Language Lesson #1
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!
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.