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Fwd: English and the one-language generation

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paa.kwesi

"Here is a disturbing trend that should concern you: An alarming number of middleclass families in Ghana now speak only English to their children. It is as if this assault on Ghana’s cultural identity is a response to an edict from the Ministry of Education, and the only ones who could dance in step are the middle-class. It was not like this when we were young. I am reminded of Sefah, an old school mate, whom you should meet." ...

An excellent article on Ghanaweb: Read more...

Comments

OMANBA

Blame the Parents

When parents restrict their children from having their cultural identity and think that is a sign of affluence or Upper cuts in society then more is the pity.
Children are like sponges and very good at linguistics. For if given a chance they are able to soak up all languages around them. Hence either this so called Upper class parents have restricted these children from having access to their local dialects and equally prevented them from mingling with their peers who might have bilingual attributes or they have just plainly lost the plot of what being affluent and upper class means in a Ghanaian perspective.

I consider myself and my peers alike as having come from affluent backgrounds. Our parents spared no expense to send us to good preparatory schools, colleges and Universities. But the beauty of our education was that our parents and teachers alike gave us equal doses of our cultural identity and how to blend in the Western culture as well.
I studied Fante compulsorily at college for 3yrs alongside my English and other subjects, spoke my tribal dialect at home and learnt Ga as well from my peers and the wider community because i lived in Accra. Whichever lingo was thrown at me i responded with equal fervour and knowledge. Many years on, after so much Western influence i still haven't lost my Ghanaian touch.
The 'SEFAs' of this world are a sense of national pride, but they could equally gain from a little 'potow kasa' (English), so as to be well balanced. Still theirs is not a case of lost identity; rather a strong inherent one devoid of the Official National lingo.

I daresay the people who follow this 'abrofosem' trend are a minority but rather than helping their kids they risk isolating them from the wider community. Even most children born abroad may choose to respond back in English, French or German when spoken to, but they do understand their parents traditional lingos fluently. Which makes me wonder why Ghanaian resident parents think it is chic to go Anglo all the way.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

Gina

Hmmmm

It's sad, we will never be native english speakers so why do we ignore our rich Ghanaian languages. For lack of knowledge, my people perish. We get to know the importance of our native languages once we leave the country. To make matters worse, we are more concerned about french than our Ghanaian languages.

LET US INVEST IN OUR COUNTRY.LET'S BUILD OUR BUSINESSES & INDUSTRIES (SMALL,MEDIUM,BIG). LET'S PROTECT OUR NATURAL RESOURCES. LET'S SPEAK UP! LET'S CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO.TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE GHANA A BETTER PLACE.YEN ARA Y'ASASE NE! GOD BLESS GHANA!

STEVEb

WHAT?

A MISSION WITHOUT AMBITION IS LIKE A BIRD WITHOUT WINGS.

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PUT ACROSS, Gina? Believe me to be, the development of our Ghanaian languages is too belated. I don't see the reason why huge sums of money should be used in trying to write Akan, ewe, Ga, or Dagomba dictionary. It is not important in this 21st century; it is too late. We need to move forward with the rest of the world with whatever language convenient.
Our language is inadequate in all sphere of modern life. WE cannot write science book or mathematics, Geography, economics, in fact, nothing using our language. How can we be proud of this kind of language? We can't wait to develop a language before we move on, no please.
Can you explain the ff. in Twi, Ga, Ewe, or any Ghana language for me= astronomy, astronomical, circumference, radius,tangent or tangential, Aeronautic, Mesozoic, Precambrian, hahahaha. please help me.

mandock

Africa's language situation...

I can understand your pessism SteveB BUT I will still challenge your opinion.The truth (as you correctly imply) is that Africa today is religated to the periphery of global scientific,economic and cultural discourse and it is pretentious to forget this. The scientific,technological and cultural developments in Europe and America that have spurned words like "...Aeronautic, Mesozoic, Precambrian" are in many ways alien to Africa and for most Africans who want to get ahead in the modern world,the choice between learning a colonial language for economic success and learning an African language for cultural pride is a no brainer.

*HOWEVER*,we must understand that this condition Africa is in--of always having to enrich other cultures intellectually,culturally and economically while it's own remains impoverished;of being religated culturally,economically and historically-- is neither natural nor acceptable.It is part of a historical sequence of inferiorization that Africa has suffered at the hands of the West and sadly continues to mete out on herself.We have been taught to believe our language and culture is inferior and we have come to believe it. Asian and scandinavian countries and many others in the northern hemisphere do have words for "... Aeronautic ,Mesozoic, Precambrian" How is this so and how can we learn from that?

I agree that prioritizing African languages without a corresponding economic, social,cultural, scientific and structural reform (or perhaps revolution) will do more harm than good. You can't just stop teaching English or teaching other African languages more with meagre school resources when you have no jobs for graduates or global confidence in the products of such a school system(this is where I often disagree with many champions of African languages for they are often more idealistic than practical and hypocritically recommend 'Africanization' when they themselves have had the best Western education possible)
On an African scale,we gradually need to move away from our Eurocentric worldview and paradigms of ourselves and give our culture and language the respect it deserved.

This DAUNTING TASK may take a century or more but it is a goal worth pursuing. If any African scholars want to translate "...Aeronautic, Mesozoic" or "Precambrian" we must encourage them and support the effort until such a time as we can school in our native languages and our writers pen global bestsellers which will then be translated into colonial languages.

We have to take our African languages seriously;we as Africans MUST not accept otherwise!

PS: For good reading on the African language question read some of Franz Fannon's works and Ngugi Wa Thiongo'o's "Decolonizing the Mind"

~**Until the lions begin to tell their own history,tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter***~

paa.kwesi

Given that language is one

Given that language is one of my favorite topics... :)

Steveb, language is just a tool. But it's a rather malleable tool because you can use it for whatever you choose to use it for.

In fact, one of the things that's engaging my attention these days is the review of a 400-odd pages of Chemistry textbook written in Akan. If you are familiar with the GAST Series, this book has just about the same coverage (Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry) and is aimed at teachers who'd like to explain the facts to students who don't want to their understanding to be hindered by English. The book was written by one of our very own GhanaThinkers.

And to know your own language is not to be in ignorance of someone else's. I personally owe my English abilities to the fact that I could read Fanti well enough by the time I started reading English. The world was richer because I was learning to understand it with two different means of expressing reality...

That there are few economic opportunities available in our languages is our own failure rather than the dominance of one language or the other. When Reggie Rockstone made rapping in Twi lucrative see the girls-girls and boys-boys who invested time in Twi, etc...

At the end of the day, it is basically this: would you rather learn use your own tools or borrow someone else's under the constant risk that it could be taken away from you (let's say the movers and shakers decided to switch to Xhosa for communication)?

STEVEb

I Insist

A MISSION WITHOUT AMBITION IS LIKE A BIRD WITHOUT WINGS.

