Metaglossia: The Translation World
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Metaglossia: The Translation World
News about translation, interpreting, intercultural communication, terminology and lexicography - as it happens
Curated by Charles Tiayon
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A Rejoinder: Is Twi Developed Enough to Become a National Language? | Feature Article 2012-06-07

A couple of weeks ago I read a piece at this website entitled: ‘Is Twi Developed Enough to Become a National Language?’ The writer got me riveted by the title, besides the historical slant. However, he managed to consume his cake, yet contrived to keep it, and concluded categorically that Twi is not ready to become the national language. Though, I agree with his sentiments without reservation, on the other hand, it is his line of argument, which seems to be the Achilles’ heel that will prevent Twi from becoming the national language in the future. He was very much convinced that the beautiful Twi language is being destroyed by the infiltration of our colonial language.

Now, to say that a language is beautiful is basically a misnomer, because there is nothing beautiful about any language. Every language, according to the uninformed, is beautiful to all those who speak it. When you don’t understand any language it sounds like a ding when spoken. Anybody who does not speak the Akan language is called ‘?potoni’: literally meaning someone who speaks a mashed or formless language. The word barbarian was coined by the Romans to describe people who do not speak Latin i.e. they make ‘baah baah’ sound like a goat. I quite remember when I was a boy we used to make a lot of fun about the Chinese language. One of the jokes was that Chinese parents name their children after the sound generated by dropping a metal on the ground. Clearly, I believed with my friends then, that Chinese names were formed from unintelligible sounds. But for the people who speak Mandarin it is the most beautiful language in the world. The Arabs, for instance, think that the language of God is Arabic, and for that matter the Koran should be read in its original text – Arabic. If they don’t believe that the Arabic language is divine and beautiful they wouldn’t be that presumptuous. Nevertheless, I have some few friends who speak Arabic and it is as unintelligible to my ears like I used to describe the Chinese language when I was a child. The English are startlingly arrogant about speaking other people’s language. Because they believe English is the ultimate language in the world. The French get irate because English is the international language of choice for communication especially in aviation. The fact is everybody thinks that their language is the best, and with a little bit of analysis it’s obvious that the assertion is a no brainer and absolute tosh.!
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