According to Index Mundi, Liberia generates more than $230 million every year through its tourist industry. With luxury resorts located along the country’s expansive Atlantic beaches, a burgeoning Hip-co music scene, and access to unspoiled rainforest, it’s no wonder why this country of 3.6 million has grown into one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Africa.
It isn’t just its luxury villas at its beach resorts that bring people to Liberia. As National Geographic reports, the national language of Liberia is English. As the lingua franca of the modern world, this means tourists from all corners of the world can come to Liberia and get along without having to worry about the language barrier. With that being said, however, there are some small differences between Liberian English and that found in the UK, U.S., and elsewhere.
Four Common Liberian Slang Words and Phrases
- “You think you know bla”
- “Small small”
- “La God one know”
“Pekin,” as written on My Language Exchange, is a Liberian slang word meaning “young boy.” Used as “young man” is in American and British English, this phrase can be used in any type of sentence, whether it’s friendly or aggressive. Examples include “what do you think you’re doing, pekin?” and “you’re a very friendly pekin.” This is something you’ll hear from luxury resorts to the streets of Monrovia.
Unlike pekin, this bit of slang isn’t ambiguous in its meaning. As Nairaland.com, a Nigeria-based language forum, shows, “you think you know bla” is another way of saying “you think you know everything.” If somebody says this to you, it’s a pretty clear indicator that they think you’re acting like a know-it-all. Cool your jets immediately.
When we say something is small in American or British English, it’s generally to denote the size of something. However, if you hear “small small” in Liberia, somebody is trying to tell you that a location, an item, or a person is nearby. Say, for example, you ask the staff at Liberia’s well-known luxury resorts where the best restaurants in the city are. They may tell you that the restaurants are “small small, just around the corner,” as the Digital Journalist suggests.
Like pekin, “la God one know” is something you’ll hear whether you’re in the country’s paradise resorts or getting a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Simply meaning that “only God knows,” this phrase is used as often as its counterparts are in the British Isles and the United States.
While English is the national language of Liberia, there are definite differences between the way the language is spoken there and in other countries. Study up on these bits of Liberian slang to better understand directions, avoid conflict, and improve your trip overall. Read more like this.
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