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Ewe(ā`vā, –wā), African people, numbering over 3 million, who live in SE Ghana, S Togo, and S Benin. When German Togoland was partitioned after World War I, the Ewe in that colony were divided between France and Britain. The question of reunion was constantly before the United Nations after World War II, but no satisfactory terms of reunification could be found. Part of the Ewe passed (1957) with British Togoland to Ghana by referendum. The Ewe are the largest political group in Togo.
See A. Ellis, The Ewe-speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa (1966).
(self-designation, Ewegbe), a people related to the Fon. The Ewe inhabit southeastern Ghana and southern Togo. According to a 1975 estimate, they number 2.55 million; they speak a Kwa language. Ancient beliefs involving ancestor and nature worship are widespread among the Ewe, although some profess Islam or Christianity. Before European colonization in the 19th century, land cultivation, handicrafts, trade, art, and folklore had reached a high level of development. In modern Ewe society, capitalist relations are combined with vestiges of clan and feudal relations. The Ewe engage primarily in land cultivation, their chief crops being maize, yams, cassava, and sweet potatoes; cocoa beans, oil-palm products, and cotton are produced for export.
REFERENCEVologdina, V. N. “Narod eve.” In Afrikanskii etnograficheskii sb., [fasc] 1. Moscow, 1956.
the language of the Ewe people, spoken in southeastern Ghana and in southern Togo and Benin (Dahomey). According to a 1972 estimate, there are approximately 2 million speakers of Ewe, which is a Kwa language, of the Niger-Kordofanian language family. Ewe comprises three dialect groups: the western, central, and eastern. The western is made up of Anglo (Awuna) and the “interior” dialects; the central is made up of Wachi, Adja, and Gen; and the eastern is made up of Gun, Fon, and Mahi.
Ewe is distinguished by a rich vowel system: it has seven vowels, five of which have nasalized pairs. All vowels have three degrees of length, and there are numerous diphthongs. Consonants include the bicentral labiovelars gb and kp, and there is an opposition between bilabial and labiovelar f and v. Ewe has a dental and retroflex d and clusters of obstruents and resonants. Lexically distinctive tones exhibit phonological opposition.
Ewe is an isolating language. Simple words are mainly monosyllabic, and composition and reduplication are used extensively. There are derivational prefixes. The person and number of the verb are expressed by subject pronouns; aspect and tense, by special markers and by reduplication. The attribute precedes the word it modifies.
A Latin alphabet was devised in the late 19th century. Ewe literature is published mainly in the Anglo dialect.
REFERENCESWestermann, D. Grammatik der Ewe-Sprache. Berlin, 1907.
Westermann, D. Wörterbuch der Ewe-Sprache. Berlin, 1954.
Ansre, G. The Tonal Structure of Ewe. Hartford, Conn., 1961.
V. IA. PORKHOMOVSKII