I remember joking with a friend when I was in France, that wherever there are parents and little kids, you will definitely, definitely always hear the same phrases.
Basically, ‘be quiet!’ and ‘slowly!’. (Because french kids are hyperactive?)
But one phrase that I think I’ve heard more than a million times in France is “Viens ici!”
It means, “Come here!”
(Once, I heard my host mom tell their puppy, “Viens ici, le chien!” –Come here, the dog!– It was so weird. Do you call your dog, ‘the dog’?)
But I hear “Viens ici” all the freaking time. At my host family’s house, at the market, on the streets.
I guess parents are the same all over the world, because here I am, in Ghana, and whenever we carry out fieldwork at some pretty remote villages, what I hear when a women yells at her child is, “KAMNAH!”
It means “come” in dagbani, the local language. (That’s not the correct spelling, by the way.)
We would be sitting around, my colleagues talking to them and being translator for me, and suddenly one woman would look past us and yell, “Haruna, KAMNAH!” Then I’d turn around, and sure enough, there’d be a little kid standing far away, staring back at us.
Picture France. Women in thick make-up. Haute fashion, more shoes and clothing stores than necessary, patisseries selling overpriced macarons, cobbled streets, historical buildings, people who are a tad highly-strung. They don’t smile at strangers, they never say good morning.
And then picture a rural village in Tamale. Far from the town center. Women with drooping breasts and tribal marks on their faces. Old t-shirts and batik wraps, grass covered huts, goats and chickens standing around next to children, flies all around, and roadside make-shift stalls selling yams for hardly much money. People who say “thesiba” (good morning) to anyone they see who catches their eye, stranger or not.
Two very, very different worlds.
One same sentence spoken to children all the time — “Come here!”
Come here come here come here. Ahh parents, ahh little children. Oh my goodness I love children.