I have heard you dear brothers. Your sound arguments in favour of developing our Ghanaian languages with our limited resources (barely enough to sustain us)while at the same time struggling to catch up with the west, is very much at home with me. But I insist that it is too late for us; we don't need it to that extent. Imagine how much we can achieve in hundred years, if we resolve to adopt the language the whole world is already embracing and which we are already conversant with. Do you know how many European languages are going to be extinct in a hundred years to come?
The Dutch, for instance, have everything written in their language. But as am writing they are struggling to keep this language alive, at least for the next 50 years to come.
The fact that you speak, read and write somebody's language doesn't make you inferior. It is even a credit when you come to know that language with all the command. Isn't that better than out of pride insisting to go your way, your own language which cannot describe your world to the Angels of God.
I want to say that, the fact that we don't pay anything to the British or Americans for using English language, we don't need to invest money to develop our own language at the expense of socio-economic development. Many languages(including Dutch) are feared to be heading for extinction because they are barely spoken outside their borders.
We may strive to achieve mastery in Akan, or Ga etc,in hundred years, spending billions of dollars to that effect. But because it is not spoken anywhere else on this planet, and the fact that we would still demand western technology and products manufactured, described and "manualised" in English.....we would be called to account for its worth after 300 years.
Certain ideas seem tantalising at first site, but a second look will reveal its true nature. Let the debate go on.

Check this article:

000000> Sir Colin Budd
Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Netherlands
British Embassy
Lange Voorhout 10
2514 ED The Hague

2 October 2002

Your excellency, Sir Colin Budd
Ambassadeur van het Verenigd Koninkrijk in Nederland.
Britse Ambassade
Lange Voorhout 10
2514 ED The Hague

2 oktober 2002

Excellentie,
It is with deep regret that I am writing to you concerning the speech to be given on 4 October by the British cultural attaché in the Netherlands. The title of the speech is offensive and disturbing for Dutch speakers: "Everyone should be raised bilingually in 25 years’ time because Dutch will be a dead language."

Met pijn in het hart schrijf ik u omtrent de toespraak die op 4 oktober zal worden gehouden door de culturele attaché van Groot-Brittannië in Nederland. De titel van die toespraak is beledigend en ongepast tegenover Nederlandstaligen: "Everyone should be raised bilingually in 25 years’ time because Dutch will be a dead language."

http://lingvo.org/dokumentoj/dutch_will_be_a_dead_language.html

As you certainly know, the English language is a major economic loss for several key industries in the Netherlands, and throughout Europe. Today, due to the dominance of English, millions of Europeans are forced to pay to learn English, or improve their knowledge of the language. Each year, more than 700,000 English-language students spend an average of 30 days in the United Kingdom and spend around 2000 euros. West-Europeans have become so anglicised that they no longer buy basic English language courses. For this reason, the British Council is trying to commercially exploit, in West Europe, the necessity of a "perfect" or "very good" knowledge of English.

Zoals u wellicht weet, brengt het Engels zware economische verliezen toe aan sleutelindustrieën in Nederland en in gans Europa. Wegens de overheersing van het Engels zijn vandaag miljoenen Europeanen verplicht te betalen om Engels te leren of hun kennis ervan te verbeteren. Jaarlijks verblijven gemiddeld 700.000 studenten Engels gedurende 30 dagen in Groot-Brittannië en geven ze er ongeveer 2.000 euro uit. West-Europeanen beheersen het reeds in die mate dat ze geen basistaalcursussen Engels meer kopen. Daarom probeert de British Council nu in West-Europa de noodzaak van een "perfecte" of "zeer goede" kennis van het Engels commercieel uit te buiten.

A speech given by Great Britain’s cultural attaché to the Netherlands, and director of the British Council, with a title such as "Dutch will be a dead language" is very disturbing for Europeans with another mother tongue than English. Ever more job adverts at a European and national level ask for "English native speakers" (See http://www.lingvo.org/2/15). Even Dutch universities, such as Hogeschool van Amsterdam and Erasmus University, and Dutch companies like ABN Amro, prefer candidates with "English mother tongue" rather than people who only speak very good English.
Een toespraak die wordt gehouden door de culturele attaché van Groot-Brittannië in Nederland, tevens directeur van de British Council, met als titel: "Dutch will be a dead language", is bijzonder verontrustend tegenover niet-Engelstalige Europeanen. In steeds meer personeelsadvertenties op Europees en nationaal niveau wordt gevraagd naar "English native speakers" (Zie http://www.lingvo.org/2/15). Zelfs Nederlandse universiteiten, zoals de Hogeschool van Amsterdam en de Erasmus Universiteit, en Nederlandse firma’s, zoals ABN Amro, geven de voorkeur aan kandidaten met "English mother tongue", boven zij die het Engels zelfs vrij goed spreken.

The dominance of English is also a grave threat to education systems around the world. The US pockets around 12.5 billion euros from 540,000 foreign students. That means approximately 25,000 euros per student. The same happens in the United Kingdom, where there is also much "trade" in education. In the UK more than 215,000 foreign students bring in around 5 billion euros. The 300,000 EU-students in the US and UK have to pay, for the most part, their expensive "Masters" and "Bacherlors" themselves.
De overheersing van het Engels is ook een ernstige bedreiging voor het anderstalig hoger onderwijs in de wereld. De VS hebben in het jaar 2000 maar liefst 12,5 miljard dollar opgestreken van 540.000 buitenlandse studenten. Omgerekend betekent dat ongeveer 25 000 euro per student. Ook in Groot-Brittannië wordt 'handel gedreven' in onderwijs. In Groot-Brittannië werd door de iets meer dan 215.000 buitenlandse studenten de ronde som van 5 miljard euro binnengebracht. Meestal moeten de 300.000 Europese studenten in de Verenigde Staten en Groot-Brittannië zelf de dure "Masters" en "Bachelors" bijdragen betalen.

The economic loss to non-English speaking countries is also apparent from the fact that the European Union last year imported more than 10 billion euros of English-language music, films and other audio-visual products than they exported to Australia, New Zealand, Candada, England and the US. So dominant is English, your Excellency’s mother tongue, that hardly ever are Dutch-language films shown in the Netherlands.
Het economisch verlies blijkt ondermeer ook uit het feit dat de niet-Engelstalige landen van de Europese Unie vorig jaar meer dan 10 miljard euro meer Engelstalige muziek, films en andere audiovisuele producten invoerden uit Australië, Nieuw-Zeeland, Canada, Groot-Brittannië en de Verenigde Staten dan zij uitvoerden naar die Engelstalige landen. Het Engels, de moedertaal van Hare Majesteit, is zo dominant dat in Nederland nauwelijks Nederlandstalige films worden getoond.

Your excellency, given the dominance of the English language in the Netherlands, I formally request that you issue an apology to speakers of Dutch, and other languages, for the offensive speech given by Britain's cultural attaché to the Netherlands.
Gezien de dominantie van het Engels in Nederland, verzoek ik u, Excellentie, formeel om opdracht te geven tot een verontschuldiging gericht tot iedereen die Nederlands, of een andere taal, spreekt voor de beledigende toespraak van de culturele attaché van Groot-Brittannië in Nederland.

