The Bureau of Ghana Languages (BGL) has commemorated the 2020 International Mother Language Day with a call on Ghanaians to embrace their mother tongues.
That, the bureau said, would not only save the various indigenous languages from going extinct but also preserve “our unique identity”.
The commemoration, which was held in Accra last Friday, was dubbed: Sanegbaa 2020, which literally means ‘conversation’ in Ga.
Activities for the day focused on the promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism to highlight the importance of Ghanaian languages.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, said indigenous languages “cement brotherhood and foster social cohesion”.
She said they also promoted effective social control and accelerated meaningful development planning processes.
She, therefore, commended the BGL, the government agency responsible for the development of Ghanaian languages, for commemorating the day to educate the citizenry and rejuvenate interest in and increase the appreciation of Ghanaians in the use of mother tongues in all aspects of life.
Conservative estimates, according to her, indicated that there were about 7,000 languages worldwide, of which 50 were dominant in Ghana.
However, she said, “the alarming spectacle is that one language disappears every two weeks”, meaning that every fortnight a language disappeared, taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.
Quoting Article 39 Sub-clause Three of the 1992 Constitution that stipulates that “the state shall foster the development of Ghanaian languages and pride in Ghanaian culture”, Mrs Oteng-Gyasi called for more attention to be paid to the development of local languages.
She also encouraged Ghanaians to hold high their respective mother tongues.
“There should be a conscious attempt to develop all indigenous languages,” she stated, adding: “We have no right to stand aloof and watch these languages phase out into extinction.”
For his part, the Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr, acknowledged that even though it was good to learn foreign languages to enable one to fit into the global village, it should not be done to the neglect of one’s own dialect.
“Even as you like to speak many languages, it is important to present to the world your culture, ideas and dreams about yourself, and that can only be done if you trust in your indigenous language,” he said.