Ethnologue: Areas: Africa

Liberia

3,005,000 (1995). Republic of Liberia. Literacy rate 25% (1989 WA); 21.8% (1977 C. M. Brann). Also people from Lebanon, elsewhere in West Africa. Information mainly from TILL 1995, Vanderaa 1991. Data accuracy estimate: A1, A2. Traditional religion, Muslim, Christian. Blind population 15,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf institutions: 1. The number of languages listed for Liberia is 34.

BANDI (BANDE, GBANDI, GBANDE, GBUNDE) [GBA] 70,800 in Liberia (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). 50,000 have fled to Guinea (1993 Johnstone). Lofa County, northwest Liberia. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Southwestern, Loma-Loko, Loko-Mende, Mende-Bandi. Dialects: TAHAMBA, WAWANA, WULUKOHA, HASALA, LUKASA, HEMBEH. Erroneously but often called 'Gbandi' or 'Gbande'. Tahamba dialect used for literature. 96% lexical similarity among the 6 dialects; 83% with the closest Mende dialect. Grammars. Traditional religion, Muslim, Christian. Bible portions 1954-1995. Work in progress.

BASSA [BAS] 347,600 in Liberia (1991 L. Vanderaa); 5,000 in Sierra Leone (1991 D. Slager UBS); 353,000 in all countries. Grand Bassa, Rivercess, and Montserrado counties, central Liberia. Gbii overlaps into Nimba County. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Bassa. Dialects: GBOR, GBA SOR, MABAHN, HWEN GBA KON, CENTRAL BASSA, RIVERCESS BASSA. An indigenous Vah script developed around 1900 by Dr. Lewis, alphabetical, with tone marked, is still used among older men. Different from Bassa of Nigeria or Bassa (Basaa) of Cameroon. Most areas are accessible by road. Typology: SVO. Tropical forest. Hills, marshes. Agriculturalists: upland rice. Christian, traditional religion. NT 1970. Bible portions 1844-1988.

DAN (YACOUBA, YAKUBA, GIO, GYO, DA, GIO-DAN) [DAF] 150,800 to 200,000 in Liberia (1993 M. Bolli SIL); 800,000 in Côte d'Ivoire (1993 M. Bolli); 70,600 in Guinea (1991 Vanderaa); 1,020,000 to 1,220,000 in all countries. Nimba County, north central Liberia. Niger-Congo, Mande, Eastern, Southeastern, Southern, Kweni-Tura, Tura-Dan-Mano, Tura-Dan. Dialects: UPPER GIO, LOWER GIO, RIVER CESS GIO. Speakers in Garplay understood Côte d'Ivoire Yacouba dialect tapes as follows: Danane, Koulinle, Kale: very well; Blosse: quite well; Bloundo: reasonably well; dialects east of Blouno: considerable difficulty (M. Bolli SIL 1971). Traditional religion. NT 1981-1993. Bible portions 1943-1981.

DEWOIN (DE, DEY, DEI, DEWOI) [DEE] 8,100 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Montserrado County near the coast and Monrovia, primarily between the Lofa and St. Paul rivers. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Bassa. 72% lexical similarity with Bassa. Many loans from other languages. No significant dialect differences. Bilingualism testing with Gola and Vai is needed. Many speak English. 5% literate. Muslim, traditional religion, Christian. Survey needed.

ENGLISH [ENG] 69,000 or 2.5% of the population are Americo-Liberian (1993); 470,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Dialect: LIBERIAN STANDARD ENGLISH. National language. Bible 1535-1989. NT 1525-1985. Bible portions 1530-1987.

GBII (GBI-DOWLU, GBEE) [GGB] 5,600 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Nimba County, central Liberia, west of Cestos River. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Bassa. Dialects: KPLOR, DORBOR. 78% lexical similarity with Bassa. Many understand Bassa, but the reverse is not true. Many understand English. The northern area is accessible by road. Traditional religion.

