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Twi ([tɕᶣi]) is a dialect 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 17–18 million speakers in total, including second-language speakers; about 80% of the Ghanaian population speaks Twi as a first or second language.[5][2] Like other West African languages, Twi is a tonal language.[6]

Native toAshanti Region
Native speakers
947,000 (2015)[1][2][3]
Adinkra Nkyea[4]
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
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A man speaking Twi.

Twi is a common name for mutually intelligible former literary dialects of the Akan language, Bono, Asante, and Akuapem.[7][8][5] Akuapem, as the first Akan dialect to be used for Bible translation, has become the prestige dialect as a result.[9] It is also spoken by the people of southeastern Côte d'Ivoire.[10][8][11]


The name "Twi" is derived from the name of a Bono king, Nana Baffuor Twi.[12]



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 i u
Near-close ɪ ʊ
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Near-open æ
Open a


Twi has at least 5 tones: high, mid, low, rising, falling.


Twi contains the diphthongs /ao/, /eɛ/, /ei/, /ia/, /ie/, /oɔ/, /ue/, and /uo/.[13]


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.[14]

Naming systemEdit

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. ^ "Asante » Asante Twi (Less Commonly Taught Languages)". University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. University of Michigan.
  2. ^ a b "Asante » Asante Twi".
  3. ^ Akan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  4. ^ Nkyea, Adinkra. "Adinkra Syllabary". Biswajit Mandal.
  5. ^ a b 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
  6. ^ "Map of tonal languages".
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Ager, Simon. "Omniglot". Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Akan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-12-25.
  11. ^ Ofosu-Appiah, L. H. (1998). "Christaller, Johannes Gottlieb". Dictionary of African Christian Biography.
  12. ^ The Akan of Ghana: Their Ancient Beliefs. Faber & Faber. 1958.
  13. ^ "Akan languages, alphabet and pronunciation". Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  14. ^ "Language Guide". The African Linguists Network Blog. 2013-05-14. Retrieved 2018-07-14.

External linksEdit