Ga language

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Ga language
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{{distinguish|Gaa language|Kãasa language|Gan Chinese}}{{lead too short|date=September 2015}}

|region=South-eastern Ghana, around AccraGa people>GaWEBSITE=WWW.ETHNOLOGUE.COMACCESSDATE=23 JUNE 2016ARCHIVEURL=HTTPS://WEB.ARCHIVE.ORG/WEB/20160729093317/HTTP://WWW.ETHNOLOGUE.COM/LANGUAGE/GAADF=, |date=2004|ref =e18|familycolor=Niger-CongoAtlantic–Congo languages>Atlantic–CongoKwa languages>KwaGa–Dangme languages>Ga–Dangme|nation=GhanaLatin script>Latin (Ga alphabet)Ga Braille|iso2=gaa|iso3=gaa|glotto=gaaa1244|glottorefname=Ga|notice=IPA}}(File:Samuel speaking Gaa (Wikitongues and AfroCrowd).webm|thumb|Samuel speaking Gã, more commonly written as "Ga")Ga is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana, in and around the capital Accra. It has a phonemic distinction between 3 vowel lengths.


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 the predominant language of the Ga people, an ethnic group of Ghana. Ethinic Ga family names (surnames) include Lartey, Nortey, Aryee, Poku, Lamptey, Tetteh, Ankrah, Tetteyfio, Laryea, Ayitey, Okine, Bortey, Quarshie, Quaye, Quaynor, Ashong, Kotei and Clottey.

Geographic distribution

Ga is spoken in south-eastern Ghana, in and around the capital Accra. It has relatively little dialectal variation. Although English is the official language of Ghana, Ga is one of 16 languages in which the Bureau of Ghana Languages publishes material on.



Ga has 31 consonant phonemes.{| class="wikitable IPA" style="text-align: center;" border="1"|+Consonant phonemes! rowspan="2" |  ! colspan="2" rowspan="2" | Labial! colspan="2" rowspan="2" | Dental! colspan="4" | Postalveolarand palatal! colspan="4" | Velar! colspan="2" rowspan="2" | Labial-velar! colspan="2" | Glottal! colspan="2" | Plain! colspan="2" | Labialized! colspan="2" | Plain! colspan="2" | Lab.v! Plain! Lab.! Nasal m n ɲ   Å‹   Å‹Í¡m  ! Stop p style="border-left-width: 0;" | b t style="border-left-width: 0;" | d tʃ style="border-left-width: 0;" | dÊ’ tʃʷ style="border-left-width: 0;" | dÊ’Ê· k style="border-left-width: 0;" | É¡ kÊ· style="border-left-width: 0;" | É¡Ê· kÍ¡p style="border-left-width: 0;" | É¡Í¡b  !Fricative f style="border-left-width: 0;" | v s style="border-left-width: 0;" | z ʃ style="border-left-width: 0;" |   ʃʷ style="border-left-width: 0;" |     style="border-left-width: 0;" |     style="border-left-width: 0;" |     style="border-left-width: 0;" |  | hÊ·! Approximant   l j É¥     w  
  • {{IPA|[Å‹Ê·]}} is an allophone of {{IPA|/w/}} which occurs before nasals and is represented with its own digraph in writing.
  • {{IPA|/l/}} may be realised as {{IPA|[r]}} when between a consonant and vowel
  • {{IPA|/j/}} has an allophone {{IPA|[ɲ]}} before nasal vowels


Ga has 7 oral vowels and 5 nasal vowels. All of the vowels have 3 different vowel lengths: short, long or extra long (the latter appears only in the simple future and the simple past negative forms).{|class="wikitable"|+ Monophthongs! rowspan=2|!colspan=2|Front!colspan=2|Central!colspan=2|Back!oral!nasal!oral!nasal!oral!nasal! Close {{IPA|i}} {{IPA|Ä©}}|  |   {{IPA|u}} {{IPA|Å©}}!Close-mid {{IPA|e}}|  |  |   {{IPA|o}}|  !Open-mid {{IPA|É›}} {{IPA|ɛ̃}}|  |   {{IPA|É”}} {{IPA|ɔ̃}}!Open|  |   {{IPA|a}} {{IPA|ã}}|  |  


Ga has 2 tones, high and low. Like many West African languages, it has tone terracing.


The syllable structure of Ga is (C)(C)V(C), where the second phoneme of an initial consonant cluster can only be {{IPA|/l/}} and a final consonant may only be a (short or long) nasal consonant, e.g. ekome, "one", V-CV-CV; kakadaŋŋ, "long", CV-CV-CVC; mli, "inside", CCV. Ga syllables may also consist solely of a syllabic nasal, for example in the first syllable of ŋshɔ, "sea".

