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Reflection on Language Diversity Presentation

couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

This post is in response to my groups presentation on language diversity in Ghana. 
I really enjoyed presenting on the languages pidgin English and twi in Ghana but I was more interested in pidgin. I found it fascinating that in using English as a medium where all ethnic backgrounds could interact, Ghanaians, particularly young people, made English their own in the form of pidgin/slang English. The concept and use of pidgin English reminded me of Decolonizing the Mind where the author writes about ways in which Africans should and could share their history and culture. However, in contrast to Decolonizing the Mind, I found it interesting that youth were, to some extent, using a combo of English and their native tongue to spread their culture when at first English was used to eliminate it.

For that reason, it is frustrating to know that pidgin is considered as an inferior language. Personally, I find pidgin to be a powerful language because it defies the dominant discourse (Western culture) forced upon Ghana by using English "improperly." 

However, due to Ghanaian culture, I am sad to know that it is not socially acceptable for females to speak pidgin. I never thought being a female would limit me in language and find it unfair. Should I try speaking it with Ghanians anyway? In doing so, will I defy social/cultural norms and show ignorance as an American? Or will I enforce my "superiority" as an American by disregarding this social norm and speaking pidgin anyway? In wanting to take part in a language that defies its dominant discourse, I realize that I might defy Ghanaian culture in the process so I am very open to responses to my questions!

Btw, below is the link to the google doc PowerPoint of the language and diversity presentation. It has the links to Roselyn speaking Twi and emergency sayings/formal greetings in Twi. Let me know if the links do not work:


alesnick's picture

creative defiance

I appreciate the idea that through pidgin young people are "using a combo of English and their native tongue to spread their culture when at first English was used to eliminate it."  This seems to me to be a very important, savvy, skillful mode of cultural creativity/resistance -- and perhaps if we knew how to see it, something we would find in many different settings and groups.  That use of pidgin may be gendered marks another seam, another place for breaking out . . .