Kpelle (Kpɛlɛwoo) Kpelle

Kpelle is a member of Mande group of Niger-Congo languages spoken by about 1.3 million people in Liberia and Guinea. The are about 500,000 Kpelle speakers in Guinea, mainly in the forest regions. In Liberia Kpelle is spoken by about 800,000 people, and is taught in schools

Kpelle Syllabary

The Kpelle syllabary was invented during the 1930s by Chief Gbili of Sanoyea in Bong County in Liberia. He was apparently inspired to create it in a dream. It was used by a number of Kpelle chiefs, their scribes and a few others. They used it to write messages, keep records of taxes, stores and debts, and to write a recipe book. Very little of this material survives because of the civil wars in Liberia. It was used at least until the 1980s.

Notable features

Kpelle syllabary

The Kpelle font used on this page was created by Jason Glavy

Source: Mafundikwa, Saki, Afrikan Alphabets - The story of writing in Afrika (New York, Mark Batty, 2004)

Latin alphabet for Kpelle

Today Kpelle is usually written with a version of the Latin alphabet.

Latin alphabet for Kpelle

Tones are indicated as follows: á = high tone, à = mid tone, â = falling tone.

Details of the Latin alphabet for Kpelle supplied by Michael Peter Füstumum

Download script charts for Kpelle (Excel)

Sample text in Kpelle (Latin alphabet)

Nukan gele kaa pələ kaa tanɔn, yiliɓa nu kəle maawiyə pələ da tɔɔi gaa ɲei yɛnɛyii hu kɛpələ kaalɔ tanɔn; di kɛmɛni a nukan ŋaa ɓə gɛɛ hwəkɛli wɛlikɛmaa ə lɔ di luwai.


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample text in Kpelle (Kpelle syllabary)

Sample text in the Kpelle syllabary


Sample videos in Kpelle

Information about Kpelle | Numbers | Tower of Babel


Information about Kpelle

Mande languages

Bambara, Boko, Busa, Dan, Dioula, Kpelle, Loma, Mandinka, Maninka, Mano, Mende, Soninke, Susu, Vai


Bamum, Caroline Island Script, Celtiberian, Cherokee, Cypriot, Dunging (Iban), Eskayan, Hiragana, Iberian, Katakana, Kpelle, Loma, Mende (Kikakui), Mwangwego, Ndjuká, Nüshu, Nwagụ Aneke, Vai, Yi, Yugtun

Other writing systems

Page last modified: 05.07.23


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