Korle Meets the Sea: A Sociolinguistic History of Accra

Korle Meets the Sea: A Sociolinguistic History of Accra

Korle Meets the Sea: A Sociolinguistic History of Accra

Korle Meets the Sea: A Sociolinguistic History of Accra

Synopsis

Ghana has played a key role in African/Western relations since medieval times. For this reason and others, Ghana has evolved into a linguistic quilt that contains forty-four indigenous languages and several exotic ones, of which most Ghanians speak at least two. Using Accra, Ghana's capital, as a microcosm, Dakubu conducts a linguistic, historical, and ethnographic investigation of the origins and durability of this multilingualism and how it has effected Ghanaian society.

Excerpt

This book is about language in Accra, the sprawling capital city of Ghana, a country of something over 13 million people on the West Coast of Africa (Ghana Government 1987). These 13 million speak not fewer than forty-four languages--counts range from thirty-four to fifty-four--but the exact number depends on the criteria used for counting. the average Ghanaian language is therefore spoken by fewer than 300,000 people. However, most languages are not average. Some have far more speakers, and others far fewer. But this is not a case of one speaker-one language: a large proportion of the population speaks several. This is most obviously true in the capital city, with its mushrooming migrant suburbs, but it soon becomes obvious that in varying degrees it applies to the whole country, and that this is by no means a new situation. the pervasive multilingualism has two important results: a few languages have very many more speakers when their second-language speakers are included, and speakers of less widespread languages are not by virtue of that fact alone isolated from the rest of the country.

In the course of many years of linguistic investigation in and around Accra, two problems of multilingualism have come to seem particularly worth investigating. the first is the meaning of answers to the superficially straightforward question "What language(s) do you speak?" and the related "Do you speak (x language)?" It became apparent to me that answers depended on the situation in which the questions were asked and could mean different things for different speakers, but that the answers certainly signified something and that a pattern of some kind was present. This pattern seemed to have something to do with the speakers' idea of what a language included, that is, with their idea of where the boundaries around any particular language lay, with respect to similar and related varieties. This is, of course, a practical problem for anyone who wants to conduct surveys of multilingualism.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.