Yours most sincerely,

Dan Van Herpe

European Esperanto-Union
Nieuwe Binnenweg 176,
3015 BJ Rotterdam
Netherlands

Hoogachtend,

Dan Van Herpe

Europese Esperanto-Unie
Nieuwe Binnenweg 176,
3015 BJ Rotterdam
Nederland

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

paa.kwesi

It depends...

Having been educated mostly in English, we're the most at risk if English loses its dominance but that risk shouldn't obscure our perspective.

The history of language is fascinating for that matter. A common pattern of language dominance arises roughly in the following way: A language community prospers internally. Through extensive trade and military superiority they use the threat of force (real or imagined) to spread their influence among their trading partners (especially the elite classes). The influence ensures the continued dominance of the original language community and its assimilés.

The fact that we know English well enough is a good thing. The question is what do you do with your knowledge in the face of the more than 70% (a very generous estimate in Ghana's case) in your country who will never have a good enough grasp of the elite language (backed by over 100 years of data) to benefit usefully by it? Do you
1. force them to waste their years chasing after a futile goal while discouraging them to know how to use their own tools?
2. equip them to use the tools they already have well while encouraging them to learn how to use new tools if they have opportunity?

NB: The Dutch understand what to do better than we do. Sɛ wo nyɛnko ne abɔdwe rehyew a, fa nsu fa wode mu. Anaa?

Gina

Ghanaian Languages

The usual translate this or that in Twi, Ga,Ewe,Dagbani is garbage. French words are to a large extent english words with accents and different pronunciations. All those words you've mentioned were made up by human beings, all we have to do is to have some Ghanaian language scholars come up with words and explain what they mean in Ghanaian languages. When we start paying attention to our Ghanaian languages, we will develop our dictionaries and I will be able to explain those words in Twi,Ga,Ewe,Dagbani. If anything, developing our Ghanaian languages would actually move us forward. Developing our languages would mean that we will have subjects like Economics,Science,Finance, Law well developed in Ghanaian languages and people who don't get to go to school will still understand these subjects in their native languages. Example: If I've never been to school and let's say Real Estate Financing or Food Processing is been discussed in English on tv or radio, I would get nothing from the discussion, but if that same discussion is in Twi, Dagbani, Ga, Ewe, I will be enlightened even though I've never been to school. As we all know, knowledge is power. But how can we have such discussions in our Ghanaian Languages when we've failed to develop them? The problem is that you have to go to school to learn English, if for some reason you can't go to school, you're doomed and that should not be the case. English is good but we should not ignore our Ghanaian languages.

LET US INVEST IN OUR COUNTRY.LET'S BUILD OUR BUSINESSES & INDUSTRIES (SMALL,MEDIUM,BIG). LET'S PROTECT OUR NATURAL RESOURCES. LET'S SPEAK UP! LET'S CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO.TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE GHANA A BETTER PLACE.YEN ARA Y'ASASE NE! GOD BLESS GHANA!

thinfox

Re: Ghanaian Languages

"Can you explain the ff. in Twi, Ga, Ewe, or any Ghana language for me= astronomy, astronomical, circumference, radius,tangent or tangential, Aeronautic, Mesozoic, Precambrian, hahahaha. please help me."

Just like the french don't even have words like entrepreneur as was supposedly said by George Bush? This phenomena is common everywhere you go: as cultures interact, they exchange innovations, technology,etc. along with the language that was used to describe that innovation/technology in its original context. it doesn't mean the beneficiaries have to come up with new words in their own language. they can simply borrow as it's done in every other language. If this is such a big issue for you then how could you accept α (alpha) in any scientific text, even though the language being used is english. ask any chinese/french/spanish/russian person how they say "internet" in their native language. internet wasn't even a word until about 10years ago. the point i'm trying to make is it's perfectly okay to borrow from other cultures and we don't need excuses for doing so.
another point to note is that for as much as we can boost of our ability to communicate in english, we'll never, ever measure up to a native speaker, regardless of our level of education (i'm thinking averages here). i've spent a better part of my life in school and i can assure you my 8year old niece can put me to shame when it comes to expressing herself. it's not because i'm dumb (though one can make the case for it) and not because she's naturally gifted(she actually is) but it's because she (and other children like her) are being educated in a language they understand - this alone is a big advantage over students in ghana, because by this stage of their lives, children in ghana are busy learning english instead of learning how everything else works. how long do you think it'll take for them to catch up to their peers around the world? do you think it's worth it? as they say build it and they'll come. my question is what have we built? what do we have to contribute to this global village? knowing how to speak/write in english isn't good enough - not anymore. at the end of the day, we have to bring something new to the table and we're failing at that.
there's no reason why we can't embrace multilingualism. english is important, no doubt. but so is the need to understand and be understood.

sparkyy

The truth of the matter

As it stands right now, the majority of the middle class will rather abandon their culture and sense of pride, for the alien ones. They’ll rather allow their children to speak “broofo” than to teach them the honor in their origin. I have one response: I PITY THEM.

For anyone without a sense of their own origin is like a traveling man without a compass. In short they don't know where they're going...

The truth is that the whole world is moving with the western culture, from the way they dress to the way they speak their dialect with haughty accents. For some reasons such actions appear calm to us and we gradually soak them with pure admiration and appreciation from our eyes.

While it's prevalent that the western culture will decline, it's always better to appreciate our own. I for one propose that we learn about our own cultures first and then allow ourselves to learn that of the west. We're competing in a western world and as such we cannot ignore their rules of the game also, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of our culture.

Right here in the west, no one actually pays to learn about their culture, and they shouldn't, why? Because it's abundant! It’s everywhere. However, students pay to actually learn about an African language and to be more exposed to their roots. My brethren the only situation that calls for such action is when the culture is already dead and we'd want to revive it. So now the question: is our culture dead? Deeply dead those parents should abandon it and impose those of different origins unto their children?

There's no conduct that allows us to choose, for being a well rounded fellow is required in this world if one wants to reach his/her peak. Another factor, who decides if a culture is too primordial to satisfy the needs of its bearers? Was it us or some blue eyed men?

OMANBA

The more you can speak the better

A well balanced nation will definitely need to have its National lingo/lingos firmly in place and an equally well adapted Official language(English in the case of Ghana).
And i beg to differ STEVEb Ghana is not that ill-endowed with logistics when it comes to emphasising on tradtional dialects in different sectors of the economy. Linguistics is predominantly based on literary writings and publication and speech. It doesn't take millions of pounds and dollars and much more effort than neccessary as traditional languages are already imbued in our day to day life. The average Ghanaian today apart from their tribal dialect can easily speak another or more dialects fluently. That is the mode of our Ghanaian society, and we can customise it to support most needs in society.

Language is what identifies a Country and we will be lost without ours. But equally, the World at the moment is such that to be able to interact on a global level one needs to be BI, TRI, or as multi-lingual as one can be. And as far as Foreign languages are concerned we all borrow from each other. As i said in a previous post before, even the Oxford English language is full of French, Latin, Roman and African words which they as English folks do not have specific pronounciations for; hence they call those words as they would be from their countries of origin. In effect Language is a Universal phenomenon and the more a bearer has the better for interaction, but one can never let go of ones own original lingo altogether.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

Panyin

The Language Factor

In my search for a job, the intrerviewer [I wish I could have asked his origin except that he was caucasian] was amazed that I can speak French and Italian including the English.

