The official language of Togo is French, which belongs to the Indo-European language family. French was the language of government and administration during the colonial era and has remained since Togo achieved independence. It is written with the same Latin alphabet as the English language, but also uses accent marks over certain vowels in order to stress pronunciation. Other nationally recognized languages in Togo include: Kabiyé and Ewé. Kabiyé is heard primarily in the northern regions and belongs to the Gurunsi subgroup of the Niger-Congo language family. Ewé, in contrast, is concentrated in the southern regions and belongs to the Gbe subgroup of the Niger-Congo language family.

Togo has a population size of around 7.757 million. Of these individuals, approximately 30% (2.643 million) speak French, primarily as a second language. The Ewé language has around 862,000 speakers, most of which live in the towns of: Notsé, Tsévié, Atakpamé, and Kpalimé. Kabiyé is spoken by approximately 975,000 individuals at the opposite end of the country.

Given its widespread use, having familiarity with some French phrases is a good idea before traveling to Togo. It will be particularly useful when in Lomé, the capital of the country. Basic greetings and polite phrases in French include: “hello” (bonjour), “my name is” (je m'appelle), “goodbye” (au revoir), “please” (s'il vous plait), and “thank you” (merci). Learning some Kabiyé phrases would be useful if traveling to the northern areas of Togo, as would learning Ewé if traveling to the south.

Togo is considered a multilingual country, which means that languages other than French, Ewé, and Kabiyé are spoken here. Some linguists estimate that as many as 39 languages are used by the people of this country. Examples of minority languages spoken here include: Lukpa, Adele, Ditammari, Fula, Mina, and Kotokoli. Just as the national languages are divided between the northern and southern regions, so are the minority languages. Those belonging to the Gur subgroup are most common in the north, while the south is primarily filled with languages belonging to the Kwa language subgroup.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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