Kru languages

The Kru languages belong to the Niger–Congo language family and are spoken by the Kru people from the southeast of Liberia to the east of Ivory Coast.

Kru
Geographic
distribution
Ivory Coast, Liberia, Burkina Faso
Linguistic classificationNiger–Congo
Subdivisions
ISO 639-2 / 5kro
Glottologkrua1234  (Kru)[1]
siam1242  (Siamou)[2]
Kru languages.png
Kru languages, labeled as above

EtymologyEdit

The term "Kru" is of unknown origin. According to Westermann (1952) it was used by Europeans to denote a number of tribes speaking related dialects. Marchese (1989) notes the fact that many of these peoples were recruited as "crew" by European seafarers; "the homonymy with crew is obvious, and is at least one source of the confusion among Europeans that there was a Kru/crew tribe".[3]

ClassificationEdit

Andrew Dalby noted the historical importance of the Kru languages for their position at the crossroads of African-European interaction. He wrote that "Kru and associated languages were among the first to be encountered by European voyagers on what was then known as the Pepper Coast, a centre of the production and export of Guinea and melegueta pepper; a once staple African seaborne trade".[4] The Kru languages are known for some of the most complex tone systems in Africa, rivaled perhaps only by the Omotic languages.

Current statusEdit

Recent documentation has noted "Kru societies can now be found along the coast of Monrovia, Liberia to Bandama River in Côte d'Ivoire".[5] "Villages maintain their ties based on presumed common descent, reinforced by ceremonial exchanges and gifts".[5] The Kru people and their languages, although now many speak English (in Liberia) or French (in Côte d'Ivoire) as a second language, are said to be "dominant in the southwest region where the forest zone reaches the coastal lagoons".[5] The Kru people rely on the forest for farming, supplemented by hunting for their livelihood. In 2010, Kru and associated languages were spoken by 95 percent of the approximately 3.5 million people in Liberia.

Subgroups and associated languagesEdit

The Kru languages include many subgroups such as Kuwaa, Grebo, Bassa, Belle, Belleh, Kwaa and many others. According to Breitbonde, categorization of communities based on cultural distinctiveness, historical or ethnic identity, and socio-political autonomy "may have brought about the large number of distinct Kru dialects; "Although the natives were in many respects similar in type and tribe, every village was an independent state; there was also very little intercommunication".[6] Breitbonde notes the Kru people were categorized based on their cultural distinctiveness, separate historical or ethnic identities, and social and political autonomy. This is the possible reason for so many subgroups of the Kru language. As noted by Fisiak, there is very little documentation on the Kru and associated languages.[7]

Marchese's (1989) classification of Kru languages is as follows.[8] Many of these languages are dialect clusters and are sometimes considered more than a single language.

Kru  

Sɛmɛ (Siamou)

Aizi

Kuwaa

Kru  proper 
 Eastern  Kru
 Bakwe 

Bakwe

Wane

 Bété 

Kuya

Godié

Dida

Kodia (Kwadia)

 Western  Kru
 Bassa 

Bassa

Dewoin

Gbii

 Grebo 

Grebo (Jabo)

Krumen

Glio-Oubi

 Klao 

Klao

Tajuasohn

 Wee 
 Guere 

Daho-Doo

Glaro-Twabo

Sapo

Krahn

Nyabwa

Konobo

Wobe

Ethnologue adds Neyo, which may be closest to Dida or Godie.

