Kpelle syllabary

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Script type
Time period
DirectionLeft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesKpelle language
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Kpel (436), ​Kpelle
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

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.