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Opinions Thu, 23 Jan 2014

Do We Consign President Kufour to the Gallows for His Bad English?

? ? Ghanaians’ fanatical infatuation with spoken English has always been a cause for concern. Many a Ghanaian has that awkward habit of always listening to fault their fellows on where they make grammatical mistakes when speaking English. ?They are not interested in the gist of his/her message but the sentence construction and grammatical mistakes the speaker makes. This is funny though.A few days ago, I read about former President Kufuor saying he would not be assisting those in NPP who think to be "over-clever". He was expected to have said "overly-clever". This mistake became a hot topic for discussion among some Ghanaians who think they know much better and are probably native English speakers but in Blackman’s skin.?In Ghana, there is that false perception among people that, "the knowledge of English is the criterion of man’s great learning". Once you speak fluent English with the Whiteman’s accent, then you are the greatest academic in the eyes of the Ghanaian. I have always been telling my fellow Ghanaians what an English parliamentarian once said. He said, "Englishness belongs to the English people. Some people, countries, and cultures may learn English, eat and speak like the English people, yet English and Englishness still belong to the English people".?If what the Englishman said makes any sense, why are some Ghanaians still being English fanatics, one may ask? We can hardly excel in our own dialect – written and spoken. Why are we so desirous about ensuring people speak English as perfectly well and with the English accent as an English Professor of English Literature but not as any non native English speaker with foreign accentalthough, a Professor of English Literature. Why??Are we not suffering from inferiority complexes by our attitude to English as stated above? Will your perfect knowledge of English be enough to put bread on your dinner table? If the answer is in the negative, then why are some Ghanaians so mad about people making mistakes when speaking the Queen’s language – English??I believe those Ghanaians who kowtow to those that speak English perfectly well just for its own sake are simply being naive. When you reside among the native English speakers, whether in the United Kingdom or the USA, you will notice the amount of grammatical errors they make when speaking. Those that have not acquired higher learning to discipline their speech make an awful lot of grammatical mistakes but who dare you to point the mistakes out to them? The gist of their message is all that counts, but not the mistakes they make, my fellow Ghanaians.?In England, one often hears the students and many in the streets say things like, "Was you there.", "We was not there" "When you was there" etc. In Ghana, one would laugh their head off to see a Ghanaian say that instead of, "Were you there", "We were not there" and "When you were not there" etc.?I am not here to lecture anyone on English but to deplore the Ghanaian fanaticism to English with their attendant readiness to castigate or tease their fellows for breaking the language limb by limb. ? ?For what may be our silly understanding of English, the current government has appointed "square pegs in round holes" as Ministers and Deputy Ministers all because they are fluent in English but are totally misfits in their ministries. Is that what you want, oh my poor fellow Ghanaians??How often do we tease our fellows for making mistakes or slips of tongue when discoursing in our various local languages or dialects? We never do. Do we then not look silly if we laugh at them or make a mountain out of a molehill when they make mistakes in English, a foreign language of course? ? This is my view and I am entitled to my opinion. You can choose to wise up or continue to stagnate in your ignorance after reading my views as here by published. Former President Kufuor, please do not listen to what ignoramuses say about your spoken English provided you make sense in your messages.?

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson