Dagaare belongs to the Niger-Congo phylum and to the Oti-Volta genetic group of Gur languages.
Among the Gur languages, Dagaare is classified more specifically as a northern Mabia language which also includes Dagbanli, Farefare, Mampruli, Hanga and Kusaal.
The closest to Dagaare is Safaliba, a language with a small population of about 5, 000 speakers in the Northern Region of Ghana. Safaliba is specifically spoken in Mandare, Tankpe and Buanfo (all near Bole). The next closest are Farefare, spoken in north-eastern Ghana, and Moore, the major indigenous language of Burkina Faso and the largest Mabia language.
There are six principle dialects in dagare namely: Dagara, Lobr, Wiile (aka Wule or Ule), Central Dagaare (known among speakers of other dialects as Ngmere), Waali (a.k.a. Waala or Waale) and Birifor.
Lobr and Wiile constitute the northern dialect area.
Wiile speakers are found around Lawra in Ghana and in Dano, Guéguéré, Oronkua and Legmoin (or Lagman) in Burkina Faso. Dagara speakers extend from towns and villages around Lawra through Nandom and Hamale (all in Ghana) into Burkina Faso, covering towns such as Dissin, Mariatang, and Nyebo (Dakubu 2005). Central Dagaare is spoken in Jirapa, Daffiama, Nadowli and their surrounding towns and villages. Waali is the principal southern dialect and is spoken in Wa and towns and villages surrounding it.
Central Dagaare is the officially chosen to represent as language of study and for official communication.
It is studied in two universities in Ghana namely the University of Education Winneba and the University of Ghana Legon.
Birifor consists of two sub-dialects (i.e. Northern and Southern Birifor) with considerable variation and together they cover the western dialect area of Dagaare.
Birifor is spoken in Ghana, south of Wa, around Sawla and Tuna, and in west of the Black Volta river in Burkina Faso, particularly around Malba, Diebougou, Gaoua and Batié. It is also spoken in the north-eastern corner of Côte d‘Ivoire.
Pius Babuna .
Reference, Prof Adams Bodomo.