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Opinions of Sunday, 9 January 2005

Columnist: Afriyie, Bright Siaw

Why Must That Native Language Be Twi?

It sounds so sad reading the tone at which Benni Edward responded to Mr. Prempeh?s common language proposal. I don?t think Benni, Edward would have reacted in same way if Mr. Prempeh had chosen Ewe to be the common language in question. I?m here to challenge Benni Edward for over-reacting with a version of an article full of contradictory assertions.

First of all Mr. Prempeh did neither suggest any restriction on cultural diversity nor the elimination of other dialets. Does Benni see that it would be extremely easier for a Ghanaian child to learn one language for example Akan than to learn Ga, Dagbane, Ewe, Wala etc all at once?

Secondly, you don?t need a rocket scientist to determine the extent at which Akan is being spoken in Ghana. I dare to even state that Akan is even spoken among three great ethnic groups in the nearby Ivory Coast. I don?t deny the fact that English is almost a global language, but saying that it?s the business language I?ll disagree. Business language depends on which country you are dealing with. There are several countries which pointed out by Mr. Prempeh, that have better examples of using common native languages for tremendous national economic development. China, Russia, Malaysia are all few examples.

Thirdly, Benni stated ?In fact, if you believe the United States of America is powerful, one major source of its power is its diversity ? America is an immigrant nation.? Mr. Benni ---, This statement in itself is contradictory an assertion I could never imagine a person putting up such criticism will necessarily bow to. America is powerful due to diversity-America is an immigrant nation. Does Benni really know that the implication of this statement is supportive of Mr. Prempeh?s suggestion? ?Diversity and immigrant nation? means people of different backgrounds, different cultures, different ethnic groups, different languages but once in America they all speak one common language. There used to be French, Acadians, English, Inuits(different tribes of American Indians) and Spanish, but they all adhere to one common language,- English. Likewise in China-Chinese; Vietnam-Vietnamese to name a few.

Fourthly, what languages do the following heads of state speak:- France, Russia, China, Singapore and Malaysia. Would you say their common languages have set them back?

Finally, it?s interesting to learn about your concerns of ? Twi version of the Windows Operating System, people ??the world over?? will use ?Twi-Windows?? Remember that depending on the market, several software have translations in different languages. Take Microsoft Office package for instance, there are tons of languages you can create and edit documents in. French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Swahili to name a few. I am an example of Ghanaian using French to pursue computer science and telecommunication degrees in Montreal, Canada. The ease wouldn?t be the same as using Twi for those degrees. Most technical terms not existing in French had to be translated literally from English to French. Ghanaians identified by a common language is one step forward to enrichment of our cultural heritage in the modern world of technology. I am challenging my fellow Ghanaians not to see this article as a tool to promote the Akan language, but to see it as the obvious solution to one common native language widely spoken in Ghana. This assertion is supportive of the fact that all our colonial masters identify themselves (their countries) through the common languages they speak --- English is England, French is France, German is Germany, Portuguese is Portugal and Spanish is Spain, etc. What is the native language of Ghana? --- Several languages ? a symbolic way of saying a divided people posing problems on our socio-economic development and national politics. The outcome of the December 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary elections in itself is a good example.

I don?t think anyone will dispute the fact that the original language of the Holy Bible was not in English. We now have it translated not only in English, but also translated in almost all native Ghanaian languages. Several biblical terms for example crucifixion, temples, synagogues, compassion, you name it, didn?t exist in our languages, but we now have their equivalence in ?Twere Kronkron? (Holy Bible). This is a similitude to some scientific terms such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2)for which we can create reasonable equivalent terms in our native language.

Can Benni Edward communicate with the immediate neighboring countries of Ghana. I know that you will agree with me that less than 20% of the Ghanaian population can actually communicate in French. I think a common language of expression could be an ideal solution for national unity and a powerful tool for socio-economic development in Ghana. It will make sense to adopt one language.

Bright Siaw Afriyie
IT Professional, Dallas, Texas

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