Krio (Sierra Leone Creole)

Krio, the lingua franca of Sierra Leone (estimated 5.5 Million population), is used natively by approximately 400,000 speakers living primarily in Freetown and surrounding villages though over 4 Million non-native speakers use it proficiently in various domains of communication daily. Krio emerged from creole varieties used primarily by formerly enslaved groups resettled in Freetown and its environs between 1787 and 1850: Black Poor (England); Nova Scotians; Jamaican Maroons; and Recaptives (would-be slaves from ships intercepted by British fleet along the West African coast). Krio is embraced as a symbol of Sierra Leone identity though sometimes disparagingly referred to as ‘broken English’. More positive attitudes have resulted in its widespread use in social, political, and educational contexts. Krio grammar has recently been influenced by input from non-native speakers who were displaced from other parts of Sierra Leone by the 1990s civil war and resettled in Freetown, resulting in the incorporation of non-native grammatical forms into Krio. As a result, Krio has developed variant forms where formerly there was no variation. Some native Krio speakers, accepting change as inevitable, have incorporated the variant forms into their grammar; others have criticized and rejected them in an effort to maintain the “purity” of the language.

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