Monday, June 11, 2012

Languages of Liberia

All the languages of Liberia are classified under the Niger-Congo family (including the Akan branch of the Fanti, but excluding the Liberian English and Lebanese, etc. imported to the region).  There are two main sub-groups under this heading as follows:

The distribution of these languages is shown in the map below with the Atlantic-Congo family separated into the more specific Kru and Atlantic (Mel) groups:

Language map of Liberia
from - Used by permission

I don't want to get too technical here.  Instead I'd like to give you an opportunity to actually hear some of these languages spoken.  I've been searching the internet for audio files of these languages and have found the following examples (most are from missionary translation work of the bible or the Jesus Film).  Enjoy hearing Liberia speak!:

Mande Languages:
  • Bandi
  • Gio/Dan 
  • Kpelle
  • Loma
  • Mandinka (Mandingo tribe)
  • Mano
  • Mende
  • Vai (check out the cool script on the opening title sequence --- this is a native script that has an interesting history I hope to share about at a later date)

Atlantic-Congo Languages:

Kru Languages:

Atlantic (Mel) Languages:

Lastly there is actually a Liberian English version recorded as well.  That can be heard here. (you will have to select a 'Message' then select a 'version' then click 'hear an audio sample'.)  For a brief introduction to Liberian English you can check out my earlier post here.  

I hope you enjoyed hearing Liberia speak!


  1. I am really impressed along with your writing skills and also with the format on your blog.
    map of Liberia

  2. Hello. I'm looking for a specific language that I can only identify by the word for something to the effect of "leopard beside a river". I've lost the exact spelling but I will try to spell it phonetically in English. "Nimbatchi".