Promoting Kriol

Won’t Promoting Kriol Hinder English Usage?

We feel that the development of Belize Kriol, and awareness of Kriol as a language separate from English will help improve the proficiency in English of Creole children.

When Belizean Kriol-speaking children are told that Kriol is just bad English, then they will think that all they need to do to speak English is improve the way they speak Kriol. But as you can see from the examples given on these pages, English and Kriol have different grammatical structures.

When people learn another language, they tend to simply place words from the new language on the grammar that they already know. The following examples show typical mistakes made in English that follow good Kriol grammatical rules: (These examples were taken from standard 4 students in Belize City.)

As English sentences, what is wrong with the following phrases?

    1. I have four brother.

      Number agreement: English requires that plural marking on the noun must agree with the adjective preceding the noun:

      Example: I have four brother.
      Number + Noun = Plural (no number agreement)

      Kriol: Ah gat foe bredda.
      Number + Noun = Plural (no number agreement)

      English: I have four brothers.
      Number + Noun + Plural

    2. Them girls going to market.

Number and Subject Verb Agreement: English requires the correct form of a helping verb (to be) before the main verb of the phrase to agree with the subject preceding the verb. Kriol does not change he verb to agree with the subject.

Example: Them girls going to market.

Kriol: Dehn-deh gyal gwine da maakit.

English: Those girls are going to the market.

Notice also that the English pronoun ‘those’ is a form that indicates third-person pronoun plurality and location. The Kriol form ‘dehn-deh’ also indicates third-person pronoun plurality and location. However, Creoles generally tend to think that Kriol ‘dehn’ is the same as English ‘them’, and do not consider what symantically happens when ‘-deh’ is added and that English has a different form for this. Thus, in the incorrect example, there is no marking for location.

    1. We tell other people about it. (context tells us the tense is past)

English requires that all verbs be inflected for tense. Kriol has several ways to indicate that the context is past tense, but the verb is never inflected.

Example: We tell other people about it.

Kriol: Wi tell ada pipl bout it.

English: We told other people about it.

  1. They have many gangs in Belize.

    Kriol uses a plural pronoun (dehn) as the subject of an inclusive verb in a passive construction, English uses a demonstrative pronoun with an existential verb:

    Example: They have many gangs in Belize.

    Kriol: Dehn gat lat a gang da Bileez.

    English: There are many gangs in Belize.

Won’t Promoting Kriol Hinder English Usage?