It can be difficult for Westerners to understand just how linguistically diverse Africa is. Of course, indigenous languages are spoken all across the US, but only in tiny numbers, and English is required for most areas of public life. In Africa, large communities of diverse languages thrive side by side, and while many African languages certainly are endangered, threatened by the ubiquity and prestige of more widely spoken languages, most people speak their local language natively, learning the national (and regional, if applicable) lingua franca to get by in wider society.
Today, we explore one of the many language groups in beautifully diverse Africa—the Kru language family. Kru languages, spoken mostly in eastern Liberia and southeastern Côte d’Ivoire, with one language (Siamou) spoken in Burkina Faso, make up a collection of 25 or so languages, with varying numbers of speakers and degrees of vitality. While the Kru people in Liberia have learned English, and their counterparts in Côte d’Ivoire French, the indigenous Kru languages are still dominant in the Kru-speaking region—but some of the languages are certainly threatened with endangerment. To give the Kru languages the respect they deserve, we at TranslationServices.com have launched a dedicated translation team for the Kru languages—something few translation companies have done.
Contact us now to see a free quote for our translation services for Kru languages!
Let’s go on a quick tour of the Kru languages.
Collectively, around 3.2 million people, mostly in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, speak Kru languages. The family is unique, and debates swirl around its classification—while some linguists categorize it as a subfamily of the Niger–Congo macrofamily, others posit that it’s an independent family. With little intercommunication between groups of Kru peoples, there can be considerable differences between Kru languages, with the Siamou language spoken in Burkina Faso the most divergent variant. We’ve compiled a list of the biggest Kru languages:
Bassa (not to be confused with Basaa in Cameroon or the Basa languages in Nigeria)
Guéré (Gere, Wè, Wee)
Klao (may also just be called Kru)
Konobo (Eastern Krahn)
Nyabwa (Niaboua, Niédéboua, Nyaboa, Nyabwa-Nyédébwa, Nyedebwa, Nyaboa)
Kuwaa (Belle, Belleh, Kowaao, Kwaa)
The biggest Kru language is Bassa, which, concentrated in Liberia and Sierra Leone, accounts for around 410,000 speakers of the Kru languages. Grebo in Liberia comes next with 390,000 speakers, followed by Côte d’Ivoire’s Guéré with 320,000 speakers. Dida and Klao both have more than 200,000 speakers, and Wobé has more than 160,000. All other Kru languages have fewer than 100,000 speakers, with some under 10,000.
Tone is crucial in Kru languages—for example, in Grebo, tone is the only distinguishing feature between “I” (né) and “you” (nè). Languages in this family may also use tone as grammatical markers, where other languages would use particles or inflection. This, of course, renders the tone markings in Kru orthography vitally important. Kru languages generally follow a subject-verb-object word order, although subject-object-verb is also possible.
Translation services for Kru languages, customized for your needs.
There are a lot of Kru languages—but fortunately, we have a lot of Kru translators! Whether you’re looking for translation services to or from Bassa, Grebo, Guéré, Dida, Klao, Wobé, or another Kru language, we’re here to support you. Not only are our translators passionate about their native languages, but they’re also experienced in the art of translation. Here are a few examples of what they can translate:
Business papers. Some of our Kru languages translators specialize in business translation—whether internal documents like employment contracts and financial reports or outward-facing materials like web copy or poster text. We’re happy to help both local companies in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Burkina Faso take their operations abroad as well as foreign businesses that want to cater their offerings to the Kru people in West Africa.
Pedagogical texts. Education is crucial in the language revitalization process. To ensure the continued vitality of Kru languages, our translators are passionate about translating educational materials to give Kru children a high-quality education in their native language, simultaneously boosting their literacy in their language.
Stories and other media. Translating creative works is a tricky endeavor—but our Kru languages translators are up for the challenge. Whether it’s translating traditional Kru tales into English, allowing the culture of the Kru peoples to influence the wider world, or translating foreign media, from books and poems to websites, apps, and games, into Kru languages, exposing locals to the outside world, our translators are eager to help.
So, what are you looking for in terms of Kru languages translation services? Let us know in a message!