Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Language Lesson #1

***UPDATED BELOW***

There are three native languages in Ghana: Dagbani, Dagari, and Twi.

In Tamale, the local language is Dagbani.  I’ve learned a few words so far, but not very many.  Below is my repertoire, although the spelling is probably wrong

Despa = good morning
Enteray = good day
Anoola = good evening
Naa = fine
Allafay = it’s good
Tapaya = thank you

A walk in the morning goes like this:
Me, passing the woman who owns the store next to my host-family’s house: “Despa”
Woman in the store: “Naa.”

“Naa” answers everything.  If someone says something to me that I don’t understand (but seems polite, versus the men who are normally saying things that obviously aren’t polite” then I respond “Naa.”  It’s a long drawn-out word, more like “Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah” than the song “Na nanananana na nana na nana na nanana naaa.”

If I’ve already said “Naa” then “Allafay” is a good answer too.  After that, I admit to the other person “I’m sorry but that’s all I know” and they usually laugh at me, but it’s a nice laugh.

There.  Now you’re set for traveling the Northern Region in Ghana!

Update 1
There are actually many more than 3 native languages in Ghana.  Dagbani, Dagari, and Twi are only the 3 most common in the Northern Region.

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