Horse, Colts and other ‘tings’
A rare sight here … a horse. In fact, in the four weeks here, I have seen two. This rather undernourished horse is owned by the esteemed chief of Yakote, a village not far from Kongo where we are settled. A horse is just about as rare as seeing a camel, which is a seasonal event when the wandering nomads from Berkina Faso go south for a visit in March.
Keeping on the subject of horses …. I introduced a book to the Senior High students about a pioneer family moving west in the 1840’s to seek better farmland (my subliminal intention was to work to destroy the myth of Americans all being rich and having the easy life, without really saying it). As we read aloud this story, I was assessing the student’s ability to read, comprehend and pronounce. We came upon the word ‘colt’. I said I would dance if anyone knew what a colt was. Well, my dancing shoes remain in the box. Nearly everyone knew of the white horse of Yakote, but no one knew of a baby horse being a colt, and why should they? The vocabulary we develop is determined by our environment , esp. when one has no books to read. Yes, good books are hard to find here. Lisa found one in Bolga, so things have improved from last time. Kids need good , easy entertaining books. I will leave it at that.
“That”, the last word in the above paragraph. The ‘th’ sound is probably the most difficult sound to teach a Ghanaian student. It is fun for all to try it out without saying ‘ting’ for ‘thing’ and ‘dat’ for ‘that’.
In choir class – hey! 60 strong! – we are singing what I naively thought would be an easy song for non-English speaking audience to appreciate. It is “Thank You Very Much” from the musical “Scrooge”. When we got to the phrase “That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s’ever done for me!” , I realized I was was putting my students through a diction nightmare. But, these students know hardship, it is just part of life. We will approach it with humor and get as close as we can. They will get it. In fact we will record our show ready to show the whole world should they choose to listen.
There! How’s that? Moving from horse talk to things that start with ‘th’. Might be the heat.
– David Stone