Kru languages

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The Kru languages are a subgroup of the North Volta-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo languages . The approximately 30 Kru languages ​​are spoken by around 2.5 million people in Ivory Coast and southern Liberia . The name Kru is obviously a corruption of the language name Klao , favored by the English crew , as the Kru people used to often work as sailors on European ships.

Position of the Kru within the Volta Congo

Westermann (1927) and Greenberg (1963) counted the Kru languages ​​among the Kwa languages , Bennet and Sterk (1977) relocated them to the North Volta-Congo branch . The alternative discussed is an independent position within the Volta Congo, that is, on a par with North and South Volta Congo; this question has not yet been finally clarified. Marchese (1989) added the three isolated languages ​​Aizi, Kuwaa and Seme to the Krus languages.

Classification of the Kru languages

The Kru languages ​​are divided into an eastern and a western branch and three isolated languages. All Kru languages ​​are listed in the following classification, the classification follows Williamson-Blench 2000.

Classification of the Kru languages

  • Kru
    • Ost-Kru
      • Bakwe-Wane: Bake ( 10k ), Wane ( 2k )
      • Pray
        • East: Gagnoa Bete (150k), Kouya ( 10k )
        • West: Daloa Bete (130 thousand), Guiberoua Bete (130 thousand), Godie (25 thousand)
      • Dida: Dida (200k), Neyo ( 10k )
      • Kwadia: Kwadia (1k)
    • West-Kru
      • Bassa: Bassa (350 thousand), Dewoin (8 thousand), Gibi (6 thousand)
      • Grebo: Grebo (230 thousand), Krumen (50 thousand), Glio-Oubi (6 thousand)
      • Klao: Klao ("Kru") (200 thousand), Tajuosohn (10 thousand)
      • Guere
        • Guere-Krahn: Guere (Wee) (320 thousand), Krahn (60 thousand), Sapo (30 thousand), Daho-Doo (4 thousand), Glaro-Twabo (4 thousand)
        • Konobo: Konobo (Ost-Krahn) (50 thousand)
        • Nyabwa: Nyabwa ( 45k )
        • Wobe: Wobe (North Guere) (160 thousand)
    • Aizi (Tiegba and Abroko ) (8 thousand)
    • Kuwaa (13 thousand)
    • Seme (Siamou) (35k)

The Kru languages ​​of the two main branches are very similar to each other, the most widely differing is the Seme spoken in Burkina Faso.

Linguistic characteristics

Nominal class systems of the Proto-Niger-Congo are hardly preserved in the Kru, the plural is formed by suffixes and changing the final vowel. There are concordance structures in the noun phrases . The Kru languages ​​make extensive use of verbal extensions, for example to form causatives , benefactives , incoatives and the passive . The personal pronouns differ in some languages feminine and masculine in the 2nd and 3rd person singular, otherwise there is no gender differentiation . The word order is SVO, there are postpositions used. While the genitive attribute and the possessive come before the particular noun , the adjective attribute , demonstrative and numerals are placed after the noun.


  • Lynell Marchese: Tense / Aspect and the Development of Auxiliaries in Kru Languages . Ed .: Summer Institute of Linguistics. tape 78 . Dallas (TX) 1986, ISBN 0-88312-097-6 , pp. 301 . ( Full text (PDF file; 3.46 MB) as digital copy)
  • Joseph Greenberg: The Languages ​​of Africa. Mouton, The Hague and Indiana University Center, Bloomington 1963.
  • Bernd Heine and others (ed.): The languages ​​of Africa. Buske, Hamburg 1981.
  • Bernd Heine and Derek Nurse (eds.): African Languages. An Introduction. Cambridge University Press 2000.
  • John Bendor-Samuel (Ed.): The Niger-Congo Languages: A Classification and Description of Africa's Largest Language Family. University Press of America, Lanham, New York, London 1989. Therein: Lynell Marchese: Kru.
  • Diedrich Westermann: The western Sudan languages ​​and their relationship to Bantu. Announcements from the seminar for oriental languages. Berlin 1927.
  • Patrick Bennett and Jan Sterk: South Central Niger-Congo: A Reclassification. Studies in African Linguistics. 1977.

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