Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: There is nothing to laugh about in political and English language gaffes of President Adama Barrow’s inability to speak fluently and in clear communication in the English language when delivering his speeches to the nation or converse with foreign dignitaries in the Queen’s language.
Suppose you can speak impeccably good English, good for you. However, good English is not a measure of intelligence or being smart. Half of the people laughing at the President cannot even correctly articulate themselves in the English language, including some highly rated academician, professional and careerist politicians in the country. Some people stammer and stutter in front of the camera as President-elect Joe Biden does every day.
Fatoumatta: Professors from non-English speaking countries have taught some of us in a prestigious school, and they sound atrocious if you pay attention to how they speak English. However, if you pay attention to knowledge, you will be fine. A colleague told me how his professors speak such ‘bad’ English, but at least you can understand. How often do we meet people with excellent English language and command of the grammar on this street or real life, but their analytical and reasoning skills are so flawed and stupid.
Arabic,Chinese,French and English are just a language. It is not a measure of intelligence. However, it would be prudent if someone like a President who wants to communicate in the English language should be fluent in grammar and avoid gaffes. I agree, but making a grammatical gaffe should not be interpreted as being looking dumb. So the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the only concern for a President; how many of us were taught by teachers who could not even express themselves in English? Furthermore, they still managed to take something home?
Fatoumatta: I believe the English language, just like Arabic, Chinese, and French, should not be given much attention. Hang me if I cannot speak my Mother tongue Language. That is the epitome of ignorance. The English language is our second language. Be easy on the President. If people paid attention to some of our leading politicians, professionals, lawyers, economists, journalists, and so-called intellectual activists how they speak and write the Queen’s language, their mediocrity, and how grammatically challenged some of them if put to scrutiny, they are being exposed daily in the clear communication in English.
Fatoumatta: Those people and the half of those laughing and mocking at President Barrow’s embarrassing grammar gaffes must avoid looking at him as dumb because most of them cannot articulate themselves fluently in the English language as they claim. Why are so-called English language experts not criticizing or mocking those trained politicians and political Godfathers, academicians like some of our politicians who claimed to be educated in prestigious and severally makes most common English language mistakes and grammatical errors?
Ideally, trained professionals and those highly educated politicians should be the very people to put to the test and under the microscope, including the President who is not educated at a university level, though we ought to understand that learning is a process. However, someone who has been taught the English language for more than 16 years as part of his or her studies and given that English is the language of instruction in our education system must avoid grammatical mistakes in communication like the President.
Being eloquent in the Queen’s language is nothing to boast about. It is some form of slavery. Some people think speaking impeccable English language and pretending(in most cases) not to master their mother tongue is a show of class. FOOLS!
Fatoumatta: Secondly, things like accents and stammering are a function of other things beyond anyone’s control; hence we should not blame anyone for having an African accent. An accent is ingrained in our nativity and upbringing. Nevertheless, we have seen strange and nauseating antics about how people approach language dynamics. Most people, especially the conceited pseudo-intellectuals, are quick to point out how someone has what those not familiar with the politics of language called “heavy accent” when it is just a natural way of saying who you are you come from.
One thing that makes me admire my Ghanian and Nigerian folks is that they do not have that complex in our colonial language. Some went to America and even studied in prestigious universities, one of the best schools for their doctoral degree but never returned with those fake accents that characterize most elite struggling to conform to cultural imperialists standards of finesse. They have always asserted their national identity in their speeches.
Fatoumatta: Why Gambians also like to struggle so much on an accent. We only struggle to get the pronunciation right. The two are not synonymous. Why should Gambians like to coil, turn, and twist their tongue to conform? Never should a Gambian imitate how a Briton will pronounce “Domoda Bessap” in Wollof as “Durango” in Mandingo? However, we do not find it funny or laugh at them. When your tongue indicates your upbringing and nativity, we in language nationalism call it MOTHER TONGUE SUPREMACY. Those still wallowing in the quagmire of colonial and cultural bondage call it MOTHER TONGUE INTERFERENCE or “ACCENT.” I found it very nauseating how other travelers kept laughing at mother tongue supremacy ( not interference) that is inherent in all of us.
Alagi Yorro Jallow