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KRIO, also Creo. An English CREOLE spoken in SIERRA LEONE, which developed when freed slaves were transported from Britain and Nova Scotia to Freetown in 1787 and 1792. The Krios were Christian, often literate, and valued as teachers and clerks along the entire West African coast. Sizeable settlements were established in GAMBIA, NIGERIA, CAMEROON, and smaller settlements in LIBERIA and GHANA, and Krio had an influence on all West African PIDGINS and creoles, with the possible exception of Merico in Liberia. Krio is spoken as a mother tongue by some 250,000 people in and around Freetown and by many more Sierra Leoneans as a second language. It has a dictionary (A Krio-English Dictionary, ed. C. N. Fyle & Eldred Jones), and is the only fully standardized West African creole. It has been used for translating SHAKESPEARE and parts of the BIBLE, and for plays, poems, and prose.


(1) Pronunciation. Krio is non-rhotic, syllable-timed, and a tone language. It has seven monophthongs, /i, e, ɛ, a, ɔ, o, u/ and three diphthongs /ai, au, oi/. All vowels can be nasalized. Tone is significant, distinguishing grammatical as well as lexical meaning: for example, a customary low tone for auxiliaries becomes high for purposes of emphasis. (2) Grammar. There is little morphological variation, time and aspect being carried by pre-verbal auxiliaries, and plurality in the noun is either assumed or marked by dɛm: I bin kil di arata dɛm kwik-kwik He killed the rats quickly. Fluidity of word class is typical: Krio plɛnti can function as an adjective in plɛnti pikin plenty of children, as a verb Pikin plɛnti There are plenty of children, as a noun plɛnti pwɛl Many are spoilt, and as an adverb I gɛt pikin plɛnti He has children in plenty. (3) Vocabulary. The majority of words derive from English: body parts such as han (hand, arm), fut (foot, leg), common verbs such as bi, gɛt, go, kam, muf (move), and auxiliaries bin, de (progressive), kin, dɔn (perfective), nɔba (negative perfective). English elements occur in many loan translations, such as dei klin (day clean: dawn), drai ai (dry eye: brave). There are also words from African languages: akara (beancake, from Yoruba), bundu (camwood, from Mende), jakato (garden egg, from Wolof), kola (kola nut, from Temne), nono (buttermilk, from Mandinka). See AKU, KAMTOK, WEST AFRICAN PIDGIN ENGLISH.

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