This is a brief lesson on nouns (particularly how to identify or refer to a specific object, along with some third person singular pronouns). In Kpelle there are two ways to refer to a specific or definite object. This is done either through the changing of the consonants that begin with a “low tone” or through adding the suffix “I” to the end of the stem (only if it ends with a vowel).
P-B = pErE, bErEi = ‘a house’, ‘the house’
K-G= keleN, geleN= a truck or care, the truck or car
n-n= nEni, nEnii= a woman, the woman
Possessive pronouns for the third person singular is formed by changing “voiceless” form of the stem to its “voiced” form (refresher of voiced and voiceless consonants: voiceless= p, t, k, kp, f, s, b, l, y, Y, w; voiced=b, d, g, gb, v, z, m, n, ny, N, nw, r). Given the complexity of tones (and difficulty showing them via computer or without the proper keyboard), they are not discussed/shown here.
Changing from voiceless to voiced initial consonant to voiced.
Ipolu becomes bolu (your back, his back)
Ilaa becomes naa (your name, his name)
Iyee becomes nyee (your hand, his hand)
Now lets practice. Below I provided a few of the changes when referring to a specific or definite object or moving from voiceless to voiced: