Dangme language

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Not to be confused with Adangbe language.
Region South-eastern Ghana, east of Accra
Ethnicity Adangbe
Native speakers
800,000 (2004)[1]
Latin (Adangme alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2 ada
ISO 639-3 ada
Glottolog adan1247[2]
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The Dangme language, Adangme, is a Kwa language spoken in south-eastern Ghana by 800,000 people.


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

Geographic distribution[edit]

Adangme is spoken in Ghana by over 800,000 people.

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. It is true to say that at Kpone, though a Dangme town, the people speak both Ga and the Adangme language. However, this enigma brought about by their close association with the Gas is being solved gradually with the introduction of Adangme as a school subject in the Dangme areas. The land of these different tribes stretched from the coast northward to the Akwapim hills and has all the Dangmeland on the east and the Ga villages 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 divisions. The coastal dialects are Ada, Ningo and Prampram (Gbugbla). The inland dialects are Shai (), Krobo (Klo) and Osudoku.



Consonant phonemes[3]
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.[4]

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.[4]
  • /i, u/ are slightly more open than /ĩ, ũ/.[4]
  • /e, o/ are close-mid [e, o]. They do not have nasal counterparts.[4]
  • /ɛ̃, ɔ̃/ are open-mid [ɛ̃, ɔ̃], whereas /ɛ, ɔ/ are somewhat lower (near-open) [æ, ɔ̞].[4]
  • The nasal /ã/ is open front [ã], whereas the oral /a/ is slightly retracted (near-front) [].[4]


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. Tones and nasalisation are not normally written.

Orthographic and phonemic correspondences include the following:

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


  1. ^ Dangme at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Adangme". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Kropp Dakubu (1987), p. 13.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kropp Dakubu (1987), p. 15.


  • Kropp Dakubu, M. E., ed. (1977). West African Language Data Sheets 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]