GrammarEdit

Kru word order is primarily subject-verb-object (SVO), but can also often be subject-object-verb (SOV).[8]

Comparative vocabularyEdit

Sample basic vocabulary of 12 Kru languages from Marchese (1983):[9]

Language eye ear nose tooth tongue mouth blood bone tree water eat name
Tepo jíê nω̂â mɪ̂jã́ ɲɛ́ mɛ̂ wũ̂t dâblώ klá tûgbɛ̀ nîjẽ́
Jrwe ɟró nω̃̂ã̂ mɪ̃̂ã̂ ɲɛ̃́ mɛ̃̂ wṹ klώω̂ klá túwɛ̀ nĩ́ẽ́ dîdɛ̂ ɲɔ̃́
Guere ɟrííē dōṹ mlâ ɲnɪ̃̂ɛ̄̃ mē̃õ̀ ŋɔ̄̃ ɲmɔ̄̃ kpâ dîɛ̄ ɲnɪ̃̂
Wobé ɟríɛ́ dōṹ mlã̂ ɲnə̃̂ mɛ̄̃õ̀ ŋʷɔ̄̃ nmɔ̄ kpâ nĩ́ ɲnẽ̂
Niaboua ɟîrî lòkû máná ɲéɲé méɛ̃̀ ŋʷɔ̄̃ ɲēmō kpá ɲéɲé
Bété (Daloa) ɟi jûkûlî mlə̂ gléí mɪ́ɔ́ ŋō drú kwâ ɲû ŋʉ̂nɪ̂
Bété (Guibéroua) jiri júkwɨ́lí mə́ɲə́ gʌ̂lʌ̂ mɪ̄ɔ̄ nûə̂ dûrû kwá ɲú ŋʉ́ɲɪ́
Néyo jɪ́ ɲúkwlí mlé glè mɪ̄ɔ̄ dòlū féē sūú ɲú jlɪ́
Godié jɨdí ɲūkúlú mə́ɲə́ gə̄lè mɪ̄ɔ̄ nə̄ drù féè ɲú ɗɨ̄ ŋʉ́nʉ́
Koyo jɪjē ɲúkiwí glà mɪ̄ɔ̄ nə́ dòlú féjē sūú ɲú lɨ̄ ŋɨ́nɨ́
Dida ɲúkwlí mné glā mɪ̄ɔ̄ nɪ̄ dólū kwíjè ɲú ŋlɪ́
Aïzi zre lωkɔ mωvɔ ɲɪ mrɔ mu ɲre kra ke nrɪ li

An additional sample basic vocabulary of 21 Kru languages from Marchese (1983):[9]

Language eye ear nose tooth tongue mouth blood bone water eat name
Aïzi zre lωkɔ mωvɔ ɲɪ mrɔ mu ɲre kra nrɪ li
Vata ɲêflú mênê glà meɔ̄ nɪ̄ dūlū ɲú
Dida ɲúkwlí mné glā mɪ̄ɔ̄ nɪ̄ dòlū kwíjè ɲú ŋlɪ́
Koyo jíjē ɲúkwlí ŋʉ́nʉ́ glà mɪ̄ɔ̄ nə́ dòlú féjē ɲú lɨ̄ ŋɨ́nɨ́
Godié ɲūkúlú mə́ňə́ gə̀lè mɪ̄ɔ̄ nə̄ dřù féè ɲú ɗɨ̄ ŋʉ́nʉ́
Néyo jɪ́ ɲúkwlí mlé glè mɪ̄ɔ̄ dòlū féē ɲú jlɪ́
Bété (Guibéroua) jiři júkwɨ́lí mə́ňə́ gʌ̂lâ mɪ̄ɔ̄ nûə̂ dûřû kwá ɲú nʉ́nɪ́
Bété (Daloa) ɟi jûkûlî mlə̂ gléí mɪ́ɔ́ ŋō dřú kwâ ɲú nʉ̀nɪ̂
Niaboua lòkû mə́ná ɲéné méɛ̃̀ ŋwɔ̃̄ ɲēmō kpá ɲéné
Wobé ɟríɛ́ dōṹ mlã̂ ɲnẽ̂ mɛ̄ɔ̃̀ ŋwɔ̃̄ nmɔ̄ kpâ nĩ́ ɲnẽ̂
Guéré ɟrííē dōṹ mlâ ɲnɪ̃̂ẽ̄ mẽ̄õ̀ ŋɔ̃̄ ɲmɔ̃̄ kpâ dìɛ̄ ɲnɪ̃̂
Konobo jidɔ nao mlã daluo kla ɲɛ di ɲi
Oubi jīrō nōā mēã̄ ŋu dòùlā kala ɲɛ́ dīdɛ̄ ɲírṍ
Bakwe ɲʉ́ ɲákúlú mňṍ glɛ̀ mɛ̄ mʌ́ tùřú kɔ̄ō ɟɨ nrɪ
Tépo jíê nω̂â mɪ̂jã́ ɲɛ́ mɛ́ dâblώ klá nîjẽ́
Grebo nóá méá mɛ̄ ŋwúnɔ̄ ɲénɔ́ klã́ nĩ́ ɲéné
Klao ɟí nɔ̄kũ̀ mnã́ mɛ̄ wɔ̃̄ ɲnɔ̄ kpã́ nĩ́ ɲnɛ̃́
Bassa ɟélé máná wɔ̃̄ nɔmɔ kpá dunu ɗi ɲɛnɛ
Dewoin gire málã́ mīlã̀ wɔ̃̄ĩ́ ɲimo gba ŋɛ́lɛ́
Kuwaa sĩ̌ nɔi ɲũ mɛ̀wũ wɔ̃̀ tòyò kwa nímí ɟì ɲɛlɛ̃
Sɛmɛ ɲa tasjẽ mar ɲen kpar di

