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" Ere, Fred, eres a loikly un fer yer," said Joe Knox as he dragged Ama up over the lee gunwale, "Got a bit of flesh on er, this un as."Ama thought that she heard English, but the pronunciation was so strange that she could not make out the meaning of the words.
"Stan up straight now, an les get a look at yer," he ordered.Bewildered, Ama did as she was told. She looked around her. Before her stood the tall main mast, stretching up into the sky. Stays and rigging ran out from it in all directions.
"Nice pair o tits," said Joe."Ere Fred, look at this uns boobs," he called, weighing each of Ama's breasts in a palm. "What dye think, eh?"
Ama stepped back and gave him an angry look; but she let the English profanity which rose to her throat die on her lips. Her mind was beginning to work again. It would be better if these white men did not realize that she understood their language. She took her wet cloth and rewrapped it under her armpits."Okwaseá. Foolish man," she spat out at him in Asante.
"Knox, stop foolin around," called the Bosun from the quarterdeck, cutting short Joe's reply.
Does it work?
Myers Robert A, Bibliography of works inGhanaian languages Bureau of Ghana Languages 1967 incl Konkomba
Christaller, Rev. J. G, Dictionary of theAsante and Fante Language called Tshi (Twi), Second Edition, Basel, 1933
This dictionary is a gem, a rich museum of Akan culture. Publication of a newedition is long overdue. Project Christaller 2001 (Akan encyclopedicdictionary), a cooperative effort of the University of Zurich, Switzerland andthe University of Ghana, is addressing this need. For more informationclick on http://www.unizh.ch/spw/afrling/akandic/ and, about Christaller, the man:
AliAkan 2000, "African languages through internet" at
AkanTeleteaching Course (free, on-line, highly recommended)
Eichholzer,Erika: (lic.phil. I) Research assistent at theUniversity of Hamburg in a socio-linguistic project on "Twi in Hamburg:Language maintenance/language loss in an unstable social situation".
Frempong,Justin: (B.A.) Bible translator with GILLBT (GhanaInstitute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation),
The West Africa 7 font for Windows isavailable for download at
The first editionof the present work - commonly called ‘The Tshi Dictionary’ - published in1881, has for a number of years been out of print. As the book was much indemand by both Europeans and educated natives, it was decided that a new editionshould be issued. Unfortunately, financial difficulties, the uncertaintyconcerning a new script, and an accident which befell the editor, delayed itsappearance.
The Dictionary isbased on the Akuapem dialect, which was reduced to writing about 1838, andbecame afterwards the literary form.
The materialconsists, for the most part, of the contents of the former edition. To thesehave been added numerous words, meanings, and phrases gathered from the printedTshi literature and from manuscripts; also contributions sent in by Rev. A.Jehle, and the Editor's linguistic collection which he brought home with himfrom the. Gold Coast. The greater part of this material as well as the originalwork has been revised here with the assistance of Rev. D. E. Akwa. Inorder to keep price and size of the book within moderate limits, not all thematerial available has been inserted. For the same reason some of the Appendicesalso have been omitted.
Of the Akuapemdialect not many words will be found wanting; which cannot, however, be said ofthe other dialects. Regarding this deficiency, and in other respects as well,there is still room left for improvement.
The differentdialects have, as far as possible within the limits, found consideration. Wordsmore or less local and not yet in general use, have, as a rule been marked assuch by indicating the dialect to which they belong (i.e. by placing initialsafter the words).
A word orexpression styled obsolete in one district may be still in use in another.
The use of thewords in sentences is illustrated by definitions, expressions from daily life,proverbs &c. Being contributed by natives, all these examples are idiomatic,presenting the genuine manner of expressing thoughts. For further illustrationthe collection of proverbs and other books . . . are frequently referred to.. . .
§ 1. Name andTerritory of the Language.
Twi, rarely Etwior Otwi, is the form used in the vernacular. It is pronounced like ‘Chwee’,ch and w being uttered simultaneously. The vowel i has a rising and fallingtone, thus: î or íě. Twi probably denotes ‘polished, refined’; from twi,to rub, polish. The form ‘Tshi’, (a modification of the older spellings Tyi,Oji, Otyi), is, as a rule, employed in English. - Another name of the languageis Akan . . ., probably meaning ‘foremost; genuine’; fromkan, first; e.g. oye Okanni, he isa born or genuine Tshi man. ‘Akan’ is used in a wider sense (a) for thedialects of Akem, Asante, Adanse &c. . . ., and (b) in a narrower for thoseof Akem and Asante only.
The name ‘Twi’being used not only by the natives themselves, but also by the Accras and tribesto the east of the Volta, (in the form ‘Otshui’), it has been retained asthe generic appellation of the language. . . .
The dialectswhich have found consideration in the Dictionary, may be comprehended under thefollowing three names: 1. Akan, 2. Bron or Kămănă, 3. Fante.
1. The Akandialect is considered to be spoken purest (a) in Akem; but by its “dainty andaffected mode of expression” . . . it appears less suited to become the commondialect of all Tshi tribes. - (b) The dialect of Asante agrees in all essentialswith that of Akem, only the pronunciation is “broad and hard”. . . whilst inAkem it is “soft and delicate”. . . . (c) The dialect of Akuapem, derivedfrom Akem and Akwam (an Akan dialect of old standing) and having points ofcontact with Bron and Fante, became about 1842 the literary form intelligible toall the other tribes. It. has eversince been enriched by words and grammatical forms from the other dialects. . .
