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Kpelle language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RegionLiberia, Guinea
Native speakers
(1.3 million cited 1991–2012)[1]
Niger–Congo ?
Kpelle syllabary, African reference alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-2kpe
ISO 639-3kpe – inclusive code
Individual codes:
gkp – Guinea Kpelle
xpe – Liberia Kpelle
knu – Kono
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Kpelle /kəˈpɛlə/[3] language (endonym: "Kpɛlɛɛ"[4]) is spoken by the Kpelle people and is part of the Mande family of languages. Guinean Kpelle (known as Guerze in French), spoken by half a million people, concentrated primarily, but not exclusively, in the forest regions of Guinea, whose capital, Nzérékoré, is the third largest city in Guinea and the largest city in the Guinée forestière region of south-eastern Guinea bordering Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone. Liberian Kpelle, spoken by half again as many, is currently taught in schools in Liberia.

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The Lord's Prayer in Kpelle:[5]

Kunâŋ gáa ŋele sui,
Tɔɔ ku iláai siɣe a maa waa.
Tɔɔ Ikâloŋ-laai é pá,
Tɔɔ ínîa-mɛni é kέ,
Nɔii ma ɓɛ yɛ̂ɛ berei gáa la Ɣâla-taai.
I kukɔ sâa a kuɣele-kuu tɔnɔ-tɔnɔ mii-sɛŋ;
I ipôlu fe kutɔ̂ŋ-karaa-ŋai dîa,
Yɛ̂ɛ berei kwa kupôlu fè la kuɓarâai ditɔ̂ŋ-karaa-ŋai dîai;
Tɔɔ kutúɛ kufe pili yee-laa-maa su,
Kέlɛ, i kukúla mɛni nyɔ́mɔɔ su.



Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial-Velar
Plosive plain p t k k͡p
voiced b d ɡ ɡ͡b
Implosive ɓ
Fricative plain f s
voiced v z ɣ
Trill r
Lateral l
Nasal m n ŋ
Approximant j w


Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a



  1. ^ Kpelle at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Guinea Kpelle at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Liberia Kpelle at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Kono at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kpelle". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. ^ "Kpɛlɛɛ Kɔlɔi 2" [Kpelle reader #2]. 2nd ed. Totota: Kpelle Literacy Center, 1959, 1.
  5. ^ Matthew 6:9-13 in the Gbanaŋ-woo-kɛɛ ninai ["Kpelle New Testament"]. Monrovia: Bible Society in Liberia and United Bible Societies, 1992. Online link.
  6. ^ Thach, Sharon V.; Dwyer, David J. (1981). Kpelle: A Reference Handbook of Phonetics, Grammar, Lexicon, and Learning Procedures (PDF).

External links

This page was last edited on 19 November 2019, at 11:36
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