Oti–Volta languages

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Burkina Faso, northern Ghana and Benin
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo

The Oti–Volta languages form a subgroup of the Gur languages, comprising about 30 languages of northern Ghana, Benin, and Burkina Faso spoken by twelve million people. The most populous language is Mõõré, the national language of Burkina, spoken by five million people.

The family is named for the Oti and Volta rivers.


The internal classification of Oti–Volta, as worked out by Manessy 1975–79[2][3] and Naden 1989 [4][5] (Williamson & Blench 2000[6][7]) is as follows:


Buli–Koma: Buli, Konni

Eastern (Somba): Biali, Mbelime, Tammari (Ditammari), Waama



Northwest: Mõõré, Frafra, Safaliba, Wali, DagaareBirifor

Southeast: Dagbani, Hanga, Kamara, Kusaal, Nabit, Talni, Mampruli, Kantosi

Gurma: Ngangam, Gourmanchéma, Moba (Bimoba), Ntcham (Akaselem), Nateni, Miyobe, Konkomba

Yom–Nawdm: Nawdm, Yom

Native Dagbani speakers assert that Dagbani is mutually intelligible with Dagaare, Frafra, Mamprusi, and Wali, but in the case of Dagaare, Frara and Wali it is rather the case that many people can understand some of a language which is not their mother tongue. These languages are not mutually intelligible with Mõõré or Kusaal (a language spoken in Bawku West District and adjacent areas).


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Oti–Volta". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Manessy, Gabriel (1975). Les langues Oti-Volta. Paris: SELAF.
  3. ^ Manessy, Gabriel (1979). Contribution à la classification généalogique des langues voltaïques : - le proto-central (Langues et civilisations à tradition orale №37 ed.). SELAF: PARIS.
  4. ^ Naden, Tony (1989). Gur. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. pp. 141–168.
  5. ^ Bendor-Samuel, John T. [ed.] (1989). The Niger-Congo Languages. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  6. ^ Heine, Bernd and Derek Nurse [eds] (2000). African Languages — An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ Williamson, Kay and Roger Blench (2000). Niger–Congo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 11–42.