Writing system

Ga was first written in about 1764, by Christian Jacob Protten (1715–1769), who was the son of a Danish soldier and a Ga woman.WEB,weblink Christian Jacob Protten, Smith, Noel,, en, 2018-10-14, WEB,weblink Christian Jacob Protten, Dreydoppel, Otto,, en, 2018-10-14, JOURNAL, Sebald, Peter, 1994, Christian Jacob Protten Africanus (1715-1769) - erster Missionar einer deutschen Missionsgesellschaft in Schwarzafrika,weblink Kolonien und Missionen., German, 109–121, JOURNAL, June 2012, This Month in Moravian History: Christian Protten - Missionary to the Gold Coast of Africa,weblink no, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA., 74,weblink" title="">weblink 14 September 2016, 14 October 2018, dmy-all, Protten was a Gold Coast Euro-African Moravian missionary and educator in the eighteenth century. In the mid-1800s, the Germany missionary, Johannes Zimmermann (1825–1876), assisted by the Gold Coast historian, Carl Christian Reindorf (1834–1917) and others, worked extensively on the grammar of the language, published a dictionary and translated the entire Bible into the Ga language.WEB,weblink Johannes Zimmerman,, en,weblink 2017-11-24, no, 2017-11-24, WEB,weblink Zimmermann, Johannes – Life and work – Johannes-Rebmann-Stiftung,, en-GB,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-11-24, no, 2017-11-24, BOOK,weblink History of the Gold Coast and Asante, Based on Traditions and Historical Facts: Comprising a Period of More Than Three Centuries from about 1500 to 1860, Reindorf, Carl Christian, 1895, The author, en, BOOK,weblink History of the Gold Coast and Asante (Classic Reprint), Reindorf, Carl Christian, 2018-04-21, LULU Press, 9781330819852, en, The orthography has been revised a number of times since 1968, with the most recent review in 1990. The writing system is a Latin-based alphabet and has 26 letters. It has three additional letter symbols which correspond to the IPA symbols. There are also eleven digraphs and two trigraphs. Vowel length is represented by doubling or tripling the vowel symbol, e.g. 'a', 'aa' and 'aaa'. Tones are not represented. Nasalisation is represented after oral consonants where it distinguishes between minimal pairs.The Ga alphabet is:Aa, Bb, Dd, Ee, Ɛɛ, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Ŋŋ, Oo, Ɔɔ, Pp, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Vv, Ww, Yy, ZzThe following letters represent sounds which do not correspond with the same letter as the IPA symbol (e.g. B represents {{IPA|/b/}}):
  • J j - {{IPA|/dÍ¡Ê’/}}
  • Y y - {{IPA|/j/}}
Digraphs and trigraphs:
  • Gb gb - {{IPA|/É¡b/}}
  • Gw gw - {{IPA|/É¡Ê·/}}
  • Hw hw - {{IPA|/hÊ·/}}
  • Jw jw - {{IPA|/dÍ¡Ê’Ê·/}}
  • Kp kp - {{IPA|/kp/}}
  • Kw kw - {{IPA|/kÊ·/}}
  • Ny ny - {{IPA|/ɲ/}}
  • ÅŠm Å‹m - {{IPA|/Å‹m/}}
  • ÅŠw Å‹w - {{IPA|[Å‹Ê·]}} (an allophone rather than a phoneme)
  • Sh sh - {{IPA|/ʃ/}}
  • Ts ts - {{IPA|/t͡ʃ/}}
  • Shw shw - {{IPA|/ʃʷ/}}
  • Tsw tsw - {{IPA|/t͡ʃʷ/}}

See also




  • BOOK, West African Language Data Sheets Vol 1, West African Linguistic Society, 1977, M. E. Kropp Dakubu,
  • BOOK, The Languages of Ghana, London, Kegan Paul International for the International African Institute, 1988, M. E. Kropp Dakubu, 0-7103-0210-X,
  • BOOK, M. E. Kropp Dakubu, Ga-English dictionary with English-Ga Index, Black Mask Ltd., 1999, Accra, 9964-960-50-6,
  • BOOK, M. E. Kropp Dakubu, Ga Phonology, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, 2002, Legon,
  • BOOK, Bureau of Ghana Languages, Ga WiemÉ” KÉ› ÅŠmaa, Accra:Bureau of Ghana Languages, 1995, 9964-2-0276-8,
  • BOOK, A. A. Amartey, Beginners' Ga, Ga Society, 1989,

External links

{{Incubator|code=gaa}} {{Kwa languages}}{{Authority control}}

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