Ga language

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Pronunciation [ɡã]
Region South-eastern Ghana, around Accra
Ethnicity Ga
Native speakers
745,000[1] (2004)[2]
Latin (Ga alphabet)
Ga Braille
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2 gaa The ISO 639-1 code
ISO 639-3 gaa
Glottolog gaaa1244[3]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Ga is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana, in and around the capital Accra. It has a phonemic distinction between 3 vowel lengths.


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

Ga is the predominant language of the Ga people, an ethnic group of Ghana.

Geographic distribution[edit]

Ga is spoken in south-eastern Ghana, in and around the capital Accra. It has relatively little dialectal variation. Although English is the official language of Ghana, Ga is one of 16 languages in which the Bureau of Ghana Languages publishes material on.



Ga has 31 consonant phonemes.

Consonant phonemes
  Labial Dental Postalveolar
and palatal
Velar Labial-
Plain Labialized Plain Lab.v Plain Lab.
Nasal m n ɲ   ŋ   ŋ͡m  
Stop p b t d tʃʷ dʒʷ k ɡ ɡʷ k͡p ɡ͡b  
Fricative f v s z ʃ   ʃʷ               h
Approximant   l j ɥ     w  
  • [ŋʷ] is an allophone of /w/ which occurs before nasals and is represented with its own digraph in writing.
  • /l/ may be realised as [r] when between a consonant and vowel
  • /j/ has an allophone [ɲ] before nasal vowels


Ga has 7 oral vowels and 5 nasal vowels. All of the vowels have 3 different vowel lengths: short, long or extra long (the latter appears only in the simple future and the simple past negative forms).

Front Central Back
oral nasal oral nasal oral nasal
Close i ĩ     u ũ
Close-mid e       o  
Open-mid ɛ ɛ̃     ɔ ɔ̃
Open     a ã    


Ga has 2 tones, high and low. Like many West African languages, it has tone terracing.


The syllable structure of Ga is (C)(C)V(C), where the second phoneme of an initial consonant cluster can only be /l/ and a final consonant may only be a (short or long) nasal consonant, e.g. ekome, "one", V-CV-CV; kakadaŋŋ, "long", CV-CV-CVC; mli, "inside", CCV. Ga syllables may also consist solely of a syllabic nasal, for example in the first syllable of ŋshɔ, "sea".

Writing system[edit]

Ga was first written by Christian Jacob Protten Africanus, who was the son of a Danish soldier and a Ga woman, in about 1764. In the mid-1800s, the Germany missionary, Johannes Zimmermann, assisted by the Gold Coast historian, Carl Christian Reindorf and others, worked extensively on the grammar of the language and published a dictionary. The orthography has been revised a number of times since 1968, with the most recent review in 1990.

The writing system is a Latin-based alphabet and has 26 letters. It has three additional letter symbols which correspond to the IPA symbols. There are also eleven digraphs and two trigraphs. Vowel length is represented by doubling or tripling the vowel symbol, e.g. 'a', 'aa' and 'aaa'. Tones are not represented. Nasalisation is represented after oral consonants where it distinguishes between minimal pairs.

The Ga alphabet is: Aa, Bb, Dd, Ee, Ɛɛ, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Ŋŋ, Oo, Ɔɔ, Pp, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Vv, Ww, Yy, Zz

The following letters represent sounds which do not correspond with the same letter as the IPA symbol (e.g. B represents /b/):

  • J j - /d͡ʒ/
  • Y y - /j/

Digraphs and trigraphs:

  • Gb gb - /ɡb/
  • Gw gw - /ɡʷ/
  • Hw hw - /hʷ/
  • Jw jw - /d͡ʒʷ/
  • Kp kp - /kp/
  • Kw kw - /kʷ/
  • Ny ny - /ɲ/
  • Ŋm ŋm - /ŋm/
  • Ŋw ŋw - [ŋʷ] (an allophone rather than a phoneme)
  • Sh sh - /ʃ/
  • Ts ts - /t͡ʃ/
  • Shw shw - /ʃʷ/
  • Tsw tsw - /t͡ʃʷ/

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ga". EthnologuePrint. Archived from the original on 29 July 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Ga at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ga". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  • M. E. Kropp Dakubu, ed. (1977). West African Language Data Sheets Vol 1. West African Linguistic Society. 
  • M. E. Kropp Dakubu, ed. (1988). The Languages of Ghana. London: Kegan Paul International for the International African Institute. ISBN 0-7103-0210-X. 
  • M. E. Kropp Dakubu (1999). Ga-English dictionary with English-Ga Index. Accra: Black Mask Ltd. ISBN 9964-960-50-6. 
  • M. E. Kropp Dakubu (2002). Ga Phonology. Legon: Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. 
  • Bureau of Ghana Languages (1995). Ga Wiemɔ Kɛ Ŋmaa. Accra:Bureau of Ghana Languages. ISBN 9964-2-0276-8. 
  • A. A. Amartey (1989). Beginners' Ga. Ga Society. 

External links[edit]