NumeralsEdit

Comparison of numerals in individual languages:[10]

Classification Language 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Kuwaa Kuwaa (Belleh) dee sɔ̃r tãã̀ ɲìjɛ̀hɛ wàyɔ̀ɔ wɔ̀rfɔlɛ̀ (5 + 1) kɔrlɔrɔ̃r (5 + 2) kwatãã̀ (5 + 3) kɔ̃yĩ̀yɛ̀hɛ (5 + 4) kowaa
Seme Seme (Siamou) (1) byẽ́ẽ nĩ́ĩ̄ tyáār yūr kwɛ̃̄l kpã̄â kĩ̄î kprɛ̄n̂ kɛ̄l
Seme Seme (Siamou) (2) dyuɔ̃15 nĩ15 tyɛr15 yur3 kwɛ̃l3 k͡pa4a34 kyi4ĩ34 k͡prɛ4ɛ̃34 kal3 fu1
Eastern, Bakwe Bakwé ɗôː sɔ̂ː tʌ̄ː mɾɔ̄ː ɡ͡bə̀ə̄ ŋǔːɗō (5 + 1) ŋǔːsɔ̄ (5 + 2) ŋǔːtʌ̄ (5 + 3) ŋǔːmɾɔ̄ (5 + 4) pʊ̀
Eastern, Bakwe Wané do³ / ɗo³ sɔ² ta³ ⁱhɪɛ̃⁴ ŋʷũ⁴² ŋʷũ⁴² kloː²⁴(5 + 1) ŋʷũ⁴² sɔ² (5 + 2) ŋʷũ⁴² ta³ (5 + 3) ŋʷũ⁴² ⁱhɪɛ̃⁴ (5 + 4) ŋʷũ⁴² bu⁴ or bu⁴
Eastern, Bete Daloa Bété ɓlʊ̄ sɔ̋ mʊ̄wana ŋ́ɡ͡bɨ́ ŋ́ɡ͡bʊplʊ (5 + 1) ŋ́ɡ͡bisɔ́ (5 + 2) ɡ͡bʊ̀wata (5 + 3) ŋ́ɡ͡bimʊwana (5 + 4) kʊ́ɡ͡ba
Eastern, Bete Guiberoua Bété ɓlʊ̄ sɔ̋ mʊ̄wana ŋ́ɡ͡bɨ́ ŋ́ɡ͡bʊplʊ (5 + 1) ŋ́ɡ͡bisɔ́ (5 + 2) ɡ͡bʊ̀wata (5 + 3) ŋ́ɡ͡bimʊwana (5 + 4) kʊ́ɡ͡ba
Eastern, Bete Godié ɓlōō sɔ́ɔ́ tāā ŋ̀mɔ̀ɔ̀nā ŋ̀ɡ͡bɨ́ ŋ̀ɡ͡bóplóo (5 + 1) ŋ̀ɡ͡bɔ̀ɔ́sɔ́ (5 + 2) ŋ̀ɡ͡bàátā (5 + 3) ŋ̀vɔ̀ɔ̀nā kʊ́ɡ͡bá
Eastern, Bete, Eastern Gagnoa Bété ɓɵ̯̀ɺō sɔ̋ tɑ̄ mɔ̀ɔ̀nɔ̄ ŋ͡m̩̄.ɡ͡bú ɡ͡bé.pó̯ɺó (5 + 1) ɡ͡bɔ́ɔ́.sɔ̋ (5 + 2) ɡ͡bɔ̋ɔ́.tā (5 + 3) fɛ̀ɛ̀.nɔ̄ kō.ɡ͡bɔ́
Eastern, Bete, Eastern Guébie Bété ɡ͡bɔlɔ².³ so⁴ ta³¹ mɔna¹.³¹ mŋɡ͡be² mŋɡ͡beɡ͡bɔlɔ².².³ (5 + 1) mŋɡ͡boso³.⁴ (5 + 2) mŋɡ͡bata³.³¹ (5 + 3) mŋɡ͡bɔfɛna³.¹.³¹ (5 + 4) kɔɡ͡ba².³
