Ways to Speak Kriol

Aren’t there a lot ways to speak Kriol?

There are a number of ways in which language variation occurs in all languages: there can be variation in the speech between young and old speakers, male and female, educated and uneducated, rural and urban speakers, and there can be other regional differences.

In Belize we are aware that there are many words that are considered archaic and no longer used. There are generally alternative words that are commonly known so that communication is still possible between the young and old. Creoles who live in rural areas tend to have a greater knowledge of words that in Belize City would be considered archaic. Studies that have been conducted to date by the Project do not reveal any significant differences which hinder communication.

Another form of language variation is called a continuum. When a Creole language exists in the same social environment as the language from which its vocabulary was taken, a continuum of variation develops. The basilect is that form of the Creole language that is most different from the language from which the vocabulary came. The superstrate is the internationally accepted form of the language which has given vocabulary to the Creole language. The acrolect is the local form of the superstrate language. The mesolect represents the numerous confused variations which basilect speakers produce when trying to produce the acrolect. In the following example we see how speech can vary over the continuum:

  • Basilect: di gyal dehn mi di daans
  • Mesolect: di gyals dem mi dancin’
  • Acrolect: di girls were dancin’
  • Superstrate: the girls were dancing

In Belize the basilect is what we call ‘broad Kriol’, the acrolect could be called Belizean English. When people shift their speech, lighten their tongue, through this range of forms, they are actually changing languages.