Franz Kröger


Spelling Geographical Terms


To my knowledge there is no comprehensive standard writing for geographical and ethnic terms relating to the Bulsa. "Buluk" (the word for the Bulsa area) and, to a lesser degree, "Buli" (the language of the Bulsa) have generally been accepted by a large majority of people in the region. The term "Bulsa/Builsa", which contains the same stem as Buluk and Buli, is still a matter of discussion. "Builsa" is the official term, but many people favour "Bulsa" because the Builsa spelling could lead to a mispronunciation among non-Bulsa. That is, the term Builsa could be pronounced [builsa, bɥilsa, bɥlsa] while there is only one way of pronouncing this ethnonym [bulsa].

As regards the spelling of the Bulsa villages and sections, the suffixes differ significantly. The suffix -si (as in Fumbisi, Siniensi, Wiesi, Uwasi, Gbedembilisi, etc.) has perhaps been adopted from Mamprusi towns/villages or it was part of a foreign designation of the Bulsa villages (cf. the names of Mamprusi villages like Isiasi, Dabozesi, Yizebisi, Jagsi).

The Buli plural on -sa for villages is rarely used in written documents but more often used in spoken Buli. The -si plural is applied in the Ghana Population Census, the official topographical maps, administrative documents and in schoolbooks. Only Bachonsa (Bachuonsa) seems to be more often used than Bachonsi (Bechongsi, ...). For Bulsa sections which are parts of villages or clans the -sa plural is more common and widespread than the -si plural (e.g. Zamsa, Balansa, Sinyansa, Sichaasa, Badomsa, Kazengsa, Jiningsa, etc.)

Throughout the edition of BULUK 10, we have not applied a consistent spelling for place names but have adopted the orthographic form found in our sources. Any insistence on one particular way of spelling would have suggested that we want to influence any official decision.

Even more importantly, there are discrepancies in complete words. Uwasi/Yiwasi is such an example, and the distribution of these two variations is nearly the same. Finding the locality in an alphabetical list may, understandably, cause additional troubles.

Therefore, we appeal to the cultural departments of the local administrations of the two Bulsa Districts to decide - after considering all the pros and cons of different spellings - which form should henceforth be regarded as the official one.