Dangme language

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(Redirected from Adangme language)
RegionSouth-eastern Ghana, east of Accra
Native speakers
1,020,000 (2013)[1]
Latin (Dangbe alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2ada
ISO 639-3ada
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The Dangme language, also Dangme or Adaŋgbi, is a Kwa language spoken in south-eastern Ghana by the Dangme People (Dangmeli). The Dangmeli are part of the larger Ga-Dangme ethnic group. Klogbi is a variant, spoken by the Kloli (Klo or Krobo People). Kropp Dakubu (1987) is the most thorough grammar of the language.


Dangme is a Kwa language, part of the Niger–Congo family. It is closely related to Ga, and together they form the Ga–Dangme branch within Kwa.

Geographic distribution[edit]

Dangme is spoken in Ghana by over 800,000 people as of 2004.

It is the aboriginal language spoken in Ghana, Togo, Benin by the people of Ada, Osudoku, Manya Krobo, Yilo Krobo, Shai, Ningo, Prampram and Kpone. Dangme is partly mutually intelligible with Ga, and, to a lesser extent, Ewe. Nevertheless, many Dangme people also speak or understand at least one of these languages, painting the relationship as asymmetric. Dangme as a school subject is taught in the Dangme areas.

The land of these related tribes stretched from the Greater Accra Region to the Eastern Region of Ghana, northward to the Akwapim hills and has all the Dangmeland on the east and the Ga to the west of it. Bawaleshi, which is about 4.8 kilometers southwest of Dodowa, is the last Dangme town which is close to the Akwapim and the Ga boundaries. There are six main dialects which coincide with political units. The coastal dialects are Ada, Ningo and Prampram (Gbugbla). The inland dialects are Shai (Sɛ), Krobo (Klo) and Osudoku.



Consonant phonemes[2]
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial-velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ ŋ͡m
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k k͡p
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ ɡ͡b
Fricative voiceless f s
voiced v z
Approximant l j w
  • /m, p, b/ are bilabial, whereas /f, v/ are labiodental.
  • /p, b, t, d, k, g/ are singly articulated plosives, /t͡ʃ, d͡ʒ/ are affricates (stops with a strong fricative release), whereas /k͡p, ɡ͡b/ are doubly articulated plosives.
  • /l/ varies between a lateral approximant [l] and a central trill [r].[citation needed]
  • /j/ has a fricative allophone [ʒ].[citation needed]


Monophthongs of Dangme, from Kropp Dakubu (1987:15)

Adangme has 7 oral vowels and 5 nasal vowels.[3]

Front Back
oral nasal oral nasal
Close i ĩ u ũ
Close-mid e   o  
Open-mid ɛ ɛ̃ ɔ ɔ̃
Open a ã    
  • The front vowels are unrounded, whereas the back vowels are rounded.[3]
  • /i, u/ are slightly more open than /ĩ, ũ/.[3]
  • /e, o/ are close-mid [e, o]. They do not have nasal counterparts.[3]
  • /ɛ̃, ɔ̃/ are open-mid [ɛ̃, ɔ̃], whereas /ɛ, ɔ/ are somewhat lower (near-open) [æ, ɔ̞].[3]
  • The nasal /ã/ is open front [ã], whereas the oral /a/ is slightly retracted (near-front) [].[3]


Adangme has three tones: high, mid and low. Like many West African languages, it has tone terracing.


The possible syllable structures are V, CV, or CCV where the second consonant is /l/.

Writing system[edit]

Adangme is written in the Latin script, with the addition of the letters ɛ, ɔ, and ŋ. Tones are not normally written.[4]

Orthographic and phonemic correspondences include the following:

  • j - /dʒ/
  • ŋ - /ŋ/
  • ŋm - /ŋm/
  • ny - /ɲ/
  • ts - /tʃ/
  • y - /j/
  • ɛ - /ɛ/
  • ɔ - /ɔ/


  1. ^ Dangbe at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  2. ^ Kropp Dakubu (1987), p. 13.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kropp Dakubu (1987), p. 15.
  4. ^ Hartell, Rhonda L. (1993). Alphabets of Africa. The Long Now Foundation. Dakar: UNESCO and Summer Institute of Linguistics.


  • Kropp Dakubu, M. E., ed. (1977). West African Language Data Sheets. Vol. 1. West African Linguistic Society.
  • Kropp Dakubu, M. E. (1987). The Dangme Language: An Introductory Survey. London: Macmillan.
  • Kropp Dakubu, M. E., ed. (1988). The Languages of Ghana. London: Kegan Paul International for the International African Institute. ISBN 0-7103-0210-X.
  • Language Guide. Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages 4th Edition. 1977.

External links[edit]