Languages of Ghana

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Languages of Ghana
Official languagesEnglish[1]
Regional languagesGovernment-sponsored languages:[2] Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi, Ewe, Dagaare, Dagbani, Dangme, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Mfantse, Nzema,
Main immigrant languagesChinese,[3] ,[4] Hindi,[4] Lebanese Arabic,[4]Sindhi,[5] Yoruba[4]
Sign languagesGhanaian 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.[6] Of these, English, which was inherited from the colonial era, is the official language and lingua franca.[1][7] Of the languages indigenous to Ghana, Akan is the most widely spoken.[8]

Ghana has more than seventy ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language.[9] 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 East Region of Ghana.[10] These four languages are of Mole-Dagbani ethnicity.

Eleven languages have the status of government-sponsored languages: four Akan ethnic languages (Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi, Mfantse and Nzema) and two Mole-Dagbani ethnic languages (Dagaare and Dagbanli). The rest are Ewe, Dangme, Ga, Gonja, and Kasem, Hausa.[2]

Government-sponsored languages[edit]

There are nine government-sponsored languages.[2] They are supported by the Bureau of Ghana Languages, which was established in 1951 and publishes materials in them. During the periods when Ghanaian languages were used in primary education, these were the languages which were used. All eleven(11) languages belong to the Niger–Congo language family, though to several different branches.


A map of Ghana's ethno-linguistic areas.

As part of the Kwa branch of the Niger–Congo family, the Akan languages appear in a diverse number of dialects.[11] With regard to official status however, only three (3) are recognised; Asante Twi, Fante and Akuapem Twi. It is the most-widely spoken language in Ghana.[8]


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.


Dagbani is one of the Gur languages. It belongs to the larger Mole-Dagbani ethnic group found in Ghana and Burkina Faso.[12] 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. It also is the oldest Ghanaian language.


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. Older classifications group them as Kwa, Gur, and Mande:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Bureau Of Ghana Languages-BGL". Ghana Embassy Washington DC, USA. 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "The Bureau Of Ghana Languages-BGL". National Commission on Culture. 2006. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Ghana Institute of Languages". Ghana Institute of Languages. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Immigration into Ghana Since 1990" (PDF). Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana, Legon. 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Indian Community in Ghana". Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ Bernd Kortmann Walter de Gruyter, 2004 (2004). A handbook of varieties of English. 1. Phonology, Volume 2. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ R.S.Rattray Journal of the Royal African Society Vol. 30, No. 118 (Jan., 1931), pp. 40-57. "The Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland" (1932)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  11. ^ "The Online Encyclopaedia of Written Systems Languages". Omniglot. 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  12. ^ 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]