Harman Patil (Editor)

Ga language

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Pronunciation  [ɡã]
Native speakers  745,000 (2004)
Ethnicity  Ga
Region  South-eastern Ghana, around Accra
Language family  Niger–Congo Atlantic–Congo Kwa Ga–Dangme Ga
Writing system  Latin (Ga alphabet) Ga Braille

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.

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.


Ga has 31 consonant phonemes.

  • [ŋʷ] is an allophone of /w/ which occurs before nasals and is represented with its own digraph in writing.
  • /l/ may be realised as [r] when between a consonant and vowel
  • /j/ has an allophone [ɲ] before nasal vowels
  • 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).


    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 /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, "body", 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 by Christian Jacobsen Protten, who was the son of a Danish soldier and an Ga woman, in about 1764. 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, Zz

    The following letters represent sounds which do not correspond with the same letter as the IPA symbol (e.g. B represents /b/):

  • J j - /d͡ʒ/
  • Y y - /j/
  • Digraphs and trigraphs:

  • Gb gb - /ɡb/
  • Gw gw - /ɡʷ/
  • Hw hw - /hʷ/
  • Jw jw - /d͡ʒʷ/
  • Kp kp - /kp/
  • Kw kw - /kʷ/
  • Ny ny - /ɲ/
  • Ŋm ŋm - /ŋm/
  • Ŋw ŋw - [ŋʷ] (an allophone rather than a phoneme)
  • Sh sh - /ʃ/
  • Ts ts - /t͡ʃ/
  • Shw shw - /ʃʷ/
  • Tsw tsw - /t͡ʃʷ/
  • References

    Ga language Wikipedia