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(Tshi, Tchi), the language of the Ashanti and Fanti peoples, including the Asante and Fante dialects. Twi is spoken in the southern part of the Republic of Ghana by approximately 3.7 million people (1970, estimate). Twi, together with Anyi, Baule, Metyibo, Abure, and other languages spoken in southern and central Ghana and the neighboring regions of the Ivory Coast and Togo, belongs to the Akan subgroup of the Kwa group of languages in the Congo-Kordofanian language family.
The phonetic characteristics of Twi include a rich vowel system (five degrees of openness in vowels) and a relatively meager inventory of consonants. Most words have a phonetic structure of the type CV, CVC, or CVCV. Twi is a tonal language. Grammatical meanings—tense and aspect for verbs and number and class for nouns—are rendered analytically and by means of agglutinative prefixes and suffixes. Class concord has survived only among certain adjectives. Word order is fixed. A literature exists, based on the Twi dialect (dating from the 1860’s), Asante dialect (from the late 19th century), and Fante dialect (from the 1880’s). Twi is the language of education, the press, radio, and literature.
REFERENCESWelmers, W. E. A Descriptive Grammar of Fanti. Baltimore, 1946.
Akrofi, C. A. Twi kasa mmara. London, 1952.
Bartels, F. L., and J. A. Annobil. Mfantse nkasafua dwumadzi: A Fante Grammar of Function, 2nd ed. Cape Coast, 1948.
Redden, J. E., and N. Owusu. Twi: Basic Course. Washington, D.C., 1963.
Christaller, J. G. Dictionary of the Asante and Fante Language Called Tshi (Twi), 2nd ed. Basel, 1933.
A. A. ZIMENSKII