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Know Your World Cup Competition – Ghana

As we are well underway at this point with the World Cup games, let us take this time to help shed some light on the languages of those countries competing in this World Cup, specifically noting the countries that are not as well known to the general public.

First up on our list is the African country, Ghana. Ghana is well known to American Soccer fans as the country that had twice defeated the United States heading in the these games, before finally falling to the USMNT in a thrilling match that came down to the final seconds.

A few quick notes about Ghana: Ghana is considered the 5th most stable country in Africa at this time, exporting mostly gold, diamonds and petroleum and home to some 24 million people.

Languages spoken in Ghana exceed 100 ethnic languages but if you want to look at the most common and/or the state sponsored languages we can narrow that down to the following 4: Akuapem, Asante, Mfantse, and Nzema, all of which are form of the ethnic AKANdialect encompassing Ghana as well as other countries such as the Ivory Coast. The current estimates suggest that around 11 million people speak a form of AKAN.

1. Mfantse (pronounced fan-tee) is the language spoken by the Mfantse people in southern Ghana, mainly by residents in the capital, Cape Coast and the nearby regions.
2. Nzema is mostly spoken by the Nzema, an agricultural population residing in southwestern Ghana as well as in nearby Ivory Coast. There are an estimated 328,000 Nzema speakers.
3. Akuapem & Asanti(Twi)are the literary dialects of the Akan of southern Ghana, and the prestige dialect of that language. It is spoken around the Kumasi, the capital of the former Ashanti Empire. Akuapem and Asanti are also often called Twi.

If you want to look into the North, you will see other languages such as Dagbani (aka Dagbanlior Dagbanle) spoken mainly by the Dagomba people.

The Oti–Volta languages are a subgroup of the Gur languages which contain around 30 languages spoken in the North of Ghana as well as other surrounding regions of other countries with estimates of around 12 million people speaking some form of the Oti–Volta language.

For additional interesting reading material about the languages and culture in Ghana please view the following article, titled ‘´Housewife and Interpreter at the Same Time?´´

If I were to interview James Kwesi Appiah, my first question would be what language he uses/speaks when coaching the team.”