Freetown, Baby!

To be or not to be by jc2010sl
March 11, 2010, 9:12 pm
Filed under: society | Tags:

Up to now I’d thought Krio was a pretty easy language – loads of words borrowed from English, utterly logical structure and above all really simple verbs. The verb itself never changes, neither with person nor tense. So in Krio, I know, you know, he knows all have “sabi” as the verb: A sabi, yu sabi, i sabi. And to make the tenses, you just stick in “pre-verbal markers”. “I knew” – A don sabi, “I was knowing” – A bin de sabi. Easy. Until that is, you come to the verb to be.

Depending on the nature of the “being” there are three different forms of verb. First are the verbs of description. Here there isn’t a verb, just subject and adjective. So, “I am fat” becomes “A fat”, literally “I fat”. Next are the verbs of location. Here “de” is used as the verb. So “I am in Freetown” is “A de na Freetong”. So far so good. Last of all is the verb of identity. Here is the real head scrambler. The idea here is that what we’d think of as the subject of the verb becomes the object. So in English we’d say “I [subject] am a teacher [object]”. But in Krio the description acts upon the “subject”. The concept here is something like “the quality of being a teacher [subject] is a quality of mine [object]”. So rather that directly translating “I am a teacher” – “A na ticha”, we get “Mi na ticha” – literally “Me is (a) teacher”. But in the future tense, we haven’t yet acquired this quality of being a teacher… so we stick with “A”; “I”, rather than “mi”; “me”. And for the future tense we use “bi” (confusingly pronounced “be”) instead of “na” as the verb. So “I will become a teacher” translates as “A go bi ticha.” Negation is usually achieved by adding “no” in front of the verb. So “I am not fat” is “A no fat”. But “no” isn’t used with “na”. Instead, “no na” is abbreviated to “noto”. So “I’m not a teacher” is “Mi noto ticha”. And, as the super-observant among you will have noticed, further room for confusion is created by the fact that the word “na”, as well as being the verb “to be” is also a preposition. “I live in Freetown” translates as “A de na Freetong”.

No simpul, notoso?


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi – are you taking Krio lessons or just learning as you go?
I have just arrived and thinking that some lessons might kick-start the process so if you have any contacts please let me know!
Thanks – I enjoyed reading your blog.

Comment by becky

I’ve got a teacher – Joshua. His number is 033 833 610. Good luck!

Comment by jc2010sl

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