The official language of Sierra Leone is English, however, the country is considered multilingual with several other languages taking precedent over English.
Approximately 97% of the 7.4 million citizens in the country speak the Krio language (either natively or as a second or third language) which evolved from English Creole. Krio provides a mutual method of communication between the various tribes and ethnic groups within Sierra Leone. There are approximately 23 languages that exist in Sierra Leone, but some are in danger of going extinct due to Krio being used the most.
Due to Krio language being used by almost everyone in the country it is useful to know a few phrases. Hello can be said as "a-do", or "koo-she", and how are you is pronounced "aw-dee-bo-dee". Other phrases will become easier to pick up as many visitors find the similarities with English make basic terms easier to learn. Thank you can be said as "tehn-key" and will be a common phrase used during a trip to the country.
Minority languages in Sierra Leone include Mende which is spoken natively by 37% of the population. Mende is spoken mainly in southern Sierra Leone with a small number of speakers in neighbouring Liberia. Temne is spoken by roughly 30% of the population as a first language and evolved from the Niger-Congo family of languages. Although English is the official language of education, the government, and media, it remains a minority language in terms of native speakers and prevalence within the country.
This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018
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