The Krio Language
Writing Krio is one way of standardizing the language so that anybody who wishes to read it comes to it with a certain amount of expectation. Many people have tried to write Krio and each one has devised his own style, usually based on his knowledge of English and this has led to a state of confusion. So, it is much better to standardize the writing of the language.
A lot of people recognized quite early on, that Krio was different from English. It was not a form of broken English. It was, and is, a distinct way of expression by a certain group of people and they had tried to express this in writing. And they were not all Krios who were doing this. There were Englishmen who came to Sierra Leone, heard the language and were attracted to it and tried to write it. But they wrote in the only style that they knew – that was the English Language. Krio has also become the lingua franca of Sierra Leone with most people in the country speaking it. The number of people who can correctly write and read Krio, however, is very low in all groups and this seriously limits the amount of Krio publications in existence.
If a person wants to write something in Krio and only knows English, he is trying to express himself within the limitations of his knowledge. This means that a hundred people would write in a hundred different styles. This makes for a state of confusion. So, it’s much better to have a standard to which we all conform. There was at one time, no such option, but there has been an urge which has driven many people to express themselves in a way that brought out something that was deeply felt in its original form as it occurred to them.
For a long time, people did not seem to bother to want to write the language because it took some time for it to be recognized as a distinct language rather than just as a failure to speak English well. It was thought of as a failure rather than as a success. So, for some time, the necessity of writing the language did not exist – it was only a spoken language that was vital to the culture of a small, but coherent group of people, who used it as a means of expression. They did not see any need to write it at all because it was used only as a domestic language in the home, or in the market place. It is only comparatively recently that people began taking it seriously enough to want to write it. Before then, in their thinking, there was no way of writing it except by using the English alphabet and the English style of writing and spelling.