Eastern, Bete, Eastern Kouya ɓlò sɔ́ mnʊ̀à ɡ͡bu ɡ͡beliɓlò (5 + 1) ɡ͡besɔ́ (5 + 2) ɡ͡betā (5 + 3) ɡ͡bomnʊ̀à (5 + 4) kuɡ͡bua
Eastern, Dida Yocoboué Dida bóló mwɔsɔ́ mwɔtá mwɔná ɛŋɡ͡bɪ́ ɛŋɡ͡bʊ́frɔ (5 + 1) ɛmɓɔ́sɔ́ (5 + 2) ɛmɓáta (5 + 3) ɛmvwaná kóɡ͡ba
Eastern, Dida Neyo ɓɔ̄ló sɔ́ tāā mɔ̀nā ɡ͡bɪ́ ɡ͡bɪ́flɔ́ (5 + 1) ɡ͡básɔ́ (5 + 2) ɡ͡bátā (5 + 3) fɛ̄nā (5 + 4) kʊ́ɡ͡bá
Eastern, Kwadia Kodia ɡ͡bɤlɤ³² / ɓɤlɤ³² sɔː² taː² mɔna⁴³ ⁿɡ͡bɤ³ ⁿɡ͡bɤwlɤ³³³ (5 + 1) ⁿɡ͡bɔː⁴³sɔ³ (5 + 2) ⁿɡ͡baː⁴³ta³ (5 + 3) ⁿɡ͡bɤmɔna³⁴³ (5 + 4) kʊɡ͡ba³³
Western, Bassa Bassa ɖò, dyúáɖò sɔ̃́ hĩinyɛ hm̀m̌ mɛ̀nɛ̌ìn-ɖò (5 + 1) mɛ̀nɛ̌ìn-sɔ̃́ (5 + 2) mɛ̀nɛ̌ìn-tã (5 + 3) mɛ̀nɛ̌ìn-hĩinyɛ (5 + 4) ɓaɖa-bùè
Western, Bassa Dewoin (Dewoi) ɡ͡bǒ sɔ̃́ ta hĩinyɛ hm̀m̌ meɖe-ɡ͡bǒ (5 + 1) meɖe-sɔ̃́ (5 + 2) meɖe-ta (5 + 3) meɖe-hĩinyɛ (5 + 4)
Western, Bassa Gbasei (Gbii) (1) dɔ̀ː / ɗɔ̀káⁱ sɔ̃́ ɲ̀yɛ̃ m̀ḿ m̀mɽědɔ̀ (5 + 1) m̀mɽěsɔ̃́ (5 + 2) m̀mɽětã́ (5 + 3) m̀mɽěɲ̀yɛ̃ (5 + 4) báɽápʰùwe
Western, Bassa Gbii (Gbi-Dowlu) (2) dòò, dyúáɖò sɔ̃́ hĩ̀nyɛ hm̀m̀ mɛ̀nɛ̀ɛ̄n-ɖò (5 + 1) mɛ̀nɛ̀ɛ̄n-sɔ̃́ (5 + 2) mɛ̀nɛ̀ɛ̄n-tə̃ (5 + 3) mɛ̀nɛ̀ɛ̄n-hĩ̀nyɛ (5 + 4) ɓaɖabùè
Western, Grebo, Glio-Oubi Glio-Oubi hwə̃ tã́ hə̃ ɡ͡bə̀ hṹdò (5 + 1) hũ̀sɔ́ (5 + 2) mɛra (5 + 3) mɛ́ɲɛ̀ (5 + 4) pue
Western, Grebo, Ivorian Pye (Piè) Krumen hʋɛ̃́ hɛ̃̀ hũ̌ hũ̀jārō [hũ̀jāɾō] ('five plus one') hũ̀jāhʋɛ̃́ ('five plus two') hũ̀jātā ('five plus three') hũ̀jāhɛ̃̀ ('five plus four')