GLARO-TWABO [GLR] 3,900 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Grand Gedeh County, northeastern Liberia. Refugees in Côte d'Ivoire. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Wee, Guere-Krahn. Dialects: GLARO, TWABO. Glaro and Twabo have 87% lexical similarity. 82% lexical similarity with some Eastern Krahn dialects. Minimal intelligibility between Twabo and some Eastern Krahn dialects, but not between Glaro and Eastern Krahn. Tropical forest. Traditional religion. Work in progress.

GLIO-OUBI (GLIO, OUBI, UBI) [OUB] 3,500 in Liberia (1991); 2,500 in Côte d'Ivoire (1991); 6,000 in all countries (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Northeast. Six towns on each side of the border. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Glio-Oubi. Called 'Glio' in Liberia and 'Oubi' in Côte d'Ivoire. Closest lexical similarity is 75% with Twabo of Liberia and 73% with Trepo of Côte d'Ivoire. Accessible by road. Traditional religion.

GOLA [GOL] 99,300 in Liberia (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC); 8,000 in Sierra Leone (1989 TISLL); 107,300 in all countries. Western Liberia, between the Mano and St. Paul rivers. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Atlantic, Southern, Mel, Gola. Dialects: DENG (TODII), KONGBA, SENJE. Different from Gola of Nigeria or Gola (Badyara) of Guinea and Guinea Bissau. Typology: SVO, tonal, CV. Mainly Muslim, Christian, traditional religion. Bible portions. Work in progress.

GREBO, BARCLAYVILLE (WEDEBO GREBO) [GRY] 23,700 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). 223,000 all Grebo languages in Liberia (1993 Johnstone). Grand Gedeh County. Southeast coast and inland, between Klaoh and Jabo Grebo. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Dialects: WEDEBO, KPLEBO. A dialect cluster. Dialects are quite distinct. There are strong ethnocentric attitudes between subgroups. Traditional religion.

GREBO, E JE (EH JE) [GRB] 47,800 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Southeast, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties near the Côte d'Ivoire border, south of Krahn, north of Klao and Fopo-Bua Grebo, west of Glaro. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Dialects: CHEDEPO, E JE, PALIPO, GBEPO (GBEAPO), JEDEPO, TIENPO, KLEPO. Dialect cluster. Dialects are quite distinct. Ethnocentric attitudes are strong between different subgroups. Traditional religion. NT 1989. Bible portions 1838-1987.

GREBO, FOPO-BUA [GEF] 16,800 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Southeast, east of Klaoh, north of Barclayville Grebo, west of Gboloo Grebo, south of E Je Grebo. Kru Coast County. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Dialects: FOPO, BUA, GBOAO. A dialect cluster. Dialects quite distinct. Ethnocentric attitudes are strong between subgroups. Traditional religion.

GREBO, GBOLOO (GBOLOO, GBLOU GREBO) [GEC] 56,300 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Eastern Province, Maryland County, eastern border, north of Jabo Grebo. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Dialects: GEDEROBO, NYANOUN, TUOBO, BIABO, DEDIEBO. Accessible by road or foot. Tropical forest. Traditional religion. Work in progress.

GREBO, GLEBO [GEU] 28,700 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Eastern Province, Maryland County, southeastern coast. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Coastal. Traditional religion.

GREBO, GLOBO [GRV] Eastern border. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Dialects: GLOBO, NYENEBO, DOROBO, BOROBO, TREMBO. Distinct from Gboloo. Dialects may be quite distinct. Traditional religion.

GREBO, JABO [GRJ] Grand Gedeh County. Southeast corner, west and north of Seaside Grebo. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Dialects: JABO, NYABO, WRELPO. A dialect cluster. Dialects are quite distinct. Ethnocentric attitudes are strong between subgroups. Traditional religion.

GREBO, NORTHEASTERN (NITIABO GREBO) [GRP] 19,900 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Grand Gedeh County, eastern border, north of Gboloo Grebo. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Dialects: NITIABO, SABO, TUOBO, KETIEPO, WEBO. A dialect cluster. Dialects are quite distinct. Ethnocentric attitudes are strong between subgroups. Webo and Ketiepo may be closer to Côte d'Ivoire dialects. Traditional religion.

