The Akan languages are part of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo
languages. There are about 7 million Akan speakers in eastern Ivory
Coast, south-central Ghana, and central Togo. There are numerous
dialects of Akan, including Twi, Fante, Bono, Wasa, Nzema, Baule
and Anyi, with a high level of mutual intelligibility between them.
Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious
publications, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the
17th and 18th centuries.
There are currently three standardized orthographies for Asante, Akuapem
and Fante, there is also a unified Akan orthography which was created
during the 1980s.
Letters in italics are only used on loanwords.
- There are quite complex rules of vowel harmony governing which
vowels can appear in the same word.
- Akan languages are tonal with three tones: high, mid and low.
Sample texts in Akan languages
Wɔɑwo ɑdesɑmmɑ nyinɑɑ sɛ
nnipɑ ɑ wɔwɔ ɑhofɑdi. Wɔn nyinɑɑ
wɔ nidi ne kyɛfɑ koro. Wɔwɔ ɑdwene ne ɑhonim,
nɑ ɛsɛ sɛ wobu wɔn ho wɔn ho sɛ ɑnuɑnom.
Nnipa nyinaa yɛ pɛ. Na wɔde adwene ne nyansa na abɔ obiara.
Ɛno nti, ɛsɛ sɛ obiara dɔ ne yɔnko, bu ne yɔnko,
di ne yɔnko ni.
Wɔwo ɑdɑsɑ nyinɑ to fɑhodzi mu, nɑ
hɔn nyinɑ yɛ pɛr wɔ enyimnyɑm nɑ
ndzinoɑ mu. Wɔmɑɑ hɔn nyinɑ ɑdwen
nɑ tsibowɑ, nɑ ɔwɔ dɛ hɔn nkitɑhodzi
mu ndzeyɛɛ dɑ no edzi dɛ wɔyɛ enuɑnom.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Tower of Babel in Akan
Information about the Akan languages (including Twi)
Online Akan lessons
Akan Language Writing Guide
Your name in Twi
Other languages written with the Latin alphabet