Western, Grebo, Ivorian Tepo Krumen (1) hɔ̃́ hɛ̃̀ hũ̌ huõ̀nɔ̀ (5 + 1) nɪ́pātā (litː 'not/be/three') nɪ́pāhɔ̃́, yèhɛ̃̀yèhɛ̃̀ (2 x 4) sēlédò (litː 'remains /there/one')
Western, Grebo, Ivorian Tepo Krumen (2) ɔ̄ɛ́n hɛ̀n ùm ùmnɔ̄dô (5 + 1) ùmnɔ̄ɔ̄ɛ́n (5 + 2) blɛ̄nbìɛ̀n ùmīyándō
Western, Grebo, Liberian Central Grebo (Barrobo) dòo ɔ̌n taan hɛ̃ɛn wùun wùnɔ̀dǒ (5 + 1) jetan (4 + 3) ? jiinhɛ̀n (4 + 4) ? sǒndò (litː 'remain one' before 10)
Western, Grebo, Liberian Northern Grebo do sɔ̃̌ hɛ̃̀ m̀m mmɔ̀do (5 + 1) nyiɛtã (4 + 3) nnyɛɛ (4 + 4) siědo (litː 'remain one' before 10)
Western, Klao Klao sɔ́n tan nyìɛ̀ mùnéɛ́do (5 + 1) mùnéɛ́sɔ́n (5 + 2) mùnéɛtan (5 + 3) sopádo (10 - 1) puè
Western, Klao Tajuasohn doe sunn nn = ? tan hin hoom ḿhon doe (5 + 1) ḿhon sunn (5 + 2) hinin (4 + 4) siɛrdoe (litː 'remains one') punn
Western, Wee, Guere-Krahn Western Krahn tòò sɔɔ̌n ta̓a̓n nyìɛ̓ m̀m̌ mɛ̀o̓ (5 + 1) mɛ̀sɔɔ̌n (5 + 2) mɛta̓a̓ǹ (5 + 3) mɛ̀nyìɛ̓ (5 + 4) pùèè
Western, Wee, Guere-Krahn Sapo duě / tòò sɔn tan nyìɛ m̀m̌ mɛ̀lǒ (5 + 1) mɛ̀sɔn (5 + 2) mɛ̌tan (5 + 3) mɛ̌nyiɛ (5 + 4) pùè
Western, Wee, Nyabwa Nyabwa (Nyaboa) do4 sɔ̃2 tã3 ɲiɛ33 mu4u1 mɛ4ɛ1lo4 (5 + 1) mɛ4ɛ1sɔ̃2 (5 + 2) mɛ4ɛ1tã3 (5 + 4) mɛ4ɛ1ɲiɛ33 (5 + 5) bue44
Western, Wee, Wobe Northern Wè (Wobe) too3 / due1 sɔɔn2 / sɔn2 taan3 nyiɛ43 mm41 mɛ41o3 (5 + 1) mɛ41sɔn2 (5 + 2) mɛ41na3 (5 + 3) mɛ41nyiɛ3 (5 + 4) puue3

