Ghana has 4 main languages: Ewe, Twi, Fante, and Ga. When you meet a random person of Ghanaian origin, there’s an upwards of 80% chance that they speak one of these languages either as a first, 2nd, or 3rd language. 

Twi is the most widely spoken language in Ghana with some estimates suggesting that over 70% of Ghanaians can speak one dialect or the other of Twi. It is the dominant language in the southern and central regions of the country. Twi is the main language of the Ashanti people based in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, but they are spread across the country and have been very dominant in the political and cultural character of the country. 

Here are 5 interesting facts about the Twi language you should know if you love Ghana; 

  1. Twi Isn’t One Language: Twi refers to a dialect cluster of several mutually intelligible languages spoken by the Akan people of Ghana. It is also important to note that Twi is a dialect of the Akan language, which is one of the largest language groups in Ghana. As a result, Twi shares similarities with other Akan dialects such as Fante, Akuapem, and Asante. These languages collectively contribute to the cultural identity of the Akan people.
  2. Names with Meanings:  Twi names are traditionally chosen for their meaning and significance. Names can reflect the day of the week a child is born, desired qualities, or even circumstances surrounding the birth. Some Twi names and their meanings are; 
  • Ama (female): This name means “born on Saturday” and is associated with prosperity and beauty.
  • Kwame (male): Meaning “born on Monday,” Kwame is also associated with leadership and independence.  A famous example is Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana.
  • Adwoa (female):  This name translates to “born on Monday” (similar to Kwame) but specifically indicates the firstborn female on that day. It carries meanings of responsibility and strength.
  • Osei (male):  Meaning “born on Thursday,” Osei is linked to kindness, generosity, and good luck.
  • Ekua (female):  Ekua signifies “born on Wednesday” and is associated with peacefulness, wisdom, and problem-solving abilities.
  1. Cultural Proverbs and Sayings: Twi is rich in proverbs and sayings that reflect the wisdom, values, and beliefs of the Akan people. These proverbs are often used to convey messages, teach moral lessons, or provide guidance in everyday situations. Learning and understanding Twi proverbs offer insights into the cultural and philosophical aspects of Akan society.

A few interesting Twi proverbs are;

Obaakofuo abosom gye n’anom na ogye n’anonam

Translation:  “The glutton doesn’t just eat his food, he licks the plate too.”  

Meaning: It encourages moderation and avoiding greed.

Sɛ wo ho yɛ fɛ a na wose w’adwene ho

Translation: “If your body is good, then speak your mind.” 

Meaning: It suggests confidence comes from taking care of yourself and being prepared.

Nyansapɔw nkae a, eyebu no sɛ nsemsem

Translation: “When wisdom speaks, it is interpreted as proverbs.” 

Meaning:  It highlights the value of proverbs as a way to convey wisdom memorably.

Brempɔn bɔne na ɛyɛ adehyeɛ

Translation: “A chief’s wrongdoing becomes a custom.”  

Meaning: It warns about the dangers of following a bad example, especially from someone in authority.

Sika mprepru a, ɛyɛ sika a ɛsono

Translation: “Little by little, even dust becomes a heap.” 

Meaning: It emphasizes the importance of persistence and small efforts that accumulate over time.

  1. Not limited to Ghana: While the vast majority of Twi and Akan language speakers are based in Ghana, there are still clusters of Akan tribes in Togo, Benin, and Cote d’Ivoire. They speak languages that are part of the Akan Language cluster and have levels of mutual intelligibility with Twi. Some Akan tribes outside Ghana include the Baoule, Chakosi, Anyi, and Nzema.
  1. Greetings Get Specific:  Twi has greetings that change depending on the time of day and even the day of the week!  There’s a specific way to say good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, as well as greetings for weekdays and weekends

Good Morning: Maakye (informal) or Me ma wo akye (formal)

Good Afternoon: Maaha (informal) or Me ma wo aha (formal)

Good Evening: Maadwo (informal) or Me ma wo adwo (formal)

Greetings by Day:

  • Weekdays (Monday-Friday):
    • Response to any greeting: Yaa nua (to someone your age), Yaa agya/Yaa ena (to someone older)
  • Weekends (Saturday-Sunday):
    • Saturday: Memeso apem apem! (translates to “Happy Saturday!”)
      • Response: Afehyiapa! (translates to “Thank you!”)
    • Sunday: Akwasidae apem apem! (translates to “Happy Sunday!”)
      • Response: Afehyiapa! (translates to “Thank you!”)

So there you have it! 5 interesting facts about the Twi language. Which of them did you find most interesting? Which ones do you already know? and which ones do you know that you would like to share?

Share in the comment section below and click here to begin learning the Twi language or sharpen your speaking skills. At VirTutor Online we provide an easy-to-use virtual learning environment for live lessons with qualified tutors who will have you speaking the language within 6 weeks!

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