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May 28, 2004

New book challenges Belizeans to read Kriol

Story Picture
If you’ve ever tried to read the weekly column in the Reporter, “Weh Ah Gat Fi Seh,” you know that reading Kriol is more easily imagined than accomplished. Today, on the occasion of the release of a Kriol book of short stories, Patrick Jones decided to give it a try.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

?Ah memba wi yoostu beet rais bowt chree taim fi di week. Disya taim ah di memba rait now da mi wahn blesid Satideh maanin. Ih luk laik di Man da tap my mek ahn speshali fi rais beetn. Yu noa, jos di karek amonk a breez fi mek wi ku fan ahn eezi, an wid wahn lee klowd oavahed everi now an agen fi kip tings kool.?

It took me about ten minutes, and a little help from my co-worker Arlette to read this one paragraph of the ?Rais Beetn? story. And while the rest of the narrative will no doubt take me triple that amount of time, officials of the Belize Kriol Project are hoping that their latest book ?Some Stories from Crooked Tree Village? will help people like me, not only to become more fluent Kriol readers, but also appreciate the rich culture of our rural communities.

Silvana Woods, Secretary, Belize Kriol Project

?What dah the objective? Fi record the wonderful culture of Gales Point, Crooked Tree, Burrel Boom and all the villages weh you have Kriol populations. For example, wah story ina the book, ?Rice beetn?, no beating, but beetn, rice beetn, how they use to pound the rice and like that and some people still do. ?How Hen an Chikin Gey ih Nayhn?. Dat dah wah place ina Crooked Tree, so dah wah lee fable.?

But while these colourful tales of life not so long ago are entertaining, reading them in Kriol is not easy. Woods says the key is to connect the language symbols.

Silvana Woods

?Ih no haad at all. You try read French, you try read German, if you noh learn the relationship of the symbol to the sound, yu have to practice it. So the child who speaks French, German, or English or Kriol or Spanish goh to school fuh the fus time, he could talk ih language but ih can?t read and write it. So ih wah haad fuh read and write anything the first time, if yoh noh know what symbols corresponding to what sounds, but once you know that you have the key, yoh have the code.?

While the key is already in hand, unlocking the door to Kriol literacy is a hurdle that still needs some work. But the energy and dedication put into the Kriol Project by Silvana and other Kriol linguists will continue to challenge traditional attitudes.

Silvana Woods

“Books like these, ?Stories From Crooked Tree?, the transitional primer, you can read and write Kriol, ?Anansi Tun Old Man?, the glossary, all these things are tools to help a learner, a literacy learner know that guess what, I could read and write what I talk. And heck if I could do that I must could read and write fluently any other language.”

And fluency in Kriol or not, this sixty page, thirteen story book is just plain good reading material.

Silvana Woods

?The stories themselves are rich in culture. You have stories of growing up, of going to the farm, stories weh sell good values, noh, good traditional values, mommy, daddy, grampa, granny, the single family unit, all kinda values of how family life could be, whatever version your family life tek now. This book mek you feel good bout yourself. It make you wish fuh deh dah wah village, feel the breeze the blow, pick wah two blackberry, alright, soh it?s a feel good book as well.?

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The book is available at the Angelus Press, Book Centre, and National Handicraft Centre.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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