Fante 101

Standard

While English is Ghana’s official language, around forty-five different languages are spoken here and seventy-six dialects. I’ve discovered that the most Ghanaians’ English is pretty limited. This has proven to be a challenge at work and day-to-day activities.

In Cape Coast, Fante is the primary language. It is very similar to the most widely spoken language, Twi (which is pronounced as a mix between “tweee” and “cheee”) I’ve been taking a biweekly Fante lesson and have been slowly picking up some useful phrases. I find Fante difficult to learn because some of the sound combinations are not found in English. Also, it’s just pure memorization. No cognates here!

I learned all of this information from ProWorld coordinator, Isaac. Because he tries to simplify things for us, I can’t guarantee that it is 100 percent accurate.

So let’s start out with the alphabet:

Letter

Pronunciation

A

ah as in mama

B

D

E

ay as in day

Ɛ

eh as in fed

F

G

H

I

ee as in bee

K

L

*silent

M

N

O

oh as in no

Ɔ

aw as in law

P

R

S

T

U

oo as in food

W

Y

Z

Luckily, words are spelled phonetically (with the exception of some tough letter combos), so you can try and sound out anything unfamiliar.

Fante Names:

As well as having a given name, every Ghanaian also has a Fante name. These names are derived from the day of week in which you were born. For example, I was born on a Wednesday. This means that my Fante name is Ekuwa. It’s fun to introduce myseld with Fante name as locals find it hilarious. Plus, it’s a lot easier for them to pronounce than my regular name.

Day

Male Name(s)

Female Name(s)

Sunday:

Kwesi (kway-see)

Esi (eh-see)

Monday

Kwodwo (koh-joe)

Adwowa (ah-jew-ah)

Tuesday

Kobina (koh-bee)

Araba  (ah-rah-ba)

Wednesday

Kweku  (kewh-koo)

Ekuwa (eh-koo-ah)

Thursday

Ekow (eh-kw-wow)

Aba (ah-bah)

Friday

Kofi (koh-fee)

Efuwa (eh-foo-ah)

Saturday

Kwame (kwah-may)

Ama (ah-mah)

Useful Phrases:

Here’s some useful words or phases that I’ve picked up.

English Words

Fante Words

Welcome Akwaaba (ahk-wah-bah)
Thank you Medaase (med-ah-seh)
Foreigner (white person) Obruni (oh-bro-nee)
Food Edziban (ed-zee-bahn)
Home Fie (fee)
No Dabi (dah-bee)
Yes Enyo or yo
Sorry Kosɛ (ko-say)
Please Mepa wo kyew (mm-pah-cho)

So “medaase” for reading and enjoy using random Fante words around! Until next time!

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