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Encyclopedia > Kwa languages

The Kwa languages are spoken in the south-eastern part of Côte d'Ivoire, in Ghana, Togo and Benin, and the south-Western corner of Nigeria. The term was introduced 1885 by Krause and used by Westermann (1952) and Greenberg (1963). According to Westermann (1952), the term Kwa is derived form the word for 'people' in many of these languages, which contains the root kwa. Côte dIvoire (often called Ivory Coast in English; see below about the name) is a country in West Africa. ... 1885 is a common year starting on Thursday. ... Diedrich Hermann Westermann (June 24, 1875-May 31, 1956) was a German missionary and linguist. ...

The term Kwa is sometimes deemed as incorrect today, since present analysis does not consider Kwa in its original form to be a genetic unit. Yoruba and Igbo are placed in the Benue-Congo subfamily and the remaining languages are labeled New Kwa in order to avoid confusion with the old, larger Kwa family. The Benue-Congo group of languages constitutes the largest branch of the Niger-Congo language family, both in terms of sheer number of languages, of which 938 are known (not counting mere dialects), and in terms of speakers, numbering perhaps 550 million. ...

Kwa languages

The following languages belong to this group:

Map showing the distribution of the various Gbe languages Introduction The Gbe languages form a dialect continuum stretching across the area between eastern Ghana and western Nigeria. ... Logba is a language spoken in the south-eastern Ghana by approximately 7 500 people. ... The Adele language is spoken in eastern Ghana and als well in Togo. ... The Akan languages belong to the Kwa language family, and are spoken primarily in Ghana. ... The Ga language is spoken in Ghana in and around Accra, in the south of Togo and in Western Nigeria. ... Adangme (also Dangme) is a language that is spoken in Ghana by 825,000 people. ...

See also

The Kru languages belong to the Niger-Congo language family and are spoken in the area ranging from the south-east of Liberia to the east of Côte dIvoire. ... The Gur languages belong to the Niger-Congo languages. ...


  • Bennett, Patrick R. & Sterk, Jan P. (1977) 'South Central Niger-Congo: A reclassification'. Studies in African Linguistics, 8, 241–273.
  • Hintze, Ursula (1959) Bibliographie der Kwa-Sprachen und der Sprachen der Togo-Restvölker (mit 11 zweifarbigen Sprachenkarten). Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.
  • Stewart, John M. (1989) 'Kwa'. In: Bendor-Samuel & Hartell (eds.) The Niger-Congo languages. Lanham, MD: The University Press of America.
  • Westermann, Diedrich Hermann (1952) Languages of West Africa (Handbook of African Languages Part II). London/New York/Toronto: Oxford University Press.

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