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Sierra Leone: Update to ZZZ9708 of 21 January 1992 on whether the Krio (creole) language spoken in Sierra Leone is similar to or identical to pidgin English or creole spoken in Ghana and Nigeria or other parts of West Africa, whether the sources can provide examples of vocabulary specific to Sierra Leonian creole, and a copy of the linguistic map of Sierra Leone

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 December 1997
Citation / Document Symbol SLE28348.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Sierra Leone: Update to ZZZ9708 of 21 January 1992 on whether the Krio (creole) language spoken in Sierra Leone is similar to or identical to pidgin English or creole spoken in Ghana and Nigeria or other parts of West Africa, whether the sources can provide examples of vocabulary specific to Sierra Leonian creole, and a copy of the linguistic map of Sierra Leone, 1 December 1997, SLE28348.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ab3448.html [accessed 31 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to a representative of the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Washington, DC, the Krio (creole) language spoken in Sierra Leone borrows from English, French, Spanish and Portuguese languages (16 Dec. 1997). Although Krio is intelligible to most West Africans including Nigerians and Ghanaians, they may not be able to speak it or to understand it fully because of differences in accent, intonation and meaning (ibid.). The representative gave the example of the French word "beaucoup" which in Krio is "boku," and explained that this word would not be understood by all Nigerians or all Ghanaians (ibid.).

In separate interviews with the Research Directorate, representatives of the Ghanaian High Commission in Ottawa and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Washington, DC., stated that pidgin English is bastardized English intelligible to most Anglophone West Africans but not "really" the same as Sierra Leonian Krio (16 December 1997).

According to Ethnologue: Languages of the World, there are first language speakers of Krio in Sierra Leone, who make up 10% of the population but the rest are second language speakers (1992, 364). This source states that Krio is spoken by de-tribalized Sierra Leonians and is the lingua franca throughout the country. Ethnologue also makes a distinction between English-based creole and Atlantic, Krio and states that Krio "are descendants of repatriated slaves from Jamaica. Less than 15% are literate in English." Apparently, Krio has linguistic influence from Yoruba in Nigeria (ibid.).

For additional information on the languages of Sierra Leone and for a linguistic map of the country, please consult the attached documents.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Washington, DC. Telephone interview with official.

Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 1992. 12th ed. Edited by Barbra F. Grimes. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

High Commission for the Republic of Ghana, Ottawa. 16 December 1997. Telephone interview with official.

High Commission for the Republic of Sierra Leone, Washington, DC. 16 December 1997. Telephone interview with official.

Attachment

Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 1992. 12th ed. Edited by Barbara F. Grimes. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, pp. 362-366.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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