10 October 2006

Upon Hearing Twi and Dealing with Frustrations

Yesterday night, as I was riding the bus home, I was sitting on the second to the last row of seats in the bus. There was a person behind me, sitting down. He was there when I boarded the bus. (On a side note, I guess this is a side effect when you are working with temporal semantics. I cannot turn off that thought in my head that continues to process the temporal relations between the sentences that I am writing right now. Anyway...) When we reached the bus stop, another guy boards the bus, who happens to be an acquaintance of this guy sitting behind me. They talk in a language I do not understand. I was getting off at the next stop, and so was the guy sitting behind me. So I approached him and asked what language that was.

It turned out to be Twi. I knew it was an African language. I just didn't try to guess which one, because I might offend him. Similar to telling a Ukrainian, "Are you speaking in Russian?" and he would reply, "No, Ukrainian is VERY different from Russian," so I just asked what the language is called. He only said at first, "It's an African language." So I said, what is the name of the language? He said, "It's called Ashanti."

That rang a bell in my head. Ashanti, I encountered that name before, and not with regard to an R&B singer. It is found in West Africa, so now I asked, "Is it related to Twi? (the language is actually pronounced "Hoo-wee", without a T, and I pronounced it correctly when I said it to him.) He then said, "It is actually Twi!" Well, the reason for the apparent mistake is because there are plenty of Ashanti languages, Twi is just one of them.

So that started a ten-minute conversation with a stranger, and by this time, I got to know his name. He started to tell me how many languages there are in his native Ghana, and how typical American students sometimes naively think that there is only ONE language for the whole of Africa. That's why my class is there for. To educate students about the different languages of the world. Anyway, the conversation ended when he had to walk a different street and I had to go to another one.

One final thought on that: I guess given my background, it is not hard for me to talk to strangers, unlike other people. Unlike some of my students, who seem to find difficulty in finding a native speaker of a foreign language for their project.

On another note, today is Monday. The day where I have that seminar on a certain topic that I am working on. I was just frustrated at how it turned out. I am frustrated that some fellow students who have been here longer than I am cannot lead a seminar of good quality. The one who led the discussion today didn't do more than just read the paper. I was expecting more. I don't know. Maybe I just raised the bar a little bit high.

Oh well. Life goes on. I'll move on. I'll just vent my frustrations here and then move on. Problem solved.


  1. uy lolo, saya naman ng experience mo na yan. dito wala ako masyadong naririnig. puro hapon at ingles. at tagalog. hehehe. mukhang maganda yung book na atlas of languages. buy ako niyan nxt month siguro. kabibili ko nung bago ni d. crystal e. gandang reference book sa ling 110 =)

  2. Pleaaaaaaaaaaase, post some photos again!!!
    From your daily life, from autumn, from your surrounding...
    I always have my camera with me when I am outside - then it's possible shooting spontaneously pics.