Languages of Ghana

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Languages of Ghana
OfficialEnglish [1]
RegionalGovernment-sponsored languages:[2] Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi, Ewe, Dagaare, Dagbani, Dangme, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Fante, Nzema
ImmigrantChinese,[3] Hindi,[4] Lebanese Arabic,[4]Sindhi,[5] Yoruba[4]
SignedGhanaian Sign Language
(American Sign Language)
Adamorobe Sign Language
Nanabin Sign Language
Lingua francaEnglish
A government sign in English in Accra.

Ghana is a multilingual country in which about eighty languages are spoken.[6] Of these, English, which was inherited from the colonial era, is the official language and lingua franca.[1][7] Of the languages indigenous to Ghana, Akan is the most widely spoken.[8]

Ghana has more than seventy ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language.[9] Languages that belong to the same ethnic group are usually mutually intelligible. The Dagbanli and Mampelle languages of Northern Region, for instance, are mutually intelligible with the Frafra and Waali languages of the Upper East Region of Ghana.[10] These four languages are of Mole-Dagbani ethnicity.

Eleven languages have the status of government-sponsored languages: three Akan ethnic languages (Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi and Fante) and two Mole-Dagbani ethnic languages (Dagaare and Dagbanli). The others are Ewe, Dangme, Ga, Nzema, Gonja, and Kasem.[2]

Government-sponsored languages[edit]

The number of government-sponsored languages is either eleven or nine, depending on whether or not Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi and Fante are considered a single language.[2] They are supported by the Bureau of Ghana Languages, which was established in 1951 and publishes materials in them. During the periods when Ghanaian languages were used in primary education, these were the languages which were used. All these languages belong to the Niger–Congo language family, though to several different branches.

Akan (Asante Twi, Fante and Akuapem Twi)[edit]

A map of Ghana's ethno-linguistic areas.

As part of the Kwa branch of the Niger–Congo family, the Akan languages appear in a diverse number of dialects.[11] With regard to official status however, only three (3) are recognised; Asante Twi, Fante and Akuapem Twi. It is the most-widely spoken language in Ghana.[8]

Ewe[edit]

Ewe is a Gbe language, part of the Volta–Niger branch of the Niger–Congo family. The Ewe Language is spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin with a trace of the language in West Nigeria.[12]

Dagbani[edit]

Dagbani is one of the Gur languages. It belongs to the larger Mole-Dagbani ethnic group found in Ghana and Burkina Faso.[13] It is spoken by Dagombas in the Northern Region of Ghana.

Dangme[edit]

Dangme is one of the Ga–Dangme languages within the Kwa branch. It is spoken in Greater Accra, in south-east Ghana and Togo.

Dagaare[edit]

Dagaare is another of the Gur languages. It is spoken in the Upper West Region of Ghana. It is also spoken in Burkina Faso.

Ga[edit]

Ga is the other Ga–Dangme language within the Kwa branch. Ga is spoken in south-eastern Ghana, in and around the capital Accra.

Nzema[edit]

Nzema is one of the Bia languages, closely related to Akan. It is spoken by the Nzema people in the Western Region of Ghana. It is also spoken in the Ivory Coast.

Kasem[edit]

Kasem is a Gurunsi language, in the Gur branch. It is spoken in the Upper Eastern Region of Ghana. It is also spoken in Burkina Faso.

