What links chocolate Easter rabbits with Akan, Dioula and Kichwa?

Where do the cocoa beans used in our melt-in-the-mouth Easter eggs and rabbits come from? And how do people in these countries communicate with each other? Come with us on a fascinating trip through the global languages of cocoa.

A trip through the global languages of cocoa

Our trip takes us to four countries that cover around 80% of the global cocoa demand and then on to Ecuador, the second largest exporter of the valuable raw material to Switzerland.

From ivory dealers to cocoa producers

While a small country by African standards, Ivory Coast is the cocoa king on the continent – and is also linguistically diverse. In addition to French as the official language, almost 80 other languages and dialects are used. In the former capital Abidjan, the colloquial language Nouchi is spoken, which is based on French and has been mixed with other dialects over the years to form a creole language. Around two million people communicate mainly in Dioula and, to a lesser extent, in Baule (also known as Baoulé). If there should be any confusion, Ivorians resort to the most universal language of all – namely gesturing with their hands and feet.

From A for Akan to Z for Zarma

As in Ivory Coast, a huge variety of languages can also be heard across the border in Ghana. Anyone visiting the various regions of the country will hear dozens of languages being spoken. While Birifor is widespread, Tampulma, Gikyode or Dagaare are endangered – and Nchumbulu is at risk of vanishing entirely. Although English is clearly the number one as the official language, over eight million people communicate in Akan. Zarma – traditionally also known as Djerma – is a widely used language, although no longer spoken extensively in this West African country. And in case you were wondering, Ghanaians often speak three to five languages fluently.

Translation with Chat GPT
«Happy Easter can be translated as 'ayekoo Asɛm' in Akan.»
ChatGPT · AI copywriter

German in Africa?

French and English are the official languages of Cameroon. However, according to the Ethnologue database of December 2015, 285 languages and dialects are spoken in this country alone. Thoughts inevitably go to the confusion of tongues in Babel as a result. While the odd language has probably become extinct in the meantime, a huge number still remain. A differentiation is made here between Afro-Asian, Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Congo languages. Uniquely, German is studied by around 230,000 people according to the Goethe Institute, which has a branch in Yaoundé. These students should then be familiar with typical Easter words used in Switzerland, such as “Hase”, “Nest” and “Ei”.

The best part of a chocolate rabbit – the “Nti”

With over 500 languages and dialects, it is only natural that the people of Nigeria fall back on English, normally in a pidgin form of the language that has developed over the years. In contrast, British English is used strictly on Nigerian television, which is often met with ridicule by the population. For all those who love nibbling at the ears of their Easter rabbit, the word ear is translated as “Etí”, “Nti” and “Kunne” in the three other official languages of Nigeria – Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.

The linguistic heritage of the Incas

Switzerland imports most of its cocoa beans from Ghana, followed by Ecuador. In this South American country, Spanish is the “idioma oficial”. Two other languages are the most widespread “cooficiales”. The first is Kichwa, which belongs to the Quechua family of languages and is spoken predominantly in the Sierra. The language is based on the lingua franca that was introduced by the Incas in the 15th century. The second is Shuar, which belongs to the Jívaro family. Shuar also shares its name with an indigenous population living in the region, with the word itself meaning “people”. (According to AI, chocolate and rabbit are translated as “Tsukulat” and “Tsuktsuk” in Shuar – the similarities are clear for all to hear.) Around a dozen languages are spoken in Ecuador, which is an impressive figure for a country of just under 18 million people.

A real treat

Of course, an Easter rabbit needs more than just cocoa beans. This is where Swiss expertise comes into play. Switzerland is the world leader when it comes to processing the raw material. And because the “Maîtres Chocolatiers Suisses” really know what they are doing, we are also top of the list for chocolate consumption as well.

With this in mind, we wish you all a very happy Easter with lots of chocolate treats.

Do you have any questions or are you interested in working with us?

I would be happy to answer your questions or introduce you to Apostroph Group and our services in a personal meeting.
Nadia Gaille
Head of Customer Success

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