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Akan Language

The Language, Culture and People

Akan belongs to the Kwa subdivision of the Niger –Congo group of African languages. Over 40% of the Ghanaian population speak various dialects of the Akan language as their mother tongue, while the remainder speak varieties of the language as their second or third language. Akan enjoys prestige in terms of literary production and its status as the linguistic entree to Ghana. The much applauded "proverbial Ghanaian hospitality" is symbolized with "Akwaaba" (Akan word which means welcome) sashes and Adinkra ( Akan cultural symbols) symbols woven into Kente Cloths. Most of the Ghanaian patriotic songs are also written and sung in the dialects of Akan. The Akans of Ghana have an extraordinary tradition. They have a rich repertoire of folk tales, proverbs, riddles, traditional songs and poems. The unique cultural markers of the Akan people include the weaving of the Kente Cloth, the artistic uses of the proverb –lore and the Adinkra symbols

Why Study Akan at OHIO?

The choice of this variety of the Akan language is primarily because of the literary attention given to it in Ghana and the fact that the dialects of the Twi variety (Asante and Akuapem) are mutually intelligible. Twi and Fante (a variety of the Akan language, spoken in the western and Coastal areas) are also mutually intelligible. It is in quintessence the most popular language in the country, spoken by a majority of the people. Visitors to Ghana should have no problem communicating with the people if they know English (The official language) and Twi.

If you are interested in doing Research in Ghana, or applying for a Fulbright grant to do research in Ghana, the Twi language program through the African Studies and Linguistics departments at OU can offer you the requisite language qualification or expertise. For anthropologist, historians, linguists and researchers from the literary field, the slave castles at Elimina and Cape Coast are among the historical memorials to consider.

The African Studies and African language faculty are dedicated to helping and advising language students when it comes to language choice and relevance for field of study or career pursuits.

For more information, please contact