GREBO, SEASIDE [GRF] (30,100 in all countries; 1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Eastern Province, Maryland County. Southeast corner along the coast and inland, west and north of Glebo. Mainly refugees in Côte d'Ivoire. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Liberian. Traditional religion.

KISI, SOUTHERN (KISSI, GIZI, GISI, KISSIEN) [KSS] 115,000 in Liberia (1995); 85,000 in Sierra Leone (1995); 200,000 in all countries. Lofa County, extreme northwest corner of Liberia. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Atlantic, Southern, Mel, Bullom-Kissi, Kissi. Dialects: LUANGKORI, TENGIA, WARN. Different from Northern Kissi of Guinea. 20% literate. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim. NT 1991. Bible portions 1982-1987.

KLAO (KRU, KROO, KLAOH, KLAU) [KLU] 184,000 in Liberia (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC); 8,000 in Sierra Leone (1989 LBT); 192,000 in all countries. Coastal and inland, Eastern Province. Large communities in major West African port cities such as Freetown, Sierra Leone; Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria. Also in USA. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Klao. Dialects: WESTERN KLAOH, WEST CENTRAL KLAOH, CENTRAL KLAOH, EASTERN KLAOH. Typology: SVO main clause; SOV embedded clause. Traditional religion. NT in press (1996). Bible portions 1921-1989.

KPELLE, LIBERIA (KPELE, GBESE, PESSA, PESSY, KPWESSI) [KPE] 487,400 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Central. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Southwestern, Kpelle. Largest group in Liberia. Dialect differences are slight. Different enough from Kpelle of Guinea to need separate literature. Traditional religion, Christian. NT 1967. Bible portions 1922-1964.

KRAHN, EASTERN [KQO] 47,000 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC), including 20,000 Tchien (1992 UBS). Northeast near Côte d'Ivoire border. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Wee, Konobo. Dialects: GORBO, KANNEH, KONOBO, TCHIEN (CHIEHN). Gorbo and Kanneh have 93% lexical similarity with each other and 87% with Konobo. Minimal intelligibility between some dialects and Twabo. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim. NT in press (1996). Bible portions 1953-1994.

KRAHN, WESTERN (KRAHN, NORTHERN KRAHN) [KRW] 47,800 in Liberia (1991); 12,200 in Côte d'Ivoire )1993 SIL); 60,000 in all countries (1990 UBS). Near the border of Côte d'Ivoire, Grand Gedeh County. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Wee, Guere-Krahn. Dialects: GBO, GBAESON (GBAISON, GBARZON), PLO, BIAI, GBARBO, GBORBO (GBOBO), KPEAPLY. Dialects in Côte d'Ivoire are Pewa, Nidru, Biai. They have French influences and orthography differences. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim. NT 1992-1995.

KRUMEN, TEPO (SOUTHERN KRUMEN, KRUMEN, KROUMEN, KRU) [TED] (29,900 in Côte d'Ivoire; 1991). Glawlo dialect is in southeastern Liberia. Other dialects are in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Grebo, Ivorian. Dialects: TEPO, BAPO, PLAPO, WLOPO (ROPO), DAPO, HONPO, YREPO (KAPO), GLAWLO. Traditional religion. Bible portions 1921-1981. Work in progress.

KUWAA (KWAA, KOWAAO, BELLEH, BELLE) [BLH] 12,800 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Lofa County, south of Bandi and Loma, north of Kpelle. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Kuwaa. Only minor pronunciation differences exist between the two Kuwaa clans; Lubaisu and Gbade. Many of the Kuwaa also speak the nearby languages Bandi, Loma, and Kpelle. 5% literate. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim. NT 1989. Bible portions 1982.

