Friday, December 24, 2010

Books that didn’t make the exhibition #3

Page from George McKesey, The Belizean lingo (Belize City, 1974). © The British Library Board.

The Englishes of the Caribbean appear throughout the exhibition: in manuscript (John Agard's draft of the poem 'Listen Mr Oxford Don'), in print (a 1731 issue of the Barbados Gazette), as sound recordings (Linton Kwesi Johnson), and in film (a hilarious Jamaican Dr Who sketch from 'The Real McCoy'). As always, however, the richness of the British Library's collections means that we could have told so many more stories.

The Belizean lingo is a 106-page book which reproduces a wide range of material gathered by the broadcaster and comedian George McKesey. Among its contents is the story shown here 'Bra Hanahncy an di Craab' (Brother Anancy and the Crab). Tales about the trickster Brother Anancy (or Anansi) are found throughout the Caribbean and also in West Africa.

This variety of English is today usually called Kriol, or Belizean Creole English. It is part of a family of Englishes spoken in and around the Caribbean. Jamaican Patois and John Agard's Guyanese are also part of this family.

Kriol is used as the spoken language by the vast majority of the population of Belize. This book's publication in 1974 came shortly after the country's name was changed from British Honduras. It can be seen in the light of a growing sense of national identity.


2010. "Books that didn’t make the exhibition #3". . Posted: December 16, 2010. Available online:

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