Names of Seasons as Insights into the Cultural Anthropology of the Kusaal Language Speakers of Ghana

Author: Hasiyatu Abubakari (University of Ghana, Ghana)
Speaker: Hasiyatu Abubakari
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


There is a gradual loss of indigenous knowledge relating to names of seasons and their associating climatic conditions among the minority Kusaal language speakers of Ghana. This knowledge guided the people in their various socio-cultural and economic activities. The loss of indigenous knowledge on the names of the seasons and their climatic peculiarities is the loss of knowledge that can account for major climatic changes in the area. This study seeks to explore the names of the seasons in Kusaug highlighting their etymology, socio-cultural and economic significance and their accompanying climatic conditions. It will be shown that the Kusaas have four seasons which fall correspondingly at the same time with the seasons in Europe.

Names of Kusaug Seasons Time
Fulunfuug December-March
Dawalig March-May
Si’iʋŋ May-September
Tiŋdɔɔŋ October-December

These four seasons have other minor features which give specific periods names. Recent observations show that the names of the four seasons in addition to the minor names given to certain climatic conditions have been coined and used as names of months among the people. The Kusaas, indigenously, do not have names for the days of the week as well as names for the months of the year corresponding to the Julian calendar. Before borrowing week names from Hausa, the Kusaas calibrated the weeks based on market days which take place every three-days from one community to the other. They relied on the lunar system for reckoning time.
As a study that focuses on the socio-cultural use of language to unearth a people’s perception on the calibration of seasons, months, and days, revealing climatic conditions that inform their agrarian practices, the research adopts the theoretical framework of socio-cultural linguistics (Bulcholtz and Hall 2005; Nilep 2006). Socio-cultural linguistics is a broad interdisciplinary framework that is concerned with the intersection of language, culture and society. It encompasses studies on sociolinguistics, anthropology, discourse analysis, sociology of language among others (Nilep 2006:3).
The research method is entirely qualitative. It employs the naturalistic approach and puts the human being in their natural setting in the centre of discussion. Data is gathered through semi-structured interviews with the natives of Kusaug.

Bucholtz, M. and Hall, K. 2005. Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies, 7, (4-5).
Nilep, C. 2006. Code-switching in socio-cultural linguistics. Colorado Research in Linguistics, 19: 1-22.

Keywords: Names of Seasons, climatic coditions, Kusaal, social-cultural linguistics, cultural anthropology