LIBERIAN ENGLISH (LIBERIAN PIDGIN ENGLISH) [LIR] (1,500,000 second language users; 1984 census). Pidgin, English based, Atlantic. Dialect: KRU PIDGIN ENGLISH. Regional dialects. Used as a second language for communication between different language groups. As different from Standard English as is Sierra Leone Krio. Repidginized from American Black English of the 1800's (J. Holm). The government broadcasts news and public service announcements in Liberian English because many people do not understand Standard English (N. Lightfoot 1989). Trade language. Survey needed.

LOMA (LOGHOMA, LORMA, "BUZI", "BUSY", "BOUZE") [LOM] 141,800 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Northwest Liberia Loffa County, border area. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Southwestern, Loma-Loko, Loma. Dialects: GIZIMA, WUBOMEI, ZIEMA, BUNDE, BULUYIEMA. Literature and literacy program. "Buzi" is an offensive name. Distinct enough from Toma of Guinea to need separate literature. Different from Loma of Côte d'Ivoire. Traditional religion, Christian. NT 1971. Bible portions 1949-1967.

MANINKA [MNI] 33,800 in Liberia (1991); 1,816,500 in Guinea (1991); 200,000 in Mali (1991); 90,000 in Sierra Leone (1991); 2,140,300 in all countries. In towns along roads. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Northern, Greater Mandekan, Mandekan, Manding. The same as the Kankan dialect of Guinea (Welmers 1971). No indigenous region in Liberia. Traders. Muslim. NT 1932-1966. Bible portions 1931-1964.

MANO (MAA, MAH, MAWE) [MEV] 185,000 in Liberia (1995); 40,000 in Guinea (1995); 225,000 in both countries (1995 R. Jones SIL). Nimba County, north central Liberia. Niger-Congo, Mande, Eastern, Southeastern, Southern, Kweni-Tura, Tura-Dan-Mano, Mano. Traditional religion, Christian. NT 1978. Bible portions 1946-1987.

MANYA (MANYA KAN, MANDINGO) [MZJ] 45,400 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Northern, Greater Mandekan, Mandekan, Manding. An indigenous Liberian language related to Maninka, but distinct. Muslim, Christian.

MENDE (BOUMPE, HULO, KOSSA, KOSSO) [MFY] 19,700 in Liberia (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC); 1,240,000 in Sierra Leone (1989 TISLL); 1,260,000 in all countries. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Southwestern, Loma-Loko, Loko-Mende, Mende-Bandi. Muslim. Bible 1959. NT 1956. Bible portions 1867-1954. Work in progress.

SAPO (SOUTHERN KRAHN, SARPO) [KRN] 31,600 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Eastern, Sinoe County, and Grand-Gedeh County (Putu). Adjacent to Eastern Krahn, Tchien dialect. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Wee, Guere-Krahn. Dialects: NOMOPO (NIMPO), WAYA (WEDJAH), JUARZON, SINKON (SENKON), PUTU, KABADE (KARBARDAE). All Guéré and Sapo dialects are related by 84% to 97% lexical similarity, including some Guéré dialects in Côte d'Ivoire. Traditional religion, Christian. Bible portions 1956.

TAJUASOHN (TAJUOSOHN, TAJUOSO, TAJUASON) [KRU] 9,600 (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Sino County, north of Greenville. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Kru, Western, Klao. Five clans speaking inherently intelligible dialects. Many can understand Klao, but the reverse is not true. Traditional religion. Work in progress.

VAI (VEI, VY, GALLINAS, GALLINES) [VAI] 89,500 in Liberia (1991); 15,500 in Sierra Leone (1991); 105,000 in all countries (1991 L. Vanderaa CRC). Western. Niger-Congo, Mande, Western, Northwestern, Northern, Greater Mandekan, Vai-Kono. Not intelligible with Kono. Indigenous script; a syllabary invented by Duala Bukare in the 1820's or 1830's. 10% literate. Grammar. Typology: SOV. Muslim, traditional religion, Christian. Bible portions 1995. Work in progress.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
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