Twi ([tɕᶣi]) is a variety of the Akan language spoken in southern and central Ghana by several million people, mainly of the Akan people, the largest of the seventeen major ethnic groups in Ghana. Twi has about 29 million speakers.[1]

Akwapem Twi
Native toGhana
RegionAshanti Region
Native speakers
29 million (2024)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Ashanti Region
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byAkan Orthography Committee
Language codes
ISO 639-1tw
ISO 639-2twi
ISO 639-3twi (see [aka] for Ethnologue description)
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A man speaking Twi.

Twi is a common name for mutually intelligible former literary dialects of the Akan language of Bono, Asante and Akuapem.[2][3][4] Akuapem, as the first Akan variety to be used for Bible translation, has become the prestige dialect as a result.[5] It is also spoken by the people of southeastern Côte d'Ivoire.[6][3][7] It generally subsumes the following dialects: Ahafo, Akuapem, Akyem, Asante, Asen, Dankyira and Kwawu.[8]



The name 'Twi' is derived from the name of a Bono king, Nana Baffuor Twi.[9]




Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal voiced m ⟨m⟩ n ⟨n⟩ ɲ ⟨ny, n⟩ ŋ ⟨ng, n⟩
labialized ⟨nw⟩
voiced b ⟨b⟩ d ⟨d⟩ d͡ʒ ⟨dw⟩ d͡ʑ ~ ɟ͡ʝ ⟨gy⟩ g ⟨g⟩
aspirated ⟨p⟩ ⟨t⟩ t͡ɕʰ ~ c͡çʰ ⟨ky⟩ ⟨k⟩
labialized t͡ɕʷ ⟨tw⟩ ⟨kw⟩
Fricative voiceless f ⟨f⟩ s ⟨s⟩ ç ⟨hy⟩ h ⟨h⟩
labialized ⟨hw⟩
Approximant j ⟨y⟩ w ⟨w⟩
Tap/Flap ɾ ⟨r⟩ ɽ ⟨r⟩
Trill r ⟨r⟩
Lateral l ⟨l⟩


Front Central Back
Close +ATR i u
–ATR ɪ ʊ
Mid +ATR e o
–ATR ɛ ɔ
Open +ATR æ
–ATR ɑ

Front vowels additionally show a distinction in duration, where –ATR front vowels are shorter than their +ATR counterparts.[10]



Twi has at least 5 tones:

  • High tone: H
  • Mid tone: M
  • Low tone: L
  • Rising tone: R
  • Falling tone: F

However, when writing Twi using the Latin script, tone marks are not used.



Twi contains the diphthongs /ao/, /eɛ/, /ei/, /ia/, /ie/, /oɔ/, /ue/, and /uo/.[11]


Uppercase A B D E Ɛ F G H I K L M N O Ɔ P R S T U W Y
Lowercase a b d e ɛ f g h i k l m n o ɔ p r s t u w y

The letters C, J, Q, V, X and Z are also used, but only in loanwords.[12]

Naming system


The Akan peoples use a common Akan (Ghana) naming system of giving the first name to a child, based on the day of the week that the child was born. Almost all the tribes and clans in Ghana have a similar custom.

Day Male name Female name
English Akan
Monday Dwoada Kwadwo, Kojo Adwoa
Tuesday Benada Kwabena, Kobina Abena
Wednesday Wukuada Kweku, Kwaku Akua
Thursday Yawoada Yaw, Kwaw Yaa
Friday Fiada Kofi Afia/Afua
Saturday Memeneda Kwame Ama
Sunday Kwasiada Akwasi, Kwasi, Kwesi Asi, Akosua, Esi


  1. ^ a b Twi at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024)  
  2. ^ Arhin, Kwame; Studies, University of Ghana Institute of African (1979). A Profile of Brong Kyempim: Essays on the Archaeology, History, Language and Politics of the Brong Peoples of Ghana. Afram.
  3. ^ a b Christaller, Johann Gottlieb (1875). A Grammar of the Asante and Fante Language Called Tshi Chwee, Twi Based on the Akuapem Dialect with Reference to the Other (Akan and Fante) Dialects. Harvard University. Printed for the Basel evang. missionary society.
  4. ^ Jane Garry, Carl R. Galvez Rubino, "Facts about the World's Languages: An Encyclopedia of the World's Major Languages, Past and Present", H.W. Wilson, USA, 2001, page 8
  5. ^ Ager, Simon. "Omniglot". Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Akan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-12-25.
  7. ^ Ofosu-Appiah, L. H. (1998). "Christaller, Johannes Gottlieb". Dictionary of African Christian Biography.
  8. ^ Twi at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022)  
  9. ^ The Akan of Ghana: Their Ancient Beliefs. Faber & Faber. 1958.
  10. ^ Kirkham, Sam; Nance, Claire (2017). "An acoustic-articulatory study of bilingual vowel production: Advanced tongue root vowels in Twi and tense/lax vowels in Ghanaian English". Journal of Phonetics. 62: 65–81. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2017.03.004. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  11. ^ "Akan languages, alphabet and pronunciation". Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  12. ^ "Language Guide". The African Linguists Network Blog. 2013-05-14. Retrieved 2018-07-14.