|Liberian Girl with a red deer (or duiker?) that is called by Liberians something that sounds like "Folding Tonga". They are prized for their meat.|
Due to the popularity of the earlier article on Liberian English I've listed some more terms and phrases that you can add to your travel dictionary.
This is Part II of an "Introduction to Liberian English" You can visit that article in order to read a bit more about Liberian English itself and also see more Liberian English words and phrases defined.
Baboon - this is actually what we call a chimpanzee and not what we would call a baboon. I have no idea when, where, or how the change up came about, but when you hear a Liberian talking about a "baboon" think "chimpanzee".
Book - can mean "the law" or simply used as a metonym for being educated.
"That man know book"
Burst (possibly "bust"? pronounced "bus") - can mean to devour something; and also to injure something. -- "damage" is also used for devouring food as in 'we damaged the palm butter'.
"I tell you, I can bus some rice"
Bush - the interior or the tropical rain forest of Liberia; jungle.
Caustic - poison
"She give them children caustic and they die-o"
Chaklah - to destroy or mess something up. Not really sure where this comes from but I've heard it used the following way...
"The soldier come and chalklah the whole area"
Coal Tar ("koh tah") - paved road versus the prevalent dirt roads that make up most of Liberia's road system.
"The koh tah fini at the junction."
Congo - This is a term used to describe Americo-Liberians and not usually used of someone actually from the Congo. The infamous Liberian chant "Country woman born soldier, Congo woman born rouge" which was sung when Doe overthrew the Americo-Liberian rule of Liberia in 1980 is an example of this term. This chant/song infers that the "country" or indigenous peoples of Liberia (see below) gave birth to a conquering soldier (Samuel Doe) and all that the Americo-Liberians gave birth to were "rouges" or thieves that stole from Liberia.
Country - this used to refer to any native Liberian who was not from the Americo-Liberian elite. It now refers to the interior "bush" culture or area of Liberia and it is sometimes used as a derogatory comment in reference to someone or something being inferior. This is true even if the people calling someone "country" are not Americo-Liberian themselves. One example of this term is "country cloth" - the old hand made lappas that were made in the "bush" before the mass produced and printed lappas took over the Liberian markets of today. Another example: "She country" - I've seen this used both derisively and also with a smile while shaking the head which seemed to mean "that is just the way she is and I love her for it".
Cruso - Cashew. I have no idea where this pronunciation comes from, but this is how it sounds to me when someone points to a cashew and says its name in Liberian English. The actual cashew is thrown on the ground and is considered "caustic". The cashew fruit is the part that is eaten and they are delicious!
|My brother holding a "Cashew Apple" - the brown part on the top is the actual cashew nut|
Cutlass ("culeh") - machete. According to a theory by Tim Butcher in his book on Liberia, "Chasing the Devil", this is a term left over from the age of Liberian coastal peoples interacting with European traders who called their swords "cutlasses" just like the old swashbuckling pirates of olden days.
"I have no culeh to make farm."
Devil - a costumed individual that dances in the streets with an entourage. In the city this is sometimes for visitors, tourists or celebrations. In the bush it is much more closely aligned with the Poro and Sande Secret Societies. Devil Bush is another use of this term and is one of the names for the secret location in the jungle where initiations take place.
Dialect ("dielay") - the indigenous languages of Liberia like Bassa, Kpelle, Vai, etc. For example, at some churches that are for whatever reason in transition from their traditional language into English they might have both an English speaking choir and a "Dialect Choir" which sings in their first language.
"Dielay choir director can sing-o!"
GB - You may see this advertised on street side chop shops. It is a kind of hard and fermented fufu that is mostly preferred in Nimba County. One swallows the hard blocks of GB and washes them down with a soup called "slippery soup" that sometimes contains rancid meat. An acquired taste that some Liberians do not even like. I have never tried it yet, and it isn't really on my bucket list either, but who knows?
Issue (or more specifically "Issue in the press") - This can refer to dog meat. The story behind this is that most Liberians did not confess to eating dog before the Civil War when it was not considered civilized, but during recent hard times all food was game. In order to keep one's dignity and not order "dog meat" to eat at the chop shop a system was created. Dog meat was kept in a 5 gallon bucket and covered with newspaper and someone could order an "issue" of this paper and get dog meat. A seller with fresh dog meat could then walk around with his bucket yelling "Issue! Issue in the press!" and thereby keep his dignity by not having to yell, "Dog meat! Get your fresh dog meat here!" Some developed a taste for dog after having to eat it during those days and an "issue in the press" can still be found in the market if you are so inclined to look for it. There are many in Liberia who love dog meat today however I am not planning on trying this!
Juke - to stab, often used to describe a painful injury or to intimidate
Example of intimidation: "You know me? I will juke you!"
Monkey Apple - there are actually two completely different fruits that are both called "monkey apple" in Liberia. One is the fruit that we would call a "star fruit" the other I have never seen in the US and have pictured below.
|This red spikey fruit is also called a "Monkey Apple". The red skin is peeled off and a grape-like, slimy yet sweet substance surrounds the seed inside.|
My People Coming (or "My people now coming") - this is a phrase used when someone believes they might die or when they are so terrified they feel that their life is in danger. I watched a grown man leap over a patio wall while he was yelling, "The soldier here! My people now coming - o!" I was running right behind him!
Not Correct - someone who has to face more than the average amount of mental challenges.
"That woman is not correct."
Plum - the is what we would call a mango. There are different varieties with different seasons. I remember one mango that Liberians called a "German plum" that I liked. When you hear "plum" in Liberia think "mango".
Reed ("ree") - this is what we would call bamboo. To make matters a bit more confusing there is actually another plant with very thin stems that Liberians do call bamboo.
"We got plenty ree for cutting." - as in "We have an abundance of bamboo to make things with."
Sliding - this is the Liberian term for "surfing" as is captured in the surfing documentary "Sliding Liberia"
OK --- Well, there you have some more Liberian English terms and phrases that have come to mind today. I hope to do another entry sometime later as I recall more. I'm due for another trip back and I'll try to take better notes next time. Remember the best way to get the proper pronunciation and rhythm is to go to Liberia and speak with and listen to the people of Liberia. Blessings!