Languages of Togo

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Languages of Togo
Official languages French
National languages Ewé; Kabiyé
Interethnic languages French, Mina
Map showing the distribution of the various Gbe languages. (after Capo 1988, 1991)

Togo is a multilingual country. According to one count, 39 languages are spoken.[1] Of these, the official language is French. Two spoken indigenous languages were designated politically as national languages in 1975: Ewé (Ewe: Èʋegbe; French: Evé) and Kabiyé.

Among the other languages in Togo, Mina (the dialect of Ewé spoken in Lomé) serves as the working language in the south of the country, Mobaa, Tem (also called Kotokoli) and Fula (Fula: Fulfulde; French: Peul). Most of the indigenous languages of the country can be divided into two groups: the Gur languages in the north, and the Kwa languages in the south.

Two national languages tend to be used regionally: Ewé in the south from Lomé to Blitta, and Kotokoli from Blitta to Dapaong in the north.

According to the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France, 30% of the population have a working knowledge of French, 37% according to the French Ministère des affaires étrangères in 2007.

According to Couchoro[citation needed] "The notable fact is that in the past 15 years, through developmental factors, and particularly to increased education, there has been a vast expansion in the use of French. The consequence has been an appropriation of French like never seen before". (Lafage, 1985, 551).

According to Isabelle Anzorge[citation needed] "This is just an imported language, but it gradually assumes a Togolese identity, freeing itself from all normative constraints, thereby integrating the cultural realities of the country."

The latter noted the existence of a French dialect:[2] since the fall of conscription due to economic and political upheaval (the collapse of phosphates, devaluation of the CFA, university strikes following the general strike of 1992, climate of civil war since 1991), French [has] become a tool or a means of communication of most Togolese, educated or not. " [3]

Education for the deaf in Togo uses American Sign Language, introduced by the deaf American missionary Andrew Foster.

Written languages[edit]

French is the main written language, as most indigenous languages are not commonly used in writing.

Language policy[edit]

French, which was inherited from the period of French mandate rule over the area, was made the official language at independence.

The decision to give Ewe and Kabiye status as national languages was as decided in 1975 by President Eyadéma.

Notes and references[edit]

Le français au Togo : une aventure ambigüe, Isabelle Anzorge, Université Nice, 1998.

  1. ^ Ethnologue, "Languages of Togo" (accessed Oct. 31, 2010)
  2. ^ Isabelle Anzorge 1988, Le parler français du Togo aujourd’hui, étude lexicale, DEA, Paris III.
  3. ^ Isabelle Anzorge, "Corpus et variétés de langue, de la nécessité d’un corpus exhaustif" in Le corpus lexicographique, Claude Frey, Danièle Latin, Danièle Racelle-Latin, De Boeck Université, 1997, ISBN 2-8011-1172-4, ISBN 978-2-8011-1172-7, 423 pages.

External links[edit]