Documenting the Sherbro language and culture of Sierra Leone

Documenting the Sherbro language and culture of Sierra Leone

Language: Sherbro (ISO639-3:bun)
Depositor: Tucker Childs, Jedd Schrock
Location: Sierra Leone
Deposit Id: 0373
ELDP Id: MDP0316
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit
The Sherbro language, spoken on Sherbro Island and nearby coastal areas of Sierra Leone, is in rapid decline. Its speakers now number some 20,000 with its domains and functions decreasing. Sherbro speakers increasingly prefer the more widely spoken languages Mende, Krio, and Temne. In a few places, however, the language is used in daily interactions. One is within the Dema Chiefdom on the westernmost edge of the island. It is here the project will locate itself to fully document the language in grounded contexts and partner with the local community and university to produce materials valuable to these and scholarly communities.


Resources yet to be deposited


Tucker Childs
Affiliation: Portland State University
Jedd Schrock
Affiliation: Portland State University

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2017 March 23 to 2017 March 23
Deposit hits:2
Files downloaded:
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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 Items

Abdulai was interviewed about his background and growing up - the first interview of the project

Recorded on: 2016-01-15

Recorded on: 2016-01-22

004a Cyril Manley on Walter Hansen We met Cyril on the wharf one foggy morning (Feb 3rd 2016) when the fishing boats were having trouble finding their way – one boat came back early in fact without catching any fish. Skunked. Cyril is an energetic man of middle age who was friendly and chatty with pretty much everyone on the beach where we met him – a voluble and gregarious guy. His English is quite good. Cyril was a schoolboy at the time of Pastor Walter Hansen’s time here but remembers him quite fondly, especially the way he delivered sermons in Bolom. That was one of the topics we broached with him. Hansen dropped dead of a heart attack in 1980 and is buried in the church cemetery. He published some linguistic analysis, as well as some proverbs and hymns in Bolom (see bibliography below). He was part of a literacy committee, which still existed (on paper) during the period of this research 2015-18. Cyril’s interview tells the story of how he got involved in fishing and why he doesn’t go out on fishing boats anymore – his boat ran into a serious storm and he had to swim for shore. He now is a middleman, buying fish from the fisherman and either selling them himself or having them smoked. Hanson, Walter R. 1979. Collected notes towards a phonology of the Sherbro language. Freetown: The Institute for Sierra Leone Languages (TISLL). ___. 1979. A guide for writing the Sherbro language. Freetown: The Institute for Sierra Leone Languages (TISLL). ___. 1979. Let God Be Blessed (Christian hymns translated into Sherbro). Freetown: Institute for Sierra Leone Languages. ___. 1980. Sɔk bunya 'A gift chicken': 50 Sherbro proverbs with an English translation and explanation. Freetown, Sierra Leone: The Institute for Sierra Leone Languages (TISLL). ___. 1980. Statement of achievement and goals. Freetown: Institute for Sierra Leone Languages.

Recorded on: 2016-02-04

Mabel Lohr is an older (born 1942) well respected woman of Shenge, who has delivered many of the town’s babies. When we heard that she had served as a midwife (and still does, though she no longer has all her materials – her certificates were also lost during the war), we thought we would ask her about some of her experiences. She readily told us of one of her disasters, which wasn’t really her fault but rather that of the doctor, involving the death of the mother, though the child is still alive in Shenge.

Recorded on: 2016-02-05