Bassa language

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Bassa language

Spoken in

Liberia , Sierra Leone
speaker 409,000 (2006)
Official status
Recognized minority /
regional language in
LiberiaLiberia Liberia
Language codes
ISO 639-3


The Bassa language is a West African Kru language , which is spoken by the 350,000 inhabitants of Liberia and 5,000 Sierra Leoneans by the Bassa people.

The language has its own writing system, the Vah . Vah is a real alphabet with 30 letters for consonants, 7 for vowels and 5 diacritical marks, which are placed in the vowels. The language was already taught in some schools of the Poro Society at the end of the 19th century .

In the 1970s, the United Bible Societies (UBS) published a translation of the New Testament. June Hobley, of the Liberia Inland Mission , was primarily responsible for the translation. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) was used for translation rather than the Vah script, mainly for the convenience of printing. Since the Bassa people had their own scriptural tradition, they quickly adopted the new script and thousands learned to write.

In 2005, UBS published the complete Bible in Bassa. The translation was supported by the Christian Education Foundation of Liberia , the Christian Reformed World Missions, and UBS. Don Slager led a team of graduate translators including Seokin Payne, Robert Glaybo, and William Boen.

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