The Gullah-Krio Connection
The following story is taken from Joseph Opala's book, The Gullah: Rice, Slavery and the Sierra Leone-American Connection.
"De Fox en de Crow"
In 1923, writer Ambrose Gonzales recorded "De Fox en de Crow" for his book With Aesop along the Black Border. The Krio translation is in a system created by Sierra Leonean writer Thomas Decker, while the Gullah translation is in a spelling system Gonzales developed. As Opala points out, "The Gullah and Krio words de/di (the), ooman/uman (woman), enty/enti (not so?), tief/tif (steal), teet/tit (teeth), and yez/yeys (ears) are, in fact, pronounced almost exactly the same ways." The sentence structures and many of the grammatical elements are similar, too.
Den, Fox staat fuh talk. E say to eself, e say,
"Dish yuh Crow duh ooman, enty?
Ef a kin suade
um fuh talk, him haffuh op'n e mout, enty?
En ef e op'n e mout, enty de meat fuh drap out?"
Fox call to de Crow: "Mawnin tittuh," e say.
"Uh so glad you tief da meat fum de buckruh,
cause him bin fuh trow-um-way pan de dog . . .
E mek me bex fuh see man do shishuh ting lukkuh dat."
Crow nebbuh crack e teet! All-time Fox duh talk,
Crow mout shet tight pan de meat, en e yez cock fuh lissin.
Sierra Leone Krio
Den, Fohx stat foh tohk. I sey to insef, i sey,
"Dis Kro ya na uman, enti?
If a kin pasweyd
am foh tohk, i get foh opin in moht, enti?
En if i opin in moht, enti di mit go fohdohm?"
Fohx kohl di Kro: "Mohnin titi," i sey.
"A so gladi you tif da mit frohm di weytman,
bikohs i bin foh trowey am to di dohg . . .
I meyk a vex foh si man du tin leke dat."
Kro nohba opin in tit! Ohl di tern Fohx dey tohk,
Kro moht set tait pan di mit, en in yeys kak foh lisin.
Then, Fox started to talk. He said to himself, he said,
"This here Crow is a woman, not so?
If I can persuade her to talk, she has to open her mouth, not so?
And if she opens her mouth, isn't it true the meat will drop out?"
Fox called to the Crow: "Morning girl," he said.
"I am so glad you stole that meat from the white man,
because he would have thrown it away to the dog . . .
It makes me vexed to see a man do such a thing as that."
Crow never cracked open her teeth!
All the time Fox was talking,
Crow's mouth was shut tight on the meat,
and her ears were cocked to listen.
More Gullah Words from Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect
Gullah English Definition/Usage African Ethnic Origin
bɛne sesame/benne or benny Wolof
bidibidi small bird or chicken/biddy Kongo
buckra white man Ibibio (Southem Nigeria)
guba peanut/goober Kimbundu (Angola)
gumbo okra Tshiluba (Zaire)
jiga insect, chigger Wolof
jogal to rise, to cause to rise Wolof
as in jogglirg board or seesaw
jug (juke) infamous or disorderly, Wolof, “to lead a disorderly
as in juke box life”
na, nana grandparent or elderly woman Twi, nanā."grandparent”
or Temne, na “mother”