Languages of Ghana

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Languages of Ghana
OfficialEnglish[1][2]
RegionalGovernment-sponsored languages:[3]Fante, Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi, Ewe, Dagaare, Dagbani, Dangme, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Nzema
ImmigrantChinese,[4] Hindi,[5] Lebanese Arabic,[5]Sindhi,[6] Yoruba[5]
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.[7] Of these, English, which was inherited from the colonial era, is the official language and lingua franca.[8][9] Of the languages indigenous to Ghana, Akan is the most widely spoken.[10]

Ghana has more than seventy ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language.[11] 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 West Region of Ghana.[12] 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.[3]

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.[3] They are supported by the Bureau of Ghana Languages, which was established in 1951 and publishes materials in the languages; 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 (Fante, Asante Twi and Akuapem Twi)[edit]

A map of Ghana's ethno-linguistic areas.

Akan, part of the Kwa branch of the Niger–Congo family, is a dialect continuum,[13] but, with regard to official status, only three out of the many varieties of Akan are recognised:Fante, Asante Twi, Akuapem Twi . Taken as a whole, Akan is the most-widely spoken language in Ghana.[10]

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.[14] Out of the many dialects of Ewe spoken in Ghana, the major ones are Anlo, Tongu, Vedome, Gbi, and Krepi.

Dagbani[edit]

Dagbani is one of the Gur languages. It belongs to the larger Mole-Dagbani ethnic group found in Ghana and Burkina Faso.[15] 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 Guang 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.[16]

Rank Language Speakers
1 English 9,800,000
2 Akan (Fante/Twi) 9,100,000
3 Ghanaian Pidgin English 5,000,000
4 Ewe Dialects of Ɛve include Aŋlo, Tɔŋu, Vɛdomɛ,Gbi, Krepi, among others) 3,820,000
5 Abron 1,170,000
6 Dagbani 1,160,000
7 Dangme 1,020,000
8 Dagaare 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
28 Birifor, Southern 125,000
29 Anufo 91,300
30 Wali 84,800
31 Larteh 74,000
32 Siwu 71,900
33 Chumburung 69,000
34 Anyin 66,400
35 Nafaanra 61,000
36 Krache 58,000
37 Lelemi 48,900
38 Deg 42,900
39 Paasaal 36,000
40 Kabre, (language kabre) 35,642
41 Avatime 27,200
42 Kulango, Bondoukou 27,000
43 Sekpele 23,000
44 Delo 18,400
45 Jwira-Pepesa 18,000
46 Gua 17,600
47 Tampulma 16,000
48 Kulango, Bouna 15,500
49 Ligbi 15,000
50 Nawuri 14,000
51 Vagla 13,900
52 Tuwuli 11,400
53 Selee 11,300
54 Adele 11,000
55 Nkonya 11,000
56 Gikyode 10,400
57 Dwang 8,200
58 Akposo 7,500
59 Logba 7,500
60 Nkami 7,000
61 Hanga 6,800
62 Nyangbo 6,400
63 Chakali 6,000
64 Ghanaian Sign Language 6,000
65 Safaliba 5,000
66 Tafi 4,400
67 Fulfulde, Maasina 4,240
68 Adangbe/Dangbe 4,000
69 Konni 3,800
70 Adamorobe Sigh Language 3,500
71 Chala 3,000
72 Kamara 3,000
73 Kantosi 2,300
74 Kusuntu 2,100
75 Nchumbulu 1,800
76 Kplang 1,600
77 Dompo 970
78 Animere 700
79 Hausa Unclear
80 Lama Unclear
81 Nawdm Unclear

Language classification[edit]

The language of Ghana belong to the following branches within the Niger–Congo language family:

Older classifications may instead group them as Kwa, Gur, and Mande.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Language and Religion". Ghana Embassy. Archived from the original on 1 March 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2017. English is the official language of Ghana and is universally used in schools in addition to nine other local languages. The most widely spoken local languages are, Ga, Dagomba, Akan and Ewe.
  2. ^ "Ghana – 2010 Population and Housing Census" (PDF). Government of Ghana. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "The Bureau Of Ghana Languages-BGL". National Commission on Culture. 2006. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Ghana Institute of Languages". gil.edu.gh. Ghana Institute of Languages. Archived from the original on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Immigration into Ghana Since 1990" (PDF). Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana, Legon. 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Indian Community in Ghana". indiahc-ghana.com. Archived from the original on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "The Bureau Of Ghana Languages-BGL". Ghana Embassy Washington DC, USA. 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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)
  13. ^ "The Online Encyclopaedia of Written Systems Languages". Omniglot. 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Verba Africana — Ewe background materials — The Ewe language". verbafricana.org. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Ghana". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-08-04.

External links[edit]