Sierra Leonean Krio

Phonology Basics

Vowels and Diphthongs (sound formed by two neighbor vowels, e.g. coin)

Note: When learning Krio phonology it’s important to exclude the English sounds of “a” as in hat, “i” as in sit, and the short “u” as in nut. I’ve found this to be the hardest to remember when practicing speaking, but it becomes easier the more you practice. 

Below is a starter’s guide to learning essential Krio sounds. The letters to the left are your Krio vowels and diphthongs that you’ll see frequently in written forms of Krio, followed by relative sound length and a simple pronunciation translation in English with a word in Krio to practice with. This sound system adapts to different speech scenarios, so you may encounter exceptions to what is in the table. Nevertheless, this will help build your foundation in Krio phonology.

a short “a” as in father fam = farm
eh / ɛ short “e” as in met wɛtin = what
i long “i” as in meet chif = chief
o short/ long as in “oh” foh = for
u long “oo” as in took bruk = wash clothes
aw short as in “ouch” aw = how
ai long “i” as in hide Fraide = Friday


Consonants are for the most part pronounced like those in English. One important exception is:

the letter “r” is rolled (softer than in Spanish)

Practice with Vocabulary

Below are some more commonly spoken words in Krio. See if you can practice pronouncing them according to the table and rules presented above.

Krio / English

mi = me

udat = who [is that?]

ustɛm = when

tɛl = tell

Gohd = God

Krio Drama!

Familiarize Yourself with Krio Sounds


U.S. Peace Corps (1985). Krio Language Manual. 

YouTube video "Bite What You Can Chew -  Krio Version" retrieved from wayoutarts. https://youtube/SMcu0V8lIZI.


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