I simply could not resist.
As a teacher of languages, the opportunity to try my hand at a new language was irresistible. So, whilst in Ghana during February half-term, I made sure that I tried to get to grips with Twi, the lingua franca of the country (other than English of course).
When faced with this new linguistic challenge (and with a limited amount of time), and after the initial foray into basic greetings, I sought out the following:
1) Verbs, 2) Connectives, 3) Tenses and 4) Opinions
I bang on in class about Vital Verbs and Nowhere Nouns, but found it to be true when I found myself in the position of a ‘beginner language learner’ again. (My note book soon became awash with infinitives).
Not only this, but my fascination for the differences between languages was kindled once more. Similar to Mandarin (I think), the infinitive of the Twi verb also acts as each part of its conjugation. Very economical and very sensible, in my opinion.
‘Di’ is the verb to eat.
‘Me di’ is therefore ‘I eat’.
‘Me pe’ is like.
However, to say I like to eat, it’s ‘Me pe se me di’ (I like to I eat)
In five days, I was only going to get a short distance, but I was always keen to try out my few words on anyone who would listen. I was unconcerned about making mistakes – much more unconcerned than if I had been speaking languages that I supposedly speak with greater competence.
All in all then, a great experience. Mostly because, as a linguist, there is no more natural position to be in than that of a language learner.