So naturally he wanted to know where I came from or grew up. I told him Ghana. Then he kind of thought twice and asked if I speak Ghana language, because he knew most Africans have their own language they speak. Then I said Akan [Fanti]. So he asked why I did not include that in my resume, and I sheepisly replied that I did not think that was important.

You can bet he was not amused because he said " What!!, I wish I can speak one more language.' You people should be proud to have your own language to relate to."

While most Asians and Italian children born in North America are proficient in their mother tongue, Ghanaians are ashamed to teach their kids their mother tongue even though they know too well that English is a piece of cake to them.

We lost our religion, we are loosing our language, what is next, - the colour of our skin?

paa.kwesi

The Chinese example

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6244763.stm

The last-but-two paragraph is particularly poignant: "It all depends on the power of the people who speak it - especially their economic power," said professor Crystal.

Which brings us back to the recurring cause I suspect underlies our disdain for our own languages--a fundamental lack of self-respect.

Strong words, but unfortunately all too self-evident. Those of us with inclinations to be psychologists (or pastors), try healing us of this ailment from which all our ills (I daresay) flows.

r

generate ghanaian languages content here

May I suggest that there are some forum sections within this web site that are created for content to be written in local languages? For example, a twi section documenting all adinkra with associated descriptions of each hieroglyphic (can anyone suggest a twi translation of this greek word, to start with?).

GhanaThink Managing Executive abocco

Twi language content online

Good suggestion, R.

That project is in line with the Akan Wikipedia project being pursued by Paa Kwesi et al.
Check out the Ephraim Amu discussion and similiar discussions in the kasahorow discussion section.
Or refer to the forums and blogs at
http://community.kasahorow.com/

The destiny of a nation at any given time depends on the opinions (and actions) of its young men and women.

thinfox

The language factor

another great article worth reading is by the president of ashesi university Dr. Awuah

Ashesi's president assesses Ghana's educational system 50 years after independence

in his case study, he compares ghana and south korea. most people often compare ghana and singapore but i believe the premises are the same in both cases. in the case of south korea and singapore, language isn't a factor. thus, the average person can jump on the train and keep it moving. in our case, we're hindered by english language requirement. if you look at the numbers comparing enrollment in 1960 to 2000, there is no difference even though we provide free education. what's more interesting is the percentage of students that makes it to each level of education: from 68% at primary school, to 56% at the JSS level, to 14% at the SSS level and 5% at the tertiary level. is it a coincident that the enrollment at the tertiary level is almost the same as they were in 1960? what are we missing? it seems all we're doing is filtering out the special students and forging ahead with those few. we must engage the majority of the population if we want to keep comparing ourselves with countries like singapore and korea.

OMANBA

Heiroglyphics

Heiroglyphics were but a fusion of letters/words and signs/drawings if my History lessons taught me right. So to convert the term to Akan, i would label it as 'ntsurow ni nkikae kasa
meaning the language of letters and signs/drawings.
I daresay they probably have the actual meaning at the centre for language and linguistics. This is just my own translation.

Thinfox, i could not download the pdf file on your link but you made an interesting comment(based on the authors writing) on how we are hindered by English language Requirements. Can you kindly expand on this perception please?
Personally,I would have thought we were no different from Korea or Singapore, considering we have our own traditional languages and dialects just like they do.
And here is the catch. Many a student from those countries have to go to Europe to study English as a second language; something that comes to us naturally because we learn it alongside our own tribal dialects from infancy. Once they find themselves outside their homeland nor any other platform that deals with the wider world they are really restricted in communication indeed and it affects their further studies, work and interactions.
Moreover the elementary requirements of English and Mathematics puts Students in good stead to tackle different subject areas. For instance everybody knows that the Sciences require a lot of Mathematics and the Arts require a good command of English or in most cases a good fusion and command of the two.
What is also interesting is that even English kids cannot read nor write with alacrity; something that makes for interesting discussinon considering they speak the lingo like parrots. So we can't be that bad.

I can agree with calls for vernacular to be made more prominent in educational studies back home (and yes they are compulsory for the first three years of college). It is students who voluntarily decide to drop it from the fourth year onwards. But most probably because there is no current great demand for them in social and economic circles save for a few areas. But i dont think we are hindered nor dragged back in any way educationally by the basic requirements to have a knack for the English language in reading nor writing. Anyway, just my humble opinion...i stand for correction.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

thinfox

Re

i don't think anyone can argue against the importance of learning the english language. i'm not advocating that we stop using english or that we stop teaching it. in fact we should be learning a lot more languages like french, mandarin,etc. it can only be good for us as it makes our economy more attractive to the international market. a language becomes a hindrance when it's made a prerequisite for everything else or the importance of learning english is placed ahead of everything else. learning the academic core should have the highest priority. if the materials can be explained to our students in english and they'd actually get it, then that would be wonderful but in the case that they don't, we need to make every effort to explain it to them in whatever language they understand. this cannot be done with our english-only policy. as things stands, students from primary 1 (P1) and up are thought in english whether they understand it or not. it goes without saying that a child who doesn't learn to speak/read/write/think in english by the time they get to JSS is doomed. i'd be correct to say english language requirement virtually impinges on non-english speaking citizens' ability to seek any kind of help/service/information from the government (officially). i'd also be correct to say non-english speaking citizens aren't qualify to participate in any political process other than to cast a vote. given that the majority of ghanaians speak languages other than english, we have ended up is an economy that simply won't move ahead regardless of how hard we try. i'm sure someone here can come up with better examples but you get where i'm going with this. simply put, english only policy doesn't work. south africa for instance have 11 official languages http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa
they're not any different from us so what they do see that we don't?

OMANBA

I get you

Granted Thinfox, and i do see your point and concur with the notion that young children from P1 are being bombarded with English whether they understand it or not.
In fairness to teachers past and present they do tend to whittle things down to everyday examples and familiar allusions whenever children screw up their faces at them in askance when something hasn't sunk in.

But if we have to go with traditional languages i can just picture the chaos in a particular lesson if a lone teacher has to see to the different tribal demarcations of the pupils present. Unless of course we can cater for about 6 different teachers to be present for each class per lesson bearing in mind that the subject might be for instance; 'environmental studies'. If it is a language lesson no problem there.
This is where falling on a common language to bridge this divide comes in handy and in our case English serves as the official language for tuition whiles futher giving this future adults the arsenal to be able to fit in the wider world in terms of communication, studies and work or simple civic duties like you mentioned. See we have to start from somewhere and the younger they are the better.
And lest we forget French and Ghanian language studies are also very prevalent in schools curriculum.
Regarding non-English speaking citizens not being able to take part in politics save to cast their votes; well i am sure one has to be realistic that they wont be able to cater for a wider spectrum if they are restricted. And without sounding nasty; these are the people who did not go to school to get an education or school drop outs. Would you trust important national issues to such a person?
That is not to say that they are useless in society. Some people leave the mainstream classroom to follow vocations and guess what; learning a vocation involves studying, reading and writing as well as the practicals. And a lot of them are trail blazers in society and worthy examples to their communities. On top of that there are adult education schemes in place. People just choose to be content with their lot. So in effect, there is no excuse for not going to a school of some sort to help you interact broadly in society. Some people did not go to school but they get by on serious pidgin English that would shame an Oxford proffessor. That is what i call; ''making an effort''

The problem does not stem from the demand of English language as such in education; more from the inequalities in the level of tuition given from place to place.
Ideally, syllabuses and levels of tuition should be top notch for both CYTO and Preparatory schools; equal standards of education for children of civil servants, business people and politicians and the same for children of market women and farmers; equal standards for children of city slickers and the same for village people.
If we dont get this right then the figures given will not change.

