In previous lessons we briefly discussed introducing oneself (Hello, how are you-Ba nun, Kumeni?). Today’s lesson will expand on that lesson, while providing some more information on how to discuss (talk about and introduce) other people, specifically one’s family.
As noted last time-you begin introductions by stating “Ba nun” and “Kumeni.” A common response is: “Kpao, meni da fE naa” or No, news/all is well. If you haven’t met before, you will likely ask their name, you do so by saying “ilaa ba gbee?” (what is your name?). The person will answer-“Na ba ______” (person’s name). From there you may ask what exactly that person is doing here-“ba lE kei bE?” (“What are you doing here?”). They can answer in several different ways, while I was in Liberia this summer, I was studying Kpelle so I answered- “na pa kolo-poron” (“I came to school.”). To be more precise I would often say: “na pa KpElEE-woo ma-korii” (“I came to learn Kpelle”). Another way that is often used to ask someone what they are doing is: “Le be ba nwelii I goloN” (“What do you want to know?”). You can answer usig the same answer (na pa kpElEE….”) or you can answer “I want” “na nwelii”…”Na nwelii na kpelee-woo ma kori” (I want to learn Kpelle).
Now to answer similar questions about a person’s family you need some new vocabulary. A lot of this is done with tones and is based on the gender/sex of the person you are asking. So this is a bit more complicated than one may expect.
NAn (my)-Father (high tone)
Nan (his/her)-Father (normal tone)
nEE (my)-mother (high tone)
Nee (his/her)-mother (low tone)
Mbo (my)-wife/husband (high tone)
Mbo (his/her)-wife husband (low tone)
Saabolo-when asking a man its his sisters, when asking a woman its his brother.
To ask someone about their family’s names, you say-“I saabolo la aba gbEE-What is the name of your brother/sister (depending on gender you are asking).
The person would answer-Nzaabolo la ba _______(name of brother/sister). (My sister/brother’s name is_____)
Some other useful vocabulary:
Fe kolon-I don’t know
Ve Kolon-He/she don’t know
Ife kolon-You don’t know
Ngbele-I am drinking
Na ke tii-I am working
Now that we have some basic vocabulary lets practice: