Speaking Swahili for Kwanzaa?

Instead, try learning a tongue that the ancestors of black Americans actually used.

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Imagine black America reuniting with a language that its ancestors actually used.

For the record, the name "Kwame" and the Anancy spider of folklore are Twi. Let's fill things in from there -- especially because of one other fact: Twi is actually quite similar grammatically to none other than Chinese. Anyone who has even played with Twi a bit will be in a good position to pick up Mandarin, which will be a handier business decision by the year for all Americans.

So, "jambo" means "hello"? Well, in Twi, biakong, abieng, abiesang is "one, two, three." Try that on a Ghanaian you know, and watch someone delighted to see you making the acquaintance of a language that at least one of your ancestors probably spoke.

John McWhorter is a regular contributor to The Root. He is the author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.   

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John McWhorter is a contributing editor at The RootHe is an associate professor at Columbia University and the author of several books, including Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.

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