Regarding the South African example i beg to differ. SWAHILI, ZULU, BANTU, MATABELE, AFRIKAANS and what have you are not far flung. At best Swahili is just a regional lingo. Once they get to universal and official needs they switch to English. Those languages serve a need internally but that is where it ends. They are no different from our EWE, AKAN, GA, ADANGBE, HAUSA, NZEMA, KOKOMBA AND NANUMBA demarcations, only bigger in land scape.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

Gina

Ghanaian Languages

The 7 major Ghanaian languages (Twi-Fante,Ewe,Ga-Adangbe,Dagbani,Nzema,Dagaare,Kasem)must be taught along side English from class 1-University. Teaching Ghanaian Languages for only 3 years is not enough. We must be able to read and write our native languages as good as English.

LET US INVEST IN OUR COUNTRY.LET'S BUILD OUR BUSINESSES & INDUSTRIES (SMALL,MEDIUM,BIG). LET'S PROTECT OUR NATURAL RESOURCES. LET'S SPEAK UP! LET'S CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO.TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE GHANA A BETTER PLACE.YEN ARA Y'ASASE NE! GOD BLESS GHANA!

thinfox

Re:ghanaian languages

i don't believe it'd be that difficult to use both english and our local languages in the classroom at the same time. most of our teachers are bilingual, thus it'll be easy to find teachers that speaks a particular language and post them to the right region where they speak that language. the idea is that we still use english to teach but we shouldn't forbid our teachers or students to explain concepts or ask questions in whatever language as long as it's understand. in the rare case, where students in a class don't share a common language, a teacher may resort to what's done today: english only.

Regarding non-English speaking citizens not being able to take part in politics save to cast their votes; well i am sure one has to be realistic that they wont be able to cater for a wider spectrum if they are restricted. And without sounding nasty; these are the people who did not go to school to get an education or school drop outs. Would you trust important national issues to such a person?

i fail to believe that a person's ability to make informed decisions have anything to do with their ability to speak english. a person may speak english fluently but he/she may not know his left from his right. you wouldn't trust important policy decision to such a person would you?
Ghana just signed an agreement with Germany on taxes. http://www.apostille.us/news/ghana_germany_exchange_notes_on_double_taxation.shtml
see for yourself.

i agree when it comes to national stage it's important for our leaders to be able to communicate with everyone in the country and so knowing how to express oneself is important. at the regional level, english proficiency should be recommended but not required. i think we're placing too much value on the language, while forgetting that it's just a tool for communication. it's the ideas that counts, and learning how to think freely is what should be encouraged.

OMANBA

Tool for communication

May i borrow your words in the your last paragraph that ''English is a tool for communication'' which is exactly what it is amongst other languages. Which in turn means there is no need to demonise it as it plays a very important role in communication past and present. It is our official language afterall. If it wasn't English we would have had to adopt French, German, Spanish, Arabic or any other major International language somehow.

I must say your first paragraph was more indepth regarding the use of Ghanaian languages side by side with English in the classroom. Put it the way you have and I also do not see why not. However,the suggestion of merely posting teachers to regions where they are conversant with the language will not be that simple.
We are talking relocation of teachers and their families here, by a ballot system that might not be too easy in the long run.
So what happens to those teachers who do not get to fill specific posts in designated regions? Can they not teach?
What is the probability that an average biology science, CHEMISTRY,PHYSICS OR HISTORY teacher for instance can describe certain English words in day to day tribal lingo?
Just because they speak Akan or Ewe fluently is no indication that they will make good translators. They might have limitations. Hence if we are to go by your suggestion...which i repeat; is not impossible, these teachers themselves will need certain language skills for the classroom.
It also means a complete overhaul of reading and writing specifications because if pupils have the right to ask questions in traditional language and be answered back in the same vein, then they equally have the right to write an exam or their answers for the homework in the vernacular they feel comfortable with. Are you with me?
In which case then all syllabuses and text books might as well be written in English as normal but also have Ghanaian language versions, so a student can have on average an English version plus a vernacular version or two. No problem if they are national publications and i wont even touch on cost yet. But what about foreign text books? We need to go to press on those as well wont we?

Regarding non-English speaking citizens and civic duties. Please note that i was specific in using the term ''uneducated'' Now there is a big difference between a totally uneducated person and someone who went to main stream school or followed a vocation. True uneducated people can be sensible and be able to garner a lot of support at their local level. But at district levels, national and international levels the Twi or Adangbe wont come in handy to those sectors of the country who do not understand it.
Step in the interpreters you might say. But what is the essence of an MP/President if he cannot rise to the official capacity of language in order to address parliament or the whole nation and if he or she cannot read nor write? What about International level? Step in Interpreters and speech writers again? I doubt if they will be safe in their policies or have any privacy nor feel in charge at this rate.

I am not saying the current system is perfect. But certain standards have been set and i fear any attempts to change them might be more chaotic than we bargained for. And after all is said and done it is the next generation who will suffer if we dont get it right. If you ask me, i will say: LET ENGLISH BE.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

thinfox

Re:ghanaian languages


May i borrow your words in the your last paragraph that ''English is a tool for communication'' which is exactly what it is amongst other languages. Which in turn means there is no need to demonise it as it plays a very important role in communication past and present. It is our official language afterall. If it wasn't English we would have had to adopt French, German, Spanish, Arabic or any other major International language somehow.

that's true, but in every job one must use the right tool for the job. as they say when all you have is a hammer everything else would seem like a nail. there are numerous cases where using our local languages would be more effective in getting the message across, but if we decide to use english only, regardless of the situation, we're not doing ourselves a favor.

However,the suggestion of merely posting teachers to regions where they are conversant with the language will not be that simple.
We are talking relocation of teachers and their families here, by a ballot system that might not be too easy in the long run.
So what happens to those teachers who do not get to fill specific posts in designated regions? Can they not teach?
What is the probability that an average biology science, CHEMISTRY,PHYSICS OR HISTORY teacher for instance can describe certain English words in day to day tribal lingo?

Relocating teachers against their will won't work, but given the right incentives you'll find such teachers willing to work in bilingual settings.
if a teacher who's suppose to be proficient in english can't explain concepts to his/her student in the teacher's own mother tongue, then it's probably the case that the teacher himself memorized the concept without actually understanding it.
one can't attribute this to lack of words that may be found in the english dictionary but not in our local languages. there are many countries around the world whose native tongue and national language isn't english but they succeed in educating their kids in their language. in such countries, you'd find that words from other languages are used interchangeably because there's no way to achieve one-to-one mapping of words between languages so they borrow. the english language itself is notorious for this.
as far as reading goes, i think it'll be a small price to pay to ensure our students actually get what they're being thought. i'm sure we can all agree that mathematics, science, geography, etc. got nothing to do with a person's ability to speak english in order to comprehend. in those subjects, we should simply open it up and let the minds of our students go.