As alreadyobserved, there are many differences (in sounds, forms, and expressions) withinthe three groups of dialects, but they are not so great as to prevent people ofthe one group from understanding readily those of the other. . .
and a shortSurvey of the latter.
Tshi is one ofthe Sudanic languages prevailing in the area between Senegal and EasternNigeria. These languages may be divided into the following groups: -
1. The so-calledKwa group, spoken in a broad coastal tract from the middle of Liberia to thelower Niger. Its subdivisions and languages (or dialects) are:
a) The Ewe-Tshi subgroup, viz. Ewe (including the Dahomey dialect), spoken in the south- eastern corner of the Gold Coast east of the lower Volta, and in the southern half of Togo and Dahomey; and Tshi, i. e. the Akan-Fante dialects. Other members: Nzema (in Apollonia) and Doma (north-west of Asante); Anyi, Baule and Afema (Ivory Coast); Anufo (Northern Togo). The Ga, or Accra language, a comparatively young dialect, and the cognate and older dialects of Adangme and Krobo, W. of the lower Volta and in some parts E. of it. The Guang dialects, spoken on the Gold Goast and in Togo. -
b) The Lagoon (or Kwakwa) languages, on the lagoons of the Ivory Coast. -
c) The Kru subgroup, on the western Ivory Coast and the coast of Liberia. –
d) The Yoruba subgroup, in Nigeria. -
e) The Nupe subgroup, in Northern Nigeria. -
f) The Ibo subgroup, on both sides of the lower Niger. -
g) The Edo or Bini subgroup, in Southern Nigeria.
2. The Benue& Cross River group. To this belong e. g. Efik-Ibibio and Okoyong.
3. The CentralTogo group, e. g. Adele, Akposo, Kebu. -
4. The Gur group,approximately between 5o E. & 5o W. long., and 8o& 14o N. lat. Some of the subdivisions and languages are:
a) The Mosi Dagomba subgroup comprising e. g. Mosi, Dagomba (Dagbane), Mamprusi, Gbanyang (Gondja). -
b) The Grusi (Gurunsi) subgroup, between the White and the Black Volta: Awuna (Atyulo), Sisala, Kanjaga. -
c) The Tem (Hausa: Kotokoli) subgroup, in eastern Togo. –
d) The Bargu or Borgu (Barba), in northern Dahomey and Togo. -
e) The Senufo (Siena) subgroup, on the northern Ivory Coast. -
5. The WestAtlantic group, south of Senegal, with two subgroups, including e. g. Temne,Bulom, Gola; Wolof, Serer. -
6. The Mandingoor Mande languages, spoken in western Sudan, between the two last-named groups,and north of the western parts of the Kwa group. They may be subdividedinto
a) Mande tan, comprising e. g. Bambara, Malinke, Dyula, Vai-Konno; and
b) Mande fu, including Soso, Mende, Kpelle. . . .
§ 4.Characteristic Features of the Tshi Language.
The greatmajority of Tshi words are monosyllables, consisting of one consonant and onevowel, the latter sometimes enlarged, by the addition of a nasal consonant or a‘w’. There are, however, also a considerable number of polysyllables whichcannot be reduced to monosyllabic stems.
Tshi has threeclasses of words only, viz. nouns, pronouns and verbs. But even these, whenwithout affix, are not always distinguishable by their form. Part of theadjectives, adverbs and conjunctions are derived from nouns or verbs. Instead ofEnglish prepositions, either nouns of place or various verbs are used aspostpositions. The passive voice and participles are wanting. There is noinflexion in the strict sense of the term. Cases are distinguished by their position in a sentence or expressed byverbs or postpositions. The plural of nouns is formed by affixes or indicated bya verb. The grammatical gender is wanting; natural sex is in some casesexpressed by particular words, or by composition with such, or by the femalediminutive suffix. For the tenses and other modifications of the verb prefixes(partly recognised as verbs) are used, in two cases the suffix e or i.
There is only ascanty number of particles to indicate the relation of sentences, or clauses, toone another. In many cases the sentences are placed together without aconjunction; (co-ordination being more frequent than subordination). In asimilar manner, two or several verbs may follow each other, where the Englishlanguage uses a single verb or adjective, participle, adverb, or preposition.The natives analyse every action or occurrence into its component parts, andexpress each of them by a special verb. Another peculiarity is the use of subordinate sentences defined by thedefinite article ‘no’, or the demonstrative ‘yi’; whereby they areindicated to be equivalents of a single noun representing one idea.
There is to befound a large number of onomatopoetics, of which most are used as descriptiveadverbs, several also as nouns.
The vowel-harmony(i.e. assimilation of vowels to neighbouring vowel sounds) provides against toogreat or too small dissimilarities of vowels in successive syllables.
The nouns haveprefixes, which do not form such distinct classes of nouns as are found in Bantulanguages, but still convey some classification of persons as opposed to things,and of single or individual as opposed to plural or collective existence.