Gonja[edit]

Gonja is one of the Guan languages, part of the Tano languages within the Kwa branch along with Akan and Bia. It is spoken in the Northern Region of Ghana and Wa

Languages spoken in Ghana by number of speakers[edit]

This chart reflects data provided by Ethnologue.[14]

Rank Language Speakers
1 English 9,800,000
2 Akan/Twi 9,100,000
3 Ghanaian Pidgin English 5,000,000
4 Éwé 3,820,000
5 Abron 1,170,000
6 Dagbani 1,160,000
7 Dangme 1,020,000
8 Dagaare, Southern 924,000
9 Konkomba 831,000
10 Ga 745,000
11 Farefare 638,000
12 Kusaal 535,000
13 Mampruli 316,000
14 Gonja 310,000
15 Sehwi 305,000
16 Nzema 299,000
17 Wasa 273,000
18 Sisaala, Tumulung 219,000
19 Sisaala, Western 219,000
20 Bimoba 176,000
21 Ahanta 175,000
22 Ntcham 169,000
23 Buli 168,000
24 Bisa 166,000
25 Kasem 149,000
26 Tem 134,000
27 Cherepon 132,000
29 Birifor, Southern 125,000
30 Anufo 91,300
31 Wali 84,800
32 Larteh 74,000
33 Siwu 71,900
34 Chumburung 69,000
35 Anyin 66,400
36 Nafaanra 61,000
37 Krache 58,000
38 Lelemi 48,900
39 Deg 42,900
40 Paasaal 36,000
41 Avatime 27,200
42 Kulango, Bondoukou 27,000
2 Adamorobe Sigh Language 3,500
3 Adangbe/Dangbe 4,000
4 Adele 11,000
7 Akposo 7,500
8 Animere 700
17 Chakali 6,000
18 Chala 3,000
25 Delo 18,400
26 Dompo 970
27 Dwang 8,200
31 Fulfulde, Maasina 4,240
34 Ghanaian Sign Language 6,000
35 Gikyode 10,400
37 Gua 17,600
38 Hanga 6,800
39 Hausa Unclear
40 Jwira-Pepesa 18,000
41 Kabiyè Unclear
42 Kamara 3,000
43 Kantosi 2,300
46 Konni 3,800
47 Kplang 1,600
50 Kulango, Bouna 15,500
52 Lama Unclear
55 Ligbi 15,000
56 Logba 7,500
59 Nawdm Unclear
60 Nawuri 14,000
61 Nchumbulu 1,800
62 Nkami 7,000
63 Nkonya 11,000
65 Nyangbo 6,400
68 Safaliba 5,000
70 Sekpele 23,000
71 Selee 11,300
75 Tafi 4,400
76 Tampulma 16,000
78 Tuwuli 11,400
79 Vagla 13,900

Language classification[edit]

The language of Ghana belong to the following branches within the Niger–Congo language family. Older classifications group them as Kwa, Gur, and Mande:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Bureau Of Ghana Languages-BGL". Ghana Embassy Washington DC, USA. 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "The Bureau Of Ghana Languages-BGL". National Commission on Culture. 2006. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Ghana Institute of Languages". gil.edu.gh. Ghana Institute of Languages. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Immigration into Ghana Since 1990" (PDF). Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana, Legon. 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Indian Community in Ghana". indiahc-ghana.com. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Ghana," in: Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2014. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 17th ed.Murica Texas: SIL International.
  7. ^ Bernd Kortmann Walter de Gruyter, 2004 (2004). A handbook of varieties of English. 1. Phonology, Volume 2. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9783110175325. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Introduction To The Verbal and Multi-Verbalsystem of Akan" (PDF). ling.hf.ntnu.no. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  9. ^ Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulai; John M. Chernoff (1992). "Master Drummers of Dagbon, Volumes 1 and 2". Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  10. ^ R.S.Rattray Journal of the Royal African Society Vol. 30, No. 118 (Jan., 1931), pp. 40-57 (1931). "The Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland" (1932)". Journal of the Royal African Society. Oxford University Press. 30 (118): 40–57. JSTOR 716938.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "The Online Encyclopaedia of Written Systems Languages". Omniglot. 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Verba Africana — Ewe background materials — The Ewe language". verbafricana.org. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  13. ^ Richard Asante & E.Gyimah-Boadi (2004). "Ethnic Structure, Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector in Ghana" (PDF). United Nations Research Institute For Social Development (UNRISD). Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Ghana". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-08-04.

External links[edit]