Krio, Pidgin

1.  Classification / Classification

Krio and Pidgin are English-based creole languages. (Webbook?)

Ethnologue? lists the classification as: Creole, English based, Atlantic, Krio

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

Krio is spoken in Sierra Leone and also around Banjul in the Gambia, as well as on the island of Ngueyma Byogo in Equatorial Guinea. Pidgin is spoken in Cameroon, the southeast quadrant of Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo. (Webbook)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

According to Ethnologue:

  • Krio:
    • 472,600 in Sierra Leone (1993)
    • Population total all countries: 481,600
    • Possibly 4,000,000 are second-language users (1987 F. Jones)
  • Pidgin, Cameroon: 2,000,000 mainly second-language users (1989 UBSA)
  • Pidgin, Nigerian: (Ethnologue has no estimate; the Webbook mentions 10-15 million)
  • Fernando Po Creole English:
    • 5,000 (1998 SIL)
    • 70,000 speak it as trade language (Equatorial Guinea)

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

No formal dialect survey of these languages has come to our attention, but Dwyer states (personal communication, 1983) that Krio and the Cameroon and Nigerian Pidgins are mutually intelligible, although they should be definitely taken as separate languages as far as materials are concerned. (Webbook)

According to information compiled from Ethnologue:

  • Krio (Krio and Jamaican Creole, and Krio and Sea Islands Creole may have some interintelligibility)
    • Aku
  • Pidgin, Cameroon (Wes Cos) (Similar to Krio of Sierra Leone and Pidgin English of various West African countries; probably an offshoot of 19th century Krio)
    • There are dialect variations
  • Pidgin, Nigerian (No unified standard. The dialects listed may be very different from each other. Partially intelligible with Krio of Sierra Leone and Cameroon Pidgin)
    • Lagos Pidgin
    • Delta Pidgin
    • Cross River Pidgin
    • Benin Pidgin
  • Fernando Po Creole English
    • Pidginglis may be a separate language from Krio

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Krio is an official language of Sierra Leone and has wide usage as a second language. Elsewhere, Pidgin is a lingua franca, although there are pockets of first-language speakers in Nigeria and coastal Cameroon. Sierra Leone regularly broadcasts radio and television programs in Krio. Pidgin broadcasts are heard in Nigeria. (Webbook)

Notes from Ethnologue (accessed 2007)

  • Literacy rate of first-language Krio speakers:
    • L1: ?
    • L2: Fewer than 15% in English
  • Literacy rate of first-language Fernando Po Creole speakers:
    • L1: ?
    • L2: 75% in Spanish
  • Language of wider communication. Vigorous. Spoken more in provincial towns than in villages, and for interethnic communication. Possibly half the speakers use Krio in their workplace. It is the formal language for those who do not speak English. Second-language users prefer their indigenous languages for informal situations. ... Dominant language of the younger generation.
  • (Cameroon Pidgin) Growing number of first-language speakers. Used by the police, prisons, urban school children at play since 1884. Now the most widespread lingua franca in Cameroon, used by about half the population (Todd and Hancock 1986)
  • (Nigerian Pidgin) Trade language. Increasing in importance and use. It is a creole with native speakers, as well as used as a pidgin between Africans and Europeans, and Africans from different languages. Used in novels, plays, advertising
  • (Fernando Po Creole) Trade language

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Sierra Leone Krio has a dictionary (Fyle and Jones 1980) which is recognized as representing standard Krio spelling. No standard orthography exists for the Pidgins. (Webbook)

Krio uses a Latin alphabet with some extended characters [need more info].

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

Alphabet of Krio (Sierra Leone) as reported by Hartell (1993):

A text sample is available on the "Language Museum" site at

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

Unicode fonts with extended Latin ranges would be necessary.

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

Gate2Home - Krio Keyboard (virtual online keyboard)

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Krio:

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

None known of.

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue

Creoles and pidgins, English-based / créoles et pidgins anglais

  • ISO 639-1: -
  • ISO 639-2: cpe
  • ISO 639-3: -


  • ISO 639-3: kri

Pidgin, Cameroon

  • ISO 639-3: wes

Pidgin, Nigerian

  • ISO 639-3: pcm

Fernando Po Creole English

  • ISO 639-3: fpe

Ghanaian Pidgin English

  • ISO 639-3: gpe

Liberian Pidgin English

  • ISO 639-3: lir

7.6  Other / Autre

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

Umeå Krio Research Centre (UKRC)

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

Umeå Krio Corpus online (need to request account to view; follow instructions at on the site)

9.  Comments / Remarques

10.  References / Références

Chanard, Christian (2006), Systèmes alphabétiques des langues africaines, LLACAN, CNRS,

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Krio/Pidgin (cluster)," )

Hartell, Rhonda L., ed. (1993), The Alphabets of Africa. Dakar: UNESCO and SIL. (The French edition, published the same year, is entitled Alphabets de Langues Africaines).

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Fernando Po Creole English,"

______, "Ghanaian Pidgin English,"

______, "Krio,"

______, "Liberian Pidgin English,"

______, "Pidgin, Cameroon,"

______, "Pidgin, Nigerian,"

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables,"

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language,"

Wikipedia, "Cameroonian Pidgin English,"

______, "Ghanaian Pidgin English,"

______, "Krio language,"

______, "Liberian Kreyol language,"

______, "Nigerian Pidgin,"

______, "Pichinglis,"

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Categories: Languages, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea