Ghana is a multilingual country in which about eighty languages are spoken. Of these, English, which was inherited from the colonial era, is the official language and lingua franca. Of the languages indigenous to Ghana, Akan is the most widely spoken.

Ghana has more than seventy tribal groups, each with its own distinct language. However, 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. 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.

Government-sponsored languages>

There are nine government-sponsored languages. 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 Nigerâ€"Congo language family, though to several different branches.


As part of the Kwa branch of the Nigerâ€"Congo family, the Akan languages appear in a diverse number of dialects. 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.


Ewe is a Gbe language, part of the Voltaâ€"Niger branch of the Nigerâ€"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. It is spoken by Dagombas in the Northern Region of Ghana.


Dangme is one of the Gaâ€"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 Gaâ€"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

The languages of Ghana belong to the following branches within the Nigerâ€"Congo language family. Older classifications group them as Kwa, Gur, and Mande:

  • Kwa languages (Akan, Bia, Guang in Tano; Ga and Adangme)
  • Gbe languages (Ewe)
  • Gur languages (Gurunsi, Dagbani, Mossi, Dagaare, and Frafra in Otiâ€"Volta)
  • Senufo languages (Nafaanra)
  • Kulango languages
  • Mande languages (Ligbi)

See also

  • Ghana
  • Demographics of Ghana


External links

  • Ethnologue listing for Ghana
  • Ethnologue map of languages in Ghana
  • Owu-Ewie, Charles. 2006. The Language Policy of Education in Ghana: A Critical Look at the English-Only Language Policy of Education. In Selected Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, ed. John Mugane et al., 76-85. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
  • PanAfrican L10n wiki page on Ghana
  • L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde page on Ghana

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