Published on International Journal of Social, Politics & Humanities
Publication Date: April 13, 2019
B. A Ghanaian Language (Twi Education)
Department of Applied Linguistics, University of Education
Journal Full Text PDF: Inscriptions on Canoes (The Case of Winneba Seashore).
Linguistics landscape is new dimension in the field of linguistics, however it has receive a considerable amount of research or scholarships in recent years. This paper aimed at looking at the language used on canoes, what motives these choice of language and the meaning that such inscriptions convey to people in Winneba, an Effutu speaking community in the central region of Ghana. Various language comes into contact in this area and the researcher want to used evidence to back his assertion. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed in this research. The paper is limited to only inscription on canoes in afore mentioned geographical area. Digital camera and interview were used in the collection of data. The result indicated that Fante is dominant language among the languages used to write the inscriptions although Winneba is an Effutu speaking community, through these inscriptions people are able to express, share their experiences, sentiments, thoughts, opinion to others.
Keywords: Linguistics landscape, language, canoes, inscriptions & speaking.
Language is one of the unique things among people living a certain geographical location, which portrays the culture, values and norms of that society. In our society, we normally comes across written signs which include public announcement, town names, posters, advertisement among others. Though linguistics land scape is new area of research, notwithstanding this, it has received a lot scholarships in the last few years among researchers in areas encompassing to them and have undertaken a research in this new arena of research. Prominent among these researchers include Li & Xia (2016) where they study languages in the linguistic landscape of Lijiang old town. Landry & Bourhis (1997) also considered the linguistic landscape as certain context of sociolinguistic processes. Backhaus (2007) also explored the empirical study of multilingual signs in Tokyo. Cenoz & Gorter (2006) studied the linguistic landscape of two streets in two multilingual cities and analyzed the use of languages relating to language policy. Li & Xia (2016) posits that studies of linguistic landscape mainly deal with languages in written forms in public places or spaces. They contends that on the whole, the research of LL has become one of the hot topics. This paper describes a study of the linguistic landscape on inscriptions on canoes conducted in Winneba a fishing community and an Effutu speaking area located in the central region of Ghana.
1.1 Background of the Study/ Statement of the Problem
The study of LL has received a lot of scholarly attention in Africa and in the world as a whole. LL have been a topic which most scholars find interest in. Generally, studies in LL like that of street names, inscriptions on vehicles etc have been researched into by scholars of languages from the dimensions and view point that is more encompassing to them. This has given rise to the bulk of topics found in many scholarly publications. From the bulk of publications available in LL, one could hardly hear the mentioning of inscription on canoes as a sociolinguistics study. Many researchers have researched on linguistic landscape in areas like street names, inscriptions on vehicles etc. However, the concentration has been on Studying Languages in the Linguistic Landscape of a geographical area (community) (Hiippala, 2017, Xia & Li, 2016, Akindele, 2011 etc.) inscriptions on vehicles, street names, etc. Though, Gray (1996), Walden (2012) did a study on canoes but only did that in a passing and their emphasis were on Canoe decoration, their meaning and socio-cultural significance of canoe decoration respectively. This creates a vacuum which needs to be filled. It is upon this that the researcher seeks to delve into this topic to strategically and systematically come out with empirical data to address the issue. Upon my frequent visit to the Winneba beach, I realized that there were various inscriptions on canoes written on them in different languages. The motive behind these choice of a particular language is a mystery .These inscriptions were not haphazardly chosen by canoes owners and fishermen. There are some motives that warrant them to choose a particular language. I am optimistic that many people do not know why some fishermen and canoes owners write certain things on their canoes, with the help of this research the reasons will be revealed and meanings that they convey to people will also come to light.
1.2 Research Questions
a. What is the dominant language on the inscriptions on canoe in Winneba?
b. What factors influence the choice of a particular language for these inscription on canoes?
c. What message does these inscriptions convey to people?
1.3 Objective of the Study
The intent of this research is to find out;
a. The dominant language on the inscriptions on canoe in Winneba.
b. The factors that influence the choice of a particular language for these inscription on canoes.
c. The message these canoe inscriptions convey to people.
Winneba is an urban area and the indigenes speak Effutu as their native language. Although Effutu is the native language in this town, most people speak Fante aside the their native language Effutu though it is undocumented as of the time of this research, others two speak Twi, in their schools they study and write Fante right from basic to the tertiary level of education. Based on these, my hypothesis is that though Effutu is their native language, but Fante, is likely to be dominant among the languages that come into contact here, although Twi, English, Ewe and Ga might be present but I am predicting that among the languages inscribed on the canoes, Fante will supersede all other languages that come into contact in Winneba. Also due to the mutually intelligibility between Fante and Twi , looking how Twi is widely spoken or dominating in many parts of Ghana the possibility of Twi dominating among the languages is very high. I can sense that some fishermen/ canoe owners as a way of cultural preservation they may write in the indigenous languages like Fante and Twi to help them keep their roots in mind.
