Login     Sign Up
Chicha Kojo (@chichakojo)
16 days ago

Bono is one of the dialects of Akan Language. Akan language is part of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family and it is spoken in Eastern Ivory Coast, South-Central Ghana and Central Togo. Akan language is made up of numerous dialects which include Bono, Asante, Akuapem, Fante, Wassa, Nzema, Baoule and Anyi(Aowin). In Ghana, Akan dialects are spoken in Central, Bono&Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and Western Regions.

In most literature the name "Twi" is used in reference to Asante and Akuapem dialects to the exclusion of Fante and others. History has it that the Fantes were Bono people living in Techiman in the ancient Bono Kingdom. The Fante broke from Bono when the Bono Kingdom collapsed. The name Fante comprises Fa(part) and te(break) and so Fante means "the part that broke away". That means the Fante and Bono came from the same stock with the same language but different dialects today. As a matter of fact, the Fante were led to their present location by three Bono royals namely, Obunumankoma, Odapagyan and Oson.

Bono-Techiman oral tradition has it that Nana Twi(Tsi) Brempong was a Bono king whose language was referred to as Twi's language, translated into Akan as Twi Kasa(Anane-Agyei, 2015). Later the term Akan was used as a generic term to refer to the various dialects mentioned above. Bono, the dialect spoken by modern Techiman can therefore be traced to the ancient King Twi. Against the foregoing discussion, the current writer agrees with Anane-Agyei's contention that "Fante is indeed a dialect of Twi, so are Akuapem, Bono and Asante". In that sense the term Twi is an umbrella term referring to four major Akan dialects, namely Bono, Fante, Asante and Akuapem.

Therefore, except for academic convenience, all these dialects must be regarded as Twi dialects. Twi is also spoken as a second language by the Anyi, Sefwi, Nzema, Ahanta, Efutu/Ewutu and Anum-Kyerepon-Lartey(Anane-Agyei, 2015).

Bono dialect is spoken in Ghana(particularly in Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions) and in North East of Côte d'Ivoire. In the International Phonetic Alphabet(IPA) Bono is regarded as part of the Abron language. Osam(2004) contends that currently Bono is the third largest Akan dialect, after Asante and Fante. There are more than two(2) million speakers in Ghana presently. Yet not much scholarly attention has been given to this dialect. Bono dialect research is both minimal and fragmentary. Bono dialect, like the other Akan dialects, is written on the Roman Orthography. Standardised orthographies exist for Asante, Akuapem and Fante. In the 1980s a unified Akan orthography was established. There is however no formal orthography for the Bono dialect, though few individuals have established their own orthographies for the purpose of their research works. Grace Bota and Johnson Baah.

Baah observes different levels of intelligibility between the different Akan dialects. For Baah, Bono has skewed intelligibility towards the other Akan dialects, because, as professor Dolphyne(1979) puts it Bono is a "cluster of dialects". The existence of different variants of the Bono dialect from community to community is undeniable. People from different parts of Bono may not completely understand one another in a conversation. Yet, the level of intelligibility of the variants of the Bono dialect is so high that communication among Bono speakers is done with easy. The sub-dialects in Techiman, Wenchi, Nkoranza, Sunyani, Dormaa, Berekum, Atebubu and Gyaman are completely mutually intelligible. Contrary to Baah's contention, Bono has skewed intelligibility towards other Akan dialects. Anane-Agyei(2015) believes that "Bono is mutually intelligible with Fante, Asante, Akuapem, Wassa, Akyem, Agona, Assin, Kwahu and others"(p.8). That is to say the Bono and Akuapem, Fante or the Asante do not speak different languages.

Rather, they speak different dialects of the same Twi Language. Bono differs from other Twi speakers like Akuapem and Asante in accent which can be explained in terms of geography, history and cultural development. The difference in accent between two speakers of the same language is found also between American and British English as well as between Prussian German and Bavarian German. The same words are used by Bono and Asante for human activities like "go"(ko), "cry"(su), "eat"(di), "weed"(do), "break"(bu), "fetch"(sa), "sweep"(pra), "mix"(fra) and so on.

While it is easy for the Bono to speak and understand other Twi dialects, their long-standing relationship with the Asante, especially in terms of proximity has made the Bono more fluent in Asante than the other Akan dialects(Anane-Agyei, 2015). Bono people who have received formal education usually become so much exposed to Asante Twi that they tend to become bi-dialectal, speaking Bono and Asante as two dialects of Twi(Akan).

Bono is a tonal dialect; the meaning of words is dependent on tone pitch. Three Bono phonemic tones can be identified, namely, high, mid and low.To illustrate this point, we shall consider the Bono word papa which has different meanings when pronounced three different ways.

i. Pápá (high-high) means good.

ii. Pàpá (low-high) means father.

iii. Pàpà (low-low) means fan.

Numerous other examples exist to show how tones may vary the meaning of words.

Credit: Rev.Dr.Isaac Boaheng.