows any, please let me know.  In the meantime, let's all begin using basabasa.  In an orderly way, of course.

1 comment:

Pat Tillett said...

I like it a lot!
There is a word they use in Newfoundland that means pretty much the same thing. The word is "streel."
My Newfie friend says it was usually used to describe people from the mainland.
Mom to daughter: Go change your clothes! You are not leaving this house dressed like a mainland streel!"

I've always loved the word "Ashanti."