Languages of Ghana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Languages of Ghana
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]

In April 2019, French is in the process of being as one of Ghana's official languages due to the country being surrounded by Francophone countries (Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast and Togo) and the half of its regions being French-speaking.[13][14]

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,[15] 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 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.[16] Out of the many dialects of Ewe spoken in Ghana, the major ones are Anlo, Tongu, Vedome, Gbi, and Krepi.


Dagbani is one of the Gur languages. It belongs to the larger Mole-Dagbani ethnic group found in Ghana and Burkina Faso.[17] It is spoken by Dagombas in the Northern Region of Ghana.


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


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 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 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 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

Language classification[edit]

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

Ahanta is one of the Bia languages, closely related to ( nzema) Akan. It is spoken by the Ahanta people in the Western Region of Ghana Older classifications may instead group them as Kwa, Gur, and Mande.

See also[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". 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". 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). 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. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "The Online Encyclopaedia of Written Systems Languages". Omniglot. 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Verba Africana — Ewe background materials — The Ewe language". Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  17. ^ 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.

External links[edit]