What about International level? Step in Interpreters and speech writers again? I doubt if they will be safe in their policies or have any privacy nor feel in charge at this rate.

at the UN, interpreters are employed to help countries communicate and work together. the same applies to the EU. what you don't want is a case where the level of proficiency isn't equal. when the singapore government is conducting business with its english counterparts, you can be sure they employ interpreters to decipher the english words used even though they speak english themselves. one can easily use the power of words to pull the wool over your eye if you don't understand what's written. it's obvious that in ghana our level of english language proficiency doesn't match that of a native speakers. when we're making important policy decisions, it may be to our advantage to employ interpretors who have mastered the language.

I agree with you that english should remain as our national language but there's no reason not to include a few others, just so we can include a lot more of us.

r

make twi official national language

Now here's a test; I wonder how many Ghanaians, in true colonial mentality, would rather English remain the official language rather than an indigenous language?

I do not know the answer, but let us suppose that 70% of the population can comprehend Twi. Make Twi the national language followed by a series of official regional languages (e.g. Ga in greater Accra region). As an analogy, Dutch & Swedish are the national languages of Netherlands and Sweden respectively, yet English remain widely taught, for business purposes. Similarly in China, with Mandarin the official language, whilst dialects such as Cantonese recognised at regional level. I'm going to guess that there is not a single advanced country where a non indigenouse language is declared the national language. America is an exception if only because the native Americans were nearly all killed by European invaders.

Now I shall mention my favourite topic: science. If Ghana is to make an innovative contribution to scientific knowledge, the instruction of science must be in local context first, at school level. Having to understand scientific concepts is difficult enough without having to understand those concepts in a language not fully understood (i.e. English). And make no mistake, Ghana will not progress with innovation.

For one thing, indigenous languages should have a net positive effect on employment: who else but Ghanaians will write the school text books, the newspapers, the law books, etc, etc.

Of course immature tribal sensibilities mean that many Ghanaians prefer a European language to an adjacent indigenous language: such mentality must not be tolerated anymore.

thinfox

make twi official national language

I think making twi the official language alongside english is only part of the solution. we also need to include all the other major local languages in that list so we don't exclude many other people. twi-only, just like english-only would have the same outcome if not worse. i think the best way forward for the time being is to support our local languages at the regional level instead of forcing everyone to learn one language.

OMANBA

HOW WE ARE

May i suggest that we do not get NATIONAL and OFFICIAL language mixed up here for better understanding of this topic. NATIONALLY we have different tribal languages and OFFICIALLY we use ENGLISH.
The composition of communities in certain countries are different to ours, so we can't expect to have their style. In our case the etymology of our people is made up of different splinter groups coming together over a certain terrain to form a country. What comprises modern day Ghana is a fusion of different tribal entities who came from other places to settle; of course the Akan group being the largest. But that does not mean Twi can be imposed on the whole country as a NATIONAL language. It is afterall only a slice of the dialects that come under the Akan group.
Like Thinfox said, once you give Twi that status then you must give the other tribal languages the same platform.

The fact remains that after slavery and the scramble and partitioning of Africa, English was one of the legacies we inherited, just as our French speaking sister nations did from their colonial masters. Nothing you and i can do about it and i dont believe in victimising any generation for that either. History just took its course.
But that in itself has not been a bad thing afterall, for it has given us a tool to bridge the tribal gap (Whenever we fail to understand other dialects, English comes in handy) in Ghana and commune with the wider world. And it is for this same couple of reasons why English is used as the main language in schools in the first place, because by using it one common language comes to fore as opposed to the different tribal dialects present.

If we feel there is a lack of inherent traditional lingo in our education that is fair enough. The next step is to make it more prevalent in educational, social, national and civic circles as a host of commentaries have pointed out...More interaction in our traditional languages and not just English.
But in so doing, there is nothing that we can do to replace ENGLISH as an OFFICIAL language. We are too far gone to do away with it. And pointing that out doesn't make it a colonial mentality; it is a fact.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

thinfox

Re:HOW WE ARE

we stand to loose if we replace english with any other language but there's absolutely no harm we can do if we include our major local languages in the list of official languages. according to Dr. Awuah there isn't a lot of people getting higher education beyond JSS and SSS. he puts the figure at 5% of enrollment. with such a figure, i think we've reached our peak as far as development/progress goes because 5% is barely enough to sustain what we've got now. if we want to improve as a nation, we have to start looking at all the factors that could be contributing to this problem and i think language is one of those barriers. i came across this quote by one Gerardo Wipio Deicat which pretty much sums up our situation: "those who teach in a language other than that of the child in the lower grades are violating principles of good pedagogy and are guilty of cultural imposition. More often than not, this type of education has been the cause of native children dropping out of school and experiencing psychological trauma, resulting in their failure to learn to read and write"
Literacy in the 90's

From all that we've gain from our exclusive use of english, if we fail to learn and understand the fundamentals, what is it all worth?

r

slave mentality

"that does not mean Twi can be imposed on the whole country as a NATIONAL language".

Let us analyse this statement. As I wrote earlier, many Ghanaians are more comfortable with a slave mentality of thinking "I cannot accept a local language being dominant, I prefer dominance by some (European) other". I personally can see no reason for an Ewe, or Ga, etc so sit down calmly, accept that Twi is numerically dominant and proceed to make Twi the primary Official National language.

"...twi-only, just like english-only would have the same outcome if not worse".

How? Why?

"...there is nothing that we can do to replace ENGLISH as an OFFICIAL language. We are too far gone to do away with it. And pointing that out doesn't make it a colonial mentality; it is a fact."

By the same weak argument Ghana has been poor materially, biologically and metaphorically; we are too far gone to relieve our poverty, it is a fact, let us accept it.

Many Asian countries were worse than African countries; today, look at Japan, Malaysia, even Vietnam...

Thank you for the quotation of Dr Awuah. Many readers fail to recognise the importance of this view. I'm looking forward to comments as to how Ghana can develop without my favourite topic: scientific innovation.

OMANBA

What IS TWI?

By what ratio would you consider Twi as numerically dominant? The biggest group in Ghana is The AKAN group if the majority vote is to be carried for use as a National language but even so not all the Akan groups speak Twi. Even Akwapim and Asante Twi are not the same, let alone Fante which is another Akan group. So in this case which of them would you propose for everyone to use and by what criteria? And why not GA OR EWE as you put it. Are they not equally good enough for adoption?

Like i said we are too far gone to do away with English in official circles, but nothing stops us from making things better in terms of our tribal languages. The print media should join their electronic counterparts by going to press in Ghanaian languages apart from English. And Television mediums must have more programmes in traditional languages apart from drama.

