Stage 3
10:00 - 10:30
Twi in the Time of Emoji: Exploring Ghana’s Most Widely Spoken Language

Short thesis

This session will explore the tradition, humour and dynamism of Ghana’s most widely spoken language. While English is the official language, Twi is the most popular. How has the Internet and technology affected and impacted Twi and vice versa? We explore the resilience and track the journey of this beautiful and often witty language and its effect on the worldview of its speakers as they navigate the brave new world, from the past through the present and into the future.


This is an informative yet funny and entertaining dissection of the language of Asante Twi, from the perspective of an Internet-dominated world. The talk starts from the past, how Asante Twi came to be spoken by the Akan people of Ghana, and how it spread.

Then we come to the present where we juxtapose (Asante) Twi with internet and technology, and see 'who is doing what to whom?'. It's easy to take language for granted. However, when you take a look at how much your language has changed since you started speaking it, you discover a few pleasant surprises.

We also look into the future. Does Twi survive, or it makes way for the internet-dominating language of English to take over? We look at a few of the tricks Twi has up its sleeves to retain its relevance and the interest of its speakers, in a world that is changing at breakneck speed. We explore the challenges speakers of Twi face on the internet - how to overcome the language barrier with an international audience, typing Twi with a Latin alphabet keyboard, among others. What about memes, Youtube, and emoji? Does Twi play an active role in how Ghanaians approach these internet fixtures, or we retain the language for offline usage? We will answer these questions and raise new ones. We will laugh together as we discover the inherently humorous side of this language, and work together to create new ways to integrate Twi and the technology-shaped global landscape.