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Languages of Ghana: Wikis

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Languages of Ghana
Official language English
Government-sponsored languages Akan, Dagaare, Dagbane, Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Nzema
Lingua franca English, Hausa
Other important languages French

Different sources give different figures for the number of languages of Ghana. This is because of different classifications of varieties as either languages or dialects. Ethnologue lists a total of 79 languages.

As with many ex-colonies in Africa, the official language of Ghana is the colonial language, English. Nine languages have the status of government-sponsored languages: Akan, Dagaare/Wale, Dagbane, Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Nzema. However, two dialects of Akan, Twi and Fante, although not government-sponsored, are also widely-spoken in Ghana.

Hausa is widely used as a lingua franca by Muslims in Ghana.

Contents

Languages in education

In the early colonial period, education was in the colonial home language: Portuguese, Dutch, Danish or English. Christian missionaries then introduced education in the indigenous languages, and often developed a writing system to support this.

The British colonial administration took over the education system of the Gold Coast in 1925. From 1925 to 1951 the first three years of primary education were in a Ghanaian language, followed by education in English. In 1957 the colony gained independence as Ghana. The policy for the medium of instruction was varied several times in the following years, and then from 1974 to 2002 it reverted to the pattern of a Ghanaian language for the first three years followed by English.

Since September 2002, the policy is for English to be used from the start of primary education, with a Ghanaian language studied as a compulsory subject up to senior secondary school level.

As a third language, French is understood by 13% of the population.

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.

See also: Regions of Ghana for a map of the regions.

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Akan

Akan is one of the Akan languages, which are part of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Ghana. The dialects, especially Twi and Fante, are often given the status of separate languages.

Dagaare

Dagaare/Wale is one of the Oti-Volta languages within the Gur branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken in the Upper Western Region of Ghana. It is also spoken in Burkina Faso.

Dagbani

Dagbani is one of the Oti-Volta languages within the Gur branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken in the Northern Region of Ghana.

Dangme

Dangme is one of the Ga-Dangme languages within the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken in Greater Accra, in south-east Ghana.

Ewe

Ewe is a Gbe language, part of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by approximately 2 million people in the Volta Region of south-east Ghana. It is also spoken in Togo.

Ga

Ga is a Kwa language, part of the Niger-Congo family. It is very closely related to Adangme, and together they form the Ga-Dangme branch within Kwa. Ga is spoken in south-eastern Ghana, in and around the capital Accra.

Gonja

Gonja is one of the Potou-Tano languages, part of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken in the Northern Region of Ghana and Wa.

Kasem

Kasem is a Gur branch of the Niger-Congo language family spoken in the Upper Eastern Region of Ghana. It is also spoken in Burkina Faso.

Nzema

Nzema is one of the Potou-Tano languages, part of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by the Nzema people in the Western Region of Ghana. It is also spoken in the Ivory Coast.

Language classification

The languages of Ghana belong to the following subgroups within the Niger-Congo language family:

See also

External links


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