Our first Twi lesson was today! Twi is a dialect of the most widely spoken language native to Ghana, Akan. 49% of the population speaks Akan as a first language, and 44% speaks it as a second language. Everyone also speaks English, because after 3rd grade all classes are taught in English. Still, it’s a really good idea to learn an Akan dialect, since most daily exchanges are in Akan by default.
I’m so excited to be learning Twi! The instructor is amazing- energetic, funny, and demanding. He laughs a lot and gives high fives for asking good questions and tells people they’re fired when they make a mistake. Today’s class was an introduction to the characteristics of Twi and a few useful phrases.
Twi reminds me of Chinese in that it’s tonal, verbs aren’t conjugated, and there are no prepositions. That’s such a relief because prepositions are SUCH a palaver in German! Also, there is no gender distinction between he and she, and pronouns as subjects are combined with the verb into one word- the Golden Rule of Twi. And, like Spanish, nouns precede their modifiers- including articles! So a new blue shirt in English is shirt blue new a in Twi :) And there are a few characters that aren’t in English, like this one ɔ that makes kind of an “ooh” sound and this one ɛ that sounds kinda like “awh”.
The fact that there are two tones led to a really fun discussion. The tones are given to vowels, so there’s either a high tone, a low tone, or no tone. Here’s an example!
pa’pa’ = good
pa,pa’ = father
pa,pa, = hand fan
So if you want to say “my father has a good hand fan” you say “Me pa,pa’ wɔ pa,pa, pa’pa’.”
Say that three times!
Also Universitat Zurich is the only school in Europe where you can take Twi classes, so anyone still in Zurich should get on that for next semester!