Ligbi language

Native to Ghana
Region Brong-Ahafo region, adjacent part of Ivory Coast
Native speakers
(19,000 cited 1991–2003)[1]
  • Mande

    • Western Mande
      • Central
        • Manding–Jogo
          • Jogo–Jeri
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lig
Glottolog ligb1244[2]

Ligbi (or Ligby) is a Mande language spoken in Ghana in the north-west corner of the Brong-Ahafo Region. Ligbi is spoken by approximately 10,000 speakers (1988 GILLBT/SIL). It is fairly closely related to Jula, Vai and Kono. A small population of Ligbi speakers (around 4,000) is reported to live in Ivory Coast (Vanderaa 1991). Ligbi is also known as Wela (Hwela) or Numu. The latter of these refers to a subsection of the Ligbi people; Numu is Dyula for 'blacksmith'. (See blacksmiths of western Africa.)

The Ligbi area in Ghana is bordered to the west by Nafaanra, the Senufo language of the Nafana people. The Ligbi people have come to the area of Begho (Bighu), an ancient trading town on the Tain river in Ghana, in the early 17th century before the Nafana.[3]

Ligbi has seven oral and seven nasal vowels. It is a tonal language with two level tones, High and Low. Syllables are of the form (C1)V(C2) or N (a syllabic nasal), where CV is the most common syllable type. C1 can be any of the consonants, whereas the optional C2 slot can have only nasals homorganic with the following consonants, e.g., gbám mádáánè "nine houses," gbán táà "ten houses." V (a vowel) alone occurs word-initial only in personal pronouns, some loan words, and names, e.g., á jádɛ̀ "we have come."


  1. Ligbi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Ligbi". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Jack Goody, "The Mande and the Akan Hinterland", in: The Historian in Tropical Africa, J.Vansina, R.Mauny and L.V.Thomas eds., 1964, London, Oxford University, 192-218


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