Parents must encourage their children from the onset to have a sense of pride in their traditional languages, and not make their children feel that the only cool language is English. Teachers can only do so much but a lot of a child's upbringing and education falls on parents and guardians

Students must be encouraged to take traditional languages further instead of dropping them at the least opportunity and social departments must be created to recieve these graduates so they can make an impact on national development.

Encourage the use of traditional languages in classroom activity as per Thinfox's view.
The constitution and other civic documentaton must be documented in traditional languages so non-English speaking citizens are not left in the dark about their civic rights and obligations, and they should be made accessible to all in district and regional archives and libraries.

If these and more effort is put in, it will ease that feeling of dominance of the English language in National circles and we will strike a balance.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.

r

Which particular group does not matter

As I said, I do not know the correct answer to populations ratios; my statement is merely supposition and I acknowledge your point about the Akan group of languages being not one singular dialect.

However, the general point I am trying to make is this; my personal opinion is that whichever indigenous language is spoken by the widest number of people within the Ghana state, should be adopted as the official national language. Similarly, at regional level there should be a series of official regional languages that qualify for both national and regional government support.

I repeat my claim again: a Ghanaian who has a personal preference for a European language to take precedence as the offical national language is exhibiting a slave mentality.

I personally, reject the concept of "...too far gone to to away with English". I'm sure there is no need for me to repeat my analogy... :)

thinfox

twi as official language won't solve anything

making twi the only official language will create the same problem that english only as our official language has done: marginalize a significant portion of the population. the problem as i see it is that a significant amount of a students's primary/jss career is spent trying to learn to understand/read/write/think in english instead of having them hit the ground running with the language that they already speak/understand/think. for the minority few who can afford to send their kids to the top schools, this process may take a few years but for the majority in the public schools, it takes a while: mid-to-late JSS years (a generous estimate). now if we make twi the only recognized language state-wide, a significant portion of the population must still spend a considerable amount of time to learn to understand/read/write/think in twi - you've solved nothing.
what i believe is the correct approach is to start students off in their native language (whatever it may be) and gradually phase them in to english as they gain more confidence in english language comprehension. this means treating english language differently than it is today but i believe we'll improve a whole lot over the 5% of enrollment that we see today.
another way to make language a non-issue for our students, is to create some sort of a english language bootcamp, where students learn nothing but english - sort of like how kids learn the quaran in pakistan. their time in kindergarten ,P1 and P2 can be use for this. when they come out, we can be sure they have a good grasp of english and so teaching them in english-only environment would actually make sense.
even if we manage to solve the language problem in our schools, we still have to find a solution to english-only at public offices and many other places. i wonder what they do in a courtroom when the defendant/plaintiff doesn't speak english. do they find him/her a translator?

paa.kwesi

Ngugi says it best

Re-Membering and recreating Africa through language
Published: 1/29/2007
http://www.nationmedia.com
By: RASNA WARAH
URL: http://allafrica.com/stories/200701290378.html

UNTIL I HEARD HIM speak, I always thought Kenya's most celebrated literary icon, Ngugi
wa Thiong'o, was overstating the case for the revival of African languages in literature and
in daily life. In a column I wrote for the EastAfrican shortly after his much-awaited
homecoming in 2004 after 22 years in exile, I wondered whether the state of being in exile
had contributed to Ngugi's nostalgia for his mother tongue. Could it be, I asked, that the
author, feeling alone, lonely and alienated in a foreign land, hung on to the one thing -
the Gikuyu language - that connected him to his peasant roots in Limuru? Would Ngugi be
such a die-hard proponent of this language, which is spoken by less than 6 million
people, had he remained rooted in his country? Why did he not promote Kiswahili, a
regional language spoken and understood by more than 100 million people, not just in
East Africa but in parts of the Horn, the Great Lakes region and the Indian Ocean islands?
But when I heard his three-part lecture entitled "Re-Membering Africa" at the University of
Nairobi's Taifa Hall this month, I realised that I had missed the point. Ngugi reminded his
audience that language was not simply a mode of communication; it was "a medium of our
memories, the link between space and time, the basis of our dreams". It was, as Ralph
Waldo Emerson noted, "the archives of history". When we actively discard our own
languages, we commit "linguicide" - we kill off or "dis-member" our memories. Because
erasure of memory is a prerequisite for successful assimilation, the burial of African
languages by Africans themselves has ensured that the process of assimilation into
colonial culture is complete. Hence, Africa's bourgeoisie view their own languages as
"shameful", "inelegant", "incapable of expressing intellectual or scientific thought", or too
crude to be exported to other lands. They write their stories in foreign languages, adding
to the vast pool of literature written in English or French, rather than contributing to the
growth of literature written in African languages. Ngugi's insistence on using his mother
tongue as the principal medium of his writing is not simply a reaction against
Anglicisation; it is more about resurrecting the African soul from centuries of slavery and
colonialism that left it spiritually empty, economically disenfranchised and politically
marginalised.

NGUGI BELIEVES THAT WHEN YOU erase a people's language, you erase their memory. And
people without memories are rudderless, unconnected to their own histories and culture,
mimics who have placed their memories in a "psychic tomb" in the mistaken belief that if
they master their coloniser's language, they will own it. On the other end of the spectrum,
this same disconnectedness creates monstrous aberrations such as the Mungiki in Kenya
or the modern-day Hindu revivalists in India, who distort and re-write not just their own
histories but their own culture in order to further colonise and terrorise not just other
communities, but also their own people. Ngugi believes that one of the most obvious ways
that we can reclaim our histories and our memories is by passing on our languages to our
children. He derides those Kenyan parents who speak to their children in English only,
which, he says, has resulted in a "linguifam" - a linguistic famine - within African families
and societies, which didn't exist when his generation or even my generation was growing
up. We are multilingual by necessity and by choice. Like most literate Kenyans, we speak at
least three languages - our mother tongues, Kiswahili and English, plus any other
language we might have picked up along the way. Today, there are many Kenyan parents
who will not speak to their children in their mother tongue because they don't want their
children's "propah" English accents to become "contaminated" by an African or an Indian
language. Yet, these are the same parents who will not flinch when a French person speaks
English with a French accent or when a teenager born and brought up in Nairobi suddenly
develops an American twang. Cynics might claim Ngugi is not in touch with the reality of a
globalising world where English is the preferred language of trade and the Internet. But
Ngugi is not promoting African languages at the exclusion of other languages. On the
contrary, he believes that multilingual societies are better placed to deal with global
complexities. What we are creating are monolingual children who are proficient in only one
[foreign] language. Africans, says Ngugi, must master their own languages before they
master foreign languages that neither reflect their histories nor their memories, just like
all the continental Europeans, who first learn their own language, be it German or Greek,
before learning other European languages. These Europeans know what we have yet to
learn - that when we nurture our own languages, we are, in essence. nurturing our own
souls.

Nation Media Group all rights reserved 2004
For querries or info: comments@nation.co.ke

thinfox

Re: ghana's english only policy

this paper is a must read: The Language Policy of Education in Ghana:A Critical Look at the English-Only Language Policy of Education by one Charles Owu-Ewie. it talks about the same points we've been discussing.

r

good article

Thanks for posting the article; very interesting reading.