ReconstructionEdit

Proto-Kru
Reconstruction ofKru languages

According to Marchese Zogbo (2012), Proto-Kru had:[11]

  • phonemic nasalized vowels
  • four level tones
  • *CVCV-(C)V and probably *CVV syllable structure. *CCV syllables, and possibly also *CVV syllables, are derived from *CVCV roots.
  • SVO word order, but with much OV typology
  • suffixing morphology
  • perfective and imperfective aspects

Proto-Kru consonants (Marchese Zogbo 2012):

p t k kp
b d g gb
ɓ
m n ŋ (?)
s
l w

Derived consonants:

  • /ɟ/ is likely derived via palatalization (*g > ɟ), e.g. *gie > ɟie.
  • *c, *ɲ, *kʷ, *gʷ, *ŋʷ are derived from alveolar or velar consonants preceding high back or high front vowels.
  • /ɗ/ is likely derived from *l.

Proto-Kru vowels (Marchese Zogbo 2012):

ɪ ʊ
e o
ɛ ɔ
a


There is a clear bipartite division between Western and Eastern Kru marked by phonological and lexical distinctions. Some isoglosses between Western Kru and Eastern Kru:

Gloss Proto-Western Kru Proto-Eastern Kru
tree *tu *su
dog *gbe *gwɪ
fire *nɛ *kosu
tooth *ɲnɪ *gle

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kru". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Siamou". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Breitbonde, L. B. (1991). "City, Countryside, and Kru Ethnicity". Africa. 61 (2): 186–201. doi:10.2307/1160614. JSTOR 1160614.
  4. ^ Dalby, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages. New York: Columbia UP.
  5. ^ a b c Bahl, Taru; Syed, M. H., eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia of Muslim World. New Delhi: Ammol Publications. pp. 24–25.
  6. ^ McEvoy, Frederick (1997). "Understanding Ethnic Realities among the Grebo and Kru People of West Africa". Africa. 47 (1): 62. doi:10.2307/1159195.
  7. ^ Fisiak, Jacek (1984). Historical Syntax. New York: Mouton.
  8. ^ a b Marchese, Lynell. 1989. Kru. In Bendor-Samuel, John (ed.), The Niger-Congo Languages: A Classification and Description of Africa's Largest Language Family, 119-139. Lanham MD, New York & London: Lanham: University Press of America.
  9. ^ a b Marchese, Lynell. 1983. Atlas linguistique Kru: nouvelle edition. Abidjan: Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique (ACCT).
  10. ^ Chan, Eugene (2019). "The Niger-Congo Language Phylum". Numeral Systems of the World's Languages.
  11. ^ Marchese Zogbo, Lynell. 2012. Kru revisited, Kru revealed. Paper presented at the International Congress "Towards Proto-Niger-Congo: Comparison and Reconstruction," Paris, 18‒21 September. (Abstract)
  • Westerman, Diedrich Hermann (1952) Languages of West Africa (Part II). London/New York/Toronto: Oxford University Press.

External linksEdit