For years, I have been wanting someone – The Ghana Association perhaps, or DadaK’s church – to start Twi language classes for children. But, perhaps for the reasons I’ve speculated about in Lingo Limbo Part 1, no one has. And at some point last year I finally realised that if you really want something to happen, you have to do it yourself. Not that I wanted to start a language school – I’ve got quite enough on my plate thank you – but I decided to find a tutor. Continue reading
When I was about 11, I read the first two books of Lord of the Rings. Like Sam & Frodo, I got lost in the dour lands of Mordor; unlike them, I didn’t make it to the end – at least not that time. LOTR made a lasting impression on me in many ways, but in particular, it left me, as it did many others, with a strong desire to create my own fantasy world, complete with maps, languages, and mysterious dark strangers. And that’s how I spent much of my early teens. (This was pre-internet – there are now whole websites devoted to Tolkien’s Elvish). Continue reading
Border Crossings was recently discovered by another blogger, Gori Girl, who is a white US woman married to an Indian man. She has written some excellent posts about learning her partner’s language (Bengali), which is a wonderful coincidence for me because learning DadaK’s language, Ashanti Twi, is currently pretty high on my very long list of things to do. Continue reading
Do you have one, or many?
If you are of Ghanaian background, you probably have quite a few: day names, given names, family names, Christian names, nicknames, order of birth names, thank-god-you’re-here names, etc. etc. DadaK has quite a few, and they vary depending on who he’s with. He’s K to his wife, which is an abbreviation of his day name. I call him by his Christian name, which is how he introduces himself to white people. Some of his friends call him Opia, which is a nickname that corresponds to his order of birth name, and other friends (the younger ones) call him Uncle.
Confused? Yes, and loving it.
But don’t think Ghanaians have a monopoly on interesting naming practices. I too have many names. When I was growing up in rural NSW my cousin called me Fred and the swimming pool attendant called me Frank. (Did I mention I’m female?). My Dad was called Bill but that wasn’t his real name & some people in the community were convinced there were two of him. I was surrounded by people called things like Bluey (red heads) and Snow (white hair). Not to mention the Smithys, Gazzas & Mazzas …
As a young adult I had an identity crisis and changed my name myself for a while, to Jess Walker (J-walker, get it?) and Ghanaians who met me during that period still insist on calling me Jessie. I kind of like that. Some of the family in Ghana call me Mama J – hence the name of this blog. Maame is Ghanaian for Mum, and MamaJ was already taken as a blog name (grrr).
My Ghanaian day name is Afia & I am fourth born – Annane. I’ve known this for years but it was only quite recently that I made the connection that this is the feminine version of Kofi Annan! What’s also cool is that I probably share this name with thousands of people!
As stated in a previous post, I’ll be using psuedonyms here and I may expain them as I go along. Or not. But just for the record – I think DadaK & ActionMan (our son) are pretty obvious & I’ve just explained MaameJ. I’ve dubbed ActionMan’s stepmother Obapaa, which means good woman. And she is, but it’s also the name of an adinkra symbol which is commonly seen on Ghanaian cloth. (Actually I can’t find it online, but that’s what DadaK tells me. Perhaps he was having me on? I’ll keep you posted.)
I haven’t come up with names for ActionMan’s half-siblings except for his baby sister. After four sons DadaK and Obapaa had a daughter, and her (real) name is in the ‘thank-god-you’re-here category’. I’m sticking with that trend, and am tossing up between Gifty and Treasure. Stay tuned …