Ewe language

Ewe (native name Ɛ̀ʋɛ̀gbè, ) is a Niger-Congo language spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin by approximately five million people. Ewe is part of a cluster of related languages commonly called Gbe, stretching from eastern Ghana to western Nigeria. Other Gbe languages include Fon and Aja. Like other Gbe languages, Ewe is a tone language.

The German Africanist Diedrich Hermann Westermann published many dictionaries and grammars of Ewe and several other Gbe languages. Other linguists who have worked on Ewe and closely related languages include Gilbert Ansre (tone, syntax), Herbert Stahlke (morphology, tone), Nick Clements (tone, syntax), Roberto Pazzi (anthropology, lexicography), Felix K. Ameka (semantics, cognitive linguistics), Alan Stewart Duthie (semantics, phonetics), Hounkpati B. Capo (phonology, phonetics), Enoch Aboh (syntax), and Chris Collins (syntax).



Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Labial-velar Glottal
Plosive p b t d ɖ k ɡ k͡p mi 'you', and the second person singular pronoun 'you' is marked low to distinguish it from the third person plural pronoun wo 'they/them'

  • ekpɔ wò — 'he saw you'
  • ekpɔ wo — 'he saw them'


Ewe is a Subject Verb Object language. The possessor precedes the head noun. Adjectives, numerals, demonstratives and relative clauses follow the head noun.

Ewe has a rich system of serial verb constructions (see Ansre 1961).


Ewe is a national language in Togo and Ghana.


  • Ansre, Gilbert (1961) The Tonal Structure of Ewe. MA Thesis, Kennedy School of Missions of Hartford Seminary Foundation.
  • Ameka, Felix Kofi (2001) 'Ewe'. In Garry and Rubino (eds.), Fact About the World's Languages: An Encyclopedia of the World's Major Languages, Past and Present, 207-213. New York/Dublin: The H.W. Wilson Company.
  • Collins, Chris. 1993. Topics in Ewe Syntax. Doctoral Dissertation, MIT.
  • Capo, Hounkpati B.C. (1991) A Comparative Phonology of Gbe, Publications in African Languages and Linguistics, 14. Berlin/New York: Foris Publications & Garome, Bénin: Labo Gbe (Int).
  • Pasch, Helma (1995) Kurzgrammatik des Ewe Köln: Köppe.
  • Westermann, Diedrich Hermann (1930) A Study of the Ewe Language London: Oxford University Press.

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