1.5 Significance of the study
At the end of the study:
a. This research will serve as a reference material for future research.
b. Other researchers can based on it for further studies.
c. Reasons why users of canoes choose a particular language or signage will be known.
1.6 The research community (Winneba)
Winneba, is a town and the capital of Effutu Municipal District in Central Region of South Ghana. Winneba has a population of 55,331. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winneba) Winneba’s traditional name is Simpa; inhabitants are known as Simpafo (i.e. people of Simpa). (Brown 2005).Winneba, is a historic fishing port in south Ghana, lying on the south coast, 140 kilometers (90 miles) east of Cape Coast. According to Brown (2005) Winneba, has population of about 26,000. It is a town with a long and important history. He postulates that from pre-colonial times through the establishment of the British colony the Gold Coast, (Effutu) Winneba served as a port town. Fort Winneba was built here. Brown (ibid) asserts that during the colonial period, the seaport was used to transact businesses between the Gold Coast (Ghana’s former name) and Europe. The main industries of Winneba are fishing and services. It is known for the Aboakyer deer-hunting festival in Winneba and its New Year fancy dress carnival/masquerading festival. The town has a rich musical tradition and currently boasts of several renowned musical groups in the country, including the Winneba Youth Choir, the Osimpam Ompeh group,and the Akoo show Choir.
Brown (2005) adds that these people belong to the Guan ethnic group, the Winneba land is surrounded by Akans (the largest ethnic group in Ghana). The groups do not speak the same language, though the Simpafo language borrows from Akan and several other Ghanaian languages (this is presumably due to the group’s migratory past). Because of this mixed heritage, the Akans generally refer to the Simpafo as Effutufo, which translates as “people of mixture.” How did the Guans end up in the midst of the Akans? Brown (2005) argues Effutu’s were among the first ethnic groups to settle in this region of the Gold Coast, arriving in Simpa prior to the Akans. Legend has it that the Effutu people migrated from Timbuktu (ancient Western Sudan Empire). After the fall of the old Ghana Empire and the 14th century rise of Mali Empire, the Effutu people headed towards the south, traveling through the savanna and the rain forest to the coast, finally settling at Simpa (Brown, 2005). Most of the towns around Winneba speaks Fante, some include Sweduru, Nsaba, Okyereko, Mankesim, Postin, Fetteh etc, as a result this, most inhabitants of the Winneba indigenes can speak Fante and I can sense that Fante is even becoming majority of the people L1 because of its strong influence on the Effutu language. If one does not extreme caution such a person can jump into conclusion that all Effutu peoples are Fantes.
2. Literature Review
Gorter (2006 as cited in Xia & Li, 2016) pointed out that “the study of the linguistic landscape is a relatively new development”. This researcher contends that the research of linguistic landscape appeared recently in the field of sociolinguistics and began to enjoy a growing interest in sociolinguistics and applied linguistics. It is only since the end of 1990s that linguistic landscape has been received growing attention as a topic for research within sociolinguistics. (Xia & Li, 2016). Research on the field of linguistic landscapes is still new, and there is not a generally accepted approach or definition into linguistic landscapes. Though there have several methodological advances, there are still several scholars (Cenoz & Gorter, 2008; Shohamy & Gorter, 2009) have asserted no coherent and independent theory in the field now. The main concentration of linguistic landscape research is on the visibility and salience of written languages in the public research. (Xia & Li 2016). Landry & Bourhis (1997; 25), defines linguistic landscape as the language of public road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, and public signs on government buildings combines to form the linguistic landscape (henceforth, LL) of a given territory, region, or urban agglomeration. They see linguistic landscape as the visibility and salience of languages on public and commercial signs in a giving territory or region, the visual manifestation of the language of that particular environment or speech community. Landry & Bourhis investigated the role of linguistic landscape in ethnolinguistic vitality and language maintenance and their relations in Canada. The whole aim of their article was in threefold, “to introduce the concept of linguistic landscape by examining the sociolinguistics aspects of this emerging notion in the field of language planning, they wanted to discussed the concept of linguistic landscape as it relates to the notion of ethnolinguistic vitality (EV) and finally to present result exploring how experience with the linguistic landscape is related to the vitality perceptions and language behaviors of French Canadian minorities across Canada. They consider the issue of linguistic landscape as an important sociolinguistic factor contributing to the vitality of competing ethnolinguistic groups in multilingual settings” (Landry & Bourhis 1997). The above two pioneering works shed light on the informational marker and a marker of collective identity of linguistics landscape. It’s essential because they paved the way for the illumination of the field of sociolinguistics (Xia & li, 2016). Akindele (2011) also researched on the public signage in Gaborone in Botsawana. The aim was to show that LL can provide valuable insight into the linguistic landscape in of Gaborone Botswana including common pattern of language usage, official language policies etc. He concluded that the LL of Gaborone shows the city is moving towards multilingualism in English, Setswana and Chinese and there is the influx of Chinese language and culture.