Preserving our linguistic heritage


… a conversation with linguistics head, Prof Clement Appah

Renowned linguist Professor Clement Appah, the Head of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Ghana, shared his perspectives on the importance of language preservation, the significance of attention to detail, and the pursuit of excellence in all endeavours in another captivating episode of this season’s Y 107.9 FM’s Y Leaderboard Series.

This exclusive interview with host Rev. Erskine shed light on Prof. Appah’s journey, the documentation of endangered Ghanaian languages, and his inspiring vision for the future.

Professor Appah emphasised the crucial role of language preservation in cultural heritage. He highlighted the unfortunate reality that “languages can become extinct when people no longer choose to speak them”.

Drawing attention to the linguistic diversity of Ghana, he expressed his concern for endangered Ghanaian languages. He revealed that numerous researchers are actively engaged in the documentation of these languages, emphasising the importance of their work in safeguarding linguistic traditions for future generations.

In a reflective moment, Professor Appah shared his journey into the field of linguistics. He recalled how curiosity had played a pivotal role in shaping his career path. His inquisitive nature sparked an early interest in the study of languages, ultimately leading him to discover his passion for linguistics.

“I wasn’t an art student, but when I entered the university, they claimed my mathematics skills were not up to par. Additionally, since I had pursued Agriculture in secondary school without studying Chemistry, I technically did not meet the requirements for an Agric programme.

“As a result, I was admitted as an arts student. I was aware of the term linguistics due to my exposure to these professionals while growing up. The curiosity within me drove me to explore the field further, and I enrolled in Linguistics courses to satisfy my inquisitive nature. From the moment I started studying Linguistics, it felt like it was tailor-made for me. For three years, I achieved outstanding academic results, with only two A-s and the rest being straight As.”

He encouraged young individuals to explore their curiosity and follow their interests as it may open doors to unexpected and fulfilling career opportunities.

As an expert in linguistics, Professor Appah stressed the importance of attention to detail in all aspects of life. He believes that cultivating this skill set is essential for young people in today’s fast-paced world. By paying meticulous attention to the subtleties of language, communication, and culture, one can develop a profound understanding of the world around them.

Professor Appah’s unwavering commitment to excellence emerged as a central theme in the interview. He firmly believes that striving for excellence in all endeavours is the key to success, both personally and professionally. For him, the pursuit of excellence is not merely a means to financial gain, but a fundamental philosophy that drives him to continuously improve and make a lasting impact in his field.

“The pursuit of excellence in all that we do is what will bring us money,” he added as he inspired young people to adopt a similar mindset, recognising that excellence is the foundation for personal growth, fulfilment, and ultimately, financial prosperity.

Throughout the interview, Professor Appah shared valuable insights and advice gleaned from his own experiences. He emphasised the significance of choosing the right life partner, drawing inspiration from statesmen like Ibrahim Adams and the late Jerry John Rawlings, and the influence of role models in shaping one’s aspirations.

“Professor Clement Appah’s dedication to preserving Ghanaian languages and his emphasis on attention to detail and the pursuit of excellence serve as guiding principles for both academics and individuals striving for personal growth. His invaluable insights, I believe, would encourage young people to embrace curiosity, excel in their chosen endeavours, and contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage,” Eddy Blay Jnr., Programmes Manager of Y 107.9 FM, remarked after the interview.

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