What should be done next? Are Ghanathink (or indeed another organisation) able to prepare a press release or similar to draw to the public attention this work? Such a debate is need in Ghana with the hope of promoting government to undertake a review of existing policy.

GhanaThink Managing Executive abocco

While we are at it, here is

While we are at it, here is an interesting article about Cameroun's will to reconcile their languages.

Welcome a new language for a divided country
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6376389.stm

gemdexter

A Whole Akan Chemistry Book?

A Whole Akan Chemistry Book?..Very Impressive...
I will sign up for a Copy when it is published...
Keep me updated.

-G.

Gina

Ghanaian languages

I came across this and I think it's a great initiative

http://www.thenewghanaian.com/viewnews.asp?id=779&page=news

LET US INVEST IN OUR COUNTRY.LET'S BUILD OUR BUSINESSES & INDUSTRIES (SMALL,MEDIUM, MNC). LET'S PROTECT OUR NATURAL RESOURCES. LET'S SPEAK UP! LET'S CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO.TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE GHANA A BETTER PLACE.YEN ARA Y'ASASE NE! GOD BLESS GHANA!

shaker255

Some good points buddy

Thinfox you bring up some thoughtful comments. It will also worsen the idea of Ashanti supremacy which many not too educated Ghanaians(in different tribes) still have at the back of their minds.Other tribes would also want their native languages to be the official language in their schools and this will only bring about divisions. I think English should be thought hand in hand with the native language. When there is the need for meetings among various tribes, English could be used by those well versed in it from each tribe. What our education should focus on in the early school years should be helping the kids to master their own languages together with English. Learning in your own language really helps as for many inexperienced problem solvers, understanding problems is the primary difficulty they encounter. If we have the sciences and other classes thought in our language hand in hand with English,it will not only help us locally but also globally since we will also have the skill of communicating in a language of international trade.

shaker255

Native language Instruction

I believe trying to put study material on paper would be as hard as English is because not too many can read as much as they can listen. We should rather use it for instruction. Communicating in our speeches not in print materials. If you come to the international scene, even most native English speakers struggle with English classes sometimes as much as non native ones although they speak fluently. It's easier if we're speaking in our own language to instruct students than trying to bring all English print materials(which most Local scholars are accustomed to) to our native language. It might even bring some probelms as most scholars get farther from their native language as they further their studies. Some even sometimes feel shy to use it.

Gina

Ghanaian Languages

Ghanaian languages should be taught alongside English from class 1- university and it should be mandatory. Students should be free to choose any of the 7 major Ghanaian languages. The content of Ghanaian languages should not be limited to marriage, culture, chieftaincy and religion. It should extend to economics, health, science & technology, finance, entrepreneurship , management, marketing and weaIth creation. It's very important that we develop our Ghanaian languages.

LET US INVEST IN OUR COUNTRY.LET'S BUILD OUR BUSINESSES & INDUSTRIES (SMALL,MEDIUM, MNC). LET'S PROTECT OUR NATURAL RESOURCES. LET'S SPEAK UP! LET'S CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO.TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE GHANA A BETTER PLACE.YEN ARA Y'ASASE NE! GOD BLESS GHANA!

r

language rooms

For those with a strong desire to see ghanaian languages in further use, can we see the development of some exclusive ghanaian language rooms within this portal?

I'm also disappointed to see such a prevalent slave mentality: "I'd rather english was the 'lingua franca' than a local language from a numerically dominant tribal group.".
If an intermediary language is needed, what's wrong with arabic, kiswahili, yoruba or even mandarin? :)

As reiterated elsewhere, is this akan chemistry book ever going to see the light of day please?

paa.kwesi

Yo r,

Yo r,
The book itself is ready. We're only looking for a willing publisher. If you do have some contacts to fund an initial roll-out, please holler at me via Private Message (just click on my username here when you're logged in). Thanks.

NB: There are no language restrictions on GT as far as I know (see http://ghanaconscious.ghanathink.org/node/12 for example). Please feel free to start any discussion in any language and we'll chip in. I'll discuss with the Information Officer about adding some tools that make it obviously easier to type in our languages if you don't already have an enabling environment on your computer (see http://kasahorow.org/ims). Note that if you run a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu, it comes bundled with Akan, Ga, Hausa, Frafra and a multilingual keyboard for all Ghanaian languages.

thinfox

Re:Native language Instruction

i think it's a lot easier to learn to read/write a language you already speak and understand than it is to learn read/write a language you have no knowledge of whatsoever. if you compare kids in the west, they learn to read and write by the time they're six (i'm not talking about white kids, a normal ghanaian children, who either speaks or understands their parent's native tongue). you'd be amazed - at least i was, because i remember my own childhood very well and i can compare them to kids back home of the same age group. trust me there's a difference. so yea, there's a value in using a familiar language to teach someone how to do something. they can do it better, faster and efficiently.
as far as printing media goes, we used to have newspapers and magazines like amansuon and nkwantabisa so it's not an impossible task at all. can we do it today? probably; but it won't be easy because we aren't as educated like our forefathers were. as for bringing english/french language materials to native languages, can you image the number of opportunities we'd create if we embark on such a thing? jobs for translators, publishing and printing shops, new bread of teachers and educators and list goes on.

r

further contributions to our favourite topic

I'm not sure without further thought whether to laugh or express concern at the editorial comments (first and second published by the ghanaian chronicle. Unfortunately I could not retrieve a copy of the original article published in the daily graphic. If anyone can help, please add to this forum topic.

thinfox

some context

this article provides some context: http://allafrica.com/stories/200802111430.html

r

hyperlink error

The second hyperlink in my posting was supposed to be that what you responded. Amended accordingly. :)

paa.kwesi

The Akan Chemistry book is

The Akan Chemistry book is now available on Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=apD9l_gGRkUC

Comments, constructive criticisms welcome. Send directly here: http://kasahorow.org/contact.

r

initial disappointment

20-10-09: I have to say I am disappointed with the little content that I have read so far. My first criticism is the lexicography. For example, consider the word 'atom'. In the book, the first mistake is to fail to provide a semantic word in the akan tongue, instead taking the lazy option of pidgin english, atɔm. When the etymology of 'atom' is considered, surely the translation should be something like 'adɛe ntwa(to)' (something that cannot be cut)??? The fundamental problem with teaching science using pidgin english is that the concepts (which are critically essential to comprehension of scinetific first principles) are not transferred into the indigenous language unless correct semantics are deployed. I would like to read the author's response to this question.

r

initial disappointment

20-10-09: I have to say I am disappointed with the little content that I have read so far. My first criticism is the lexicography. For example, consider the word 'atom'. In the book, the first mistake is to fail to provide a semantic word in the akan tongue, instead taking the lazy option of pidgin english, atɔm. When the etymology of 'atom' is considered, surely the translation should be something like 'adɛe ntwa(to)' (something that cannot be cut)??? The fundamental problem with teaching science using pidgin english is that the concepts (which are critically essential to comprehension of scinetific first principles) are not transferred into the indigenous language unless correct semantics are deployed. I would like to read the author's response to this question.