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Last edited: 2004-02-02

Learning Ghanaian Languages

Information on studying Twi?


TWI BASIC COURSE (accompanied by at least 9 cassettes)
by J.E. Redden & N. Owusu
Published by Foreign Service Institute, Department of State, 1963
WRITE: Superitendent of Documents
U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402
mention: Stock no. 044-000-00288-4 Catalog no. S 1.1142:T92

The whole package may cost around $60 or more (1998).

This was produced to help Peace Corps Volunteers.

Title: A Comprehensive Course in Twi (Asante) for the Non- Twi Learner
Author: Florence Abenaa Dolphyne
Publishers: Ghana Universities Press, Accra, 1996.
ISBN: 964-3-0245-2
Price: 14,000 cedis
No. of pages: 145 pages
The 36 lessons in the book are grouped into two parts.

Part 1, Getting Started with the Spoken Language, covers aspects such as the alphabets and sounds of the language, aphetic communicative situations such as greetings, politeness, and being friendly; shopping, with the famous West African market practice of intense bargaining; giving directions, asking questions, and telling the time. This section is generously illustrated with as many as 26 vivid dialogues that simulate and illuminate many cultural situations and aspects of the Ghanaian society.

Part II Understanding the Grammar [of the language], takes the learner through the nitty-gritty of the structure of Twi. Many topics, such tense, polarity, reduplication, and grammatical aspects of various other subsystems of the language, including its pronominal, adjectival, and ad positional systems are covered in the book.

Four important appendices, including common idiomatic expressions, a list of Akan names, proverbs, and a short English- Twi vocabulary testify to the comprehensive nature of this excellent book for learners of Twi. Are there any short-comings associated with this book? It is hard to find any. In the blurb, the author says that the book comes along with tape recordings of the Twi texts, but I found none and the bookshop vendor at Legon couldn't help me with his explanation no such tapes were received. The author needs to redo a more comprehensive audio-companion to this excellent text, and make it more readily available. Second, like most other (text)books for language learners, the book avoids/omits an important and, indeed, a very recurrent aspect of spoken language: swear and taboo phrases such as insults and insinuations. Corpus linguistic studies are showing clearly that this aspect of language is very robust and recurrent in the day to day uses of any language, yet grammarians and writers of books for second language acquisition consistently circumvent this central aspect of the system they describe. This book is no exception.

These short-comings not withstanding, Professor Dolphyne's book, like others in her long list of works, is of the highest quality in terms of its careful analysis, precision, and concision. These qualities are expectedly delivered from the desk of the matriarch of Ghanaian Linguistics.

--Review By A. B. Bodomo, University of Hong Kong