Kpelle syllabary

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LanguagesKpelle language
Time period
ISO 15924Kpel, 436

The Kpelle syllabary was invented c. 1935 by Chief Gbili of Sanoyie, Liberia. It was intended for writing the Kpelle language, a member of the Mande group of Niger-Congo languages spoken by about 490,000 people in Liberia and around 300,000 people in Guinea at that time.[1]

The syllabary consists of 88 graphemes and is written from left to right in horizontal rows. Many of the glyphs have more than one form.

It was used to some extent by speakers of Kpelle in Liberia and Guinea during the 1930s and early 1940s but never achieved popular acceptance.[1] It has been classed as a failed script.[2]

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


  1. ^ a b "Kpelle syllabary". Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  2. ^ Unseth, Peter. 2011. Invention of Scripts in West Africa for Ethnic Revitalization. In The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity Efforts, ed. by Joshua A. Fishman and Ofelia García, pp. 23-32. New York: Oxford University Press.