Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Vernacular

As I have said recently, it is quiet and not too newsworthy around here at the moment. Children are kept fairly busy with chores but a few still come to draw in the veranda once in a while. A new little face arrived this week. Wendy taps on the gate and calls “Agoo”, which roughly translates to “Is anyone in?” and “I’m here.” The response is “Amin”. Her younger brother and sister get almost to the door and then Cindy bursts into tears at the sight of me and they run off.
Two other stalwarts of drawing come by once in a while. Juliet, aged about 10, asked for a broom yesterday. When I enquired as to the reason, she replied that my yard needed sweeping of leaves. She was right. It is Autumn for the huge Accai Tree at the front of the house and a carpet of leaves fall daily. I supervised her and her friend Paulina, whose twin, Paula was busy trying to sell a bowl of tomatoes around the town. The girls swept whilst I lit a fire under the growing pile of dry leaves.
Juliet told me off for leaving the leaves for so long and assured me the neighbours could go to the police with a complaint if they liked. I wasn’t entirely sure whether I had understood that correctly. Anyway, with the next breath she said, “If we speak the vernacular you don’t understand do you?” I confirmed that this was true and that my grasp of Dagaare was pretty poor. However, their understanding of English was improving immensely through speaking with me. She agreed.
When they had finished sweeping and the inferno was under control, needless to say I was in trouble for the fire being too near the tree, we shared an English story book and they promised to teach me more of the “vernacular”! I shall look forward to that. Nevertheless, it is probably more important to improve their English than my Dagaare, especially as the vernacular changes if you travel a relatively short distance up the road in any direction.

By the way, this photo shows one more week's growth of maize on the farm! 

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